Ballet in the City, an organization that presents world-class professional ballet dancers across the country, has moved its headquarters to Cuyahoga Falls.
Executive Director Jessica Wallis, a native of Cuyahoga Falls and resident for 25 years, graduated from Cuyahoga Falls High School in 2000. Wallis, a former elementary school teacher, still gives back in the schools, volunteering at Price Elementary and with the Arts, Media, and Design Den at Cuyahoga Falls High School (CFHS).
Wallis arranged with CFHS principal Allison Bodgan to bring a large group of Arts Den students to see principal dancer Ashley Bouder from the New York City Ballet at Cleveland's Playhouse Square in 2014 following a series of lessons with the students on ballet and its impact on the media, along with what to expect at the show.
With Ballet in the City's new home in Cuyahoga Falls, Wallis continues her work in the schools and community and is inspiring more Cuyahoga Falls students to lead a life in the arts. Ballet in the City recently named Falls High sophomore Mayhugh Cebula as its newest intern following its work at CFHS's Career Night. Cebula will work with the organization on a weekly basis and will receive opportunities to work with famed dancers.
"Working with Ballet in the City has given me the chance to see what it is like to work in the dance world and given me insight into the world of professional dancers," states Cebula. "It is preparing me for my future career."
Ballet in the City was founded by Wallis in 2012 with the mission to bring the best caliber professional ballet dancers and companies to Cleveland's Playhouse Square, under its former name, "Ballet in Cleveland." After the success of this model, the organization re-branded to become "Ballet in the City" and continues its work across the nation, namely in Detroit and Washington, D.C., where it held a run at the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with famed ballerina Kathryn Morgan.
With the structure of the business changing due to travel and growth, Wallis decided it was time for the organization to leave its busy downtown Cleveland office and relocate closer to home last spring.
"Moving Ballet in the City back home to Cuyahoga Falls where I grew up felt right," said Willis. "While it was exciting and beneficial to operate in Cleveland when the organization was new, its increased presence in other cities and on social media has allowed it to move to a new office closer to home where the staff can focus on business operations between traveling to various cities. Cuyahoga Falls has been home for so long that having the organization relocate here is a full-circle feeling that makes me quite proud. I also feel it's exciting for the city to house an organization that works with international ballet stars like Misty Copeland (Ballet in the City hosted Copeland, the first African American ballerina of the American Ballet Theatre in 2015 for a Gala performance)."
Due to its Cuyahoga Falls location, Ballet in the City is now closer to fellow Summit County organizations such as The Children's Concert Society of Akron, The Akron Rubber Ducks, and Kent State University. It continues working with these organizations through collaborations that serve the Northeast Ohio community in addition to its work across the nation.
The remainder of Ballet in the City's 2017 Season includes work such as residencies with Lauren Lovette and Sara Mearns, ballerinas from the New York City Ballet, both at The Washington Ballet and Saratoga Springs, New York, and a performance with legendary National Ballet of Canada principal ballerina Sonia Rodriguez, a Canada's Walk of Fame star, in Pittsburgh. Plans for its 2018 Season in cities across the U.S. are in progress.
More information about Ballet in the City can be found at balletinthecity.org and on Instagram aand Twitter at @balletincity and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BalletInTheCityUSA/.