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On the Town: Laemmle Theater opening helps provide homeless services

On the Town: Laemmle Theater opening helps provide homeless services
Gloria Salas couldn't be without her popcorn at Laemmle Glendale's grand opening. Kevin Gallagher, Laemmle director of operations obliges. (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

Movie buffs turned out by the dozens for the long-awaited grand opening of the new Laemmle Glendale.

The theater is located in a mixed-use project on the corner of Wilson and Maryland avenues. The Aug. 1 opening benefited Ascencia, a nonprofit that provides housing and programs to help people out of homelessness.

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More than 100 guests filled three of the five theaters in the complex. Each auditorium featured a different cuisine — Mediterranean, full of chunks of beef and grilled tomatoes; American, bursting with chicken wings and watermelon; and Cuban, brimming with Porto’s croissant sandwiches.

A busy concession stand provided popcorn, soda and an open bar.

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After all of the food, there was a packed after-dinner screening of the newly released film “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”

All 75 tickets at $35 each were sold within minutes from an earlier email burst announcing the event. It was the hottest ticket in town.

Greg Laemmle, president of the family-owned-and-operated theater chain, addressed the audience before the screening.

“This 350-seat theater was designed from the ground up,” he said. “We provide a movie-going experience as it used to be — reasonable ticket prices geared to people who go to movies frequently.”

Laemmle added that the original two Laemmle Theatres opened in Highland Park in 1938.

The theaters were originally run by Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle, who is the uncle of Greg Laemmle’s father, Greg Laemmle’s grandfather, Max, and Max Laemmle’s brother, Kurt.

Today, there are nine Laemmle theater complexes in and around Los Angeles.

Laemmle Glendale will feature an Art in the Arthouse gallery in its lobby. The opening artist is local painter Raymond Logan, whose paintings were chosen by Greg Laemmle’s wife, Tish, who was also present at the opening.

All of the event’s ticket sales will benefit Ascencia’s programming.

Bollywood dancing — from those Indian B-grade movies — has come to Glendale. Bollywood fitness dancers can be found every Saturday morning at the Luna Dance Center on West Colorado Street.

The class is taught by Richa Jauhari, who was born in Delhi and raised in Nigeria and Toronto. Her students gyrate to the beat of Bollywood music, which is turned up loud.

“Bollywood movies are so popular, I couldn’t avoid it,” Jauhari said. Nor, evidently, can her students — all women of various shapes and ages.

Recently, Glendale resident Manisha Chaudhary brought her daughter Eshanika, 18, to the class for the first time.

“I had to bribe her to come,” mom said.

Now $20 richer, Eshanika Chaudhary said she was glad she came. But it’s only for the summer. The younger Chaudhary will return to Northwestern University in the fall to resume her pre-med studies. Bollywood is not in her future.

“I want to see smoother hips,” Jauhari called out as she put her dancers through their paces. “Everything you’ve been holding back, let it out.”

Her students gave it their all — hips were smoother, legs were pumping, arms were swinging.

Sonal Patel, a Glendale transplant from India, took her teacher’s advice. Patel held nothing back. The sweat was running down her face. Even with frequent, short water breaks, she was winded but smiling.

A Bollywood dance fitness veteran by now, she began when Jauhari started the 50-minute, high-impact class in early June.

Jauhari insists her $10 classes are gender neutral. She can concentrate on “girly moves” or ”masculine moves.” But, so far, the guys have not been taking her up on it.

“Men are not as comfortable with group fitness,” she said.

As a teenager, Jauhari started Bollywood choreography to help her sister in cultural dance competitions. Four years ago, Jauhari became the first Los Angeles teacher for BollyX, a New York-based company. She is also a regional trainer and performs at special events.

For the older set, Jauhari also teaches a “low-impact” Bollywood dance fitness class at the Pasadena Senior Center.

As with the Glendale class, Jauhari’s goals for her students are to get heart healthy, have fun and express their inner rock star.

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