Oklahoma City Ballet announces expansion
Oklahoma City Ballet recently announced that it has acquired two new facilities to expand the mission and reach of the organization, which works to present the finest in classical and contemporary dance to Oklahoma City. The ballet company’s current building was freshly donated to the organization from Chesapeake Energy Corporation. In addition, the ballet is under contract to purchase the American Energy Partners Fitness Center to serve as the organization’s new home for the professional company, administrative offices, and its school, The Dance Center of Oklahoma City Ballet.
The new facility will increase the organization’s available space from 8,000 square feet and three studios to more than 28,000 square feet with the potential for nine studios.
“These buildings, and this expansion, will usher in a new era for this company,” said Executive Director Shane Jewell. “We are celebrating our 45th anniversary season, which is an incredible benchmark for the organization, but to take this company to a new level, we needed to secure larger facilities. We are honored to grow the arts and culture of Oklahoma City, and these acquisitions are significant milestones in that effort.”
The ballet’s current location will become overflow for dance classes and the organization’s costume and prop shop, with flexibility to change to meet the needs of the company in the future.
“We’re experiencing a good problem – our organization is running out of space as we serve more students at our school and elevate the quality of our performances,” said Jewell. “This building donation enables us to free up administrative costs and dedicate them to other expenses, allowing us to focus on being one of the premier ballet companies in the country. We could not be more grateful to Chesapeake for their support.”
Gordon Pennoyer, Chesapeake’s Director of Communications & Investor Relations, said, “Chesapeake is pleased to support Oklahoma City Ballet and the high-caliber performances and arts education it shares with our community.”
Part of the company’s mission is to bring ballet to those who would not otherwise have the opportunity to see or participate in ballet classes and performances. ArtsReach, Project Plié, BalletReach, BalletKids Club, and Golden Swans are some of the programs that support the mission. The added resource of additional space will be integral to the growth of these programs.
“With the purchase of this iconic building and the gift of their current studios, Oklahoma City Ballet will be transformed,” said Larry Nichols, a past president of the Oklahoma City Ballet Board of Trustees.
Sally Nichols Starling, board President-Elect, added, “The ballet will have facilities that match the exceptional quality of performance and instruction happening in the company. The school will be able to increase its enrollment. The ballet’s outreach capabilities will be able to grow with the additional space. The entire community of Oklahoma City will benefit from a thriving and vibrant Oklahoma City Ballet.”
Artistic Director Robert Mills commented, “In short, Oklahoma City Ballet acquiring these buildings is transformative. We are a performing arts organization that already attracts dancers from all over the world to dance in our company. Plus we have the industry's leading choreographers represented in our repertoire. Our school is flourishing and our community outreach is strong. Now that we have firm footing underneath us with the procurement of these buildings, I am even more excited for the future and our ability to serve Central Oklahoma even better than before with additional classes and educational experiences in dance for youth. We at Oklahoma City Ballet are incredibly grateful to our supporters and to our community.”
The sale of the new facility, located at 6800 North Classen Blvd., closed earlier this month. The company intends to use the new space starting in June 2017 with the Summer Intensive Training Program. For more information, visit www.okcballet.org.
Photos courtesy of Oklahoma City Ballet.