Atherton | Menlo Park | Redwood City | San Carlos

Artistically inspired Dance Instruction in a Nurturing and Supportive Environment
Ballet, Jazz, Pilates, Modern, Hip Hop, Tap and other forms of Dance   –   Ages 2.5 – adult

At the Academy of American Ballet (AAB) we believe artistically inspired dancers are best developed through mastery of sound technique based on anatomical principles that are in harmony with the dancers body.  Most dance schools force unnatural positions and advanced technique before the dancer has adequately matured.  This not only causes unnecessary injuries but also stiffles the confidence and creative development of the dancer who is left to focus on unrealistic expectations. Our culture is to motivate students to advance through love, inspiration, and mutual respect. We accomplish this by:

Providing a nurturing and supportive environment

  1. Each student is received with reverence regardless of ultimate dance goals.
  2. We believe every student regardless of innate ability or physical body type has the capacity to thrive and grow through dance.
  3. Our mission is to develop excellent dance technique and strong artistic expression in dancers of all ages all within a healthy and nurturing environment that fosters mutual respect and a life long love of dance.

Providing training that is rooted in anatomical principles

  1. Director of AAB, Julia Dugan is trained in techniques such as Pilates and Feldenkrais, and has taken coursework in Biomechanics.  She stays abreast of new information regarding sound training methods, mentors the teachers, and provides opportunities for teachers to take workshop classes which focus on healthy biomechanics. She understands that dance training is an ever-growing body of knowledge, and that good teachers as well as students, are on a continual path of growth.  She provides extensive feedback to teachers on an ongoing basis to encourage them on their journey.
  2. Basic 2 level students and above are formally assessed at the beginning of the academic year.  The focus of this assessment is to capture physical tendencies of students that we know will need to be addressed in order for a student to achieve their full potential.  These evaluations are optional and non-judgmental.  They are used merely to inform us and to help us to address issues, as well as to see if we are making progress from year-to-year.  We are proud to be the only school we are aware of that does this, and we are finding it extremely helpful to both students and teachers.
  3. Our corrections or cueing is often very specific and rooted in anatomical terms which allows students to quickly address problems.
  4. We are very fortunate to have an onsite Pilates studio, Motio with exceptional trainers who are working with both the teachers and the students (from the Intermediate level through advanced) to help us build on our knowledge of biomechanics.
  5. Our jazz, tap, and hip hop program allows dancers to excel through a strong technical background.  We always use clean lyrics, with appropriate performance attire, and age-appropriate movement choices for young dancers to protect and nurture their innocence.  We offer contemporary dancers classes that use powerful movement choices that promote meaning and beauty to the world rather than just simply mimicking movement that is trendy, but that does not necessarily bring lasting value to the audience.  We promote all dance as artform that is not to be compromised.

Performance Opportunities

We believe dance is best performed!  AAB offers many performance opportunities throughout the year ranging from informal recitals to our highly regarded annual holiday Nutcracker ballet that sells out the historic Fox Theatre in downtown Redwood City.  Our June recital is another highlight with performances that showcase our talented dancers.  Every student at AAB regardless of age or ability is invited to audition and our performers typically range in age from 3 to 65.  Advanced students can also join our performance company Ballet America for more intensive stage training and access to principal roles.


Our students have successfully auditioned for competitive summer programs with prestigious companies like American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and Lines.  Our students have performed professional-level roles like Rose and Snow Queen in Nutcracker with complete artistic and technical mastery.  We are also very proud of the accomplishments of our students for whom dance has always been recreational, but have still gained so much inner strength, and self-esteem through our program.

I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.
— Mikhail Baryshnikov


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