”We’ve got to do this for the kids.”
For Trudi and Wayne Angel, the decision to get back to business was made simple by the students of Northern California Ballet, the dance studio they’ve owned and operated in Paradise since 1984.
“I got calls from the kids crying, saying ‘we have to have the Nutcracker, we have to have the classes,” Trudi remembered. Knowing so many of her students had friends who relocated and lost their homes and schools, the ballet offered a place of consistency and connection.
Against all odds, NCB re-opened in January of 2019 with their acclaimed production of The Nutcracker. Since then, the company has been in nonstop operation (before COVID-19 restrictions) in rented facilities as they work toward rebuilding the original studio.
They briefly considered other relocation options after the fire, but “they didn’t attract us because we were already doing what we wanted to do,” Wayne said. “It was really obvious and straightforward for us to rebuild.”
Trudi agreed: “I don’t like anything better than right here. This is the place I feel the most comfortable.”
Although the decision was easy, the rebuilding process took perseverance.
“The amount of detail and effort in rebuilding is very significant,” Wayne noted, “partly because there are multiple insurance claims–studio, house, rental, storage unit. We aren’t dealing with just one structure.”
Like many Paradisians, they also had to deal with underinsurance, specifically for all the props, sets, and costumes destroyed in the fire. Delay in construction was another challenge. “Here it is now in May of 2020,” Wayne said, “and we’re only just starting construction. With both business and personal properties to evaluate. It’s further complicated because the demand for construction labor is causing delays.”
The solution? Patience and a checklist. The Angels prioritized in-depth research and understanding of the programs that would ensure the smoothest and most beneficial long-term outcome, such as applying for the debris and tree removal programs. “The information is available,” Wayne said. “You just have to go after it.”
And their attention to detail paid off: completion on both their home and the NCB studio is slotted for October. “I am so looking forward to having my home back,” Trudi said. “I can’t wait to get back to my house, my deck, and my creek.”
They’re optimistic about the business, too: “NCB has such amazing community support. The small nucleus of dancers and their families seem to be very involved,” Trudi enthused. Younger families are coming back and bringing their younger kids. I’m hoping that will be a good influx.”
As the curtain rises for Paradise’s next act, the Angels offer a final word of encouragement to rebuild. Once you’ve put the time into understanding your financials and reasonable options, they said, go for it.
“If Paradise truly felt like ‘Paradise’ to you,” Trudi said, “take that leap of faith and make it your home.”