The first thing I saw when I stepped into the new headquarters of the Colorado Ballet Society in Briargate was a busy lobby swirling with young dancers, parents, instructors … and the Winter Fairy. She welcomed me with a smile quite warm for a snowy spirit, hands folded on a twinkling navy tutu, and offered a personal tour.
The Winter Fairy, aka Josie Hawkins, is a knowledgeable guide because she has been a student here for 7 years, during a pivotal part of the Ballet Society’s 19-year history. “It is an amazing environment,” Josie says, as we peek through a studio window to watch an instructor guide a young dancer at the barre. “Everyone is just so thankful and helpful to your growth in dance.”
“Growth” is a meaningful word here. Since 1997, the Ballet Society has grown as quickly as its young dancers, expanding from the Black Forest Community Center into Rock Family Church and now into a modern, 12,000 sq. ft. facility at Research Parkway and Criterion Drive. The new space houses gleaming dance studios, a costume shop, boutique, spacious storage for sets & props, a study room for homework time, and a lounge for the over 20 instructors who teach here.
“It’s not just ballet, we have many, many different classes,” Josie says, as we peek into a sunlit studio where children angle their arms into hip hop moves. “It’s so much fun to explore and helps you become a well-rounded dancer.” Ballet Society offers jazz, contemporary, tap, hip hop, Broadway, and even Irish stepping. But ballet is at the heart of what draws families here from Denver, Pueblo, Woodland Park, Monument, Colorado Springs, and even Fort Collins.
They are coming for the special combination of technical focus and warm graciousness that permeate Ballet Society and originate in its founder and owner, Patricia Hoffman.
“I get so much joy from regular people learning to dance in an exceptional way,” she says, and you can’t help but believe her. Far from the demanding diva stereotype of ballet teachers of her caliber, Patty exudes an encouraging passion that makes dancing seem very accessible.
She says that Ballet Society believes in qualified teachers teaching every child to “learn to love dance and learn to do it correctly,” because “you never know” who will blossom into a nationally or internationally-accomplished artist. Graduates of Colorado Ballet Society now dance with American Ballet Society, National Ballet of Canada, Houston Ballet, Ballet West, even the Royal Ballet in London, UK. Last year, one of their students was one of just five young dancers in the world tapped for the Princess Grace Academy of Dance in Monaco.
Originally written by Angela Seals of the Cultural Office and published in the Woodmen Edition on Nov. 2, 2016.