As a young dancer in Boston, professional performance options were limited to vaudeville or burlesque, neither of which was an option for E. VIRGINIA WILLIAMS, so she focused on teaching and training young dancers, opening her first studio in Malden in the 1930s. By 1953 she had moved her studio into Boston next to The New England Conservatory in Back Bay.
Her teaching inspired decades of promising dancers, many of whom would go on to have illustrious careers in dance. Students like Eleanor D’Antuono (Ballet Russe, American Ballet Theatre), Sara Leland, Earle Sieveling, and Robert Rodham (New York City Ballet), and James Capp (The National Ballet, Washington) would return as guests artists for the New England Civic Ballet, and later the Boston Ballet. Others would remain as founding members of Boston Ballet and create the foundations of the world-class company that has become part of the fabric of the Boston Arts and Culture community. Continue below for some of the milestones and achievements from those early years.
1956: E. Virginia Williams moves her ballet school from the Back Bay to a studio at 186 Massachusetts Avenue, opposite the Lowes State Theatre. The School offered children’s classes as well as a Professional Division. The schools “fundamental purpose” was “to provide its students with a training equivalent to that offered professional dancers by the great European schools.”
1958: Out of her Boston School of Ballet, sometimes called The New England School of Ballet, E. Virginia Williams created a small concert troupe, The New England Civic Ballet, to perform at Festivals and small venues throughout New England. Many of William’s former students who had gone on to dance with professional companies returned as guest artists. Among those returning during that first year were Eleanor D’Antuono who was dancing at the time with The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.