Developing young dancers is more than just a career for Ashley Paige Romines, Springfield Ballet’s school director. She is rewarded every day by observing the growing poise in her students.
“Each day holds its own special gem,” Romines says, “whether it be a 4-year-old running out of class with the biggest smile on his or her face and elating about how much fun dance class was, or having a student tell me that they were accepted into a prestigious dance or academic program, or a parent telling me how their child’s grades and confidence have improved since joining dance.”
Romines’ professionalism and holistic approach to training have raised the reputation of Springfield Ballet, too. When she came to Springfield in 2008, she says the school didn’t have enough students to maintain and sustain some of its programming. Since that time, enrollment has increased by 75 percent, and students are now coming from throughout the region.
“Training dancers not only in dance technique but also in maintaining healthy lifestyles has always been a goal of mine,” Romines says. “Part of the curriculum at Springfield Ballet includes learning healthy nutrition habits as well as learning anatomy.”
Older students are also cross-trained by doing Pilates and learning about the benefits of strength and flexibility to enhance dance technique. A syllabus, which she developed, as well as an ambitious schedule of performances, has proved successful for the artistic growth, health and well-being of students, she says.
Springfield Ballet also offers need-based scholarships. The application process includes an application, and dancers are required to meet certain class and participation criteria to receive them.
But again, the training that Romines emphasizes is about more than dancing.
“The scholarship students learn through this program what it means to accept an award, how to follow through on obligations, and how achieving the requirements can make one feel confident and successful,” she says.
With offices and studios in The Creamery Arts Center, Romines works to build a culture of respect and cooperation with other community arts organizations. She organizes and directs all of the Springfield Ballet’s performances for community events such as ArtsFest, Cider Days, Flights of Fancy and First Friday Art Walk.
“I have worked to bring a diverse repertoire to the Springfield community,” Romines says. “Our spring productions include classical, contemporary and modern repertoire, as well as original works and restaged works from various historical eras.”Click here for full coverage of the 2012 40 Under 40.