Becoming a ballet dancer is a lifelong process. For most dancers, this lifestyle began as a child or teenager. The interest or dream developed into passion; the occasional class, a daily routine. Tendues and plies became the equivalent to algebra and grammar. Blood, sweat, and tears; blisters and bunions—this was the regime. The way of life. Existence. Every dancer can recall the hours upon hours of training. Balancing academics with time in the studio and time around the family dinner table. The road to professional dancer is not an easy one. In order to progress, one must give freely and generously of one’s mind, body, and soul. Dedication. Perseverance. The tools acquired and cultivated as a young dancer are fostered and expanded as a professional. When that childhood dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer is at last realized, the road does not end. The journey—the work—has just begun. The foundation that a dancer’s training has given him or her is preparation for life in ballet and beyond.
1975 was a pinnacle year for Louisville Ballet. Nancy Lewis Smith, one of the Ballet’s early leaders, stated, “We are doing so many different things now…starting a school, starting a professional company, renovating a building.” In this year Louisville Ballet moved into a new building, located at 200 East Oak Street. The company’s Artistic Directors at the time, Richard and Christina Munro, and the dancers themselves contributed to the new building’s renovations. During this time Louisville Ballet evolved from a civic to professional company. In this year of progress, a ballet school was formed. The significance of this expansion is considerable. Having a school in which to train young professionals in technique and style was vital to advancing the organization. For aspiring artists, having a ballet school connected with a professional company is also invaluable. The lessons learned through watching and connecting with professionals in the field cannot be taught in a better fashion than through experience.
As the Munros undertook the venture of establishing a ballet school, they contacted Alun Jones and Helen Starr, colleagues from the London Festival Ballet. Jones and Starr accepted the invitation to join in the undertaking and moved to Louisville. Jones became the Associate Director of the Academy of the Louisville Ballet, and Starr operated as a guest teacher with the academy and guest dancer with the company. Little did the city of Louisville know at that point what an incredible impact and contribution this couple would make on the community and art world as a whole.
Forty-two years after its foundation, the Academy of the Louisville Ballet, now the Louisville Ballet School, is Kentucky’s premier center for training and educating pre-professional dancers. The school is a home-away-from home to around 300 young artists. A broad range of programs are offered to students of all ages, ranging from Nurturing Pathways for babies and children three months to three years, to a Pre-Professional Program for students aspiring to a high standard of excellence and professionalism, to the mind. body. balance. program for adults hoping to energize their days, elevate their moods, reduce stress, and improve productivity. The Louisville Ballet School offers the full spectrum of classes for a variety of students. The Pre-Professional Program, by invitation only, is geared toward students seeking a career in the field of ballet. The Classical Ballet Program promotes a development of coordination, musicality, and kinetic awareness, while nurturing each student’s love of dance and the arts. The Children’s Program is designed to nurture each student’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development in a fun environment. The classes are intended to inspire children to explore their world through the art of dance and discover the limitlessness of their imaginations. The adult classes offered through the mind. body. balance. program are intended for students seeking personal benefit and improvement. The Louisville Ballet School emphasizes the idea that every person in every walk of life can benefit from the valuable lessons only ballet and dance can teach. As the School achieves this goal, it also provides a channel through which young, aspiring artists can receive the necessary training required to embark upon that dream of professionalism in the arts.
March eighteenth and nineteenth mark the dates of the Louisville Ballet School’s Spring Showcase production. Showcase provides an opportunity for the students of the Louisville Ballet School to join together and discover the art of storytelling through dance, share the traditions of the full-length classical ballets, and express the wide range of dance styles offered through the school. The story ballet for this year’s Showcase is the Pirate Pixie. In addition to this ballet, dances from the Complimentary Dance Program and the Louisville Ballet Youth Ensemble will be showcased. Spring Showcase exhibits the versatility of the Louisville Ballet School.
Ballet and the arts teach countless lessons—to young and old. Through the arts we learn about ourselves, about our community—and beyond. Not every young hopeful child who straps on a pair of ballet slippers will grow up to be a professional dancer; however, the tools, experiences, and messages learned from this great art are priceless and can serve and aid every person in all aspects of life. Louisville Ballet is fortunate to have such an extraordinary fountain of learning with so many incredible instructors, administrators, and students under its wing. The Louisville Ballet School will pioneer the future of ballet and art for the city of Louisville. The young artists of this school are an inspiration. They embody dedication. Perseverance. They represent hard work. Integrity. They express emotion. Passion. They personify art. Ballet.
Louisville Ballet. 65 Years of Making Moving Art. Louisville: Butler Books, 2017. Print.
Kay, Joan. “The Louisville Ballet’s working vacation.” Courier-Journal. 2 June 1975, Edition:
- Web. 4 May 2016.
“Programs.” Louisville Ballet School. Louisville Ballet School, 2017. Web. 9 March 2017.