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By Norb Garrett
Amanda Cobb knows a thing or two about ballet dancing. And hip-hop dancing. And jazz dancing. And modern dancing. And gymnastics. And cheer dance. And strength training. And Pilates.
Following a much-decorated career as a professional dancer in the world-renowned American Ballet Theater (ABT), and stints with the Washington Ballet and Ohio Ballet, Cobb has found her true calling teaching ballet and numerous other forms of dance right here in South Orange County at her new studio, Ballet Academy and Movement (BAM) in San Clemente.
Her love of teaching, coupled with the lack of quality training facilities due to the COVID-19 shutdowns, drove her to explore the notion of starting her own training and teaching facility, which she ultimately did this past November.
Incredibly, her search yielded a location that already had been used as a dance studio, complete with three full-size, mirrored rooms, as well as a workout room and strength-training area.
“I started as a gymnast and took my first ballet class when I was 12 and fell in love with it,” said Cobb, who was born in Tucson, Arizona.
Cobb moved to Chicago and then New York as a teenager to learn and train from luminaries in the fields of jazz dance and ballet, including with the School of American Ballet.
She moved home briefly before earning a spot on the Ohio Ballet, where she was dancing when she got her big breakthrough on her 21st birthday, auditioning for the American Ballet Theater and was offered a job.
“We did all of the big numbers—Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker—and traveled the world performing in all of the biggest venues. It was an amazing experience,” she said
In 2008, she moved to the Washington, D.C. Ballet, where she danced until 2011, when she suffered a torn ACL. She moved back home to Tucson, where she decided to pursue her dream of teaching while living near the beach.
So, she loaded up a rental car, drove west and landed in Carlsbad before eventually moving up to Capistrano Beach.
“Dance is a very self-focused discipline, and honestly, I think I got bored with myself,” said Cobb, the mother of two young children. “I realized I wanted to give back and teach. I didn’t want to perform anymore.”
Now comfortable teaching at her own studio, Cobb says BAM’s mission is to work with everyone from little kids to professional dancers. She also works with athletes who are rehabilitating from injury, as well as sports teams, cheer groups and general exercise clients through Pilates and stretch classes.
“I trained in different genres at different ages, so I want to teach the diversity of movement,” she said. “I want my clients to feel inspired to move and be healthy.”
BAM is located at 400 Camino de Estrella, San Clemente. The academy can be reached at 949.229.0846, with more information available at bamsocal.com.