The <i>grande dame</i> of dance schools, North Bay Performing Arts Center, Contessi Ballet was the first ballet school that opened in Petaluma. Marcela Smith, a native of Florence, Italy, where she learned ballet, believes in the old-fashioned tenets of talent and hard work when it comes to learning dance. Regular classes meet during the week with rehearsals reserved for the weekends. The school's alumni have gone on to study at prestigious schools in San Francisco, Canada, and Washington DC. Hours vary, so call for a list of classes and times.