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A Word From The Artistic Director

I have been asked, "Why Elan? Does that come from something?" The answer? Yes, it does.My mother loves to tell the story of the time I was a very young girl, "flitting", as she called it, about the theatre, and an elderly gentleman who had been watching me said to her " My!! That child has such élan!"


Elan.Vivacity. Panache. Confidence. Sparkle. Enthusiasm.Elegance. Gusto. Fire.


I had élan. I also had a passion for music, and for moving, and a great imagination. What I didn't have was coordination. Strength. Flexibility. Good feet. I had to learn and acquire all of those things.  I was truly fortunate to have wonderful,  professional training, and the will and deepest desire to become a dancer. It is a personal mission of mine  to pass on all that I have learned to the generations of dancers that come after me. Ballet only lives on if there are people to pass it down, and quality training is absolutely essential to developing the technique, physicality, and artistry of a classical ballet dancer.


Ballet dancers are not made overnight. They are carefully taught and nurtured into a discipline that will benefit them all their lives. Work ethic, attention to detail, confidence, determination,  and perseverance are just some of the many important life skills the dancer develops for him or herself through a classical ballet education. Musicality, stage presence and expression are included in the training from the very youngest baby ballerinas  through to the adult student; they are the heart of a performer and should not be saved until the dancer is older. 


I feel passionately that the dancer's rigorous training must also incorporate a love and understanding of music, the history of ballet,  and the art of storytelling through dance.  Elan Academy of Classical Ballet will offer training for students from age 4 through adult, as well as an opportunity to audition for Elan Ballet Theatre, which will provide opportunities to perform throughout the year, including a Holiday Performance in December, as well as a Spring Performance. My wish is that all my dancers not only aquire the technique and strength to perform classical ballets, but that they do it with elan, that they feel inspired to dance from within.


A dancer uses all the energy other people spend speaking, to show you something. Dancing is being able to say with your body all the things, all the subtle things a person who isn't a poet simply couldn't say. You can transcend language, culture, societal conditioning…you can speak in a way that no one can argue with. Everyone with eyes can see what you are saying, feel what you are feeling, and be moved to a place no other art form can take you to. It is all human. It is real and otherworldly. It is divine, in a way, and should be revered not only for the dedication and discipline required to accomplish it, but for the impact it has on the human soul.


Alyssa Davenport Pettingill

Artistic Director

Elan Academy of Classical Ballet 


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