RHODY LIFE

New ballet school opens in East Providence amid the pandemic

Warwick Beacon ·

Retired professional ballet dancers Vilia Putrius and Mindaugas Bauzys opened the doors to Ocean State Ballet, a ballet school with an emphasis on professional ballet training as well as recreational classes for children 3 years of age and older with offerings of jazz, hip-hop and adult classes.

Though the East Providence ballet school officially opened its physical location on Feb. 17, the school has been operational since September 2020, hosting its classes through Zoom.

Despite the complications of opening a school during a pandemic, the scope of which was unprecedented, the focus remained on providing Ocean State Ballet students with as much normalcy and consistency as possible.

“We are so proud of our student’s resilience, they’ve been attending classes on Zoom and patiently awaiting the opening of our building. We’re incredibly grateful for their loyalty and support,” Bauzys and Putrius said.

Though Bauzys and Putrius are longtime Barrington residents, the couple actually hail from Lithuania, where they were highly respected artists in the Lithuanian National Ballet.

An invitation to perform with the formerly known Arlington Ballet in Arlington, Texas, gave the couple the chance to emigrate to the U.S. with their then 2-year-old daughter. From Texas to New England they joined the Boston Ballet and danced for several seasons until new opportunities presented themselves in Rhode Island with the Festival Ballet Providence. After more than 10 years as principal dancers in Providence, Bauzys and Putrius retired from the stage.

Following their retirement, invitations to teach in schools and dance programs all over the United States never ceased. For years, friends, colleagues and students urged them to open their own school but the timing never seemed quite right. That was until 2020; with everything turned upside down, things finally fell into place and Ocean State Ballet was born.

Ocean State Ballet’s goal is to provide local students of all ages and interests, high quality dance instruction in a range of styles. They’ve assembled a faculty of professionals from the world of dance to provide the kind of training often found in top tier schools. Faculty members are past and present dancers in companies such as Island Moving Company, Staatsballet Berlin, Joburg Ballet and Boston Ballet, with some faculty also holding degrees in education and health.

The school prides itself on its Intensive Ballet Program, which requires an audition for admittance. The program is geared towards serious students looking for a concentrated study to perhaps pursue dance professionally or those seeking entrance into a college dance program.

What truly sets Ocean State Ballet apart is their commitment to normalizing ballet for boys. The school offers a full tuition scholarship to any male student that is accepted after an audition into their Intensive Ballet Program.

“OSB’s recognition of the specific needs of male dancers ensures that this highly specific training is available to all of their male students through a generous scholarship that supports this training. Through that recognition and the policies guided by it, they give great strength to my son,” said Jennifer Jones, mother of OSB student Wiliam Kinloch.

This is just the start of what Ocean State Ballet hopes to provide here in East Providence.

“Our focus will be to build a supportive and artistic community that nourishes culturally and feels like a second home to our students,” Putrius said. “It’s not just about teaching kids to dance, it’s about what the joy of dancing can do for the mental and physical health of the students who walk through our doors.”

Ocean State Ballet is located at 37 N. Blossom St. in East Providence. The facility houses two large studios completely renovated and outfitted with professional grade dance flooring for the safety and health of its students. Ocean State Ballet is currently enrolling students in all programs. Acceptance into their Intensive Ballet Program is by audition only. To schedule an audition, email info@oceanstateballet.com. For more information, visit www.oceanstateballet.com or call 401-642-5143.

ballet, dance

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