American Ballet Theatre
William J. Gillespie School

Unique Educational Opportunities for Children

Unique educational opportunities for children

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

  • Master Classes & lectures
  • Priority ticket offers and discounts
  • Priority auditions for ABT productions at the Center, including The Nutcracker
  • Performance opportunities including the Spring Showcase, National Dance Day, and more! 


About the School
  • 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. Following American Ballet Theatre's National Training Curriculum, students are encouraged to reach their highest potential while building a safe and solid foundation in ballet technique. The school carries the name of Orange County philanthropist William J. Gillespie, who was 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. 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, men’s class, partnering, character, modern, body conditioning and more.  All classes are held in the Center's studios that have been used for rehearsals by the world’s leading international dance and ballet companies. The dance studios feature professional sprung floors, full length mirrors, ballet barres and modern technology (surround sound systems, virtual class equipment). Each class features live accompaniment by one of the ABT Gillespie School's accomplished pianists.

  • ABT National Training 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.

     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 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 classes for all students in the program.

    A note about pointe work: Students may begin pointe work only at the recommendation of the faculty.  Pointe work does not begin until Level 3 in the ABT National Training Curriculum.


Frequently Asked Questions

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Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre
I couldn't be more proud of the incredible schooling that Alaine and her staff provide for the students at the ABT Gillespie School at Segerstrom Center. Not only are they trained with a depth of knowledge and respect for this incredible artform, they are exposed to it frequently and at the highest level with the world class ballet companies that the Center presents. All in all, an invaluable experience for an aspiring artist and student of life in the theater.
Rene L., Parent
This is the best school for boys ballet training in the OC. My son is 12, and has been dancing in the OC since age 5 with an emphasis on ballet training. He has been at the ABT Gillespie school for 1.5 years. The boys program is now by far the best in the OC...The facilities are state of the art and all classes are accompanied by amazing pianists. The kids love this! The School has an emphasis on good training and performing versus competition. This creates a nurturing environment for a dancer and the kids are very supportive of each other.
Lisa W., Parent
We enrolled our then-6-year-old daughter in the ballet program when the school opened. The poise and grace that starts even with the very young children’s classes were apparent. Our daughter stood taller, had more confidence and learned the fundamentals from a young age. That’s so important.


Contact us

ABT William J. Gillespie School logo

ABT Gillespie School

(714) 427-2211 x4100


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