Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Burton School 1940's

In New York City there is a famous Children's Profesional School for performing kids.  In the 1940's a small competitor existed called the Burton School.

I had just finished my first year of high school at Friend's Seminary and hated every minute of it. I wound up there I think because my mother was a Quaker and we got half price off.  A very good school, but not for me.  My whole life was ballet and there was a two thirty class I wanted to take at the Fokine Ballet School.

For my Sophomore year my mother dug up this private children's professional school that was $25 a month.  Boy, was I in Heaven. 

The school was in a suite at the Belvidere Hotel across from the old Madison Square Garden.  There were tables scattered around for each class and when I arrived some of the students had locked the French teacher in the stairwell.  The Science class was in the cloakroom.  I remember there were two boys in my class Benny and Eddie, but I can't remember who else.  It was very small.  I was there from 9AM to 2PM and took four courses, English, Math, French and History and maybe Science.  Anyway, I could make my two thirty ballet class.

The school was run by a rather shady couple.  He taught a few of the classes and I swear she wore the same maroon suit for a year.  The lobby of the hotel was full of whoever was playing at the stadium.  So there were midgets, clowns and dancing girls.  Soon we were to move on to the Nightclub.

The nightclub was on 53rd and 7th avenue.  Glass doors and a red carpeted staircase that led to the main room.  Some of the new teachers had built partitions to form class rooms, but the dance floor had been removed and we were left with a splintered under floor.  There were two bathrooms and a kitchen.  I think the shady couple were sleeping in one of the bathrooms.  Anyway the school expanded.  More pupils and stage mothers.  Then the shady couple disappeared and the school was about to close until Morey Amsterdam, the comic stepped in and got some backers. His son was a student.  Some of the students I remember from then were Rita Moreno, who was doing Spanish voice overs, like our schoolmate Eddie.  The beautiful  Svetlana V\Beriosova, who later became a ballerina at The Royal Ballet Co. and Patsy Crowley, who ended up as the lead in the TV series "Don't Pick the Daises"  At the time she was a 10 year old pain in the neck. Very dramatic. And then there was the arrival of Ben and Matt. and my best friend Nancy Chandler became a student.

Ben and Matt also brought a few sort of minor mafia guys in to invest in the school.  Gino (he may no
t have been so minor) Viro and Louis.......more later......resd up

Picture of classmates  Me, Nancy, Anna and Reena

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