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Gitana spot going from plight to plie?

Ryan Carter

A local dance diva has set her eyes on a now-defunct nightclub space

to expand her ballet studio and possibly create a new hub for a

fledgling Burbank performing-arts community.

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Natasha Middleton, owner of Media Dance Art Center at 237 E. Palm

Ave., wants to expand her 3,000-square-foot location by adding 5,000

square feet of space formerly occupied by the controversial Gitana

nightclub at 260 E. Magnolia Blvd. The added space, Middleton said,

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would result in a home for Burbank’s only ballet company -- the Media

City Ballet of Burbank -- which she founded. The space also could be

a hub for Burbank’s performing-arts community, something the area

lacks, she added.

“I would like to move there,” Middleton said. “What we’re trying

to do is bring something really positive to the city and reach out to

help make this a real performing-arts community.”

Middleton said the space could house her 25-member company, which

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now has no performing home. The company performs yearly at places

such as The Alex Theatre in Glendale.

But Middleton said she would need city backing to make the project

work. She added that the space could become a community venue, where

theater companies also could perform.

Burbank developer Robert Gangi said this week that he is

negotiating a lease with Middleton for the former nightclub space.

Gangi said the leasing terms have been agreed upon, but other

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financial issues need to be smoothed out before a move is made.

The expanded space would have capacity for 299, and that could

mean it could be a center for local ballet performances and bolster

the arts community in the area, Gangi said.

“They are very excited about expanding into the space,” Gangi

said. “It would work well for them for performances and additional

classes. And certainly their use is less problematic than a

nightclub. I think it would be a great mix.”

Gitana nightclub lost its permit to operate on Sept. 30, when the

City Council voted to revoke its conditional-use permit. The

business, according to city and law-enforcement officials, had become

a nuisance and public safety threat because of numerous fights and

drunken-driving arrests.

With the departure of the nightclub, Gitana Restaurant owners

Danny and Joe Georges saw an opportunity to expand their restaurant

lease with Gangi. Beginning today, they will operate a restaurant and

VIP lounge in the expanded 20,000 square feet of space.

The restaurant will continue to serve alcohol. It will be open

from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.

Danny Georges said he is confident about the future of the

business and its place in Burbank. He said the retooled area will

cater to a more upscale clientele and to families, while a new

entrance will be created for the proposed ballet studio so dancers

would not have to walk through the restaurant to enter the studio.


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