The Community Dance Academy brings students of all ages together to create and explore dance in an inclusive, diverse, and nurturing environment.
Located on the scenic campus of Walnut Hill School for the Arts, all Community Dance Academy classes are taught by experienced, professional instructors directed by Melanie Atkins, a former Boston Ballet soloist and Children’s Ballet Mistress at the Boston Ballet School.
Classical ballet training is at the core of our program with four divisions of instruction for students beginning at age three. All divisions follow a structured curriculum of learning designed to provide students a love of dance and a strong technical foundation. Classical ballet training is supplemented by optional classes in Character, Jazz, Modern, and Lyrical to expose students to a wide range of genres and styles.
The Community Dance Academy accepts new students age 3 to 7 into our Creative Movement & Music classes and Preliminary Division without audition. Dancers age 8 to 18 participate in placement classes and are assigned to one of seven levels of instruction according to their age, experience and ability. Students move through the levels of the program at their own pace to be continuously offered the most challenging learning environment.
community academy director
Ms. Atkins was born in Reading, England. She trained at Walnut Hill School of the Arts after her family moved to Massachusetts.
After completing her education, Ms. Atkins joined Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, now Texas Ballet Theatre. She was soon invited to join Miami City Ballet in 1997, where she rose to the rank of principal dancer. In 1999, Ms. Atkins worked with Maria and Marjorie Tallchief in conjunction with The George Balanchine Foundation Interpreters Archive. The Archive preserves the choreographer’s legacy on video. In 2002, Ms. Atkins joined Boston Ballet as a soloist. Her repertory includes Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty (Lilac Fairy, The Countess) and Raymonda, Act III; Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker; August Bournonville’s La Sylphide; James Kudelka’s Cinderella (Stepsister); Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias (Marguerite); George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, Serenade, Monumentum/Movements, Duo Concertant and Rubies; Helen Pickett’s Etesian; Jorma Elo’s Plan to B, Bronislava Nijinska’s Les Noces; and Jiri Kylian’s Falling Angels. Following her retirement from the stage in May 2009, Ms. Atkins was appointed Children’s Ballet Mistress and faculty for Boston Ballet School. She has staged the children’s roles for Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker, George Balanchine’s Coppélia and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote and Ivan Lisak’s Le Corsaire. As a faculty member at Boston Ballet, Ms. Atkins taught at all levels of the school. She has prepared students for Boston Ballet School’s annual Spring Showcase and Next Generation performances. Ms. Atkins is excited to be back on the Walnut Hill School campus directing the Community Dance Academy.
Questions & Information
Community Dance Academy
Walnut Hill School for the Arts
12 Highland St., Natick, MA 01760