Open Enrollment for Segerstrom Center Virtual Dance Classes

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This has been a challenging year for the arts in Orange County. The year started off on a high note with local arts organizations continuing their dynamic 2019-2020 season, but everything came to a halt in March thanks to the pandemic.

Many arts organizations were able to pivot and offer some sort of arts programming online, including Segerstrom Center for the Arts, which has focused on arts education.

That focus continues this fall with two noted dance schools at Segerstrom Center: The American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School, and Studio D: Arts School for All Abilities (formerly known as the Center’s School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities).

The American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School

The American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School at Segerstrom Center for the Arts is now enrolling students for the 2020 Fall semester. Classes will be a 14-week schedule from September 8 through December 19.

In keeping with safe practice guidelines and mandates from the governor’s office and state and local departments of health, all classes will be live virtually.

According to information provided by Segerstrom Center, the ABT Gillespie School introduced virtual learning classes in March 2020 and has adapted and strengthened its online teaching practices to provide quality experiences that are consistent with the ABT National Training Curriculum for which the school is noted.

Some of the unique practices employed to maintain the quality of training include:

  • Limited class sizes to ensure all students receive individualized faculty feedback.
  • Continuation of live piano accompaniment at all levels.
  • Students’ ability to un-mute to ask questions, or otherwise communicate with faculty.
  • An ABT Gillespie School class administrator at all classes to coordinate between faculty and participants as well as providing real-time technical support.
  • The “waiting room” feature to allow only ABT Gillespie students to enter each class.
  • All classes password protected.
  • Opportunities for weekly coaching, optional Saturday classes, virtual Meet-the-Artists with ABT personnel, wellness lectures, seminars, and more.
  • Students will be encouraged to maintain friendships, share experiences and discuss lessons by talking and messaging during breaks.
  • Teachers will take time to chat with students before and after classes to create the essential community feeling we all miss so much.

ABT Gillespie School Principal Alaine Haubert said in a statement, “I am excited about the opportunity to continue our unparalleled training in this unique virtual format. With these more intimate classes, I know there are so many unexplored possibilities for encouraging creativity, artistry, and for fine-tuning technical skill, while staying safe until we can return to our beautiful Segerstrom studios.”

“We are thrilled that, despite this terrible and challenging time we’re living through, our ABT Gillespie School will continue a full schedule of classes,” Haubert added. “And I want to thank and commend our students and their families for their dedication and resourcefulness. In an ironic way, the level of commitment we see is exactly what is required in the pursuit of excellence and success in dance. They inspire our faculty, and I anticipate great progress and growth from our students this year.”

According to Segerstrom Center, tuition will not be increased for the 2020 – 2021 school year. Payment plans are available with the option to extend monthly payments through March 15, 2021.

Acceptance into the ABT William J. Gillespie School Levels 1A and above (ages 8 – 18) is by audition only. All prospective students must submit a video audition. Auditions are not required for students ages 3-7.

Complete information regarding registration, tuition, the 202 – 2021 class schedule, auditions and other important details is available on the Segerstrom Center website:

Or email the school at [email protected].

The American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School at Segerstrom Center for the Arts – which opened in September 2015 – combines the resources of American Ballet Theatre and Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The school provides students with the highest level of classical ballet training and offers unrivaled opportunities for training and nurturing future generations of dancers and dance audiences as well as furthering the development and evolution of dance.

Following American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum, students are encouraged to reach their highest potential while building a safe and solid foundation in ballet technique.

The ABT Gillespie School provides students with exceptional classical ballet training through the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum. ABT National Training Curriculum is a comprehensive set of age-appropriate, outcome-based guidelines with an emphasis on proper placement as well as safe progressions of movement while remaining sensitive to the needs of younger dancers.

Classes include classical ballet technique, pointe, boy’s class, character and body conditioning.

The School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities (now called Studio D) performance on November 11, 2019 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Photo by Paul Bersebach.

Studio D: Arts School for All Abilities

Segerstrom Center for the Arts President Casey Reitz announced that the Center’s School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities has been given a new name: Studio D: Arts School for All Abilities.

In announcing the name change, Reitz said, “We wanted to create a name that would be symbolic of the vast diversity of our community and, especially, honor children and young adults with physical and cognitive disabilities and their families. We have steadily expanded our adaptive classes to include more artistic disciplines, such as musical theater, to compliment the dance and music classes. And we make every effort to create a safe and inclusive environment where competition does not exist, and everyone shines a bit brighter.”

Studio D offers classes for children and young adults ages 4–22 with physical and cognitive disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders, hearing and visual impairments and other complex needs, as well as siblings and individuals without disabilities.

The classes encourage students to explore their full physical and creative potential through dance, music, and self-expression. Social skills are also incorporated in the classes, and the students build new friendships with their peers.

Jason Holland, the Center’s Vice President of Community Engagement, said in a statement that “we are so gratified that, since our school was founded four years ago, enrollment has increased, and many students have returned year after year. And it has been rewarding beyond our dreams to follow many as they grow up and develop skills, self-expression and a love for the arts.”

Fall enrollment is now open, with the first day of classes on September 16 running through November 21. Space is limited and prompt enrollment is encouraged. All classes will be virtual with live and pre-recorded components. Prior to the live virtual classes, students will receive recorded videos of their teachers, providing the necessary live class material and introducing new concepts they will explore together.

Additionally, at the start of the session, each student will receive a Studio D To-Go kit mailed to their home. Kits include props, sensory tools, and instruments. Students will use items from their kits throughout the 10-week session to enhance their digital learning experience.

The School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities performance on November 11, 2019 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. photo by Paul Bersebach

Classes are limited to 12 students and are taught by two instructors. Dance & Music classes are led by a dance instructor and musician. The dance teacher leads movement exercises that develop the students’ balance, endurance, and mind-body connectivity. Additionally, the musician not only accompanies classes but also builds upon foundational music vocabulary and concepts.

Musical Theater classes are led by a vocal coach and dance instructor. Students explore the three components of musical theater – singing, dancing, and acting. Each class focuses on Broadway-style choreography, interactive theater games, and vocal techniques. In all classes, exercises are adaptable and the instructors tailor lessons to their students’ abilities. Whether in the classroom or in a virtual setting, social skills building is an integral part of each class.


Musical Theater / Youth, Ages 8-12: Wednesdays, 4–4:45 p.m.

Musical Theater / Teen, Ages 13-16: Wednesday, 5-5:45 p.m.

Dance & Music / Kinder, Ages 4-7: Wednesday, 3-3:45 p.m.

Dance & Music / Youth, Ages 8-12: Thursday, 4-4:45 p.m.

Dance & Music / Young Adult, Ages 17-22: Thursday, 5-5:45 p.m.

Dance & Music / Kinder, Ages 4-7: Saturday, 10-10:45 a.m.

Dance & Music / Young Adult, Ages 17-22: Saturday, 11-11:45 a.m.

Dance & Music / Teen, Ages 13-16: Saturday, 12-12:45 p.m.

For additional information, please visit the Center’s website at, or email the school at [email protected], or call 714-556-2122, ext. 4337.

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