Newington Youth Ballet & Wethersfield Ballet Academy
By KATELYN KELLEHER
WETHERSFIELD - Newington Youth Ballet & Wethersfield Ballet Academy brings young dancers of all ages and ability to develop poise and strength, self-confidence and a sense of philanthropy.
Artistic Director Jane Levin, an accomplished dancer and instructor, has trained students from beginners to professional at various local studios. She founded the non-profit Newington Youth Ballet in October 2011.
“It was actually quite by accident,” she said with a laugh. “Some of the kids wanted extra ballet classes.”
In the beginning, Levin taught wherever space was available. “Sometimes we’d hold classes in nursing homes and the residents would watch, I had class in my apartment one day, in somebody’s backyard in their shed.”
Now settled in its permanent location at the Wethersfield Academy for the Arts in Old Wethersfield, Levin offers instruction and classes from age preschool and up for all levels of training, including private classes and coaching.
Ballet especially is wonderful for so many things--it builds the strength, the flexibility, the poise,” Levin said. “It’s good for other sports as well. Like for a soccer player, it helps with the amount of strength you need in your legs.”
“Our main goal is to develop self-esteem in children,” said Levin, who holds a degree in psychology, as does her daughter, who also teaches at the school. “The main premise that we base everything on is self-confidence because we believe that’s the key to everything our students do.”
The school also focuses on practicing for a purpose, putting on show to benefit other organizations. Recently students performed in the first annual Dancing for Rescues show, where the school donated 100 percent of the proceeds to animal rescues. The performance generated more than $800 to donate toward vet bills for abused animals and those pulled out of kill shelters.
“The kids get to see that their talent helps not only just them, but it can actually be put toward other good uses,” said Levin.
Levin is joined by an instructor who appeared in the Broadway production of Westside Story and other productions who teaches a jazz class each week as well as her daughter, Amanda Butler, who appeared in the films The Adjustment Bureau and 30 Minutes to Swim.
She also has many students who have gone on to become national and international champions as well as recipients of scholarships to prestigious colleges. Student Meghan Hinkis performed as Clara in Radio City’s “Christmas Spectacular, and went on to become a member of American Ballet Theater and is now a soloist with The Royal Ballet. Student Hayley Cloud was featured on season six of the show “So You Think You Can Dance,” and student Jade Cloud, who Levin has taught since she was six, is a featured dancer on Lifetime’s “Dance Moms” and is a soloist with Newington Youth Ballet.
Jade Cloud will be doing a “meet and greet” at the Newington Youth Ballet & Wethersfield Ballet Academy Open House Saturday, Aug. 23, from 3-5 p.m. The public is welcome to come and meet the faculty and learn about the school and upcoming programs and performances. Enrollment in classes is open year-round.
Newington Youth Ballet & Wethersfield Ballet Academy, 431 Hartford Ave., Old Wethersfield, can be reached at 860-986-9847 or email@example.com. Visit http://newingtonyouthballet-com for more information.