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Gainesville Ballet Co. to offer lessons, look for new artistic director after parting ways with founder
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Alexis Arria, left, and Nick Hagelin, both performers in The Gainesville Ballet Company's "The Nutcracker," pose during a rehearsal at the Peace Auditorium on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

Over the past month, Gainesville Ballet Co. has shifted its focus from not only producing two performances a year, but offering lessons to kids and young adults. 

On May 26, the nonprofit’s board of directors voted unanimously to remove Diane Callahan as artistic director, cutting the organization’s partnership with Gainesville School of Ballet, the business responsible for teaching dance classes. Callahan established the school 52 years ago when she was in her late 20s, then founded the Gainesville Ballet Co. five years later.

Charlotte DeLong and Jocelyn Buchanan left their roles as dance instructors at the school to teach lessons with Gainesville Ballet Co. They recently were named co-interim artistic directors by the nonprofit’s board. 

DeLong said the decision to resign from the school was difficult, but she knows she made the right choice.

“In the six years I have been at Gainesville School of Ballet, I have come to love and adore all of my students,” she said. “And, as much as I still love teaching, I decided that I need to look for a job that provides me with a more positive, encouraging and organized studio in which to teach.”

Nathan Goss was recently appointed to chair a new transition committee to help establish criteria for the nonprofit’s board and restructure it. Goss said he aims to have a new 10-person board in place by early fall with a combination of community leaders, parents of ballet students and Brenau staff. 

Diane Callahan is the owner of the Gainesville School of Ballet and former artistic director for the Gainesville Ballet Co. - photo by Tom Reed

Traditionally, Goss said a majority of its members have been parents. By introducing new people, he said the hope is to bring balanced and objective perspectives to the board.

The nonprofit is also in the process of designating a search committee to look for a new artistic director, Goss said.

“We’re just excited about continuing the legacy that Ms. Diane has created through the ballet company, and we’re excited to engage with existing and new parents,” he said. “We’re just excited about the future.”

The organization will continue its partnership with Brenau University, and DeLong said people can still expect two shows: “The Nutcracker” around Christmastime and a storybook ballet in the spring. 

Gainesville Ballet Co. began offering drop-in classes in July for those 3 years old to college-aged. People can pop by from 3:30-8 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until July 23.

Because of the break away from Gainesville School of Ballet, DeLong said the nonprofit was forced to look for another studio for lessons. She said Heather Wayne’s Performing Arts has allowed them to rent its space until they're ready to look elsewhere. The studio is located at 971 Riverside Drive in Gainesville. 

“She (Heather Wayne) rearranged her own class schedule for us to be able to use her space,” DeLong said. “She’s so generous. We’re super thankful for her.”

In mid-August, Gainesville Ballet Co. will start up its dance program, which will run through May 2022. DeLong said the organization will keep a monthly tuition. The rates will range from $60 to $220, depending on the student’s skill level and amount of dancing per week.  

“Honestly, we’re happy to be able to teach in a positive and happy environment,” DeLong said. “Our girls are just excited to be able to dance.”

For more information about Gainesville Ballet Co.’s fall program, contact

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