NAN KLINGER FOUNDING ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Nan Klinger, Founding Artistic Director of the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet (now renamed Ballet Excel Ohio), was a pioneer of the concept of a pre-professional youth ballet company performing original ballets. An Akron native, her early ballet training was with her mother, Gertrude Holvey Harris. She also studied extensively at the American Theater Wing, and attended Kent State University.
Nan’s first studio was in the basement of her home, where she taught ballet while raising her six children. An instructor during the early years of the University of Akron’s Dance Institute, in 1966 she was chosen as one of forty ballet teachers nationwide for a Ford Foundation project to develop young ballet talents. This project included yearly professional adjudication of her students by the New York City Ballet. Nan’s close contact with NYCB artistic director George Balanchine and his creative work with young dancers encouraged Nan to start her own youth ballet in 1975. In 2000 the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet celebrated its 25th season.
Nan’s teaching ability helped place many of her students in professional ballet companies in the United States and abroad. Northern Ohio Live honored Nan and the CVYB with an Award of Achievement Honorable Mention in Dance in 1990, ’92, and ’93, and in 2000 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1992 she led the CVYB on its first international performance tour in Taiwan as part of the First International Children’s Festival, and in 1993 she received the Akron Woman of the Year Perseverance Award as part of Women’s History Week Project.
In 2001 the dance community honored Nan by awarding her the Chautauqua School of Dance Artist Teacher Award in the amphitheater at Chautauqua Institution. Nan also received the OhioDance Award in Dance Education at the 25th Anniversary OhioDance Festival in Cleveland. In addition, the Akron Area Arts Alliance awarded Nan the Lifetime Achievement Award at its inaugural Arts Alive awards ceremony.
Miss Nan’s goals for the CVYB remained constant: to teach talented children sound technical and artistic skills, coach them to use those skills in a professional-style performance environment, help them develop strong personal character, and develop young audiences who learn to appreciate and enjoy ballet.
Nan Klinger passed away on January 29, 2003. Miss Nan’s love of ballet, her unerring artistic sensibility and creativity, her strength of character and determination will long be remembered. Over 230 young dancers have passed through the CVYB and graduates have gone on to professional dancing careers with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Miami City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Cleveland Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet, Ballet Florida, BalletMet, Boston Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Fort Worth Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Memphis Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, and Ohio Ballet. Other alumni are dance teachers or involved in arts programs across the country.
MIA KLINGER ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
MIA KLINGER, Ballet Excel Ohio’s Artistic Director, was a founding member of the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet, now renamed Ballet Excel Ohio. After training with her mother, Nan Klinger, Mia went on to study as a scholarship student with the School of the American Ballet, Melissa Hayden Studio and Steps Studio in New York City. She is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, where she performed with NCSA's touring dance ensemble.
A premier teacher and coach, Mia has studied many years under her mother Nan Klinger, John White of the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet Society, Marcia Dale-Weary of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, School of American Ballet, Ballet Academy East and many others. Her unequaled dedication to her school, students and instructors and her unique teaching style has brought national attention to the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet and Excellence in Dance for being one of the top training schools in the country. She has guest taught at Briansky Saratoga Ballet Center in Saratoga Springs, New York, Vevey Youth Ballet in Vevey, Switzerland, West London School of Dance in London, England and many others. Mia joined the faculty of Excellence in Dance Studio in 1989, where she has continued to meet the growing needs of the pre-professional program. Since 1989 she has introduced Variation Class, where the most advanced students learn world-renowned choreography, Men's class and Partnering for the increasing numbers of young men studying ballet and a Choreographic Workshop in which veteran dancers create original dances and compositions for the Excellence In Dance Spring Workshop. Many of her students are now enjoying professional dance careers, excelling in college dance programs and teaching dance throughout the world.
Mia served as Artistic Assistant when the ballet company toured Taiwan in 1992, and assisted in many rehearsals before being named Artistic Associate in 1999 and Artistic Director in 2001. Since being named Artistic Director, Mia has played an integral role in creating the International Youth Festival in Vevey, Switzerland in which her took students classes and performed with dancers from around the world including England, Russia, South Africa, and Switzerland. In 2005, the company was asked to perform Madeline At The Circus at Symphony Space in New York City, fulfilling the dream of Founding Artistic Director, Nan Klinger. In 2010, they also performed Fancy Nancy at Symphony Space in New York City. Mia’s artistic vision has brought two new holiday ballets and ten new modern and classical ballets to the repertoire. In 2011, the ballet company was recognized among the 2011 Beacon's Best Top 10 for an outstanding contribution to the community as it celebrated its 35th season. Mia received the Arts Alive! 2011 Award for the Outstanding Artist in Dance, currently serves on the board of OhioDance and is a member of Leadership Akron: 2013-2014 Thirtieth Class.