Give it a Whirl at Warrenton Ballet Center
At Warrenton Ballet Center, Ariana Myers welcomes all levels of dancers, from beginner to pre-professional
After an illustrious beginning in the world of professional ballet, Winchester native Ariana Myers was looking to come home. She said, “I knew what I wanted. I wanted to work in a school in which I could see the same students year after year. I wanted to see them grow and watch their progress.” Myers was also searching for a place that did not offer dancers in the area an opportunity to learn ballet using the Vaganova method. Warrenton was the perfect spot. “I fell in love with the town of Warrenton,” Myers said, “People are so nice here, and I wanted to be a part of this community. People still talk to each other here. That is so rare.”
What is the Vaganova Method?
When talking to Myers, what immediately shines through is her passion for the type of ballet that is both beautiful to the observer and safe for the dancer. Myers says the Vaganova method meets both of these conditions. Using the body’s natural and instinctive ways of moving, the Vaganova technique adds elegance to a dancer’s motion and positioning. Just as importantly, because this form of ballet is more intuitive and works with the body’s natural anatomical structure, the dancer is less likely to be injured. Vaganova also opens the world of ballet to people without the stereotypical perfect dancer’s body. “I did not have a perfect ballet body when I started,” Myers remembered. “[Using the Vaganova technique] I was able to strengthen my body so that I could perform the steps correctly.” That experience became an important influence on Myers’ view of dancer development.
From professional performances to education
Injury has been an important part of Myers’ personal ballet journey. After starting ballet at age 6, she switched studios at age 8 to begin her serious ballet training. After years of intensive ballet, at age 16 Myers moved to boarding school at the Kirov Academy in Washington D.C. to train for a career in a professional ballet company. A career-ending injury while she was in high school changed the course of her life.
After her injury, a mentor encouraged Myers to remain in the world of ballet and switch her focus from performance to teaching. Myers agreed and stayed at the Kirov Academy an additional year to earn her teaching certificate. After teaching in multiple schools in Virginia, Texas, and Michigan, Myers knew what she wanted to do: provide young dancers the opportunity to train intensively for a professional career, as she did at ballet boarding school, but also enabling them to stay with their families locally. With that vision in mind, she opened the Warrenton Ballet Center (WBC) in August 2022.
Opportunities for all dancers
Myers’ focus is on creating a warm and nurturing environment for everyone who comes into the WBC. “We want people to be comfortable walking into a ballet studio,” Myers explained. Located on Blackwell Road in Warrenton, the WBC offers multiple programs for dancers with a wide range of experiences and abilities.
School year ballet program. The Center’s 10-month school year ballet curriculum is focused on providing students with a well-rounded introduction to dance and helping them find the joy and benefits of ballet. This program is open to anyone ages 4 and older who has an interest in dance. Individuals enrolled in the academy can dance up to 9 to 12 hours per week, and in December perform in a dance showcase for their family and friends.
Summer Camps. In addition to their school year program, WBC offers a variety of summer options for dance training for new and returning students. For 4–7 year olds, WBC offers multiple summer camps themed to follow storybook ballets. These programs are a fun and interactive way for students to connect with popular story ballets and learn the foundational steps in the Vaganova technique.
Summer Ballet Intensives. For older and more experienced dancers ages 8–22, WBC offers intermediate and advanced summer intensive programs where students receive further training in Vaganova, get in shape for the new school year, and be evaluated by the artistic director and receive a level placement before the school year begins.
Training the next generation of professional ballet dancers. The Center also offers a pre-professional dance program intended for experienced dancers looking to pursue a position with a professional ballet company. The program is by invitation or audition only and provides a comprehensive ballet education in the Vaganova technique. “The pre-professional program is intended to not only teach ballet but also to prepare students to work in a professional ballet company,” Myers explained. “This involves teaching skills such as self-sufficiency, self-motivation, professionalism, and responsibility.” Students in the pre-professional program dance for a minimum of 20 hours per week, learning what Myers learned at the Kirov Academy without the expense of attending boarding school in the city. Myers’ vision is to use her contacts in the professional dance world to bring in world-class guest teachers for her pre-professional students and ultimately to have the Warrenton Ballet Center stage full ballet productions for the community.
Building Community Partnerships
Building relationships in Fauquier county is extremely important to Myers, who ranks joining the Fauquier Chamber of Commerce as one the best decisions she has ever made. “I want to do things to bring the community together,” Myers explained. To that end, WBC is partnering with other local movement and dance-related businesses in Fauquier County to provide opportunities for people to come into the studio. As the first of these partnerships, WBC is hosting five yoga workshops for ages 12 and up with Unyong Kim of Stress Burner Yoga —in March, April, and May of 2023. Myers sees these workshops as serving an underserved population: mothers with older daughters. “There are a lot of things for moms and young daughters to do together, but not much for moms with older daughters,” she says. The goal is for these yoga sessions to be fun, healthy, relaxing activities that create opportunities for relationship building and build people’s comfort with walking into a ballet studio.
Warrenton Ballet Center
Virginia State Ballet has changed its name to Warrenton Ballet Center
Warrenton— 10 November 2022 — After opening the Warrenton, Virginia based ballet school in August, Ariana Myers was excited to find herself in a community that was hungry for more access to the performing arts. As her own relationships with the ballet world and the local area deepen, her original vision and mission for the school are evolving.
To better represent this region’s growing reputation as a center for pre-professional dance, and to prepare a platform for future community-based programs, Virginia State Ballet has changed its name to the Warrenton Ballet Center.
Putting Warrenton on the World Stage
“The new name gives us the ability to bring Warrenton to the main stage,” said Myers. Having recently been invited to judge at the Global Dance Open, an international competition that will see dancers participate from over 40 countries, Myers felt the name change was important to building the dance community she envisions for area students.
“Being seen on the global stage allows me to create bigger opportunities for my students, but it also opens the door to bring international students here to study.”
Including the town’s name in the dance school’s brand makes it easier to find the school, both locally and internationally. The Warrenton Ballet Center name will clearly identify this unique, Vaganova method school of ballet from other schools in the Commonwealth. It will also drive Warrenton’s visibility as a leader in the performing arts world.
About Warrenton Ballet Center
Warrenton Ballet Center will continue to operate at 484 Blackwell Road, Warrenton, VA in suite 102. The school is designed to provide a comprehensive ballet education for students, ages 4 to 22, to pursue professional dance careers, to attend university dance programs, or to learn more about how dance can benefit them.
For more information, press only:
Ariana Myers, Artistic Director