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Cincinnati Ballet Breaks Ground On New Dance Center

Cincinnati Ballet and local officials and donors toss the first shovels of dirt on the ballet's new dance center.
Tana Weingartner
Cincinnati Ballet and local officials and donors toss the first shovels of dirt on the ballet's new dance center.

After tossing purple - and biodegradable - confetti in the air, the dirt began flying as donors and ballet leaders ceremonially broke ground on the Cincinnati Ballet's new dance center.

The moment, according to President and CEO Scott Altman, marks "the culmination of decades of building what has truly become a world class ballet company here in the Queen City."

The $30 million Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance is slated to open in summer 2021. Located in Walnut Hills near Eden Park next to the Baldwin Building on Gilbert Ave., the design calls for a 57,000-square-foot building with nine studios. Plans released last year called for eight studios. They've since been reconfigured to include nine.

"Today we celebrate those who've come before us," Altman said, "and pledge to bring forward on this spot a bright and sustainable, new Cincinnati Ballet for generations to come; a beacon for the arts and culture in our city and beyond."

The ballet company held its first auditions in 1963, with the first performance in 1964. Philanthropists at Tuesday's groundbreaking hearkened back to the early decades of the fledgling organization.

"Today our mission is 'enrich, expand and excel,' but at times the mission was 'survive,' " said benefactor Rhonda Sheakley.

Despite those early lean years, the ballet says it is thriving, pointing to increases in audience attendance, number of performances, and increasing dance academy enrollment numbers.

"Today we stand on this ground that will become the nucleus of the Cincinnati Ballet for our dancers, for our academy, for our patrons and for our cultural community," Sheakley added. "We will stand alongside with the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park."

Along with nine dance studios, the new center will feature:

  • a roughly 2,500-square-foot physical therapy and training services space for performing artists, as well as the public
  • a dedicated dancer lounge, an upgraded dressing and changing area, and lounge area for academy students
  • more than 150 parking spaces
  • streamlined drop-off and pick-up access for students and guests

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Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.