The Children’s Ballet is a classical ballet school in Danville, Indiana, serving approximately 100 local students of all ages. Since our founding in 1987, we have been dedicated to helping students develop self-discipline, dedication, positive self-esteem, and an appreciation for the art of dance.

Students who join The Children’s Ballet, including very young students, receive a classical ballet education, learning about classical music, composers, French ballet terminology, and how dance can tell a story without words. Some of our older students graduate to college and professional dance programs.

Every student is given an opportunity to perform before their families and their peers with pride and excitement. Each year, the school produces its hallmark original full-length ballets, written and choreographed especially for each season’s dancers.

Our students start as young as three years old and many stay with us through high school. Most of our classes last one hour and there are multiple classes every day.

As a nonprofit school, we emphasize accessible dance education, welcoming students of all ages and backgrounds. Our staff is committed to educating, enriching, and inspiring each student’s unique gifts of talent and creativity in a safe studio environment.

Our History

The Children’s Ballet was founded by Denise Jacks (Miss Deni) in Danville, Indiana in 1987. Originally trained by Inge Pedivoli in classical French and Russian methods, Miss Deni also studied at Butler University’s Jordan College of Music and Dance.

Deni Jacks leads a group of dancers from The Children's Ballet in rehearsal for a performance

Deni Jacks leads a group of dancers in rehearsal for a performance

As a performer, Miss Deni danced lead roles in “Giselle,” “The Cinderella Ballet,” and “The Nutcracker,” as well as supporting roles in many performances. As she began to raise a family and saw promise in her own children and their friends, she turned her enthusiasm to teaching and choreography. In 1987, she began to write and choreograph original ballets for young dancers and similarly youthful audiences.

During her tenure as lead instructor with The Children’s Ballet, Miss Deni instilled the skills she gained from her own career in more than 2,000 male and female students from 3 years old to over 60 years old.

Our school has been an instructional home for many extraordinary dancers and teachers, some of whom have performed in many of the region’s finest programs and companies including Indianapolis Ballet Theater, Ballet International, Dance Kaleidescope, Butler Ballet and Indiana University Ballet.

Other students of The Children’s Ballet have opened their own schools and employ many of the same encouraging and empowering teaching methods they learned from Miss Deni. Many of our early students now enjoy seeing their own children take flight at the studio, ensuring the joy of dance will continue for future generations in Hendricks County.

Although Miss Deni recently retired, the new directors of The Children’s Ballet — both alumni of the school — plan to continue her legacy of excellence in dance education.

Our Method

While classes at The Children’s Ballet are structured around the needs and goals of each group of students, our teachers rely primarily on a curriculum based on the Cecchetti method. This style of dance education was developed by the Italian ballet master Enrico Cecchetti (1850 – 1928) and focuses on teaching each dancer correct posture and technique with a purity of line and simplicity of style.

Dancers at The Children's Ballet learn correct technique with a purity of line and simplicity of style

The goal of classes at The Children’s Ballet is for all our dancers to internalize the essential characteristics of ballet techniques and styles, allowing them to grow in expression rather than imitating the movements of their teachers.

While the Cecchetti method is especially concerned with anatomy, students at The Children’s Ballet also learn the aesthetic theories behind dance movements. The music and stories of classical ballet become apparent as students of all ages study films of staged ballets during their classes. Students are also encouraged to attend live ballets in the Indianapolis area.

Today, the Cecchetti training system is used around the world to teach classical ballet, and many professional dancers began their training through this method.

Meet Our Staff

The members of our dedicated and professional faculty specialize in several forms of traditional dance and provide their students with the foundation of classical ballet technique through personal attention and teaching.

Anne Johansson

Executive Director

johansson

Anne Johansson grew up in Danville and was a student in the first class at The Children’s Ballet in 1987. Anne danced with the school through high school, and appeared in the Indianapolis Ballet Theater’s 1989 Midwest tour of “The Nutcracker.” Anne founded an event planning firm in 2010 and has organized over 100 weddings, corporate and social events in central Indiana. She lives in Danville with her husband and two young daughters, one of whom is a student at The Children’s Ballet.

Emily Miser

Artistic Director + Senior Instructor

Miss-Emily

Miss Emily began dancing at the age of six at The Children’s Ballet, where she studied ballet and pointe under Deni Jacks, Robyn Wenrich, Edward Moffat and Heidi Eads-Jones. During this time she also discovered her love for teaching. At Anderson University she studied ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, and tap with professors Oybek Tashpulatov, George Salinas, Debra Silveus, Shauna Steele, Doug King and Kenny Shepard. She earned a B.A. in dance business at Anderson University and her piece, “Compter Sur,” was presented at the American College Dance Festival in 2014.

Heidi Eads-Jones

Lead Senior Instructor

Miss Heidi

Miss Heidi was a professional dancer in the U.S. and Europe and is a teacher who has seen many students go on to professional dance careers. She was one of a nucleus of dancers that became Indianapolis Ballet Theater (Ballet Internationale). She also danced with Hartford Ballet in Connecticut and with Stuttgart, Hamburg and Frankfurt Ballet companies in Germany. She taught for many years as a faculty member with Indiana University, Jordan College at Butler University, Ohio State University, Clara Noyes Academy at Ballet Internationale, Russian Ballet Academy of Indiana, Central Indiana Dance Ensemble, Indianapolis School of Ballet, Herron School of Art and Design, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Motus Dance Theater, among many other private studios and public school programs.

Mandy Milligan

Instructor

Mandy

Miss Mandy is originally from Sidney, Ohio. She graduated high school from Interlochen Arts Academy in 2010 with a focus in Dance and went on to attend the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music where she received her BFA in Ballet Performance. In 2013 she spent a semester abroad studying modern dance at the Beijing Dance Academy. Her professional experience includes an apprenticeship with Mamluft&Co. Dance, guest artist and choreographer for the Performance Time Arts series at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Dance Theater (2010-2014), performing artist in Cincinnati’s Area Choreographers Festival and Dance Kaleidoscope Apprentice.

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