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The Northerner

Ballet academy opens on campus

Lori Cox

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Getting an education is a wonderful thing, but have you ever wished the classes could be more fun? What if they were not only fun, but helped you look better when you’re out at the clubs, shakin’ it on the dance floor?

For students at Northern Kentucky University, classes like these are no longer just a fantasy.

Last Friday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony officially announced the opening of The Otto M. Budig Academy of Cincinnati Ballet at Northern Kentucky University. The Academy will provide an opportunity for NKU students and community members to experience exceptional dance training – possibly the best in the country, according to Gail Wells, dean of Arts and Science at NKU.

“It is enriching and unique to this part of the county,” Wells said. She envisions the Academy “becoming the hub of NKU and a center for the arts.”

This is the first program of its kind in Kentucky.

“Teaming up with an organization as respected as the Budig Academy is very exciting and we look forward to a very rewarding partnership,” said NKU President James Votruba.

The Academy provides a complete pre-professional curriculum to prepare students for professional careers in ballet and an inter-disciplinary program for students of musical theatre dance.

Students of the Academy have recently performed in Cincinnati Ballet productions of Peter Pan, Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella and have an exclusive opportunity to audition for The Nutcracker.

However, the Academy isn’t only for professional dancers. We are “open to everybody,” said Academy Director Daniel R. Simmons.

“We’ll have a combination of classes that are more for enjoyment and exercise and more serious classes for those who want to pursue a career,” he said.

The Academy offers classes in ballet, Hip Hop/jazz, Rhythm and Motion (dance aerobics) and Pilates that are open to anyone – NKU students/staff/faculty, children and community members.

Simmons, who trained at the Royal Academy of Dancing in London and in Russia, admitted he “started jumping up and down as soon as he heard NKU.

“This is huge, enormous,” he said.

The partnership between NKU and the Academy will benefit the entire region by providing a “seamless transition” between the arts and higher education.

“We hope to help the Ballet to reach their vision of outreach to the community” and “create new patrons of the arts” while developing a program which brings professional dancers to NKU for their education and advanced degree,” Wells said.

The satellite school was made possible by Otto M. Budig, namesake of the Otto M. Budig Theater at NKU and long-time patron of the arts in the greater Cincinnati area.

“I am absolutely convinced,” Budig said, that the arts improve our quality of life and provide an “opportunity to be more expressive outside of ourselves,” he said. “I want to do everything I can to help (the arts) flourish.”

The Academy is located in the small-business incubator on Campbell Drive behind the Technical School. An expanded schedule including Hip Hop/jazz, Rhythm and Motion (dance aerobics), ballet and Pilates, will begin Feb. 3, Grand Opening Week.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Ballet academy opens on campus