Thousands of little feet in toe shoes and ballet slippers carried the Cincinnati Ballet to new heights, says President and CEO Scott Altman when contemplating the company’s journey to its new headquarters in Walnut Hills. If not for the success of its Otto M. Budig Academy, which for almost 25 years has trained dancers of all experience levels from age 2 through 18, the Ballet might not have needed—or been able to afford—its new Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance on Gilbert Avenue. “We were maybe 600 families strong in Over-the-Rhine,” says Altman. “This building gives us the capacity to triple in size who we serve, just in our dance training. We’ll be able to expand adult programs, children’s programs, and community interactive programs.”
To many local arts fans, Cincinnati Ballet is the troupe of professional dancers bringing Artistic Director Victoria Morgan’s vision to life at Music Hall, the Aronoff Center, and on other area stages. They present The Nutcracker each holiday season and rep the city on tours to New York City and Washington, D.C. To lots of Cincinnati families, though, the company is where the kids take dance lessons and the adults do Pilates.
The community connection has been building since 1994, when Cincinnati Ballet opened a new facility at Central Parkway and Liberty Street; it was eventually expanded to four studios in a 36,000-square-foot space. Nudged along by the emergence of FC Cincinnati’s new stadium next door (see more on page 47), Ballet leaders found open land at the foot of Gilbert Avenue below The Baldwin apartments for a 57,000-square-foot building with nine studios. Designed by Cincinnati-based GBBN, the Valentine Center for Dance officially opened in September.
Morgan, who will retire from Cincinnati Ballet next summer, describes a message she wrote on the new building’s subflooring during construction: The dream came true. “People found a way to make this building possible for us through their generosity and their belief in what this art form can offer and what we can become,” she told us in September, just before its grand opening. • cballet.org