Our Mission: Amherst Ballet offers high quality dance and ballet training in Amherst, MA for students of all ages and levels of experience. Amherst Ballet’s mission of Ballet for All promotes the message that dance is not only for people with a certain body type, of a certain age or from a prescribed socio-economic category. It supports racial, ethnic and religious diversity, and cultural tolerance. Since Amherst Ballet began in 1971, it has offered students young and old the opportunity to perform in productions such as full length story ballets and concert dance works by resident and guest choreographers. These kinds of performances are unique in our geographic area. Our vision for the school includes diversifying our performance repertoire to honor the vibrant cultural traditions that are represented within our community. Amherst Ballet can be an innovator of social change in our area. Our new outreach initiative seeks to bridge generational gaps by bringing groups of dancers to perform in local senior centers, nursing homes and extended care facilities, for those who are unable to attend our regular performances. Over the next few years we aim to take our mission further to reach more students and audience members in our region. With your support, we will be able to further this initiative and more effectively meet this goal. About our Classes:
Summer Season Our summer season takes place during June, July and August. Summer open classes are offered for teens and adults. Prices for classes are $18/class or $150 for a 10 class card. Creative Movement Creative Movement is a fun, first dance class for dancers aged 3 and 4. This class introduces youngsters to movement with music. Creative Movement dancers may wear dance clothes or just comfortable street clothes. They may wear traditional ballet slippers or dance in bare feet. Lower School classes Amherst Ballet’s pedagogical philosophy is based on the premise that dance training flows best from classical ballet. To that end we offer Pre-Training 1 for 5-6 year olds, and Pre-Training 2 for 6-7 year olds. Vaganova based methodology is begun with Level 0 for 7-8 year olds and older students with no prior training, or insufficient training. Students progress through Level 1 and 2 based on individual accomplishment. Twice a year (the last class in December and the last class of the season) parents are invited into the studio to observe and monitor the progress of Lower School students at the teacher’s discretion; we urge at least one parent to attend to support their efforts. Pre-Training 1 through Pre-Training 2 students perform in a class concert at the end of the season. Level 0 through Level 2 students participate in the end of season performance in the Lower School short-form ballet. Dance uniform requirements for those dancing in the Lower School are noted in the Parent/Student Handbook.
Upper School classes Upper School classes are generally attended by dancers in middle and high school. Study of Vaganova-based methodology continues in the Upper School. All ballet classes are 1.5-2 hours, and may include pointe. Amherst Ballet also offers training in Modern and Contemporary dance, as well as Contemporary Ballet and Jazz for Upper School students. Dance uniform requirements for the Upper School are noted in the Parent/Student Handbook.
Beginning Teens Teens who are new to dance or have had gaps in their dance training are also welcome at Amherst Ballet. They may take the Adult Beginning Ballet Class or choose to have a program of study tailored to them by the Artistic Director to enable them to catch-up with their peers. Beginning teen students follow the dress code in the Parent/Dancer Handbook. Adults Adult dancers are warmly welcomed at Amherst Ballet. Ballet classes specifically for adults are offered several times a week at different levels. Adults may also join Upper School classes with the permission of the instructor provided they have the necessary skills to participate. Adult dancers may wear traditional ballet clothes or comfortable clothes that will allow the dance instructor to see their muscles.
Our Philosophy Amherst Ballet is "Ballet FOR ALL". We accept both children and adults, of all levels and all backrounds. Scholarships are available for qualified low-income families. We consider the training of ballet to be a vehicle by which we teach discipline, focus, taking directions, accepting corrections, and giving young people confidence to not only perform, but to become responsible citizens and leaders who are supportive of the arts. It is the aim of Amherst Ballet to train the body first in classical ballet to instill control and discipline and then apply these techniques to other forms of movement. We work to train dancers who are willing, cooperative and adaptable to all styles of dance that any choreographer may require. Our dancers are known for this ability, and choreographers love to work with them. The discipline our students learn in the studio is applied to their school work and other activities. For those who pursue dance careers, our alums have proven themselves in the dance world. Students trained at Amherst Ballet have gone on to prestigious pre-professional programs such as Dance Theatre of Harlem, Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, Kirov Academy D.C., North Carolina School of the Arts, The Rock School, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Washington Ballet School, and Escuela Victor Ullate. Amherst Ballet alums have danced in such companies as Idaho Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Nashville Ballet II, and on Broadway.
Our Board of Directors Rebecca Leveille Guay, President; Formerly an illustrator, now a gallery painter; resides in Amherst Justyne Ogdahl, Vice-President; Laboratory Instructor at Mt. Holyoke College; resides in Amherst Lisa Andras; Grants Manager at Hampshire College; resides in Chicopee Santo Mammone; UMass Student; resides in Barre Nicola Metcalf; Nurse; resides in Sunderland Heather W. Reichgott, resides in S. Hadley Gopal Narayanan; Acting Treasurer; Professor at UMass Amherst; resides in Amherst Catherine Sanderson; resides in Hadley Molly Stamell, Artistic Director of Amherst Ballet (ex officio); resides in Amherst