Discipline of Dance: Natchez Ballet Academy under new ownership

Published 11:55 am Sunday, September 3, 2023

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By Angela Cutrer

The Natchez Democrat

The Natchez Ballet Academy is introducing new classes and schedules, but its constant tradition of excellence hasn’t changed, said new owner Alicia Havard.

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“Even though I’ve purchased the academy from Mignon Lefebrve, who has graciously agreed to stay on as advanced ballet teacher, the technique and discipline of the Natchez Ballet Academy hasn’t changed,” Havard explained. “The name and what we teach is the same.”

Havard believes in C.S. Lewis’ edict that “You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream,” and that’s just what she did by buying the academy and becoming its artistic director.

“Owning a studio and being able to teach dance to students has been a dream of mine since I was a child,” she said. “I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to take over as the new owner of Natchez Ballet Academy, but I am also happy that … Lefebvre will be staying to teach the Ballet 3 and 4 classes, as well as ‘The Nutcracker.’

“I would like everyone in the Miss-Lou area to know that I will continue to keep the integrity of this studio, and the discipline of dance that it is so well known for, as the main focus of my curriculum.”

The rich history of the ballet school dates back to the early 1970s, when it was first established by Mrs. Elaine Meade. After she moved away from Natchez, the studio was purchased by Lee Partridge and Teresa Burns. As the new owners-directors, they started the traditional holiday performance of “The Nutcracker” each year as well as the choreography and performance of “An Evening at Concord” in the Natchez Historic Tableaux.

In 2005, Lefebvre purchased the ballet studio. As the new artistic director, she continued the presentation of performances such as “The Nutcracker,” “Fanny Elssler” and the “Can-Can” as part of the Natchez Historic Tableaux. After 18 years, she made the decision to sell the studio to Alicia Havard in June of this year.

Classes will be taught in pip-hop, tap, jazz and hip-hop. Adult ballet, hip-hop and salsa will be offered as well as ballroom dance.

Mommy and Me classes will be welcoming parents with special needs children. Havard provides an initial tour to see the studio and find if it’s a comfortable fit for the child.

Private lessons for cheer, dance line, pageants and choreography for middle school, high school and college tryouts are available by appointment only on Saturdays. Choreography for adult events such as Mardi Gras and weddings are also available by appointment.

Havard, a retired school teacher of 28 years, has a bachelor’s degree in dance from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has more than 50 years of dance experience as well of teaching children of all ages.

“We will continue to inspire the hearts of children one step at a time…,” she added.

For more information or to register for classes, go to www.natchezballet.net or call 601-807-0672.