Monday, July 14, 2008

The Alviene School of the Arts


The Alviene Academy was founded by Claude M. Alvienne in 1894 and existed into the early 1950s. The school was run by Claude Alvienne and his wife Neva Alvienne at the Grand Opera House on 8th Avenue and 23rd Street in NYC. According to the most famous of the school's graduates, Fred Astaire, the Alvienne School had a great influence on his career and was important to his early childhood development.

"The family faced a financial crisis in 1904 when a temperance movement led to the closing of the brewery, and they met it in surprising fashion by deciding that mother, daughter, and son would move to New York where Adele could be enrolled in the dancing school run by Claude Alvienne with an eye toward a professional career. Johanna, Adele, and Fred Austerlitz (soon renamed Ann, Adele, and Fred Astaire) arrived in New York in January 1905, and, shortly after Adele began studying with Alvienne, Fred joined her, creating the dance team of Fred and Adele Astaire, which made its professional debut in a vaudeville act created by Alvienne in Keyport, NJ, in November 1905. Astaire was six-years-old; his sister was eight. The Astaires toured in vaudeville until 1909, by which time they had outgrown their act and a disparity in their heights made dancing together difficult."

"The dance and acting classes at Alvienne's school did not particularly impress young Frederick and years later he mostly recalled the stick which Mr. Alvienne used to beat out time on the back of a wooden chair for the dance lessons."

Research indicates that Neva who was described as a famous French ballarina and toe-dancer was actually from Medina in upstate NY. Claude and Neva had one child, Claudia, who according to family legend became destitute and was assisted by Fred Astaire.


Lizabeth Scott also was a student at the Alviene School of Drama. James Holden also claims to have studied under Claude Alvienne at the Alviene School of Acting and lost his southern accent thanks to his instruction.

Official Use: Alviene School of Dance Arts by,
Alviene United Stage Training Schools Incorporated, NY
LCCN: 19000586
LC: GV1754.A4

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