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Performing-arts school with diversity goal dances into RR

Avix Artistic Director Michelle Boutros talks about her vision for the new performing-arts school. Amy Byres photo.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A new performing arts school in Rio Rancho has a goal to build its students’ skills to a professional level while incorporating diversity in their development.

Avix Art is a performing arts studio with a curriculum for dance, music, theater and film.

The school’s high-quality training for the visual and performing arts will help students pursue internships and professional opportunities, said Avix Art Artistic Director Michelle Boutros.

She is a former professional ballerina and has a Bachelor of Arts in dance and a Bachelor of Science in arts administration from Belhaven University.

Opening a performing arts school like Avix Art has been a dream of Boutros’ since she presented the idea in her senior project in college, she said.

“I have always wanted to be a leader. I wanted to be a leader in the arts, and the biggest thing that I am passionate about, specifically for ballet, is the fact that I don’t believe ballet should be predominantly one race,” she said. “I have always had a problem with that.”

When deciding where to open the school, Boutros considered Florida and Colorado. She said Florida was diverse, but the market was over-saturated. Colorado’s market was saturated as well and was not as diverse as Boutros would like.

She and other faculty members visited the building at 4311 Sara Road in Rio Rancho eight times before purchasing it.

“We just fell in love with Rio Rancho. People have asked me, ‘Well, why Rio Rancho; why not Albuquerque?’ And I thought, ‘Why not Rio Rancho?’ There is literally only about one other program in Rio Rancho,” she said,

Boutros studied racism in ballet while in college. With what she has learned over the years, and coming from a diverse family, she wants to lead change in ballet’s culture.

“I wanted to move somewhere where I could teach an ethnically diverse group of people,” she said.

Boutros is focusing on partnerships with Rio Rancho Public Schools and other organizations throughout the community and state, she said.

“COVID has really stopped us from getting to know people,” she said.

Boutros wanted to build relationships with community members from other cultures to help mold the studio into a multi-cultural art center, she said. This has been delayed because of the pandemic.

“I love art from other cultures,” she said. “We want to bring in Native American art forms into the school, taught by members of the Native American community.”

In addition, Boutros is working on Avix Art becoming a charter school, she said.

The school introduces students to classical ballet, jazz, modern and contemporary dance, piano, percussion, drama, production and singing. Their early education program focuses on children 3-8 in proper development.

“We want to create professional artists; this is not a recreational program,” she said.

Students will gain real-world experience at Avix Art by developing a portfolio and connecting to internships and professional opportunities.

“I really try to partner with our parents, because I want to become allies. With the faculty that we hired, we have the ability to take these children and turn them into working professionals,” Boutros said.

The school also offers performance space equipped with lighting and a grand piano for the community to rent.

Boutros wants the school to be somewhere the community can rally and enjoy the arts, she said.

Avix Arts began classes Aug. 24, but it still open for enrollment. Schedule a tour with Avix Art by calling 302-0389 or visiting avixart.com for more information.

Artistic education zone

Avix Arts is gauging interest in an education zone for students in Rio Rancho.

Starting at $250 a month, parents with children ages 8 and up can drop off students with a background-checked life coach who helps children stay online for school.

If interested in participating, search Avix Art’s Facebook page and take its poll.

Avix Art is open in Rio Rancho, on Sara Road. Amy Byres photo.

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