Established in December 1914, the Peabody Preparatory Dance Department is one of the oldest continuously-operating dance training centers in the United States. Throughout its remarkable life span, Peabody has pioneered new dance forms, mounted numerous collaborative projects, partnered with prominent figures in 20th and 21st century American dance, and produced accomplished professional dancers, choreographers, directors, and teachers. Few, if any, American dance training centers can match that level of accomplishment.
From the very beginning, Peabody Preparatory has been at the forefront of the evolution of American dance. Shortly after opening its doors, Peabody became the first school to offer Dalcroze Eurhythmics in the United States. A succession of “firsts” followed, such as: research culminating in a syllabus of American Indian dance steps and ritual dances; exchanges initiated by mid-century dance visionary Carol Lynn, which brought female dancers to Ted Shawn’s program at Jacob’s Pillow and introduced film as a recording method for dance; and Antony Tudor as artist-in-residence at Peabody in the early 1950’s, offering classes for male dancers and adagio. Since the 1950’s, such figures as modern dancer Dale Sehnert, Spanish dancer Maria Morales, tap dancer Mary Jane Brown, ballet teacher Wendy Robinson, and late artistic director Carol Bartlett (1988-2012), have developed ground-breaking programs and produced accomplished alumni who have become professional dancers, choreographers, directors, and teachers. The Dance Department’s alumni have danced professionally with Pilobolus Dance Theatre, Stuttgart Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Pearl Lang Dance Theater, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, American Ballet Theatre, Ailey II, Dallas Black Dance Theatre: Encore!, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, and Mark Morris Dance Group, among others.
Now under the leadership of Director Melissa Stafford, Artistic Advisor Emeritus Barbara Weisberger, and a nationally-respected faculty, Peabody Preparatory Dance is keeping in step with the progression of American dance into the 21st century and remains committed to:
Photo courtesy of Peabody Archives (1923-1924)