Helping you pick the right dance schools in Central Ohio.

The beauty of ballet initially attracts most little ones and their parents to the art form. Then they enroll in classes ready to leap into a fairy-tale world when the music plays.

"Every little girl goes through that 'I want to be a princess, I love pink' phase that's just part of being a girl," said Tara Miller, owner of the New Albany Ballet Company.

For that reason, she offers a Disney Princess themed summer camp for tiny dancers that ends with a costumed performance.

"They love the theatricalness," Miller said.

Beyond the tiaras and tutus, though, dance training develops an early appreciation for music, movement and more.

"The most important thing for young boys and girls is it develops confidence," said Jeri Pinnell, who owns Pinnell Dance Centre in Gahanna.

"We have children come in who are so shy they won't even look at you. And when they leave, they're not afraid of anything."

Choosing the right school or instructor for your child can be an overwhelming process because many parents step into the dance world with limited first-hand experience.

"They have to take the teacher's word," said Susan Brooker, director of the BalletMet Dance Academy.

Parents should carefully research credentials, evaluate training methods and observe classes to see how teachers and students present themselves within the school, Brooker said.

"The training of young children is important," she said. "Those children are there to have fun, but they're also setting up habits that are going to last them for a lifetime."

Gabby Caldwell, shown in these photos, is a 13-year-old BalletMet student who played Clara in last year's company performance of "The Nutcracker." She has been dancing
"almost from the time she started walking," said her mother, Michelle. "She was pretty young when she first started taking lessons. She wanted the little ballet leotard and the skirt and the whole thing, so she got those for Christmas."

After several years of lessons at another local school, Michelle and Gabby attended an open house at BalletMet and sampled a creative-movement class.

"I liked the positiveness that was there with the instructors," Michelle said. "They just have a very clear pedagogy that's very appropriate for each age group but also for each student's ability."

Gabby has since progressed from one weekly ballet class to six days of training each week in the academy's intensive program. She decided at age 10 to pursue a professional ballet career. The motivation behind her decision, she explained, is this: "I see the older dancers doing this every day and I'm like, 'I want to be like them.' And I will."

It's not just the young dancers who invest their time and energy into their craft. Parents play an important supporting role as training intensifies.

"I feel like we've been able to juggle it well," Michelle said. "We live fairly close to BalletMet, so I can drop her off and come back home. It's a sacrifice of time and a definite commitment to be there."

Susan Hypes, of Pickerington, encouraged her 16-year-old daughter, Maria, to explore her passion for competitive dance. Maria trains several nights a week at the Movement Center in Canal Winchester, where she studies lyrical dance, jazz, ballet and hip-hop.

"She would live there. She loves it," Susan said. "We encourage her to do as much as she wants to do."

Maria dreams of moving to Los Angeles or New York when she turns 18 to pursue a professional dance career. But she envisions moving back to Ohio, eventually, to teach.

Susan wants her daughter to follow her own path to happiness: "I've told her -- and my husband thinks so, too -- when you're young, go and do those exciting things."

Your Go-To Guide of Central Ohio Dance Schools
To compile our guide, we used Yellow Pages listings and a directory of schools that are members of the OhioDance service organization. Unless otherwise indicated, all schools listed teach students ages 2-3 through adult. Not all schools returned our calls; if you know of other great dance schools, please comment below to share your information.

BalletMet Dance Academy
322 Mount Vernon Ave.,
Downtown
1141 N. Hamilton Rd., Gahanna
614-224-1672
www.balletmet.org
Number of students: 1,129
Downtown; 160 Gahanna
Dance genres taught: Classical ballet, tap, modern, jazz, hip-hop, flamenco, ballroom, creative dance, pilates, yoga, pre-professional classical ballet program
Performances: Annual spring performances for all dancers. Advanced students typically participate in two performance ensembles. All students may audition for company performances.
Competitions: Yes, for select students
Fast facts: Founded 1974; affiliated with BalletMet professional dance company; has graduates dancing professionally in ballet and modern-dance companies; member of OhioDance

