American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Two esteemed organizations create unrivaled training opportunities for dancers ages 3 to adult.

An Unmatched Program

The ABT William J. Gillespie School follows the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, a ballet program designed specifically for children ages 3 and older. This unique curriculum promotes discipline and creativity, encouraging students to reach their highest potential while building a safe and solid foundation in ballet technique.


A Distinguished Faculty

Curriculum supervised by ABT Artistic Director, Kevin McKenzie, and under the direction of Principal Alaine Haubert, an internationally acclaimed dance educator and coach.  Faculty members of the ABT Gillespie School are certified in the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum.

Exceptional Facilities

The dance studios at Segerstrom Center feature professional sprung floors and amenities. Each class features live accompaniment by one of the ABT Gillespie School's accomplished pianists.

Unique Educational Opportunities for Children

The school's location at Segerstrom Center provides unparalleled access to world-renowned companies and performing arts experiences, including:

  • Master classes
  • Lectures by visiting artists
  • Special ticket offers
  • Open adult classes
  • Priority to audition for ABT productions at the Center, including The Nutcracker
  • Artist receptions
  • Backstage tours to meet noted artistic directors, choreographers and dancers
  • A limited number of needs-based scholarships available: click here for information
  • Special opportunity to appear in our final showcase

Dancers learn in the schoolboys and girls dance practice

About the School

The American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School at Segerstrom Center for the Arts is an expansion of the longtime relationship between the Center and American Ballet Theatre. The school, which opened in September 2015, combines the resources of American Ballet Theatre, America’s National Ballet Company®, and Segerstrom Center, one of the world’s leading presenters of dance. It offers unrivaled opportunities for training and nurturing future generations of dancers and dance audiences as well as furthering the development and evolution of dance. The school carries the name of Orange County philanthropist William J. Gillespie, who has been a board member of ABT since 1999 and an enthusiastic and generous donor to the Center for much of the institution’s history.

The ABT Gillespie School provides students with the highest quality of classical ballet training through the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum. ABT National Training Curriculum is a comprehensive set of age-appropriate, outcome-based guidelines with an emphasis on proper placement as well as safe progressions of movement while remaining sensitive to the needs of younger dancers. The curriculum offers students a rich knowledge of classical ballet technique incorporating elements of the French, Italian and Russian schools of training. The ABT Gillespie School is modeled after the program used at the renowned ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in New York. Classes include classical ballet technique, pointe, boy’s class, character and body conditioning.  All classes are held in the Center's studios that have been used for rehearsals by all of the world’s leading international ballet companies. 
Beyond the professional ballet training, students are offered additional opportunities to enrich their ballet studies including priority opportunities to audition for ABT performances at the Center as well as participation in the ABT Summer Intensives, master classes, and special ticket offers for performances at the Center.

The Curriculum

The ABT National Training Curriculum was created under the direction of ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, designed and written by ABT National Training Curriculum Associates, Franco De Vita and Raymond Lukens in collaboration with ABT's artistic staff and a medical advisory board.

The curriculum encourages the ballet principles of correct posture, placement, musicality and coordination consistent with the best practices in the fields of sports psychology, child/ adolescent development, nutrition and training. Our goal is to create engaging, appropriate and challenging class for all students in the program while adhering to the guidelines for age and development of students.
A note about pointe work: Students may begin pointe work only at the recommendation of the teacher.  Dancing en pointe requires strong technique, muscle control, mental readiness and maturity to avoid injury.  As a child is growing, the bones in the feet are ossifying from soft cartilage to strong bone. For this reason, pointe work does not begin until Level 3 in the ABT National Training Curriculum.


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