Pennsylvania Ballet breaks ground on new school

October 11, 2011 2:39:14 PM PDT
One of the best ballet companies in the country is getting a new home on the Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia.

The ballet company broke ground Tuesday on a $17.5 million project that includes new studio and office space on North Broad Street.

"Not only will it provide a new home for the ballet, but it will help re-establish a school," said Cary Levinson, Chair of the Pa. Ballet.

It is a vital next step in the growth of the Ballet, founded by George Balanchine protege Barbara Weisberger.

"They're going to be able to have up to 400 students at this new facility," Levinson said.

For the past four years, the Ballet has been divided into two temporary locations - a small office in Center City and a studio in East Falls. The new facility will not only be permanent... it will be a home.

"A place where, once the school is established, we can develop dancers from here in the community to join our company and companies all over the country and the world," said Jonathan Stiles, a dancer with the Pa. Ballet.

One million dollars for the school comes from the city's Cultural Corridors Fund. It is named after the Ballet Chair Emeritus, Louise Reed.

"There have just been so many high moments for the ballet in and outside the city," said Reed. "I don't think Philadelphia gets that we really are a great company."

But some of the dancers say ballet is beginning to be more appreciated.

"A bunch of us were in Black Swan, the movie, so we had Swan L ake at the academy last year and we had every show sold out," said Stiles.

The school is scheduled to open next September.

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