American Ballet Theatre and Segerstrom Center for the Arts are partnering to bring world-class dance education opportunities to southern California with the William J. Gillespie School. Applications are being accepted now for the inaugural class, which begins this September. The school is planning to take approximately 150 students, ages 3-14, for its pilot year. Students in the primary and Level 1 classes will be accepted on an open basis (no prior experience required). This policy supports the goal of engagement, which will also be achieved through all-ages classes opened to the general public.
The school will be led by teaching phenom Alaine Haubert and follow the ABT National Training Curriculum. In addition to access to exceptional teachers and training, the school will offer students uncommon performance and master class opportunities. “We believe in working with every dance company that visits our stage. We encourage them to hold master classes and of course our students will have the opportunity to participate. It gives them the opportunity to experience a range of styles and teachings that they wouldn’t necessarily have the chance to experience otherwise,” says SCFTA Executive Vice President Judy Morr.
The partnership on which the school is founded has been forged over decades. “We have come to Orange County regularly since the Center’s first season in 1986,” says ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. “It is a rewarding and important collaboration, and all of us at ABT are excited that we will have this new year-round presence through the American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
“We thought a lot about how to reach out into the community with a school. It would make sense to partner with another organization that has expertise in the area of training dances, since that hasn’t been our concentration. We have an enormous education program, but up to this point it hadn’t included an actual school, “says Morr. “We’ve been involved with the ABT summer intensives for something like 15 years, so we’d already had a wonderful chance to form a relationship and test our ability to work together in the education arena. When we began, we didn’t realize that it would sort of be a trial to see if we liked it, but we loved it! To go to the finales of the summer intensives was fantastic. Doing this on a year-round basis was the logical next step for us.”
Prior to the fall opening, the school will launch the ABT Junior Associates Program, a series of monthly intensive sessions for intermediate to advanced dancers, and the ABT Young Dancer Summer Workshop, aimed at dancers ages 9-12. Click here for more info.