Cincinnati Ballet unveils plans for $30M move to Walnut Hills

Cincinnati Ballet unveils plans for $30M move to Walnut Hills
Cincinnati Ballet unveiled design plans Friday for the Cincinnati Ballet Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance on Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills. (Source: Provided by Cincinnati Ballet)

CINCINNATI, Ohio (FOX19) - The Cincinnati Ballet announced plans Friday to build a new, larger $30 million dance center in Walnut Hills.

The Cincinnati Ballet Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance is scheduled to begin programming in Summer 2021, ballet officials said in a news release.

The plans for their new facility are being considered Friday by the Cincinnati Planning Commission.

“This is a huge step forward for Cincinnati Ballet,” Victoria Morgan, the ballet’s longtime artistic director, said.

The 57,000 square-foot building with eight studios will be built on vacant land purchased by Cincinnati Ballet at 1801 Gilbert Ave.

The ballet is currently located in the West End near Music Hall where it performs.

The ballet’s current 36,000-square-foot building, which houses four studios, was built in 1994 and expanded in 2005.

A fundraising drive to pay for their new dance center already is underway.

Longtime Cincinnati Ballet patrons and supporters Margaret and Michael Valentine have committed the largest one-time gift in Cincinnati Ballet history to name and memorialize the Cincinnati Ballet Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance, according to the news release.

Designed by world-renowned architecture firm GBBN, the dance center will feature “a sleek, innovative exterior that boasts panoramic views of downtown Cincinnati from its two largest studios."

Designed by world-renowned architecture firm GBBN, the Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance features a sleek, innovative exterior that boasts panoramic views of downtown Cincinnati from its two largest studios.
Designed by world-renowned architecture firm GBBN, the Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance features a sleek, innovative exterior that boasts panoramic views of downtown Cincinnati from its two largest studios. (Source: Provided by Cincinnati Ballet)

“The Valentines’ generous gift is so significant and meaningful to the organization," Morgan said. "They have a deep commitment to elevating the artistry of dance and its impact on Cincinnati and the region. This generous gift will take our world-class company to even greater heights.”

Previously, the Valentines have funded world-premiere, full-length ballets including The Nutcracker, King Arthur’s Camelot, and a recent co-production with Ballet West of Nicolo Fonte’s Carmina Burana. The couple also established a Cincinnati Ballet touring endowment, as well as financial support of Cincinnati Ballet’s Live Music Fund for professional productions.

“The Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance will dramatically expand Cincinnati Ballet’s mission to enrich, expand, and excel in the art of dance through performance, a high-caliber academy, and impactful education and community engagement programs,” Scott Altman, the ballet’s president and CEO, said.

“Cincinnati Ballet has expanded its professional mainstage productions and experienced record-setting growth in enrollment at our Otto M. Budig Academy over the last few years. In fact, we cannot accommodate demand due to full classes. Quite simply, the organization has outgrown its current space. The new ballet center will be an integral arts destination for the community and the region.”

Ballet officials say they also are grateful for a “significant gift to the project” from Rhonda Sheakley and her husband Larry A. Sheakley.

As a permanent commemoration of the Sheakley family’s generosity, the largest company studio will be named the Rhonda and Larry A. Sheakley Premier Studio.

With iconic views of downtown Cincinnati, the impressive, 3,650-square-foot studio will offer ample space for main company rehearsals and seating for up to 125 guests to view educational demonstrations and Otto M. Budig Academy presentations.

As a permanent commemoration of the Sheakley family’s generosity, the largest studio will be named the Rhonda and Larry A. Sheakley Premier Studio.
As a permanent commemoration of the Sheakley family’s generosity, the largest studio will be named the Rhonda and Larry A. Sheakley Premier Studio. (Source: Provided by the Cincinnati Ballet)

The new facility also will have:

  • Physical therapy and training services: Mercy Heath – Orthopedics and Sports Rehabilitation at Cincinnati Ballet, a roughly 3,000-square-foot space for performing artists, as well as members of the public
  • Dedicated spaces: A dedicated dancer lounge for company dancers adjacent to an upgraded dressing and changing area and an Academy lounge area, which will feature a quiet space to study and relax between classes
  • Expanded parking: More than 150 parking spaces, doubling parking capacity
  • Easier access: Streamlined drop-off and pick-up for academy students and guests

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