One of the country's premier ballet companies is opening its first full-time dance school outside of New York next fall in Costa Mesa.
The American Ballet Theatre and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts are creating the new school, which will open to 3-14 year olds, the organizations announced this week.
"It's not really just about churn out really talented dancers that are going to become swan queens. It's a deeper educational value put on it," said Kevin McKenzie, the ballet theater's artistic director who is overseeing training and curriculum for the new school.
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McKenzie explained that the school will have dual purposes. Identifying top talent on the West Coast for a professional ballet track will be a part of it, but serving as a community resource for dance education — to offer what many schools aren't teaching in the classroom — will also play a large role.
The school will have nine class levels as part of a 36-week program. Free community classes will also be offered.
The ballet company entertained the idea of starting a West Coast school 10 years ago, but didn't have the resources at the time to make it happen. The new partnership with Segerstrom has been in the works for over a year.
"Segerstrom Center actually initiated this thought and we went 'bingo,'" McKenzie said. "This is the moment in time."
The new school, called the American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School, launches Sept. 14, 2015. Classes with live accompaniment will take place in Segerstrom's dance studios. Tuition will start at $1,150 per year and enrollment applications are available online.