It is no secret that just as houses are built on a foundation, dancers are built from a unique foundation as well. With rigorous training in technique and artistry, it is the hope that this foundation will be reinforced with strength and agility that can withstand the added pressures that come with it.
Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB), one of the premier youth academies in the nation, is the shining example of building a strong foundation throughout the dance community in hopes of conquering outside elements and stigmas geared toward male dancers. Dance Informa talks with CEO Nicholas Ade about CPYB’s groundbreaking approach to dance instruction and how it has casted a wider net for training and performance opportunities for young dancers.
The initial vision for CPYB was crafted by its Founder, Marcia Dale Weary, who was no stranger to ballet training but knew that that training could build far beyond four walls.
Ade tells Dance Informa, “Marcia firmly believed in the transformative power of classical ballet, envisioning it as a medium through which every child could glean essential values and life lessons. The rigorous training, she knew, had the potential to not only mold exceptional dancers but also shape individuals for success in various life pursuits.”
Equipped with a firm vision, Weary sought to use her personal experiences which were marked with inadequate training to ignite a goal for CPYB that would carry through to each student throughout the years: to impart the most impeccable and correct techniques to her students. With this goal in mind, CPYB’s objective of delivering unparalleled training and safeguarding students crystallized and would prove to set their training apart from other institutions.
One of the aspects that CPYB focuses on is the whole student. Keeping the foundation resting on Weary’s syllabus, artistic expression is nurtured for each student. This nurturing is taken a step further through offering diverse classes, performance platforms, Pilates, conditioning, physical therapy, massage therapy and psychological support. These are some of the key components that set CPYB apart from other dance organizations while striving to cultivate an environment of trust and unwavering support.
“At CPYB, a distinctive blend of world-class training and unparalleled performance opportunities sets us apart,” says Ade. “Our educational model seamlessly propels graduates from CPYB into professional dance companies. The essence of our uniqueness lies in producing not just skilled dancers, but artists poised to excel in a professional environment.”
In the spirit of fostering not only talented performers but artists across the board, CPYB is also shattering stigmas specifically around male dancers as well.
Ade tells Dance Informa, “Specifically for male dancers, we have revitalized our Men’s Program, which is now a decade strong!” This comprehensive initiative encompasses daily men’s classes, tailored weight training, sports psychology sessions, mentoring and more. This solidifies our commitment to nurturing male talent.”
The world-class education and resources that CPYB offers while keeping the well-being of each student in mind is fueled even further by another common theme at the center of impacting the youth: access. This is accomplished in large part to offering scholarship opportunities to young aspiring artists. CPYB’s scholarship program thrives on access as the cornerstone to allow the youth to pursue their goals.
“It is all about access to everything we provide and removing barriers so that you can fulfill your potential,” according to Ade. “This initiative transcends mere financial barriers. It’s about fostering an inclusive environment. The impact reverberates in the youths’ enriched lives as they access Marcia’s legacy which lies at the heart of our mission — a legacy that empowers and uplifts.”
As CPYB continues to strengthen the foundation strategically built by Weary, there is even more room to plan for future generations that acquire exceptional training with room to grow and learn with some of the best. Ade discusses some of the future endeavors that CPYB actively aspires to tackle while holding true to their mission.
“The future holds a renewed dedication to our Men’s Program,” he explains. “Our Two-Year Male Ballet Scholarship effectively removes barriers, enabling aspiring male dancers to flourish. As we continue to train more young men, a cascade of opportunities unfolds which benefits everyone ranging from enriched performance programming to enhanced partnering classes.”
In addition to stretching the reach of their Men’s Program, CPYB is also bringing one of Weary’s dreams to fruition in the form of a 200-seat theater. This visionary dream is gradually becoming a reality with collaborative efforts involving CPYB’s Board and even more importantly the supportive community surrounding the program.
“Our goal extends beyond the theater’s physical presence,” Ade explains. “We aspire to create a vibrant space for collaboration and, above all, to enrich our community’s understanding of the profound positive impact that engagement in the arts can have on youth.”
As the school continues to build and grow within its community, CPYB stands not only as a preeminent training ground but also as a place where dancers are welcomed, valued, and where meaningful friendships can be forged and cherished for a lifetime.
To learn more about Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, including the Two-Year Male Ballet Scholarship program, visit cpyb.org.
By Monique Jackson of Dance Informa.