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American Ballet Theatre Opens Children’s Division at Mason Gross School of the Arts

Credit: Rosalie O'Connor

The Mason Gross Extension Division has partnered with the acclaimed American Ballet Theatre to open a satellite branch of their Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School Children’s Division on the Douglass Campus in New Brunswick.

An open house for the program and for all Extension Division classes takes place Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012; free sample classes will be offered. Classes officially begin Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, and run through Jan. 19, 2013. All fall-semester ABT/JKO students receive $100 off registration. Registration is open now.

Barbara Bashaw, graduate director of the EdM program in Dance Education at Mason Gross, says the JKO school not only provides rigorous training; it exposes young dancers “to a vast repertoire of classics, internationally acclaimed performers as role models and the opportunity to become a part of ballet culture, not just ballet classes.”

Credit: Rosalie O'Connor

Ideally, says Christopher Kenniff, director of the Extension Division, “The classes initiate a lifelong relationship with the art form. Success, ultimately, is about immersing in the whole art form as opposed to merely mastering the craft.” 


Mason Gross Dean George B. Stauffer says the alliance benefits the school’s Dance Department, as well as the JKO program’s participants.

“We have wanted to strengthen and expand the ballet component of our Dance program for some time, and our newly forged alliance with American Ballet Theatre gives us the opportunity to accomplish this goal,” the Dean says. “ABT is one of the most distinguished dance companies in the nation, both in terms of performance and educational outreach. Our students will benefit immensely from our collaboration with this magnificent troupe.”

According to ABT, the JKO school’s National Training Curriculum was created in partnership with a medical advisory board. The curriculum features age-appropriate, outcome-based guidelines and incorporate elements of the French, Italian and Russian schools of ballet.

Bashaw says ABT’s curriculum and accredited instructors “put the well-being of children center stage and challenge the notion of professionalism in ballet instruction as mean-spirited and severe.” ABT says classes focus on building a solid foundation in ballet technique with an emphasis on proper placement and safe progressions of movement. Instructors promote discipline and creativity in an environment that encourages each child to reach his/her highest potential.

And, in the end, the classes can offer children a means of expression and a vehicle for their imaginations.

“Many children are content to read the storybook classics; others prefer to live inside them,” Bashaw says. “ABT allows them to do just that."

ABT/JKO fall class schedule
(ages 4-5): Saturdays, 9-9:45 a.m.
Primary A (ages 5+): Saturdays, 10-11 a.m.
Primary C (ages 7+): Saturdays, 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Level 1A (ages 9+): Saturdays, 1-2:30 p.m. and Monday 6-7:30 p.m.
Primary classes are open to all; no prior experience is necessary
Special registration discount: $100 off of fall 2012 semester for all registrants
Rolling admission throughout the semester

To RSVP for the open house or to obtain more information, call 732-932-8618 or email

Access the full schedule of 2012-2013 Extension Division Classes, featuring dance, music and visual arts, here. Register for the fall semester online here.

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

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