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Ballet Schools- "Gems" in "unlikely" places

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Ami1436, sorry I missed your greeting in the other thread in the Health and Nutrition forum. I was going to say hello back but thought that was way off topic so I decided to start a new thread. Hello from Idaho!


Like Werlkj, my dk has been met with wide eyed surprise at her SIs when teachers hear that she is from Idaho. They actually say "Where? Idaho, really?" They feel that dd is getting very good training here. My dd and I live in Boise, Idaho and is training with Jeff & Cathy Giese and Lisa Moon.


Anybody else out there that live "out there" and feel they are getting great training, too?

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  • werlkj


  • Mel Johnson


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I am hoping that we will eventually hear from people in places like small towns in Japan, or far away places in Australia, or little nooks and crannies of the Americas and Europe. I know that everything is relative and "good training" can be subject to personal opinion, but I'm not talking about the big pre-pro finishing schools, we all know which ones those are. Just thought I'd start a fun and informative thread. :blushing:

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The problem with trying to do one of these is that it's fairly easy to identify ballet "deserts" like Central New York State where a good school can be found, but it takes a major trek over Indian paths made by drunken Indians to get there. Or "growth areas" like Adams County, PA, specifically Gettysburg, where there is no ballet school to match the economic success of the area. OK, CPYB is just down the road in Carlisle, but there's nothing in Gettysburg proper.


The Diamond in the Mud is hard for parents to identify - and may seem immodest to mention.

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I think this could be a very helpful topic--maybe we should take Mel's suggestion and retitle it "Diamonds in the Mud." It could be a great place to share that kind of info, and isn't that what BA is for---sharing and discussing? This topic might provide just the info needed by a desperate parent already in some small town or thinking about relocating to one. But more than that, don't some of you teachers, parents, and dancers wonder sometimes about what happened to certain people you've danced with in the past? Many of them are teaching, and not because it pays well, because it doesn't. Many of them are are doing it only because they loved dance themselves once. They certainly are rarely rewarded with fabulous kids.


For example (speaking of Idaho), perhaps someone will recognize these names: John and Janice Nelson (Cincinnati Ballet and Ballet West), Marius Zirra (a principal and later Ballet Master in Bulgarian, Romanian, and Austrian companies, even later Ballet Master at San Diego), Kristen Clayton (one of Harid's first alumni, later Ballet West, then Ballet Arizona), Deborah Wolfe (Eugene Ballet), and I could go on. Guess what, they're all in a 100-mile radius of Idaho Falls. They own and/or teach at tiny little ballet schools of 50 to 125 kids primarily with recreational interests, but they each manage to regularly send dancers to the top SIs, major university dance programs, and even companies. And there are a couple more people in the area I didn't even mention.


Frankly, we have to be immodest sometimes, if only to stop the sneering before it starts (and my DKs and I have been sneered at, believe me. It's kind of depressing actually.) Most people, teachers and ex-dancers usually, are absolutely fascinated by the efforts these teachers make. Frankly, I could see how it could be immodest to go on about attending SAB or SFB, for example, but I think it's rather sweet to be able to brag about taking from Debbie Bean at Idaho Falls School of Ballet. :wub:


I'd love to hear from others out there who have found "gems" of schools. I can't imagine that all of you are lucky enough to live in an area with a pre-professional school.

Edited by werlkj
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How about Fairbanks, Alaska? Its a very small school, the larger of two studios can barely fit more than 16 students comfortably, and it is for both avocational and pre-professional training, but the teachers are amazing and have turned out some very talented students. Norman Shelburne is our director and Susan Perry our ballet mistress.

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Excellent thread! I did laugh at the suggestion of "Diamonds in the Mud" :D Perhaps "Good Training Off the Beaten Path" might be more "searchable". :wink:


I know that over the years I've heard of some excellent schools that weren't well known - and having this board as a resource for exactly this kind of information is one of the things that makes it such a diamond in the Internet rough. :D

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Yuma Ballet Academy/Ballet Yuma in Yuma, AZ. Jon Cristofori and Kathleen Sinclair, directors/teachers. Population 75,000 in the middle of nowhere. Three hours from Phoenix and 2 1/2 from San Diego and nothing inbetween. Currently have former students in San Francisco Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Ballet Trock, Les Grands Ballet de Montrel Canadians, Ballet Memphis. And these dancers started at a young age with them and continued to the latter years in HS or even graduated HS locally before getting into a company. Yes, there is traing in the "pits" of Arizona!

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Unfortunately, Yuma Ballet's website shows nothing of this (what are they thinking!!) But a google on Jon Cristofori brings up several professionals who credit Cristofori and his wife for the great training they received at Yuma Ballet Academy. Cool!

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Did you go to www.balletyuma.org? Because www.yumaballet.org is another company in the area that leaves alot to be desired.

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Temps de cuisse, do you mean the website is what leaves a lot to be desired? Please clarify! :D

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Lancaster School of Ballet under Carolyn Trythall was my haven for three years when I was in "cow country" for college -- meaning Lancaster Country, PA (Elizabethtown, Mount Joy, Hershey, Lititz, Millersville, etc.). There are three studios around the area, one of which is in the city of Lancaster.

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Sad to say that North Star Ballet's website hasnt been updated in...well...a long time. The class schedule is from 2002, and the 'company' picture is from when our oldest member's big sister was in company.

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Sorry mylildancer and werlkj, I just found this thread! It's been one of those...erm... weeks! :P


In any case, yes! I was very happy/proud of my 'diamond in the mud', and how I wish I could still have training like that (and dance the way I did when I was 15!!!). So much love back to Idaho!


I also find myself a bit miffed about dance training - where the 'diamonds' can be found! I've been living in the UK for about 4 years now, and I had the impression when I was young that all the 'little girls in England go to ballet'... Well, maybe they do, but heaven forbid if they should ever have a proper studio, a variety of teachers, or a consistent schedule!!! It's been a constant struggle, unless I can make it in to London (which takes both time and money! But oh, how beautiful those studios are!!!). As for something more local, despite the size of Oxford and the dancers in my midst... well, we are happy if we find a room that doesn't have holes in the floor to be our 'studio'!


Also, and please do correct me if I am wrong because I have no information in front of me and I'm not sure if I remember correctly, but didn't Janice James-Nelson spend some time with NYCB (when she was Janice James)? I can't remember for the life of me!


Werlkj, I would *love* to hear about all the new studios and teachers around IF in more detail... perhaps when I'm up to membership par I'll pm/email you, if that's alright?

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Yes, Janice James was a member of NYCB during the last of the City Center days. I believe that she also made the crossover to the State Theater.

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