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

Hi Jill, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
We have all felt the stifling effects of not being able to move “normally” recently. For dancers, movement is essential. We need it to feel sane, to feel needed, to feel of value. Helping others to feel something through movement, with no words, is something truly special. Finding joy through movement is this innate thing that people are born with. You can see joy from a young age in babies when they move. When they hear music, elderly people struggling with dementia and alzheimers are able to find memories and move their bodies in ways they otherwise cannot. Movement is pretty incredible. Picture a wedding…for whatever reason, the “Happiest day of your life” commences with a dance party. Movement is life. Movement unites us, movement heals us, movement MOVES us.

There is a common vocabulary in movement. It is something so natural that everyone can just understand; whether they speak the same language or not a word, whether they have an education or no education at all, whether they are young or old, even whether they can see or not…it is something we all FEEL.

Seeing how people were so deeply effected by lockdown orders and the inability to move through their daily routines was terrible, but as much as I hate to say it, not surprising to me…suicide numbers skyrocketed, children struggled with depression and anxiety, riots broke out, anger, hostility…it was like there was a deep inner rage being let out across the globe.

Meanwhile, dancers across the United States banded together to find a way to keep our art form alive and continue training. We learned to train in our bedrooms, kitchens, back patios, anywhere that we could move our limbs, we danced. At first, it was extremely painful mentally. It felt like the one thing that made sense to all of us had been stripped away. It was hard to envision the future for artists and the performing arts in general. We all struggled to smile through the camera. Every time we closed our zoom meetings, we usually cried. Alone. In our homes. But…we were doing it together. And after a few months, we started to get stronger. Together. We started to believe we could make it through this. We started to feel the power of movement again, and the payoff of the discipline that our dance training instills in us. Slowly but surely restrictions started to lift, and we made our way back into our studios and schools. Now, finally, we are making our way back onto stages and into amphitheatres, and once again are able to invite our communities to share in our joy of movement…invite them to come and process some of those emotions that they have been bottling up in their houses while dealing with their individual and collective struggles throughout this pandemic. The performing arts help people to process, relate, feel. Sometimes, just sitting in a theatre and feeling that you aren’t the only one “feeling” something is a gift in itself.

I have seen a level of resiliency in my students through all of this that is unlike anything I’ve witnessed prior to the pandemic. These students logged on to their computers and trained 4-5 days per week on their tile, carpet and hardwood floors. They jumped into ceiling fans, got tripped by their dogs, blockaded by their cats, fell out of turns, bruised tailbones, couldn’t fully jump, ran into walls, you name it..we did it. Through it all, we found ways to make each other smile. We helped each other to continue remembering why we do what we do.

The reason is simple…the world needs Dance. Dance moves people. It brings us together in a way that no other language can. It makes it possible to sit next to a person you have never met before in a theatre halfway across the world, and feel the exact same thing that they are, at the exact same time that they are. It connects us. It makes us stronger as people, and stronger as a society. The performing arts are vital to humanity. By pushing forward and continuing to train our young artists, we keep this art form alive, and we keep spreading joy into our communities. That joy resonates and grows, across continents, through different cultures. It is something peaceful that we can all agree on, all understand and all enjoy…no matter where or who you are.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Ballet Company is a Pre-Professional Performing Arts Academy that aims to provide developmentally appropriate training to students ages 4 and up. Founded in the belief that there is a place for everyone in the arts, we strive to support students in finding their true passions while also building professional and social skills that will benefit them in all areas of life. Students are welcome at TBC whether they want to take 1 class for fun, or whether they want to spend all day every day training toward a professional performance career.

Throughout my career teaching and working in dance studios, I have been consistently formulating what my ideal student training program would look like. The Ballet Company accepts all students as they are, and celebrates individuality. We have drama-free halls, a cute and cozy student lounge, and learning going on in multiple studios at all times. We even have our own Little Free Library with lots of books about the arts! We work hard to offer many avenues of Performing Arts interests and training to our students. Some of our students are interested in studying choreography, learning to teach and even working in different aspects of theatre. We have opportunities available to support learning in all of these areas, including an annual Student Choreography Showcase, opportunities to work on Production Crew, and a full Teacher Apprentice training program to support student teachers in building the skills to begin teaching on their own.

The Ballet Company is more than just a dance studio. It is a place for students to thrive in the Performing Arts, to explore new opportunities, to grow within a community and to build life-lasting skills. It is a space that we have worked really hard for, and are really proud of…and we cannot wait to see how it continues to grow in the coming years.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Beach, beach and then the beach.

Recently, I’ve been enjoying eating lunch outside at Mitch’s Seafood. Last time I was there, we even got a seal, stingray and bird show. It was almost like being at Sea World, but with really good food.

I spend so much time working these days. I basically live on my computer or inside the studio teaching. This city is really so beautiful. So, when I can, I just like to get outside and enjoy it.

I am of course extremely excited for the theatres to start opening up again. American Ballet Theatre is coming to Orange County to perform The Nutcracker in December, which I am excited to go see with some of our students, and The Ballet Company will be performing our own 1960s Beatles inspired Nutcracker on December 16 in Little Italy!

I am also excited to start going to see movies again at The Lot in Liberty Station. I used to think it sounded so crazy to need all of that luxury for a 2 hour movie when you could just watch a movie at home…and then I tried it. I must say it’s pretty relaxing!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
These days, when I wake up in the morning, I feel most grateful to my fiancé Gabe and to my family. Starting a business in the midst of a pandemic is not exactly something I had ever planned to do, and having their daily support has helped to make this all possible.

I would also have to say thank you to my students and their families…for continuing on this journey with me, and for your steady dedication to your training. I truly can’t imagine life without you all. We have a pretty special community, and I’m so grateful for it.

Website: www.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)

Image Credits
Holly Ireland, Jill Gibson

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