When Colleen Smith decided 15 years ago to open a ballet school, she knew she wanted to provide aspiring dancers with something exceptional.
She joined several other classical ballet companies in South Florida in teaching serious students to dance and prepare for careers in dance.
Her idea was simple: Do not scrimp. Smith surrounded herself with other renowned teachers and professional dancers. Florida Classical Ballet Theatre at The Esther Center has since become one of the state's most successful dance companies. It has brought to life such classics as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, and has helped many young dancers take steps toward becoming professionals.
The Esther Center ballet school provides dancers ages 3 through adult with teaching in classical ballet, classical music and dance history. Through interaction with professional dancers and theater personnel, students learn all aspects of ballet production. Students do not need to begin their training at age 3. "We have dancers come to us as teenagers," said Smith, who serves as the theater's artistic director, "and they have learned and enriched their lives through dance."


Nutcracker Performances


Nov. 28, 7 p.m. and Nov. 30, 2 and 7 p.m. Presented by the Florida Classical Ballet Theatre. PBCC Eissey Campus Theater, 3160PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens. $20-30. Presented by the Florida Classical Ballet Theater. www.fcbt.org or 561-690-8235.
Nov. 28, 7 p.m.; Nov. 29, 8 p.m. and Nov. 30, 2 p.m. FAU's University Theatre, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton. Presented by Boca Ballet Theater. www.bocaballet.org.
Dec. 6 and 7. Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami. Presented by the young dancers of Thomas Armour Youth Ballet. $10-$25. Ticketmaster, 305-547-5414 or 305-358-5885.
Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 13 and 14, 3 p.m. Countess de Hoernle Theater at Spanish River Community High School, 5100 Jog Road, Boca Raton. Act II plus other ballets, modern dances and more presented by the Harid Conservatory. www.harid.edu or 561-998-8038.
Dec. 12-14. Au-Rene Theater, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Presented by Miami City Ballet. $19.75-$65. www.browardcenter.org or www.miamicityballet.org or 954-462-0222.
Dec. 13 and 14. Julius Littman North Miami Beach Performing Arts Theater, 17011 NE 19th Ave., North Miami Beach. Presented by the Arts Ballet Theater of Florida.www.boxofficetickets.com or 800-494-8497.
Dec. 14, 6 p.m. at Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center, 1770 Monroe St., Hollywood. Presented by the South Florida Ballet Theater. 954-929-4601.
Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m. Dec.16, 3 p.m. Township Center for Performing Arts, 2452 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek. Presented by the Fort Lauderdale Ballet Classique. 954-537-4195.
Dec. 19-23. Ziff Ballet Opera House, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Presented by Miami City Ballet. $19.75-$65. www.arshtcenter.org or www.miamicityballet.org or 305-949-6722.
Dec. 19-21. Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale. Presented by the Arts Ballet Theater of Florida. www.browardcenter.org or 954-462-0222.