Ballet Pensacola presents four major productions each season: a fall show, The Nutcracker in December, a winter show, and a spring show. Along with the four major productions, Ballet Pensacola gets involved with the community by performing in schools, area festivals, and special events. The Ballet Pensacola Academy students have the opportunity to perform with the professional company, and the students have their own Academy Student Showcase at the end of the school year. As Pensacola’s resident professional dance company, Ballet Pensacola is known for its high artistic quality and innovative productions showcasing classical and contemporary choreography. Performances are offered at various venues throughout the Pensacola community, including the Saenger Theatre and the Pensacola Cultural Center.
The Ballet Pensacola Academy consists of a Youth Division and a Training Division. The Youth Division is for students ages 3-6 and the Training Division is for students ages 7-18. Students in the Youth Division are able to take Creative Dance and Pre-Ballet classes to learn rhythm, movement, and ballet basics while beginning to understand concepts of dance. The Training Division is divided into eight levels and is designed for students who wish to continue the study of dance up to an advanced level. Progression is based upon abilities, potential, and understanding instead of age. Upper-level students are eligible to audition for the Ballet Pensacola Youth Company. Students of the Academy have opportunities to train in ballet, modern, tap and jazz. Ballet Pensacola offers Summer Camps and Summer Intensives that are open to academy students, dancers in surrounding areas and across the nation! All Ballet Pensacola students are offered performance opportunities during the year. Ballet Pensacola is proud that our students are accepted into the most prestigious dance programs throughout the nation, and that many former students are currently working as dance professionals.
In 1978, Italian trained dancer and teacher, Gioia Michelotti, founded Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre to offer performance opportunities to young dancers and to promote the art of dance. During it’s first season, Kaleidoscope attained its 501(c)3 non-profit status and offered a number of performances to the public. Michelotti’s passion for integrated dance education and performance attracted young dancers from throughout the community and remained the guiding philosophy of the organization after she retired.
In 1980, Kaleidoscope’s Board of Directors established an academy for the training of young dancers. Judy Gomez and Debbie Parrish shared the artistic and educational leadership until 1988, when they were joined by Nannette Grimm and Patsy Hill. In 1989, Kaleidoscope presented, for the first time, Pensacola’s Nutcracker. Soon after, Kaleidoscope developed a partnership with the Escambia and Santa Rose County School Districts to bring dance to elementary schools. Three years later, Kaleidoscope was asked to be the resident dance company and school as one of the anchor tenants in the Pensacola Cultural Center. To coincide with its new home, the senior performing company was named “Ballet Pensacola” to recognize it as Pensacola’s dance company and its many contributions to the community. The Kaleidoscope name remained as the moniker for the ballet school until 2005, when the entire organization was renamed Ballet Pensacola.
In 2003, Artistic Director Bobby Ball, implemented the Dance Chance Scholarship program to give deserving students opportunities to study dance with the Ballet Pensacola Academy. In 2005, the position of Ballet Mistress was established to oversee performance preparation, and Christine Duhon joined the organization. Richard Steinert was named Artistic Director in 2007 and established a resident professional company in addition to the talented student dancers. In 2021, Darren McIntyre was named Artistic Director. Today, Ballet Pensacola consists of a training academy that serves approximately 200 students each season along with a professional company of approximately 20 dancers from around the globe. Ballet Pensacola has gained a strong national and international reputation.