New Haven Ballet’s mission is to demonstrate and use the power of dance to change the life of every person in the community through education, performance, physical exercise, artistic aspiration, personal development, and social interaction to the fullest of their potential.
The highly acclaimed New Haven Ballet (NHB) began in the basement of St. Paul's church in the fall of 1985, under founding Artistic Director Noble Barker. Since then NHB has firmly established itself in the Greater New Haven and shoreline arts communities, with studios in New Haven and Branford, and highly trained faculty that support students aspiring to professional dance careers, as well as those studying ballet for recreational purposes. In addition, the school has become a major arts organization, playing a vital role in the community through outreach and school programs, a student performance ensemble, and collaborations with artists within the community and beyond. In recent years, despite the sluggish economy, the school’s enrollment has remained steady and even increased. The NHB’s annual The Nutcracker, performed at the historic Shubert Theater with guest stars from world-class ballet companies, has become a New Haven holiday tradition.
"New Haven Ballet (NHB), a non profit 501c3 community-based ballet organization, is the preeminent classical ballet school in the greater New Haven area. NHB offers classes to the New Haven community in ballet as well as other genres, is home to a student performance company, and offers a unique outreach program (DanceAIR), which brings arts education and performance opportunities to underserved inner city youth. NHB also encourages relationships with other local arts based groups and organizations to further enrich arts opportunities and experiences for the greater New Haven community."
- Lisa Sanborn, Artistic Director
- Susan Laity, Board member &former Board chair
The New Haven Ballet (NHB) company performs numerous times a year throughout
Southern Connecticut. Most notable
is the Ballet’s annual holiday rendition of The Nutcracker at the historic Shubert
Theater. The company, which consists of pre-professional dancers from the NHB School, performs with professional guest artists of national and international stature. The NHB Company has performed and collaborated with the Chancel Opera
Company, Connecticut Ballet Theatre, the Hartford Ballet, the Moscow
State Ballet, the New Haven Symphony, the Nutmeg Ballet, the Omaha
Ballet, Orchestra New England, the Pittsburgh Ballet, Yale Repertory
Theatre, and more.
The company recently collaborated with Wallingford Symphony Orchestra at the Paul Mellon Arts Center. They are also performed at Arts on the Edge and multiple other spring performances at the Shubert Theater and the Performing Arts Center at the Co-op High School of the Arts and Humanities.
The Nutcracker is in it's 14th year and consistently reaches audiences of 5,000 or more.
Company success is monitored by audience attendance, number of presentations per year and number of performers requesting participation.
Audience attendance is growing. Requests for performances are coming from quality artistic venues.
Through NHB’s Shared Ability program, youth with physical and mental disabilities participate with NHB intermediate and advanced students in a series of dance workshops led by inclusive dance expert Brad Roth. Together, the group creates a dance piece to perform on stage. During 2016, they will perform as part of the NHB Spring Performance at the Shubert Theater.
Youth with physical and mental disabilities share their accomplishments and interest in dance as they perform before family, friends and the community. Community members see the talents of people with disabilities. Shared Ability also encourages the education of emerging artists. NHB student dancers share their skills and understanding of dance with youth with disabilities; they explore new ways of moving, and they learn about the process of choreographing and rehearsing a dance piece.
NHB's Shared Ability program is helping a broader population of our community to experience the joy of dance. The program reaches teens and young adults with autism or autism spectrum disorder, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other disorders. Without Shared Ability, these youth would have very limited opportunities to receive dance training, collaborate with other dancers and choreographers, and perform on stage.
NHB measures the effectiveness of Shared Ability through the number of youth participating, observation by NHB’s Artistic Director and faculty, and feedback from youth, parents and community partners.
An audience member said, “Thank you to the dancers in the shared ability program for enriching all of our lives. Your piece was exquisite. What a beautiful way to open the show. Thank you and congratulations to each and every one of you!”
