Dancing with the Dance Theatre of Harlem for ten wonderful years was fulfilling for me as a professional ballet dancer. Besides touring internationally, and performing in legendary venues, I had the amazing experience of dancing in various works ranging from George Balanchine to Alvin Ailey. I was honored to dance with amazing artists and was grateful, as part of an ensemble, to share my love of dance with audiences. I would not have been able to experience that without establishing my ballet foundation at Berkeley City Ballet.
Berkeley City Ballet created a world for me that not only formed my discipline and proper technique, but also instilled in me the joy of dancing. Dedicated and nurturing teachers, such as Elizabeth Godfrey, helped me to realize the balance between the technicalities of steps and the fun behind doing choreography. I learned that steps are not just steps but physical extensions of a wondrous spectrum of emotions. To this day, I feel fondly, and have great memories, of my childhood at BCB. Not surprisingly, it also completely shapes the woman I am today.
Former Dance Theater of Harlem
As a former dancer and physical therapist I highly recommend Berkeley City Ballet as an excellent school for young dancers & aspiring professionals.
My daughter studied at BCB since she was 7. She performed in BCB's professional level Nutcracker each year, advancing from "Ginger Snap", to "Snow Queen", to "Sugar Plum Fairy", dancing the pas de deux with a professional partner.
The director & staff at BCB take great care to progress each student only when they are physically ready and strong enough to be safe and successful. This is especially important in deciding when to go on pointe or when to advance the dancer to the next level or role.
Berkeley City Ballet's rigorous, artistic & conscientious training has prepared my daughter to successfully attend the summer programs with the Boston Ballet and Lines Ballet. For high school, she was an advanced dancer at San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) and she now attends Fordham University.
I feel very lucky to have such an outstanding ballet school right here in Berkeley. With this strong foundation I feel my daughter can safely go as far as she chooses in the field of dance.
Deena Levy M.A. P.T.
I can highly recommend Berkeley City Ballet as both a parent and a former ballet dancer. I was one of the original dancers in BCB when it was formed more than 30 years ago and I danced in the first productions of their Nutcracker. When my 7 year-old daughter expressed an interest in ballet, I took her there to take class. What immediately impressed me was the way Elizabeth Godfrey, the Artistic Director, both supported the kids but also let them know she had high expectations for them. I felt this was still a serious and healthy place for a child to develop the technique that could either lead to a professional career or a strong foundation in dance.
Now at 16 years old, my daughter is still dancing at BCB. She has received personal attention from experienced teachers and the training is excellent. When she goes to auditions for national summer dance programs, she has been very prepared. She has had the opportunity to perform in 8 Nutcracker productions, as well as annual Spring Concerts and summer performances. BCB's Nutcracker is a professional full-length production: the sets and costumes are lovely and the dancers are well rehearsed. Dancing in a ballet of this caliber is life changing for all these young girls and teenagers. And much of this is due to the personal attention that Ms. Godfrey gives to their dancing and all the production details. After seeing the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker this year, I can actually say that BCB's Act I was as good, if not better.
What is particularly impressive about BCB is how the value of teamwork is instilled in these dancers. Ballet is a highly individualistic and competitive art form and yet productions are not successful unless the company members work together. The corps de ballet must look like one body, moving together, for the right effect. My daughter's fast costume change from Act 1 to Act 2 will only work if an experienced girl helps her get from one dress into another. Older girls are encouraged to help younger girls--allowing the group to reach its maximum potential.
BCB also offers classes for dancers who just want to do it recreationally. Watch any of the big dance shows--"So You Think You Can Dance" or "Dancing With the Stars" and the Judges are always saying that ballet training is at the foundation of any good technique.
American culture is not always attentive to what it takes to support and nurture the arts. Companies like BCB keep training these young dancers and produce high quality productions like the Nutcracker. But, unlike a large ballet school, BCB accomplishes its goals in a much more supportive and healthy environment. Despite the hard work, the girls really enjoy their time there. They make friends for a lifetime. BCB is an asset not only to the girls and families that participate in their program, but to the entire community.
Former Deputy District Attorney to Berkeley
Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Berkeley
and Speechwriter for the Chancellor of UC Berkeley
For the past four years I have worked with Elizabeth Godfrey and the students of Berkeley City Ballet in the annual performance of the Nutcracker. As a professional dancer and teacher, I can see that the school has the necessary elements needed for a student's early training. What I have seen over the past four years is constant a progression of the students technique and a positive working atmosphere that allows the students to both tap into their potential as dancers and also have a point of view that I feel is missing from other schools' (both large and small) training curriculum. This type of environment is essential in a students success in dance and in life.
