Ballet Theatre Ashtabula, a pre-professional dance company founded in 1981 that provides students and area dancers the freedom to fully develop their technical and artistic abilities. Our goal is to provide students who are career oriented with the necessary technical foundation while also allowing recreational students the opportunity to participate in classes of high standards. Made possible by a Civic Development Corporation grant, our dance studio is one of the finest in Northeast Ohio, with a basket weave construction sprung floor just like the one at Lincoln Center in NYC—an important factor in injury prevention. Financial aid is available for those in need.
Fees and Registration
Payment is expected at the time of registration unless otherwise noted, and can be made by cash, check, or credit card (a $2 service fee will be applied to all payments made by phone). Qualifying donors receive a discounted rate. Materials fees, model fees, and some other fees are excluded from this discount.
Registration is required. A minimum number of students is needed to hold a class. When necessary, a class start date may be postponed a week or a class may be cancelled 24 hours prior to the starting time. Classes and lessons are open to all, regardless of race, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or national origin.
If a class is cancelled, appropriate refunds will be given. Persons desiring to withdraw from a class, who do so at least 24 hours before the start time of the class, will receive a full refund. If you drop a class after this deadline, but before the second meeting of the class, you will receive a refund for 75% of your tuition. There will be no refunds after the second class meeting.
Dance Class Levels/Fees for Winter/Spring Session
Ballet I (minimum of 1 class per week) – cost for 16 week winter/spring session: $180
split payment option: $90 due 1/14 & 3/11
Ballet II (minimum of 2 classes per week) – cost for 16 week winter/spring session: $360
split payment option: $180 due 1/14 & 3/11
Ballet III (minimum of 3 classes per week) – cost for 16 week winter/spring session: $540
split payment option: $270 due 1/14 & 3/11
Ballet IV (minimum of 6 classes per week) – $1026
split payment option: $513 due 1/14 & 3/11
Early registration receives 5% discount on payments made in full for the 16-week session — deadline is Jan. 7.
Families paying full tuition (no financial aid) for siblings receive a 5% discount (can be combined with early registration discount.)
AAC donors receive 10% off tuition.
About the new Winter/Spring Session
We have changed from an 8-week winter and 8-week spring session with a long break to a 16-week continuous winter/spring session to give our dance students the uninterrupted training that is standard for pre-professional ballet schools, building a strong curriculum and preparing for spring performance opportunities. We look forward to showcasing students’ achievements through our productions: the Spring Dance Concert for Ballet III & IV dancers, and a spring recital for Ballet I & II dancers. These performance opportunities help to develop and advance each student, allowing them to discover their own talents and strengths.
Financial aid is available for eligible students. FINANCIAL AID APPLICATION Rev. 1115 may be downloaded or obtained at the front desk and must be filled out and returned no later than one week prior to the start date of the class. PLEASE NOTE: Financial aid is not applied towards Nutcracker Season fee, only to classes.
By registering yourself or your child for a class/workshop/music lesson/or other activity at the arts center, you hereby waive and release all rights and claims for damages you or your child may have against the arts center and its employees. The arts center will not be responsible for injuries suffered by you or your child during classes, workshops, or activities sponsored by the arts center. In addition, you also give the arts center and its employees the right to use your or your child’s image with or without you or your child’s name, for purposes such as advertising, publicity, and public presentations.
Dance Class Policies
Class placement is determined by experience, maturity, and ability rather than age. More than one year is often needed in any given level. Our main concern is to provide each student with the training necessary for their stage of development. If a change to another level is appropriate, parents & student will be notified. Parents are welcome to request a conference concerning a child’s progress.
Especially in the case of younger students, parents and friends are asked not to observe classes except when invited. Children are often shy and distracted when they have an audience. Family and friends will be invited to observe the last class of the term. If parents have concerns about a child’s progress, a special observation day may be arranged.
Ballet: Females should wear pink tights and a solid-colored leotard. Pink ballet slippers should be worn for technique classes. Males should wear white or black tights and shoes and white t-shirts. Hair should be neatly groomed away from the face.
Basic Dance/Stretch: Loose clothing such as leotards, footless tights, running pants, t-shirts, etc.
Brenda dancing during the great disco era right here in Ashtabula at Sardi’s Disco. Her favorite New York hustle style included quick adagio and acrobatic movements. This was the time when couples began to dance together again after the freestyle movement of twisting and rocking. Hustle is the last partner dance to be born right here in America. Soon the hustle began to incorporate ballroom inspired steps and movements, such as the Cha Cha. With her partner, she taught and also competed in many dance contests from here to New York. She trained and taught ballroom dance at Marguerite Pivarnik’s Footworks Dance Studio of Ashtabula, competed for NBC’s Dance Fever, and had the pleasure of dancing on stage in Cleveland with the Arthur Murray Studio in the Dancing With The Stars Tour 2009 and 2010. Although this was just a warm up the audience act, what a thrill to see the stars up close and personal! She has taught at many venues, but is currently teaching the hustle and other American social dances at the Ashtabula Arts Center. Her motto is, “If You Can Walk, You Can Dance.”
