The Arts Center will partially reopen on July 6!

We are very happy to announce that the Arts Center will partially reopen on Monday, July 6, for in-person classes and some private music lessons. Our temporary operating hours will be Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Payments for classes and lessons should be made through our website, by phone, or by mailed check before the student’s start date — not in person. Our front desk will only be intermittently staffed.

We require anyone entering the building to wear a mask the entire time they’re inside, and to check in at the front desk. The kitchenette in the front of the building will be used only as a handwashing station (no food prep permitted — dancers, please note); we ask that everyone wash hands upon entry. Parents of students: unless your child requires assistance, please do not accompany them into the building for their class/lesson. If you or anyone in your household is sick/running a fever, please do not enter the building.

Class capacity will be lowered to allow for social distancing, and private music lessons will be held in large, alternate spaces rather than the music rooms, to maintain necessary space between students and teachers. We ask that all students arrive no earlier than 5 minutes before their lesson/class. At this time, voice lessons will remain virtual, as will string lessons with Carol Linsenmeier. Teaching spaces (pianos/benches/chairs/barres/tables) will be sanitized after each class/lesson. Spaces will be marked out to maintain distance.

Dancers: please wear a mask and bring a spare in case your first gets wet. Please arrive dressed for class, and bring a full water bottle marked with your name — the water fountains are shut off. Any snacks that you bring need to be ready-to-eat (granola bars, veggies, etc.) — the kitchen will be locked and the front microwave/fridge will not be in use. No hands-on correction will be given, and class will not include contact between dancers.

Rennick Meat Market is supporting Ballet Theatre Ashtabula dancers this season

Rennick Meat Market is helping young artists in our community this month. From November 1 through December 6, Rennick will donate 10% of their lunch sales, Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., to Ballet Theatre Ashtabula School of Dance. Based at the Ashtabula Arts Center, BTA School of Dance has been teaching young people for over fifty years, and making The Nutcracker a community tradition for thirty-eight years. BTA offers classes for recreational students, dancing for fun and fitness, as well as for pre-professional students, providing foundational ballet training to those working towards a career in dance.

Alex Asteinza, co-owner of Rennick Meat Market, has been a staunch supporter of Ballet Theatre Ashtabula, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Ashtabula Arts Center. “Coming from New York and the arts culture there, I think it’s great to have this resource here. We had Lincoln Center right there, and then you come to Ashtabula and see these dancers working with professionally-trained teachers, in a studio with the same floor as Lincoln, putting on full productions – it’s a great asset for the community. I’m happy to be able to support what they’re doing.”

“BTA alumni have gone on to professional careers as performers, choreographers, teachers, and founders of dance companies and schools throughout the country,” notes Clover Robinson, director of BTA. “Just to name a few, we’ve had Katherine Horrigan, who is the co-founder of Company Danzante and the director of dance at Adagio Ballet School of Dance in Arlington, Virginia. We’ve had Tim Kolman, who’s currently dancing professionally with Ballet Tucson. Cara Seymour is a Juilliard grad dancing in New York City at the Metropolitan Opera. Rebekka Ryan, who just last Christmas was dancing in The Nutcracker at the Arts Center, is now at Marymount Manhattan College.” Robinson herself started dancing with BTA when she was three years old, coming up through the program and going on to obtain a BFA in Dance from Wright State University. She toured internationally with Hubbard Street 2, and was a faculty member with Lou Conte Dance Studio and Dayton Ballet School, before coming back to her hometown and the dance school she started in as a child. “This was my second home growing up. I wanted dance to continue to be a part of my life after I retired professionally, and I wanted to be closer to my family. Teaching at the Arts Center, and then becoming the artistic director after Shelagh Dubsky retired, let me do that. This dance program has continued to grow, and that’s been personally and professionally important to me. I firmly believe that dance is for everyone. It’s an outlet for self-expression, and we all need that in our lives. If you want dance to be your career, we can provide you the training to make that possible, as well as a network of alumni to connect with. This summer we had Lonnie Davis Jr in as a guest instructor and choreographer in modern and contemporary dance. Lonnie and I danced together professionally, and it was wonderful to be able to give our kids and other dancers in the area the opportunity to work with him. If you just love music and dancing, and you want to do it purely for fun, you’re welcome here, as well – you don’t have to have professional plans to dance with us. Whatever a student’s reasons for dancing with BTA, they will get high-quality classes and performance opportunities. We invest in our students’ growth. We want them to discover their own unique potential.”

Rebekka Ryan as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Ballet Theatre Ashtabula’s 2018 production of The Nutcracker

One of those performance opportunities is The Nutcracker, which BTA presents every December for three weekends.  Rennick’s Dining for Dance event will culminate on December 6, the same day this year’s production of The Nutcracker opens. “It’s wonderful to have this tradition that brings our community together every Christmas. We have multiple generations of families who come see it year it after year. It’s such a special thing to be part of. And as an educator, being able to offer students this kind of performance opportunity, whether it’s The Nutcracker or our Spring Dance Concert, is invaluable. Every dancer is learning customized choreography that is adapted to challenge their particular abilities and showcase their strengths. It’s a tremendous experience for a young performer. I’m so grateful to Rennick for helping BTA serve our students.”

Rennick Meat Market is located at 1104 Bridge Street in Ashtabula. Ballet Theatre Ashtabula’s production of The Nutcracker will run December 6-8, 13-15, and 19-22; get tickets here. BTA’s dance classes will resume in January; call (440) 964-3396 for registration information.

