The Anne Hebard School of Ballet established itself as the preeminent ballet studio in the Hudson Valley with its founding in 1973 by Anne Hebard, Life Member of the Royal Academy of Dance in England. Generations of area students have benefitted from the extensive knowledge and master teaching of Ms.Hebard, who is recognized by the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts.
In 2017, after over 50 years of teaching, Ms. Hebard stepped back in her role as director of the school, entrusting the future of the school to Melissa Bierstock, a student of Anne Hebard’s for twenty years. Ms. Bierstock has been teaching on the faculty of the Anne Hebard School of Ballet for the last ten years and is proud to build upon the legacy of the school and carry it forward for future generations. Ms. Bierstock is pleased that Ms. Hebard will continue to share her experience and wisdom as a faculty member of the school.
The Anne Hebard School of Ballet has always prided itself on the careful training of dancers with an emphasis on correct placement through the understanding of anatomy, kinesiology and the physics of dance. Training to be a dancer takes years of physical commitment and mental focus and within the bounds of that discipline comes lifelong benefit- whether or not the student chooses to pursue a professional career in dance. Poise, coordination, patience, mental awareness, the ability to think quickly and work with others; all are benefits of the discipline of training in ballet. Imagination, expression and musicality are encouraged from a very young age and fostered through performance. Self-directed drive and encouragement help to build self esteem and equip young students with the tools they need to succeed in life.
FROM THE DIRECTOR
With a careful eye on the overall health of a dancer, the AHSB was founded for the purpose of offering the highest level of classical ballet training to the students of the Hudson Valley. From expressive preschoolers discovering the first joys of movement to the serious student pursuing career in classical ballet, the school provides an opportunity to pursue their goals in a safe and experienced environment.
When a student is both nurtured and challenged, grounded in a classical technique that fosters understanding of other movement modalities, taught to understand and optimize the physics of his or her own body, the possibilities for artistic expression expand exponentially.
My teaching philosophy, grounded on the solid foundation granted me as a student of Anne Hebard, and molded by my own journey in training and performance, unfolds itself behind every plié, every pilates movement, every pirouette. I have a personal understanding that there is a distinct human being, drawn to the desire to move, create and express themselves who is asking for guidance in using the discipline and language of the art of ballet to move themselves through a challenging world. I do not take this responsibility lightly. With patience and a lifelong respect for the art form, I seek to assist each dancer in accessing their gifts, manifesting a means to achieving new heights of awareness.
Enjoy the process of learning to dance. The process of our profession, and not its final achievement, is the heart and soul of dance.
Owner, Director, Teacher
Melissa Bierstock began her dance training with the Anne Hebard School of Ballet at the age of four and continues to this day. As a student, she performed numerous principal roles in CBT’s productions during her teenage years. Melissa's classical training went on to include study at The North Carolina School of the Arts, Marin Ballet in CA, Pennsylvania Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet School and the David Howard Dance Center. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts in dance history from Bard College. Ms. Bierstock moved to Toronto, Canada in 1996 where she performed professionally in both modern and classical modalities and became certified in the Stott Pilates Method of Body Conditioning. Melissa taught Pilates for the University of Toronto, personally coached numerous members of the National Ballet of Canada, and in 2001 opened From the Center Pilates Studio in downtown Toronto. In 1998, she was personally invited to teach ballet technique classes for National Ballet of Canada’s principal dancer, Kevin Pugh at his acclaimed Dance- Teq ballet school where she remained a faculty member for 9 years. Melissa has been instructing and choreographing all levels of the Anne Hebard School of Ballet since 2004 and serves as the Assistant Artistic Director of Catskill Ballet Theatre. She is also the owner of Mainly Pilates pilates studio in Kingston.
Photo Credit: John Fischer Photography
Director Emeritus, Master Teacher
Anne Hebard's training began in England at the Arts Educational Trust. She remained at this school as a teacher for 10 years prior to coming to the United States at the invitation of Rebekah Harkness, to teach at the Harkness House for Ballet Arts in New York City, the school of the renowned Harkness Ballet Company. She taught there for nearly 10 years.
In England, Ms. Hebard was awarded The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Advanced Teacher's Certificate with Honors, and is a life member of RAD. She was also an examiner for the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance. She has been recognized by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. Ms. Hebard also holds certificates in Dance History, Music, and Anatomy.
Ms. Hebard has also been a quest teacher and lecturer at major universities, and regional ballet companies throughout the United States. She is a former guest teacher for the Bejart Ballet School in Lausanne, Switzerland, and traveled as the company ballet mistress during their tour in Japan in 1996. In 2000, she was also a master teacher for the First International Congress of Dance Mexico. Her school in Ulster County has operated for 40 years. In 1981 she formed the Catskill Ballet Theatre Company, where she continues to serve as Artistic Director. As Artistic Director of Catskill Ballet Theatre, her students have the opportunity to dance with the company's performance of The Nutcracker and other ballets.
Mr. Costa spent 20 years as a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in NYC. His early training included study on scholarship at the North Carolina School of the Arts, the San Francisco Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and NY’s Dance School. He was a soloist in numerous telecasts over the Emmy Award winning Metropolitan Opera Presents series. Mr. Costa had taught extensively throughout his career, including for Ballet Hispanica, Peridance Center in NYC, Center for Ballet Arts in Fairfield VA, USC Idyllwild, CA, Arlington Dance Theatre in TX and San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, CA. Mr. Costa holds a bachelor of music from the University of the Pacific.
Teacher: Moving Munchkins
Nicole Giebelhaus holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and a New York State certification in Pre-Kindergarten to sixth grade as well as a M.S. in Reading, Kindergarten through twelfth grade. She taught first grade at George Washington and Sophie Finn Elementary Schools before having two children of her own. Nicole then taught five years at the Hurley Nursery School, three of them as head teacher. Dancing and singing with children has always been Nicole's favorite part of the school day and she hopes to foster a lifelong love for movement to music in your child.
Natalie Rose Hopson
Natalie Rose Hopson was raised in the Hudson Valley, studying ballet with Anne Hebard and various other styles of dance and musical theatre throughout the region. She earned her B.A. at Fordham University, where she performed with and choreographed for Expressions Dance Alliance Company, and deepened her studies of contemporary, jazz, hip hop, and theatrical dance with various master teachers at NYC's esteemed Broadway Dance Center and Steps. She remained in NYC for a decade, performing and choreographing professionally and also working in fashion, hospitality, and child care. She recently moved back to the Hudson Valley where she has choreographed musicals at The Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck, John A. Coleman High School, and St. Joseph School. She is thrilled to be able to share her passion for dance again at an early and dear "home-away-from-home," The Anne Hebard School of Ballet.