Orlando Ballet School Announces New Programs and Talent

Orlando Ballet School has made exciting new additions to continue the upward trajectory of the organization and better serve its dancers, community, families and staff. These changes include a new influx of talent, an expansion of the school’s curriculum and programs, and a stronger partnership with the professional company.

Among the new wave of talent, Phillip Broomhead was recently named Orlando Ballet School’s Interim Director. Broomhead will succeed Dierdre Miles Burger, who will be stepping down from her full time position after eight years with Orlando Ballet School, and move to Jacksonville to be closer to family. Burger was an invaluable part of Orlando Ballet School, and plans to stay involved with Orlando Ballet’s American Ballet Theatre (ABT) accreditation process and the Jacksonville Summer Intensive.

“The last eight years as Director of Orlando Ballet School have been some of the most rewarding years of my career,” said Burger. “I’m honored to have overseen such a wonderful school and work alongside the talented artists and the exceptional faculty. Orlando Ballet is entering into a fantastic new chapter after an incredibly successful year of performances; I am confident the school will continue to bring superior training to all that love to dance. I wish the organization tremendous success in the years to come.”

Broomhead most notably, was a Principal Dancer with The Royal Ballet and Houston Ballet, performing in and often originating numerous leading roles. He also served as Houston Ballet’s Ballet Master, and has traveled all around the world as a dancer, coach and judge, with a strong involvement with the Youth America Grand Prix. Now as Interim Orlando Ballet School Director, Broomhead will work closely with Artistic Director Robert Hill to oversee the artistic and instructional leadership of Orlando Ballet School. Hill will also take on a more active role in Orlando Ballet School and teach weekly at the South Campus.

“I’m honored to be the Interim Orlando Ballet School Director, my passion is teaching and training students,” said Phillip Broomhead. “My goal is to help improve our students’ technique and shape their artistry so the dancers grow both personally and professionally. I’m looking forward to sharing my experience with future generations of dancers at Orlando Ballet.”

Additionally, Orlando Ballet has added the following esteemed faculty members:

Yan Chen: Principal Academy Teacher 

Previously serving as Orlando Ballet School’s Ballet Master, Chen had a successful career performing with American Ballet Theatre and The Washington Ballet. She will teach the upper levels of the Orlando Ballet School, share her artistic expertise, and coach students seeking advanced training. Chen will also continue to teach the professional company classes twice a week, supporting a stronger dynamic between the Orlando Ballet company and school.

Chiaki Yasukawa: Principal Teacher

Yasukawa will lead the Academy Prep Program at the South Campus, as well as teach at the Central Campus. Previously a professional company dancer performing 17 seasons with Orlando Ballet, Yasukawa danced numerous leading roles throughout her career, created award-winning choreography, and has performed as a guest artist all over the world.

Shannon Blust: Director of Contemporary Programs and Manager of South Campus

Blust brings 43 years of experience to Orlando Ballet, and will focus on expanding Orlando Ballet’s contemporary dance offerings and running the school’s Dr. Phillips location. His performance experience includes appearances on Broadway, multiple national tours, and ballet company works.

Under the direction of Blust, there will be new classes offered that explore different styles of dance at the Central and South Orlando Ballet School campuses. The new classes include Jazz/Stage Film, Tap, Musical Theater, Floor-Barre®, Young Men’s Class, Pilates, Contemporary, BeMoved®, Latin Cardio, and Hip Hop. Additionally, beginning Fall 2018, dancers will have the opportunity to enroll in the Daytime Performing Arts Program that runs three days a week. Within this program, students will be exposed to a broader lens of dance, acting and vocal training, and can take classes that range from Ballet and Contemporary, to Swing and Auditioning. The Daytime Performing Arts Program is open to students who are interested in a professional performing arts career, or who want to further explore performing arts.

“Dierdre Burger has been integral to the growth of Orlando Ballet School over the past eight years for which I thank her and wish her the very best with her upcoming move. Orlando Ballet School will continue to succeed and expand with the addition of Phillip, Yan, Chiaki and Shannon, who have all had illustrious dance careers and will add substantial depth to our faculty,” said Artistic Director Robert Hill. “Our school and professional company will be more united than ever. Whether you want to simply experience the joy of dance, or pursue a professional career in the performing arts, Orlando Ballet School continues to be Central Florida’s preeminent dance education program.”

The changes come in advance of Orlando Ballet’s new home, Harriett’s Orlando Ballet Centre, which is slated to open late 2019. The building will house Orlando Ballet School’s Central Campus and offer a state-of-the-art facility for students to hone their talents alongside the professional company. Harriett’s Orlando Ballet Centre fulfills one of the major goals of Orlando Ballet’s Long Range Plan, the guiding strategy for the organization’s artistic and financial success.

Orlando Ballet School adheres to the American Ballet Theatre Curriculum and is one of five ABT certified schools in the nation.


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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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