Rennick Meat Market supports Ballet Theatre Ashtabula with lunch sales

From November 1 through December 6, Rennick Meat Market will donate 10% of its lunch sales (Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.) to Ballet Theatre Ashtabula School of Dance!

BTA School of Dance has been teaching young people for over 50 years, and bringing our community together for the holiday tradition of The Nutcracker for 38 years. This season, you can help support the dreams, dedication, and hard work of these young dancers just by enjoying lunch at Rennick!

Rennick Meat Market is located at 1104 Bridge Street, Ashtabula.

Ballet Theatre Ashtabula’s production of The Nutcracker will run December 6-8, 13-15, & 19-22, Friday & Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday & Sunday at 2 p.m.

Film by Bob Lebzelter chronicling Ballet Theatre Ashtabula at Harbor film festival

The Ashtabula Harbor’s heritage outdoor film series ends Friday, August 23, with a 50-minute documentary by retired journalist (and Ashtabula Arts Center volunteer videographer) Bob Lebzelter on the grueling work it takes to put on a dance program at the Ashtabula Arts Center. “Fly On” chronicles the hours of work dancers and instructors put into the effort. While Ballet Theatre Ashtabula is known for its holiday “Nutcracker” offering, the Spring Dance Recital also requires dancers to spend hours and hours in practice and learning and creating choreography.

The film will be shown in the green space immediately west of Bridge Street Art Works, 1009 Bridge St.  Should it rain, the film will be shown the following week.

Lebzelter spent a month shooting video, chronicling the dancers as they evolved. “We take you to the practice rooms as students try different moves, make mistakes and try again,” Lebzelter said. “Then we quickly whisk you to the Arts Center stage. You will experience the dancing as I shoot right from the stage, from the audience’s perspective, from behind the stage and even above on the catwalk. I remember looking in back of me to see how much room I had so I wouldn’t fall off the stage while recording,” he said.

Students simultaneously worked on classic ballet and contemporary dance. The film interviews several of the participants about why they dance and what life lessons they get.

“Physically, dancing is incredibly difficult,” said dancer Jayson Gage. “Your body is doing things it doesn’t naturally do, like turning out and lifting your leg above a certain point, jumping as high as you can.”

The film looks back at the program as Director of Dance and instructor Clover Robinson goes over a photo of the troupe in the 90s and discusses the many people who ended up with careers in dance in far-flung areas of the world. It also looks to the future with young dancers, some not even in school yet.

“I think you will come away with an admiration for what these kids have accomplished and respect for their work ethic,” Lebzelter said.

Previous films in the harbor series have looked at Hulett unloaders, the Finnish contribution to the Harbor and the county’s agricultural heritage, as seen through 100 barn quilts. The films are free and appropriate for all ages. People should bring lawn chairs.

Dancer/Choreographer Lonnie E. Daivs Jr offering master class at AAC in August

Professional dancer and choreographer Lonnie E. Davis Jr. ( will be teaching a master class in Modern Contemporary Dance at the Ashtabula Arts Center on Monday, August 5 from 1-2:30 p.m. This class will incorporate elements of both modern and contemporary dance, offering students an opportunity to learn exciting new movement phrases, and to build upon their existing technique, becoming more versatile dancers. The class is open to dance students of all experience levels, ages 9 through adult, and the cost is $25 per person. Call (440) 964-3396 to register.

Professional dancer Lonnie Davis Jr. is currently on faculty at the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education, Dancers Studio Backstage (Atlanta Dance Theatre), and Cobb County Center for Excellence in Performing Arts. He has performed and trained with Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Gus Giordano Dance Chicago, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance.

Win a season pass to Straw Hat Theatre at the Spring Dance Concert this weekend


Come and see Fly On this weekend, and you might win a season pass to Straw Hat Theatre 2019! We’ll draw two season pass winners at each performance of the spring dance concert this weekend. Fly On runs May 3-5, Friday & Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. For tickets, call (440) 964-3396 or order online. Fly On features choreography styles ranging from classical ballet to contemporary dance to musical theater, set to music by Chromatics, Coldplay, Shostakovich, Philip Glass & Blondie, and more. This is the show that demonstrates everything dance can be, in all its varied, innovative, and beautiful forms.

Wine tasting event before the Spring Dance Concert on April 27

Make reservations now for this special event: sample wines from Markko Vineyard, The Lakehouse Inn, Hundley Cellars, and Laurello Vineyards before seeing the 7:30 p.m. performance of Fly On, Ballet Theatre Ashtabula’s 2019 spring dance concert. Tickets are $35 and include 8 2-oz. samples as well as your seat at the concert. Appetizers and desserts will be served, and bottles will be available for purchase. The wine tasting begins at 6 p.m. in the Arts Center gallery. Call (440) 964-3396 to make your reservations — space at this event is limited.

The annual spring dance concert by Ballet Theatre Ashtabula is a celebration of movement and creativity, featuring choreography styles ranging from classical ballet to contemporary dance to musical theater. This is the show that demonstrates everything dance can be, in all its varied, innovative, and beautiful forms. Fly On will feature music by Chromatics, Coldplay, Shostakovich, Lauv, Philip Glass & Blondie, and more.

Try a dance class for free!

Try a dance class for free! From 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 9, our Director of Dance Shelagh Dubsky will offer a sample beginning-level ballet class. If your son or daughter is interested in dance, but would like to try a class before committing to an eight-week session, this sample class is for them. Call (440) 964-3396 to sign up. Students should wear clothes that are comfortable to move in and thick socks. (Ballet slippers are not required for this class.)

See Ballet Theatre Ashtabula’s full schedule of winter classes here.