We had the good fortune of connecting with Jill Gibson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jill, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
If you truly love and believe in something, I don’t think giving up is really an option. Due to the pandemic, the studio where my dance program, The Ballet Company, had held residency for the past 3 years opted to close its doors permanently. Like many in the performing arts industry, we pushed on and continued to adapt so that we could do our part to keep this art form alive. The dance studio is more than just a job or an after school activity for all of us, It is our home. I knew that no matter what, I was not alone, because I had a family of students that showed up for me every day…and I had to continue to show up for them. There was too much love there to give up. Too much life.

What should our readers know about your business?
The Ballet Company is an independent dance studio in East County, San Diego, that offers recreational and pre-professional training options to students ages 4 and up in Ballet, Pointe, Contemporary, Jazz, Lyrical and Tap. We utilize American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum, Dance Physiotherapy and Progressing Ballet Technique training in an effort to provide the safest, highest level of developmentally appropriate dance training for all. For students working toward a career in the performing arts, we offer an intensive Conservatory training program that provides elite-level training, with private instruction and competition options. Something we are very proud of is that we offer a Teacher Apprentice program, where students train closely with our staff to learn the tools of “how” to teach, in addition to “what” to teach. We also offer opportunities in Student Choreography, which this season will culminate in our very first annual Student Choreography Showcase. It is important to us that students are supported in their personal journeys toward teaching or choreographing, in addition to just performing. This way, upon graduation from the studio, students have had the opportunity to gain diverse skills that may help to open different career paths, financially support them during and after their performance careers, and help them to truly become young artists.

The Ballet Company officially opened its doors as a stand-alone business in late January of 2021, following a sudden closure of the previous studio where we had held residency since 2017. As it goes with many business closures, the news was sudden and devastating. In my life, it was one in a series of terrible events. My Grandfather had passed away due to COVID-19 just 2 days prior to receiving the news, my fiancée had been laid off from his restaurant job with no certainty of a re-open date the same night. In the midst of all of this tragedy and chaos, I knew that I had to find a way to keep this program going and continue providing a second home for these students. The toll this pandemic has taken on children is tremendous. Their entire sense of normalcy has been stripped away, and many young people across the nation, and world, are really struggling as a result. I knew that I had to hold on to the one thing that felt somewhat normal to all of my students, and to myself. This has been an extremely challenging project and I am more exhausted than I thought possible, but opening my own business also feels different than any work I have done before. I feel more confident, more certain, more focused, and ready to accept any challenge thrown my way. I think it is important as a business owner, as an artist, and as a person, to not be afraid of failure. Everything in life is a process, and there are never any certainties. Opening a new business in the midst of this pandemic has definitely not been easy and I know that there will ALWAYS be curveballs, but moving forward, I will always remember this…
Every day we get to be in the studio together is a gift. It is something I will never take for granted again and I will continue to fight to keep this art alive and our studio doors open as long as I am able.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I had to pick some favorite spots in San Diego, I would say eating would be at the top of the list! I worked in restaurants to support myself through high school and college, and eating out is something that is a luxury to me and I really appreciate and love to do. Some of my favorite restaurants are…910 in La Jolla, Trust in Hillcrest & Hane Sushi in Mission Hills

As far as places to check out, this may be the expected answer, but…the beaches! We just did a company photo shoot at Scripps Pier and it is so beautiful there! I went to school at UCSD, so I guess I have a special love for that area. Ocean Beach is where I first lived in San Diego, so I am definitely partial to that beach also. Coronado Beach is my go to if I want to go for a nice, long beach walk. Taking the day to walk through Balboa Park is very relaxing and beautiful too! I usually teach about 60 hours per week, so I don’t get to get out in the city that much. When I do, spending all day at the beach or the park and then going out for a nice dinner afterward is generally my first pick of activities.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My first inspiration was my childhood ballet teacher, Linda Walker, at the Academy of Ballet in Tucson, Arizona. She is the one who helped encourage me from a young age and help me to realize and embrace my calling. Through college, I also had some amazing Professors: Colleen Shipkowski, Patricia Rincon, Judy Sharp and Eric Geiger just to name a few. Post-College, I have been shown so much support and love from Ms. Robyn Shifren. She is a big inspiration and a sort of mentor in my life, and I admire and respect her greatly. I have to say the training I received from Mr Raymond Lukens and Mr Franco DeVita through American Ballet Theatre has been very impactful on me and helped to shape my beliefs and teaching style. Last but not least, my family and fiancée have all been very supportive and loving as I navigate this wild journey and especially as I start my own business! Special shout-out to my brother Keith who has been extremely supportive and helpful.

Website: https://theballetcompanysd.com

Instagram: @theballetcompanysd

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-ballet-company

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theballetcompanysd

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-ballet-company-el-cajon?utm_campaign=www_business_share_popup&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=(direct)

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCimY84EVsaQSimYNvtCVr-g

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