The Chronicle asked me to check out auditions for LINES Ballet?s new summer pre-professional program. Here?s what I came up with:

?The San Francisco Dance Center has a peculiar grandeur, though not the spit-shined kind you might expect of the West Coast’s largest center for dance. It’s housed in the former Odd Fellows Building near the rough-and- tumble corner of Market and Seventh streets. The order’s thrones still stand in many of the studios; an insignia of three staring eyes adorns the mint- green walls. A fusty smell haunts the cranky elevator, and an outdated sign announces a meeting of the Grand Circle of Druids.

But nowadays, on a typical Saturday, the stamping of a beginning flamenco class echoes through the halls. And on the fourth floor, two dozen teenagers gather, warming muscles and choking down nerves.

They’ve come because the San Francisco Dance Center is the home of Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, and the Lines Ballet School is now one of the hottest summer programs for aspiring professional dancers in the United States. Eighteen-year-old Sarah Forman sits in a quiet corner, draping her torso over legs that turn out from the hips to lie flat, like the pages of a cracked book. On her feet are ratty blue socks, the kind a grandmother might wear. She’s driven from her school, UC Santa Barbara, because she wants to get ahead of her classmates. King’s company is a major selling point. “Their technique is so innovative,” she says. “I just want to get as good as I can and see where it takes me.” ?

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