Bartelt Dancers
3590 Riverside Dr., Upper Arlington
614-326-4075
www.thebarteltdancers.com
barteltdancers@gmail.com
Number of students: 250
Dance genres: Ballet (classical and contemporary), tap, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, musical theater
Performances: End-of-year show
Competitions: Yes, typically for older dancers
Fast facts: Founded in mid-'80s; has graduates who have danced professionally

Columbus City Ballet School
763 Radio Dr., Lewis Center
614-384-0222
www.columbuscityballetschool.com
shirleewu@yahoo.com
Number of students: Declined to provide
Dance genres: Ballet (classical and contemporary), adult stretch and pilates
Performances: Spring recital and winter gala performance
Competitions: Yes
Fast facts: Founded 2006; has graduates who have danced professionally in ballet companies and on Broadway; member of OhioDance

Columbus Dance Centre
1000 Suite B Morrison Rd.,
Gahanna
614-759-0502
www.columbusdanceandmusiccenter.com
Number of students: 250
Dance genres: Ballroom (competitive), hip-hop, jazz, ballet
(classical), tap
Performances: Spring recital
Competitions: Yes
Fast facts: Founded 2002; graduates dancing professionally in hip-hop troupes and on Broadway

Columbus Dance Theatre
592 E. Main St., Downtown
2468 E. Main St., Bexley
614-849-0227
www.coldancetheatre.org
kessler.cdt@gmail.com
Number of students: 120
Ages: 3 years to adult
Dance genres: Ballet (classical and contemporary) and modern dance
Performances: Minimum of three shows annually
Competitions: No
Fast facts: Founded 1998; affiliated with Columbus Dance Theatre professional troupe; has graduates dancing professionally in ballet and modern-dance companies

Columbus Youth Ballet Academy
5076 N. High St., Clintonville
614-433-7090
www.columbusyouthballet.com
columbusyouthballet@columbus.rr.com
Number of students: 200
Dance genres: Ballet (classical and contemporary), tap, jazz, street jazz, modern, lyrical, breakdancing
Performances: June show for all students; "Nutcracker" by audition only
Competitions: No
Fast facts: Founded 1986 and under current ownership since 2003

DCW Elite
2378 Advanced Business
Center Dr., Hilliard
614-771-7550
www.dcwcolumbus.org
dcwelite@att.net
Number of students: 50
Dance genres: Ballet (contemporary), tap, jazz, hip-hop, gymnastics, dance team, gym team
Performances: Spring recital; students also perform at festivals and parades
Competitions: Yes
Fast facts: Founded 1970

Delaware County Cultural Arts Center
190 W. Winter St., Delaware
740-369-2787
www.artscastle.org
artscastle@artscastle.org
Number of students: 100
Dance genres: Creative
movement, ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop and performance company
Performances: May recital
Competitions: No
Fast facts: Founded 1989; member of OhioDance

Dublin Dance Centre & Gymnastics
2665 Farmers Dr., Dublin
614-761-2882
www.dublindance.com
office@dublindance.com
Number of students: 1,156
Dance genres: Creative dance, ballet (classical), jazz, hip-hop, modern, lyrical, tap, gymnastics, non-competitive Irish, break dance
Performances: Fundamental students perform once a year; company students perform 11 times throughout the year
Competitions: No, but some individuals have chosen to compete on their own
Fast facts: Founded 1984; has graduates performing with modern-dance companies; member of OhioDance

Irveline's Ballet School
2924 Hayden Run Plaza,
Northwest Side
614-889-0106
Number of students: 80
Dance genres: Classical ballet
Performances: One mini recital
Competitions: No
Fast facts: Founded 1982; has graduates dancing professionally in ballet companies

