Walk just a few doors down from Empire Loan’s Washington St. flagship jewelry and lending outlet, enter a discreet and unassuming brownstone doorway, and step into the world of Duggan Hill and City Lights, which for nearly 30 years has been providing professional-caliber dance (ballet, tap, hip-hop), theater, music, film editing, and fencing training to kids from the neighborhood and well beyond. It is no exaggeration to say that some serious international talent learned its first steps and got its first professional entrees right inside these modest doors. From the pop start Bobby Brown, Jordan, Jonathan Knight of New Kids on the Block, Tanille Pritchard of New York’s Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, to Racino Mugica, who is making waves as a bright young choreographer in Las Vegas. What they have in common has been the keen and disciplined nurturing of one Duggan Hill, former choreographer for the Hugh Hefner and Disney Corporations, dancer, choreographer, and teacher extraordinaire. Empire Loan shows how one local pawn shop, is innovative and community-orientated by making a significant annual contribution to the school.
But wait, there is more! Duggan is completing work on a state-of-the-art multi-track recording studio which he has been designing and building pretty much single-handed but with a significant financial assist from (among others) our philanthropist extraordinaire, Michael Goldstein of Empire Loan. A more shining example of local private profits being put back to work into and for the local community, one would be hard pressed to find. This gives an entirely new meaning to the idea of “pawnshop gold,” especially once Duggan’s recording studio will have produced its first hit record! Certainly Duggan feels that way, and after giving us a tour of the facilities, which include a large performance area complete with stage, lighting, and props galore, he sat us down to give us an introduction to the artistic activities City Lights has been and is currently involved in.City Lights provides professional dance training to over 100 kids a year, and boasts some very serious teaching talent, including Ashley Richardson, formerly with the legendary Ballanchine’s New York City Ballet. Duggan’s Dancers provide performing opportunities and puts on performances at Wellesley College, Boston University, and every other year Duggan takes 10 kids to Paris, France, where they team up with top French choreographers to create unique new works. Some of which are brought back for viewing by local audiences. And speaking of which, Duggan plans on presenting some of these Paris-originated works for his annual Christmas Show, which is coming in December. These performances are open to the public and all are heartily invited to attend.December 23 will mark the Grand Opening of the new City lights recording studio, which Michael has been instrumental in helping to organize. Duggan would like to make a special nod to Boston Sand & Gravel, who donated the concrete foundation of the studio.