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Summer dance classes with the ABT Gillespie School begin at Segerstrom

The ABT Gillespie School offers summer dance opportunities at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
The ABT Gillespie School offers summer dance opportunities at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
(Doug Gifford)
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On June 3, the first session of summer dance classes began at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School located at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.

“Our summer programs are designed to both introduce children to the world of dance and help current students improve their technique,” said Sarah Jones, associate director of the William J. Gillespie School.

Forty-eight new students are among those participating in the summer classes, which give little dancers the opportunity to experience the professionalism of the ABT Gillespie School firsthand.

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The school is a formal expansion of the renowned New York-based American Ballet Theatre, regarded as one of the leading classical dance companies in the nation. The Costa Mesa outpost opened in 2015 and was named for Orange County philanthropist William J. Gillespie, who served on the ABT board and donated funds to the Segerstrom Center.

The school year is organized with a fall semester, which runs from early September through early December, and a spring semester from January to late May and requires prospective students over the age of 8 to audition, either in person or by submitting a video.

“What’s unique about our summer classes and camps is that they are open to the community with no audition required,” said Jones. “Every summer, we look forward to welcoming both new and returning students to our studios who want to further their training and see if the ABT Gillespie School is the right fit for them.”

The ABT Gillespie School is offering weekly classes for dancers ages 3 through 20.
(Courtesy of Segerstrom Center for the Arts.)

The summer classes are modeled after the school’s year-round classes, with Session 1 running through June 27. Session 2 will begin on July 22 and run through Aug. 15. The summer classes are lead by ABT Gillespie School faculty members and broken up by dance level and age and range in price from $120 to $500.

“Our summer classes for ages 3 to 20 offer a continuation of our high-quality, year-round curriculum, held in our beautiful on-site studios and featuring live accompaniment,” said Jones.

Additionally, the school offers a Summer Camp program with weeklong structured dance camps aimed at younger dancers ages 3 to 7. Besides ballet class, the campers will enjoy crafts and performances. Session one runs June 24 to June 28 with a focus on Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” while Session 2 runs July 29 to Aug. 2 with a focus on the same composer’s “Sleeping Beauty.” Summer camps are priced at $300.

Jones herself began ballet training at a young age, went on to perform many full-length classic ballets and earned a Master of Arts in Dance Education at NYU, with an emphasis on the American Ballet Theatre pedagogy. Since 2016, she has served as the Children’s Ballet Mistress for ABT’s “The Nutcracker” and is also responsible for the 2021 launch of an ongoing initiative titled “Boys Dance Too,” in which she leads the instruction of young male dancers ages 6 to 12.

Jones said the summer programming at the ABT Gillespie School can be a unique opportunity for any younger dancer, of any level.

“With the help of passionate and esteemed faculty, our goal is to help every dancer safely work towards their personal best while making new friends and having a great summer.”

Young people interested can register for summer classes and camps by visiting scfta.org.

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