Judy Dollenmayer Studio of Dance
320 S. Hamilton Rd., Gahanna
614-471-5124
www.jdsddance.com
info@jdsddance.com
Number of students: 600
Dance genres: ballet (classical and contemporary), tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, hip-hop, tumbling, Irish step dancing, musical theatre
Performances: Spring recital
Competitions: Yes
Fast facts: Founded 1970; has graduates dancing professionally with sports dance teams and dance companies

Kinderdance
Mobile studio; instructor travels to pre-schools and daycares in Franklin and Delaware counties
740-657-8166
www.kinderdance.com
Number of students: ranges from 75 to 100
Ages: 2-6 years
Dance genres: Ballet (classical) and tap
Performances: One performance
Competitions: No
Fast facts: Local franchise founded 2004

Leap of Faith
628 E. Long St., Downtown
614-228-2133
www.lofdance.com
crystal@lofdance.com
Number of students: 150
Dance genres: Ballet (classical and contemporary), tap, jazz, lyrical, liturgical and modern
Performances: End-of-year annual showcase and other events statewide
Competitions: No
Fast facts: Founded 2004; has graduates dancing professionally with sports dance teams


New Albany Ballet Company
5051 Forest Dr., New Albany
614-939-9058
www.newabanyballetcompany.com
naballetco@aol.com
Number of students: 595
Dance genres: Ballet (classical), jazz, modern, tap, hip-hop
Performances: Spring program and the "Nutcracker"
Competitions: No
Fast facts: Founded 1999; has a graduate dancing professionally with a ballet company

New Life Dance Academy
3690 Stygler Rd., Gahanna
614-475-8500
www.enewlifedance.com
nlda@enewlifedance.com
Number of students: 80
Dance genres: Ballet (classical and contemporary), lyrical, jazz, tap, hip-hop, creative movement and dance conditioning
Performances: Spring recital, along with more opportunities for students of all ages
Competitions: No
Fast facts: Founded 2003; member of OhioDance

NorthPointe Dance Academy
500 Orange Point Dr., Lewis Center
740-548-4600
www.northpointedance.com
register@northpointedance.com
Number of students: 600
Ages: 2 1/2 years to 18
Dance genres: Ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, hip-hop, musical theater, theater and acting classes
Performances: Two recitals and a holiday performance
Competitions: Yes
Fast facts: Founded 2000; has graduates dancing professionally

Performing Arts Dance Center
53 N. Union St., Delaware
740-368-8800
www.padcdelaware.com
info@ padcdelaware.com
Number of students: 250
Dance genres:Ballet (classical), tap, jazz, gymnastics, lyrical, hip-hop
Performances: June recital and charity show inDecember
Competitions: Yes
Fast facts: Founded 2002

Pinnell Dance Centre
284 Agler Rd., Gahanna
614-476-4140
www.pinnelldancecentre.com
ashleypinnell@yahoo.com
Number of students: 1,500 (including students who take
multiple classes)
Dance genres: Ballet (classical and contemporary), jazz, tap, lyrical, hip-hop, cheerleading, gymastics
Performances: Ranging from one to six shows, depending on student's involvement
Competitions: Yes
Fast facts: Founded 1976; has graduates dancing professionally

Powell Dance Academy
459 Village Park Dr., Powell
614-841-9230
www.powelldanceacademy.com
office@powelldanceacademy.com
Number of students: 450
Dance genres: Pre-dance, creative movement, ballet (classical), tap, jazz, hip-hop, tumbling, contemporary, break dancing and musical theater
Performances: Two annual performances
Competitions: Yes
Fast facts: Founded 2006; member of OhioDance

Straub Dance
501 McCorkle Blvd., Westerville
614-891-5525
www.straubdance.com
carol@straubdance.com
Number of students: 500
Ages: 2 through college age
Dance genres: Creative dance, ballet (classical and contemporary), tap, jazz, hip-hop
Performances: Spring show, along with some charitable events and parades
Competitions: Yes
Fast facts: Founded 1967; has graduates dancing with the Rockettes and on Broadway