NHB’s DanceAIR program makes the finest classical ballet training accessible to underserved urban youth attending public elementary schools in New Haven. Designed to make a significant impact on children’s social, artistic, fitness, and academic development, DanceAIR offers twice weekly in-school classical ballet instruction, culminating in a community performance with pre-professional and professional dancers, reaching 1,200 people. Students learn dance technique and choreography, as well as caring for their bodies through healthy choices. The program brings the joy of dance and performance to children who might not otherwise have this opportunity.
Adult Open Division Classes are available for adults and teens 12 years and older, with and without previous ballet, modern or pilates experience. These classes are offered at each of our studios on a drop-in basis with no pre-registration required.
Dance has a special place in the development of children
because it stimulates the mind while challenging and engaging the whole body.
Through NHB’s programs, students develop a respect for and appreciation of
dance and movement. They develop dance skills, express themselves creatively,
and interact with other student dancers and professional artists.
Students gain skills that will help them in
whatever they pursue – the desire for excellence, a willingness to accept
criticism, the ability to work within a team, and the feeling of being part of
the success of a performance or program. Families and friends of the students
also benefit as they take pride in their child’s growth as a dancer and share
in their interest and accomplishments.
Effectiveness is measured through the number of students enrolled, the number and percentage of students
progressing to higher levels in the School, observation by the Artistic
Director and faculty, and feedback from students and parents.
New Haven Ballet students have gone on to train at other professional
schools including the School of American Ballet, The Rock School, Boston Ballet
School, and the School at American Ballet Theatre. New Haven Ballet School
alumni include Jeremy Cox, now a principal dancer at Miami City Ballet.
Lisa Sanborn began her dance training in New Jersey at the Princeton Ballet School. After moving to Illinois, Ms. Sanborn trained at the Ruth Page Foundation in Chicago with Larry Long, Dolores Lipinski, and Warren Conover. She later studied with many other notable teachers, including Elisabeth Carroll and Felix Smith.
Ms. Sanborn danced as a member of the Clinton Contemporary Ballet and Quad Cities Civic Ballet companies in Iowa, performed for several years in the Chicago Tribune Charities production of The Nutcracker at the Arie Crown Theater, and appeared with the Royal Danish Ballet at the Auditorium Theater in Napoli, a ballet created by famed choreographer and ballet master August Bournonville.
In addition to the Snow Queen and several soloist roles in New Haven Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker at the historic Shubert Theater, Ms. Sanborn also performed in corps and solo variations from ballets such as La Bayadère, Pas de Quatres, Swan Lake, Giselle, Paquita, and Les Patineurs, as well as neoclassical and contemporary/lyrical works choreographed by Phillip Otto and Bronwen MacArthur.
Prior to her appointment as Artistic Director at New Haven Ballet in April 2014, Ms. Sanborn, who was brought to NHB by former artistic director Phillip Otto in 2001, acted as NHB’s Interim Artistic Director (2013-2014), was a distinguished teacher at the Ballet, and during her tenure taught ballet technique, variations, and pointe to both children and adults. She also choreographed and staged several works for NHB. Her students have pursued professional careers in dance and been accepted into many elite summer programs, including School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the Rock School (Pennsylvania Ballet), Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Joffrey Ballet, Boston Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, and the Nutmeg Conservatory.
In addition to ballet, Ms. Sanborn taught Pilates at Sarah Aldrich Pilates in New Haven. She gained exposure to traditional mat Pilates during her time as a ballet dancer and teacher, and is classically trained and certified in mat and all apparatus.
Ms. Sanborn holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from Skidmore College, where she minored in dance. She received a Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School of Union University and served as corporate counsel for the Southern Connecticut Gas Company and Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation until the birth of her son in 2009. In 2015, Yale University appointed Ms. Sanborn an Associate Fellow of Pierson College. Ms. Sanborn is also a member of the Arts Industry Coalition and serves on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Dance Alliance.
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