The History of
The Jasper School of Dance

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Founded in 1966 by Arlene Golden Gilbert, the school was known as The Classical Ballet Studio. It was a ballet school, located in Woonsocket, RI, and it became an established training ground for aspiring young dancers eager to meet the challenges of the school’s professional standards. The annual presentations throughout the late 1970's included full-length ballets and champagne galas at the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket - quoted in The Woonsocket Call under 'off the beaten path' as “attracting larger and larger audiences” and as “a breath of fresh air.”

With the success of A Chorus Line, the early 1980’s triggered a resurgence of
enthusiasm in Broadway-style dancing. The Classical Ballet Studio expanded its curriculum to include tap, jazz and lyrical, and the school was renamed to The Dance Center. A senior resident dance troupe was formed called The Classical Ensemble, and a youth troupe called the Off Broadway Babies. In the decade to follow, the school’s productions were the annual series of “Off Broadway,” which continued through the early 1990’s, when shows in concert began their eclectic repertoire in 1992.

Throughout the history of the school, performances have been constant in support of charitable organizations and community activities. These have included the Beethoven Club, Hadassah, Mount St. Charles Academy, the Milk Fund, the Woonsocket Hospital Aid Association, the Northern RI Chapter for Mentally Retarded Citizens, the Burrillville Arts Festival, the Northern RI Council of the Arts, Autumnfest, the American Heart Association, the AIDS Walk for Life and many more.

In 1995, under the wing of The Dance Center, The JASPER Ballet was formed - a nonprofit ballet company dedicated to raising awareness and funds in the fight against AIDS. The troupe was founded in memory of Arlene Gilbert's brother, Alan Golden, and was named for his dog, Jasper. That season, The Dance Center relocated to Cumberland, RI, where it continues to cultivate the artistic development of young dancers, now under the name The Jasper School of Dance.

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