Julia Dugan founded Cardinal Ballet, Stanford’s first ballet company, while a student in 1993. After directing the company for seven years, Ms. Dugan saw a need to introduce children into Stanford’s Nutcracker to complete Act I.  This need in combination with a lifelong desire to open a ballet school with a vision for improving traditional training methods was met with the an opportunity to start a school when three angel investors supported Ms. Dugan’s vision.  Academy of American Ballet was formed in 1999.

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