The Ballet Academy

5640 E Sunnyside Ave.
Beltsville, Maryland


Classes offered:  ballet, modern, stretch/tone

Description via website: “The Ballet Academy opened in 1981 under the direction of Alison Miller. The Academy teaches the foundations of Classical Ballet based on the Royal Academy and Vaganova syllabi with emphasis on placement, technique and musicality. Classes in Repertory/Variations, and Stretch and Tone are also offered. The Ballet Academy is the resident company of The Performing Arts Repertory Company (”

View Larger Map


Director Allison Miller of The Ballet Academy is highly knowledgeable, inviting and communicative. I’ve learned much helpful information as one of a few adults in her instructive teen/adult beginner pointe class. While The Ballet Academy’s location within a larger busy studio can be a little awkward, it is a place where students (adult and children) will definitely learn and enjoy ballet.
8 out of 10
-Helen Mao

Beginner Ballerina Profile: Helen Mao

HMao2This week’s profile is of Helen Mao, who has been studying ballet for the past three years in addition to take other ballet classes (and tap classes) in the past. Helen will also be writing guest posts for ABP in the future, so be on the look out for those!

When did you start doing ballet as an adult? 

Five years ago, I returned to ballet was when I turned 40. Since then I have been trying to take class consistently, at least twice a week. In college I studied 2 years of ballet in the school’s gym with fine instructors; I also took 1 year of class at a high school where I was teaching when I was 24 years old.

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

I studied for 1 year when I was in elementary school. I remember wanting to continue ballet after that year but the school’s location was not convenient. In middle and high school, I figure skated and took basic ballet classes in skating camps but nothing serious. In college, I ice danced and ballroom danced, but always missed ballet. Nonetheless, I always felt that ballet was “the real thing” in terms of discipline, flexibility and technique.

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult? 

I was thrilled to take an adult tap dancing class when I was 39 years old; I had tapped for 1 year in graduate school and loved it. A tap classmate told me she was taking an adult ballet class near my house. Coincidentally, another friend of mine was in this same adult ballet class. I called the teacher, who was so inviting, went to my first class and was hooked. I now take at another school that offers more technique classes per week.
Where do you take classes?

For the past 3 years, I have been taking technique classes at least twice a week when I can at Maryland Youth Ballet in Silver Spring, MD. Also, this past summer I started adult pointe at Joy of Motion in DC but the class’s timing and location were difficult for me. Now I am in a weekly teenage/adult beginner pointe class at The Ballet Academy in Beltsville, MD.

What is your favorite part about ballet? 

I love all parts of ballet class — barre and center — but my favorite part of ballet is executing (correctly, without relying on following others — my bad habit) a technically interesting and fun combination that covers a lot of studio floor space. I can enjoy the exercise and music while forgetting about everyday stressors/obligations for 90 minutes.

What is your least favorite part? 

My least favorite part is one area that I should work on more: flexibility and stretching exercises. I am embarrassingly not flexible, despite my previous activities. On a good day I can straddle a little beyond 90 degrees; forget splits! Barre stretches feel good but I am NOT one of those people who can pull her foot above her head; I am lucky when my foot is higher than my waist. My cambre back looks like I still standing up straight. My grand plie and demi plie in first position look sadly similar. My fondues/developpes are comfortable at 45 degrees but become a strain nearing 90 degrees.

Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

I am inspired by ballerinas I’ve seen (mostly through videos of European and American companies) with excellent technique, strength and grace who also are expressive actors. I’ve also been inspired by my teachers as well as other adult ballet dancers whose bodies and spirits make them seem eternally youthful. Finally, I have been truly inspired meeting other adult dancers as well as reading adult ballet dancers’ blogs in continuing to strive and improve myself at any age.

Maryland Youth Ballet School

Maryland Youth Ballet School
926 Ellsworth Drive
Silver Spring, MD 20910


Classes offered: Ballet, Broadway Jazz, Core Conditioning

Description via website: “MYB has approximately 1600 students ranging in age from 2 years to 80+ years. Each year graduates of MYB are accepted directly into professional companies or the country’s most prestigious performing arts training centers and universities.  MYB’s faculty is regarded as among the finest in the country coming from successful professional careers with such companies as the National Ballet, American Ballet Theatre (ABT), The Washington Ballet, Houston Ballet, and many others.”

View Larger Map


Renowned for its strong classical training for youth, Maryland Youth Ballet (MYB) attracted my attention with its wide array of adult ballet classes, from beginner to advanced (for professional dancers). A live pianist accompanies students through 90-minutes of barre and center work. I have enjoyed various instructors and benefitted from clear instructions and class corrections. My favorite teacher is Julie Miles, who provides specific individual corrections and encouragement.

I love the classes’ organized structure and challenging curriculum. The class levels’ names can be a little deceptive. For example, a Beginner II class would be very challenging for a beginner and presupposes previous ballet training; the Advanced Beginner level (which often includes not only amateur dancers but also teachers and professional performers) is quire rigorous but anyone up to the challenge would enjoy it.

MYB boasts an inviting atmosphere to dancers of all ages and abilities. Daytime, evening and weekend classes are available to accommodate anyone’s schedule. An adult performance class is also sometimes available.

9 out of 10

–Helen Mao

Skip to toolbar