When Jessica Wallis founded Ballet in the City, she began to notice that although she loved the marketing and merchandise her company produced, it all seemed so female-oriented. The first few master classes that Ballet in the City presented had no boys. This needed to change.
Wallis thought back to all of the men who have and who continue to powerfully impact the world of ballet and dance: Edward Villella, Arthur Mitchell, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jerome Robbins, and her greatest inspiration George Balanchine. The list was endless. Designing and prioritizing programming for guys, led by guys was set into motion.
With the help and enthusiasm of Erik "Cheeto" Zito, the Guys Dance Too initiative was born. In March of 2013, Zito spoke about the role dance played in his life at the Ballet in the City Gala to enthusiastic applause. The following day, in a grass-roots effort to begin the new program, Zito passed out over 30 "Guys Dance Too" t-shirts to young men who attended to take an all-guys class with two principal dancers of Ballet West, Christopher Ruud and Rex Tilton. The program was an instant success.
Subsequently, Ballet in the City has organized Guys Dance Too classes with male teachers from across the nation. Previous teachers include:
Aaron Ingley, Formerly of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and CEO of Real Food Barre
Phil Chan, graduate of The Ailey School and co-producer of The Ashley Bouder Project
Christopher Ruud and Rex Tilton, Principals with Ballet West
Carlos Lopez, Former soloist with the American Ballet Theatre and ABT Certified Instructor and Ballet Master of the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company
Joshua Beamish, director of Move: The Company, and choreographer for Wendy Whelan's Restless Creature
Amar Ramasar, Principal with the New York City Ballet
Sascha Radetsky, Former Soloist with the American Ballet Theatre
Marden Ramos, Formerly of Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Current Artist in Residence at The Richland Academy
Jay Donn, Flex dancer with BalletNext and member of America’s Best Dance Crew
Erik “Cheeto” Zito, Guys Dance Too Program Coordinator
"My son has been attending master classes with Ballet in the City for over two years. He has grown not only as a dancer, but in his maturity as a person as well. His home ballet school has nothing but high praise for the new skills he has developed and brings back to share. The Guys Dance Too program has strengthened his decision to make dance his career choice. Everyone at Ballet in the City has been encouraging and amazing in their instruction and time they have given him, both on and off the dance floor."
Contact Ballet In the City
198 Portage Trail Extension West,
Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223