Connecticut Dance School, founded in 1970 by Elizabeth Gaynor, is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing dance education of the highest standard to the Connecticut community. Elizabeth Gaynor, who served as the School’s first director and principal teacher, continues today as the School’s President.
Ms. Gaynor began CDS as a single class for five year olds in a small studio in her home. The school grew and evolved first into the Southport Ballet School, then the Connecticut Ballet Theatre School and finally, in 1994, the Connecticut Dance School.
Today CDS is widely known for its excellent standard of dance technique for its students that range in age from 3 through adult and hail from many communities throughout the state. Dona Wiley Kim and Chihwan Kim, Directors of the school, head a distinguished and dedicated faculty of dance professionals.
New students at CDS, ages 2 through 7, are placed in age-appropriate classes in our Children’s Division. Classes build dancers’ confidence, coordination, and creativity. Careful attention is made to create ballet classes consistent with their developmental skills.
More formalized ballet training is introduced at age 8, when students graduate to the Academy Division. Classes are based on the ABT National Training Curriculum, a breakthrough program that combines high-quality artistic training with the basis of dancer health and child development. Our highly qualified staff focus on developmentally appropriate training that is healthy for both the bodies and minds of our students. All students are welcome, and the majority of dancers are promoted each year through our 10 level program.
For those wishing to commit more time to ballet, we offer the Pre-Professional Division open to students in Ballet 4-10 of our Academy Division. Our goal is to give pre-professional students the tools that they need in order to go into college dance programs or professional companies, if they so choose. In addition to extra technique and pointe classes, throughout the year dancers will learn variations, classical repertoire, and partnering for older students.
In addition to pre-professional ballet training, CDS also offers recreational dance classes for the once-a-week student in ballet, contemporary, musical theater, Progressing Ballet Technique, and jazz. Summer programs offer classes in multiple disciplines, including Flamenco, mime, musical theater, choreography, partnering, modern, crafts, Pilates and yoga. Adult ballet classes are ongoing throughout the school year.
CDS is committed to providing the highest quality of dance education through classes, community outreach, and performances. We educate aspiring dancers, instill an appreciation of the performing arts, and nurture every child regardless of background or ability.
Passion for ballet.
Dedication to our craft.
Commitment to excellence.
Artistry in all aspects of the dance.
A big thank you!
CDS would like to thank all the faculty, parents, alumni, board members and staff who have given their time and attention to the making of this website, especially Rachel McLoughlin, Molly Rigney and Julianne Warfield for their beautiful photos.
"CDS has incredible faculty that teach pure classical ballet technique and also help to instill the many lessons about professionalism, dedication, and patience that come along with learning ballet. Both my college and medical/graduate school application essays discussed people and lessons I learned during my time at CDS."
– Julia Davis-Porada, former student, now with Columbia Ballet Collaborative, Columbia University