History of the School and Company
Fifty-seven years ago, it was Miss Jan Collum’s dream to create a classical ballet school and performing company in Tacoma. She believed in offering dancers, who had achieved a certain level of technique, artistry, and professionalism, the opportunity to perform in a professional atmosphere. For Miss Jan, this was an integral facet of their preparation for a career as a professional ballet dancer.
In 1955, The Jan Collum School of Classical Ballet was established along with the Concert Ballet Group of Tacoma. The small performing company began with six dancers, but quickly grew, boasting a membership of thirty or more. Several years later, Miss Jan created a not-for-profit corporation, gathered a board of directors and renamed the company BALLETACOMA. After thirty strong years, the company was christened Tacoma City Ballet, its third name in a forty-year history.
This season, Tacoma City Ballet celebrates its 57th anniversary. Housed in the beautiful Merlino Art Center at 6th and Fawcett in Tacoma, Tacoma City Ballet is very proud of its recently remodeled facility. One of the studios, an enormous ballroom with high ceilings and beautifully arched Palladian windows, is one of the crown jewels of our city. Dancers study and rehearse in spacious, old-world elegance. The atmosphere, filled with light and beautiful live music, is uplifting and truly inspirational. The Jan Collum Ballroom is utilized not only for classes and rehearsals, but also as a performance space for Tacoma City Ballet‘s Children’s Ballet Theatre productions, The Haunted Theatre and Storybook Ballet Theatre.
Tacoma City Ballet perpetuates the long established tradition of classical ballet. All classes, pre-ballet through professional, have a requisite syllabus, live piano accompaniment, and require dancers to don traditional uniform attire. Following the practice established by Miss Jan Collum, Tacoma City Ballet embraces the traditional teaching philosophy of classical ballet, but also insists upon nurturing and developing students’ minds and spirits.
Miss Jan Collum passed away in August 2001, but if she were here today, she would be extraordinarily proud of how her school and company have grown and continue to play an essential role in Tacoma’s renaissance.