If your little one has huge dreams of doing pirouettes across the stage like a graceful ballerina and you are ready to make her dreams come true, read on for our guide to beginning ballet programs. These hot spots for mini ballerinas will set your feisty dancer on the road to becoming the next Anna Pavlova or Mikhail Baryshnikov.
The Portland Ballet, Photo courtesy of Jasmine Blue via Yelp
Laurelhurst Dance Studio
The Laurelhurst Dance program, part of Portland Parks and Rec, is arguably a favorite among parents due to its affordability, close-in location and high quality of instruction. The program works with tiny ones in pre-ballet on up through their Youth Ballet Training Program, which kids become eligible for when they turn 8. It also doesn’t hurt that the studio is right next to an incredible playground for wiggly toddlers, as well as across the street from a duck pond and tree-lined, paved trail.
Best for ages 3-10
Cost: $34-$80 for 10-11 classes
3756 SE Oak St.
Photo courtesy of The Little Gym of Lake Oswego via Facebook
The Little Gym of Lake Oswego
This program offers living room leapers the opportunity to refine their ballet techniques while playing with plenty of creative movement, and it’s different because it incorporates gymnastics into the dance program, which helps with overall poise and balance. The staff is also incredibly friendly and encouraging and they do a great job of keeping the atmosphere non-competitive.
Best for ages 3-12
Cost: One free intro class. $35 annual family membership fee, then $78/month
17890 SW McEwan Rd.
Lake Oswego, Or 97035
Westside Dance and Gymnastics Academy
Princess Ballet at the academy is perfect for itty bitty ballerinas, ages 2.5 to 4, because it teaches proper ballet technique and positions through a combination of movement, self-expression and literature. The Pre-Ballet program introduces the budding dancers to grace and coordination, as well as the classic positions of ballet, barre work, centre floor, leaps and turns.
Best for ages 2.5-12
11632 SW Pacific Hwy.
Portland Metro Performing Arts Center
Beginning ballet is offered at this 50 year-old nonprofit to munchkins in grades 1-6 after school. All students are welcome and the center even provides a free, after-school transportation van Monday through Thursday that picks up from Atkinson, Arthur Academy, Bridger, Cherry Park, CSS, Floyd Light, Glencoe, Grace Lutheran, Harrison Park, Jason Lee, Mill Park, Ventura Park and Vestal schools, which eliminates the chaotic pick-up scramble for parents. Another huge plus is that they offer other arts-based classes and free transportation for siblings.
Best for Kids in grades 1-6
9003 SE Stark St.
Photo credit: Katrina W via Yelp
Center for Movement Arts
Little dancers begin with Creative Movement classes teaching them about body awareness and the basic elements of dance. Step I is for children over 7 and is a complete beginners’ class for those with no previous dance experience. The center embraces a combination of English, Danish and Russian ballet techniques and is loved for its highly skilled instructors, affordable class prices and awesome parent observation windows. Plenty of free parking near Ladd’s Addition is another bonus, as is its proximity to the food cart pod at SE 12th and Hawthorne.
Best for ages 4-10
Cost: $104 for 7-8 week session, 1 class per week; 20 one time new student fee
1734 SE 12th Ave.
Pacific Festival Ballet
Pre-ballet classes start at age 4.5 to 6 and focus on floor exercises, stretching, isolation and articulation of arms, legs, hands, feet and head, as well as an introduction to barre work. After class, head to the nearby, environmentally-friendly, Ava Rosteria, for a fresh fruit smoothie or a creamy cappuccino.
Best for ages 4.5-6
4620 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy.
The Portland Ballet
Each September TBC holds a free, 3-class session for beginners 6-10 to find out if they are truly serious about studying ballet. If they do decide to continue, the entry-level Curriculum Ballet program is offered in the Fall, and students are asked to commit to the entire program, which lasts for 9 months.
Best for ages 6-10
6250 SW Capitol Hwy.
What’s your favorite ballet program? Let us know in the Comments section below.