Shelagh Dubsky (Founder, Ballet Theatre Ashtabula School of Dance)
Shelagh holds a BA in dance from Mercyhurst University. She received her dance training with the American Ballet Theatre School, the Joffrey Ballet School, David Howard, Melissa Hayden, and Finis Jung. She danced professionally with Long Island Ballet under the artistic direction of Brett Raphael before moving to Ohio. Shelagh has been the director of dance at the arts center for thirty-three years and has served as the artistic director of the arts center’s performing dance company, Ballet Theatre Ashtabula. Many of her former students have gone on to dance professionally in companies such as Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, Momix, Alberta Ballet, The Montgomery Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, Hubbard Street 2, Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Alvin Ailey II, The Joffrey Ensemble, Verb Ballets, The Ohio Ballet, Elise Monte Dance, and Richmond Ballet. Shelagh’s students have also danced professionally for major cruise lines and in national tours of Broadway shows such as Mary Poppins and Billy Elliot the Musical. Other former students have gotten their degrees in dance from prestigious universities such as The Juilliard School, Butler University, Mercyhurst University, Ailey/Fordham, and the University of Cincinnati. Today, many of Shelagh’s former students have become artistic directors of dance companies themselves, or are on the dance faculties of dance schools around the country.
Lauren Hammond began her dance training at the Ashtabula Arts Center under the direction of Shelagh Dubsky. She began college as a ballet performance major at Butler University then ultimately chose to pursue education. Lauren has been teaching Jazzercise for five years and is an AFAA certified personal trainer.
Clover Robinson (Director of Dance)
Clover Robinson is a native of Ashtabula and began her dance training at the Ashtabula Arts Center under the direction of Shelagh Dubsky. Clover holds a BFA in dance from Wright State University, where she trained and performed with the Dayton Ballet and was a faculty member for the Dayton Ballet School. Furthering her career in Chicago, Clover performed with Ballet Theatre of Chicago, The 58 Group, and eventually joined Hubbard Street 2 under the direction of Julie Nakagawa (Artistic Director, DanceWorks Chicago). Working with choreographers Lou Conte (founder, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), Robert Battle (Artistic Director, Alvin Ailey), Jessica Lang (Artistic Director, Jessica Lang Dance), Ron De Jesus, Harrison McEldowney, and Ginger Farley, among many others, was an exceptional artistic experience in Clover’s career. During her time with Hubbard Street 2, Clover was part of a trade mission and cultural exchange between the State of Illinois and South Africa. She performed for the Governor’s Delegation among other audiences in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and worked closely with South African dancers in the cultural exchange. Clover retired and moved home to teach dance at the Arts Center beginning in 2001. She became Assistant Artistic Director of Ballet Theatre Ashtabula and worked closely with Shelagh Dubsky for more than a decade.
Cassandra Serdula is originally from Austinburg, and is a 2009 alumna of Mercyhurst University. She began her training at Ballet Theatre Ashtabula under the direction of Shelagh Dubsky and Clover Robinson. While at Mercyhurst, she performed with The Lake Erie Ballet and Mercyhurst Dance Theatre and was coached by several distinguished dancers such as Laura Alonso, Valerie Valentine, and Vivi Flindt. Upon graduating, she joined The Montgomery Ballet in 2009 under Artistic Director Elie Lazar where she performed several of Lazar’s original works such as Carmen, Verdi Pas de Six, and Carmina Burana. In 2010, the company toured to Pietrasanta, Italy, with a mixed repertoire of works, performing 11 different ballets in one week. She has performed Balanchine’s Valse Fantasie and Who Cares? as well as several roles in the classics—Coppélia, Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, La Vivandière, and many more. Cassie also performed as a guest artist with Arova Contemporary Ballet in Birmingham, AL and has been a program assistant for National Dance Institute in NYC under the direction of Jacques d’Amboise. Most recently, she was a member of The Georgia Ballet under the direction of Alexandre Proia.
Trinity Stevens has been studying dance at the Ashtabula Arts Center since 2013. She has appeared in their productions of The Nutcracker and spring dance concerts, and has assistant taught Creative Movement classes. Trinity attended The Celebrate Erie Summer Dance Intensive at Mercyhurst University in 2017, where she studied with Lesley Bories-Scalise and Lauren Stenroos. Aside from dancing, Trinity performs in local theater productions and studies music. She is working on attaining her Associate of Arts degree from Kent State Ashtabula.