Professional Dancer - LINES Ballet
Choreographer, Director - Quixotic Performance Fusion
I recently started taking my 3 year old to Berkeley City Ballet for the Dance With Me classes. As a former 1st grade teacher I found the teachers to be professional and experienced. My daughter loves going to class each week and has learned so much very quickly through their guided instruction. The teachers keep the classes engaging and stimulating using stories, creative movement, acting and music! I am benefiting from the class as well. I get to spend quality time with my daughter and gain beneficial skills like stretching. My daughter leaves class each week with a bounce in her step and a smile on her face!
Former 1st Grade teacher Prospect Sierra
I first got involved with Berkeley City Ballet in 1990 and danced with the Company in it's production of the Nutcracker. I came to the Company from Alameda Chamber Ballet, on the heels of finishing my degree in dance at San Francisco State University. Year after year I danced with the ballet under the direction of Grace Doty until she retired in 2000. I was delighted when, now current artistic director, Elizabeth Godfrey took over at the helm of the school. Under her direction not only did she increase my skills as a performer, but brought a level of instruction to this school that matched the Berkeley community well. Year after year she has provided students with compassionate, clear and fun direction through the classes and performances the school provides. In 2010 I celebrated my 20th year as a dancer and performer for Berkeley City Ballet and am pleased that BCB has given me a place to continue my creativity. I am also excited by Elizabeth's leadership and the future of this school.
Scott A. Vaughan-Bonterre
Principal Human Resources Business Partner
to External Affairs and Public Policy
at Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Berkeley City Ballet was my second home growing up. I danced at BCB from kindergarten through high school. Later in college, I returned to teach in the summer workshop and saw the next generation of BCB dancers growing into remarkable dancers.
The opportunities BCB gave me were endless because the staff and director cared deeply about giving students the best dance experience. I was only six years old when I had the privilege of dancing on a world-class stage â€“ the very same stage that hosted international ballet companies around the world. I remember dancing right alongside professional dancers, who I looked to for inspiration and mentorship.
Thanks to the leadership of Director Elizabeth Godfrey, BCB provides an incredibly supportive environment for aspiring dancers. Elizabeth takes time to meet with individual students and parents because she is truly invested in the well-being of each dancer. I found that I could easily talk to Elizabeth and other teachers at BCB both about my progress as a dancer and my work in school.
BCB taught me more than just ballet. I learned about discipline, hard work, setting high expectations, and pursuing my passions. All of this has led me to an exciting career outside of dance including The New York Times Company, Scholastic Inc., New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Office, and now Bloomberg Philanthropies. In addition, I appreciate and enjoy attending ballet performances now as an audience member.
Over the years, I have become more and more impressed with the direction Elizabeth is taking BCB and confident that the school will continue to make dance in Berkeley accessible and fun for all who come to its doors.
At Berkeley City Ballet, I learned to be an individual first, and a technician second. Elizabeth Godfrey prioritizes finding the best position for each students body, instead of forcing their bodies into the correct position. Her teaching allowed me to develop both strong technique and the ability to think critically about each step. For fourteen years, BCB gave me a place to be a ballet dancer without a ballet body, a place to commit to both dance and academics, and a place to be disciplined and focused as well as expressive and outgoing.
From performing alongside professional dancers to experimenting with new styles during Summer Workshop, Elizabeth provided us with incredible experiences and inspiring mentors that fostered our love of dance and prepared us for opportunities outside of BCB.
At a small school like BCB you know everyone, the older girls pass on their wisdom, your classmates share jokes, the younger ones look for guidance. I was lucky enough to meet incredible people who have undoubtedly shaped the person I am today. BCB gave me more than excellent training; it gave me a family.
First-Year at Barnard College of Columbia University
First of all, I want to thank you and the instructors for having my daughter this summer. She thoroughly enjoyed the summer ballet intensive and made so many friends. Everyone, instructors included, made her feel like part of the "family." Friday was a difficult day having to say goodbye.
Second, I want to tell you that the artistic and technical transformation I've witnessed in my daughter over the past four weeks is incredible. She has learned so much and has become stronger - both physically and artistically. I am so impressed by the skills she's developed. To be honest, she simply isn't the same dancer she was a month ago. Her experience at BCB has been so much more than I could ever ask or imagine.
I really want to let other people know what a wonderful program, and an incredibly talented and creative staff, you have.
Again, thank you so very much. We can't wait for Shelby to get back to her home studio. She has so much to share about what she learned from all of you and she can't wait to show them how strong she's gotten! :)
Take care and we look forward to seeing you next summer.
Pre-Professional Ballet 6 mom