Ballet Petit's Artistic Director Peggy Peabody has been involved with ballet for most of her life. At the age of seven, she had already been dancing for three years. At this time, she chose to focus on classical ballet under the watchful eye of her first ballet teacher, Tricia Kaye. Miss Kaye often took Peggy around the Bay Area to attend various Master Classes, even at the young age of ten.
Peggy added to her early performance experiences at the Regional Festivals of Dance, Lido Ballet School productions, and Oakland Metropolitan Ballet Company's annual productions of The Nutcracker. Spending long days in the theatre became a favorite way to spend her childhood days.
Peggy enjoyed many honors as a young dancer, including dancing the lead role of Clara in the 10th Anniversary production of OMBC's The Nutcracker in 1970. In 1972, Violette Verdy of the New York City Ballet granted Peggy the prestigious Ford Foundation Scholarship. Two years later, Peggy began studying at the San Francisco Ballet School year round. As a high school senior in 1977, she began teaching ballet to preschool children two days a week. This is where Ballet Petit had its humble beginnings.
In 1983, Peggy opened her first ballet school in Newark, CA with 24 students. Over the years, Ballet Petit then grew into larger facilities, first in Fremont, then back to Newark. In 2003, Ballet Petit's opened its first facility in Hayward.
In 2013, Peggy was able to move Ballet Petit into its permanent space, a 15,000 square foot state of the art facility. This new space was created to provide dancers, and their families, a special home where everyone could enjoy a respite from their day and ballet at the same time. It was essential for Peggy to create four spacious studios, a library, and open space with views of dancers throughout. For younger dancers, separate Mommy and Me and Daddy and Me Dressing Rooms were finally realized, as well as a Noisy Sibling Room for little ones waiting each week. Older dancers would be granted their own dressing room, and other critical spaces where they could develop as artists.
Ballet Petit's enrollment soon grew , dancers young and older. all studying classical ballet - boys, girls, and adults alike. Peggy watched as her dreams came true, week after week as she taught dancers in this wonderful new space.
Peggy continues to be a lifelong learner herself. In addition to attending classes when she accompanies dancers to the Bartholin International Ballet Seminar at the Royal Danish Ballet Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark, she takes classes at Steps on Broadway while in New York or on Zoom from home and at Shawl Anderson Dance Center and Lines Ballet each week, either in person or on Zoom. To continue to challenge herself, she regularly attends classes from several prominent teachers as Espen Giljane, Sandra Chinn, Kaori Ogasawara, Madame Olga, Wendy Diamond, Christopher Lam, among others,. These experiences fuel her passion for classical ballet, while keeping her teaching fresh and progressive.
Peggy's philosophy is simply that ballet is an art form for everyone to access and appreciate. Ballet Petit's foundation and culture are based on this belief. Ballet Petit has survived pressures to turn ballet into sport and competition. Peggy has enjoyed over 3 decades producing Ballet Petit’s beloved Nutcracker. As the longest running Nutcracker performance in the East Bay, dancers and audiences have had the opportunity to enjoy this heartwarming holiday ballet written for children — and at Ballet Petit - performed by children. She also directs a Spring Concert production each year for an additional stage opportunity for the dancers. During the 2020 pandemic lockdown, Ballet Petit continued classes on Zoom, even performing in numerous safe and clever ways. In July 2021, Ballet Petit reopened for in person classes. In December 2021, Ballet Petit returned to the stage, to in person performances, much to the delight of local audiences and Ballet Petit dancers and families.
Understanding the importance of the support of the parents as well as the dancers, both of these performance experiences are also structured to provide parents optional and voluntary opportunities to learn about what it takes to create a classical ballet. Peggy firmly believes that together, the dancers and the families are capable of accomplishing great things. Over the decades, Peggy has nurtured hundreds of Ballet Petit parents to discover and develop their talents by helping with many behind the scenes activities in the Ballet Petit productions, such as costume development, set design, and other community tasks. Ballet Petit has been able to sustain and build a wonderful tradition as a result, even through the pandemic, thus creating an environment for dancers unlike any other.
Peggy earned her Liberal Arts degree from Holy Names University and teaching credential from Cal State University in Hayward, now CSUEB. In addition to teaching and managing Ballet Petit, Peggy taught elementary school full time in the Hayward public schools until she retired in 2017 following cancer treatment. In early 2020, even as the pandemic began and her cancer relapsed, Peggy completed more successful treatment, culminating with a successful stem cell transplant, continuing to dance as she successfully regained her health. She now enjoys having a more flexible schedule so that she can take more ballet classes for herself, and continue to build the program at Ballet Petit. Ballet has clearly been an important aspect of her entire life.
In 2008, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and The Alameda County Commission on the Status of Women honored Peggy Peabody with the prestigious "Women's Hall of Fame" award for Arts and Culture. Ballet Petit is Peggy's life’s dream. She wishes to thank everyone who has helped create what it has become, while welcoming the new faces that will keep Ballet Petit a special place where dancers are respected and encouraged as thriving young artists.
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