The California Ballet School


As a new addition to our Blog, we will be hosting blog posts for the California Ballet School in our pages section. Here we will provide updates with what’s going on in the school, upcoming student performances, upcoming auditions, Junior Company events, and more. It is our hope to keep the ballet community better informed about our school, and perhaps address questions or issues through this supplementary page on our blog.


As an introduction to the California Ballet School’s new pages, let’s take a look at the history of the school, where it came from, and where it’s headed.


The California Ballet School sprang to life out of its parent company, the California Ballet Company. In 1968, Maxine Mahon founded both the Company and the School, with a single artistic vision in mind: create professional quality dancers and performances in San Diego. With the foundation of her mother’s (Flora Jennings Small) experience, Ms. Mahon began to pioneer ballet education in San Diego through the teaching of dance classes, live performances, and educational lectures.



In 1971, Maxine Mahon’s full length The Nutcracker graced the stage for the very first time. The ballet offered lots of opportunities for young and fledgling dancers to perform onstage. All children’s roles were open to young dancers within the San Diego community, and many were filled with the increasingly large California Ballet School student body.

While the California Ballet School saw an ever growing student body from its inception onward, it  wouldn’t see a full academic year until 1972. Finally, the School would hit its stride. Student portfolios were established, photos taken of each student in proper attire, uniforms established, and a new California Ballet Center built in North Park.

Maxine Mahon’s principal of all-inclusiveness in the ballet world manifested itself in 1973 with the inception of California Ballet School scholarships.  42 scholarships were offered the first year, making it possible for young, willing, and hard-working dancers from all financial walks of life in San Diego to pursue a career in ballet.



From here it was an steady upward climb. In 1974 the school and company moved to the building that would be their home for the next 30 years at 8276 Ronson Road, in Kearny Mesa. The building originally contained three studios and a small collection of offices for reception and administration. Small in comparison to what the school and company have at their disposal today, the new facility was a huge step up for California Ballet.


1975 was the inaugural year for the Student of the Year award. The very first award was given to Pamela Long. The following year, former Prima Ballerina Denise Dabrowski was awarded Student of the Year.





The School quickly became the backbone of the Company, as Ms. Mahon was able to train new generations of California Ballet Company dancers, from the ground up. Swiftly, California Ballet began to develop its own style and sense of ballet, which lent the professional company a more cohesive appearance onstage as the corps de ballet grew up together in the School.

As an important aspect of dance training is the chance to perform, the School presented an annual All School Concert, allowing the students to display their growing skill onstage. In line with the philosophy of growth through performance, a Junior Company was formed, allowing pre-professional dancers to further develop their performance skills. In time, the Senior Company would pull from directly from the ranks of the Junior Company for new corps de ballet.



As the School entered the 1980’s and the Jazz Dance craze hit the scene, California Ballet embraced the changing face of dance with open arms. In 1984 the School brought Brenda Bjornson onboard and, with her invaluable help, further developed thHow How - Jr _Companye school’s Jazz program. Starting as a single class of dancers at a mixed level, the program eventually developed into a multi-level department within the ballet school, with dancers achieving professional status in both the Jazz world and the Theater world. Within a number of years, the California Ballet School became a legitimate competitor in Jazz Dance.


Continuing to Develop hand-in-hand with the School was the California Ballet Junior Company. CCoppelia - Jr Companyomprised of pre-professional level students from within the School’s student body, the Junior Company began to serv as the community face of California Ballet. Over the years, the collection of burgeoning professionals has presented high-quality dance at community festivals, parks, schools, libraries, renaissance fairs, and more, as well as headlining in the annual All School Concert.

In the 1990’s the School  and Company further expanded their facilities, adding on new offices, a new studio, and an in-house theater. The new theater (dubbed Theatre West) allowed for more performances and dance concerts by the Junior Company, further enhancing the students’ performance education. The ‘90s also saw growth in the School’s selection of classes. The growing curriculum came to include Body Dynamics, which focuses on injury prevention, maintenance and care of a dancer’s body, Flamenco, and Pilates. The student body continued to increase, and the Junior Company’s level of skill and expertise continued to grow as their access to a wider range of dance education expanded.


In 1995 Ms. Mahon’s daughter, Clarissa Palhyegi, took over the position of the School’s Program Director. Under her guidance the school continues to expand its program, schedule of classes, and student body. New student ballets have been developed for the annual All School Concert, and the young dancers’ are better able to showcase their talent and skills.

In 2001, the School and the Company once again pulled up their stakes and moved to a new facility. The brand new California Ballet Center, situated directly across the parking lot from the old facility, provided the school with brand new studios, dance floors, air conditioning and heating, new offices, and special spaces from which parents could view classes.


The new millennium started off with an exciting move, and the school continues to grow as the years progress. Junior Company dancers are finding more opportunities to dance side-by-side with the Professional Company, classes are expanding, and the school is widening its horizons in order the cultivate more well-rounded dancers. The newest addition to classes is a Musical Theater Workshop, which is being taught to the pre-professional dancers of the Junior Company. The class offers students a chance to learn how to sing and aasc FOR FVct alongside their already extensive dance skills.


The California Ballet School will continue to grow and change as the demands of the dance world continue to grow and change. New facilities, new teachers, new styles, the School has continued on a course of perpetual evolution since its inception in 1968, but has never veered from Maxine Mahon’s original artistic vision: to create professional quality dancers and performances in San Diego.



One Response to “The California Ballet School”

  1. L-Lysine : Says:

    to be great in dancing, you really need to enroll on dance classes with good teachers “”

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