Posts Tagged ‘Portland Ballet’


Portland Ballet

June 14, 2018

Portland Ballet

Portland Ballet received an Arts Learning grant from the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) for the 2017-18 school year. I had a chance to visit the program during the winter and was so impressed with the commitment the teenagers were making to the dance program. The following information provided by the Portland Ballet staff will give you a glimpse of the program and its history.

Founded in 1980, Portland School of Ballet (PSB) has been the premier dance education center of southern Maine for over three decades. Professional and inclusive, the School is dedicated to bringing dance to people of all ages and skill levels, while at the same time maintaining it’s focus on training young men and women for professional careers. In a unique partnership with schools across southern Maine, our CORPS Program allows for qualified high school students to pursue pre-professional dance training as a compliment to their academic studies. PSB’s Syllabus Program (for dancers ages 7-19) is a six level program in which classical ballet taught according to a developmental curriculum. Along with our Young Dancer Program, which is focused on dancers ages 3-7, Adaptive Dance for students with special needs, and adult classes for life long learners, Portland School of Ballet’s highly trained faculty and experienced management enrich the lives of all levels of students in the Portland Area and beyond.
In 1994, Portland Ballet established an innovative partnership with Portland High School, resulting in a pre-professional performing arts high school curriculum this is unique in the state and has spread across the region. Qualified students continue to be granted early release, when necessary, to Portland Ballet for three hours of daily intensive study in ballet, variations, jazz, modern, dance history, pedagogy and stage craft.  Participants may earn transcript credit in Physical Education and Fine Arts.  Today, a variety of schools may arrange academic schedules to embrace CORPS, whose students have gome on to BFA programs like Butler University and The Hartt School, to prestigious summer prgormas like New York City’s School of the American Ballet and Boston Ballet, and professional positions at American Repertory Ballet and Dance Theater of Harlem.
The benefits of being an active member in the CORPS program are numerous and these dancers develop skills in areas they are able to use in every walk of life, not just those applicable in the ballet studio or on the stage. Students are able to fine tune skills they are already developing such as time management, communication styles and adaptability as they navigate the usual work load of a high school student on top of the of the demands that come along with this program. In addition to this, I think one of the biggest benefits dancers take away from the lessons learned in the studio is that of a deep knowledge for how use of respect and discipline create an amazing space in which they are able to not only understand themselves better but can appreciate what others are capable of as well. In ballet, respect for the art form, for the teacher, for others in class and for one self is probably the most important thing that is taught from generation to generation in the classroom. With that understanding of respect a discipline follows that enables the growth of ballet technique and this is the basis for artistry to thrive. The benefit of this process is the ability to express oneself.  When we are able to do this a confidence is instilled that stays with us through all walks of life.  Being a part of the CORPS program and having the opportunity to focus completely on developing oneself as an artist leads to these young adults gaining a better sense of who are they are and who they are able to become.
As educators of these young adults we hope they are able to use the skills learned at the barre and on the stage to help them achieve their goals of becoming professional dancers. But this does not cover the whole scope of our ambitions for them. Becoming a professional dancer has many obstacles, many of which are beyond one’s control, and having gone through the process ourselves we realize that only a percentage of our students may be able obtain a job as a dancer. This does not give us pause. We understand that the abilities learned in the ballet classroom apply to so many aspects of life and passing  these lessons down to our students is extremely fulfilling. Our hopes for these young dancers is that when they step beyond our walls the respect, discipline, self awareness and confidence go with them to help shape their lives. We look forward to seeing how what they have learned in the studio has helped propel them in the direction of their own dreams, whether they become a professional dancer, a patron of the arts or any other wonderful part of our community.
If you have questions about the CORPS program please contact Nell Shipman, Artistic Director at or Milena Hartog, Assistant to the Artistic Director at
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