About Our School
The classes at the Massachusetts Academy of Ballet emphasize classical ballet technique, musicality, artistry, and creativity. Students receive individual attention and discover that the joy of studying classical ballet is learning how to accept a challenge, take a risk, achieve a personal goal and improve from day to day.
Children may begin study at the age of 3 in the TOTS, creative movement and pre-ballet classes. These classes serve as an introduction to ballet. Regular ballet classes begin for children at the age of 8 and are also offered for teens and adults. Advanced ballet students take daily lessons and also may perform in the Massachusetts Academy of Ballet performance group.
The Massachusetts Academy of Ballet studios are modern, spacious, and equipped with sprung floors.
About The Directors
Rose and Charles Flachs, the directors of the Academy, have danced professionally with the Nashville Ballet, Ballet West, and the Cincinnati Ballet. They currently are Associate Professors of Dance at Mount Holyoke College and guest teachers with the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet. They have studied the Vaganova method of training with John White, author of Teaching Classical Ballet and Margarita de Saà, and have traveled to the National Ballet School in Havana, Cuba, to further their studies. The Flachs’ have danced the lead roles in such classical ballets as Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Coppelia, and Cinderella. In addition, they performed the works of choreographers George Balanchine, Choo San Goh, Peter Anastos, Paul Taylor, Jose Limón, John Butler, Michael Smuin, and Val Caniparoli.
They have been guest artists and teachers at Jacob’s Pillow, Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet, Columbia College, University of Georgia, University of Wisconsin, and the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music. They have also taught for the Southeast Regional Ballet Festival, the American College Dance Festival, and have choreographed and staged over 50 ballets for university dance departments and regional ballet companies.
Charles has produced and released three musical CD’s for the classical ballet lesson, First Class, Open Class and Master Class, and Rose has written articles for Dance Teacher and Dance Spirit Magazines. The Flachs are professors of dance at Mount Holyoke College and founding members of the Council of Organized Researchers of the Pedagogical Studies of Ballet, CORPS de Ballet International Inc. An organization dedicated to the development, exploration, and advancement of ballet in higher education. They are the recipients of three Outstanding Service Awards from the CORPS de Ballet, a Choreographic Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council, and an Individual Artist Award from the state of Tennessee. They are also the proud parents of Connie and Nathaniel Flachs.
Riley Lathrop: born and raised in Northampton, MA, is a recent graduate of Bridgewater State University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in dance education and minored in business management. At BSU, Riley was the president of the NDEO Student Chapter and the vice president of the Dance Company while also choreographing and performing for dance department productions and completing departmental honors. She conducted research on the benefits of movement pedagogy for teaching and learning English as a foreign language through a research grant in Bali, Indonesia. She has performed at the ACDA conference in San Jose, CA and presented research at the NDEO conference in Miami, FL. At MAB, Riley teaches tot creative movement, pre-ballet 1, pre-ballet 2, and level 1 while also working in administration for the academy.
Matisse Madden: Matisse is a professional dancer and Ballet Instructor who has traveled the world performing, teaching and choreographing classical and contemporary Ballet. She has danced professionally with Connecticut Ballet. She is an adjunct faculty member teaching Ballet and Pilates at Yale University and Mount Holyoke College. She is currently performing with Dimensional Dance, based in Hartford, Connecticut. She is passionate about the cultivation and preservation of ethnic dances, specifically the traditional dances of Hawaii and Samoa. She currently teaches ballet, pointe and variations.
Risa Peals: Risa is a ballet teacher, choreographer, and administrator most recenty at the Mutsumi Ballet Studio Tokyo, Japan. She has taught students of all ages and choreographed annual performances along with scheduling rehearsals and other administrative duties. Since 2008 Risa has been the principle ballet teacher at Tateda Ballet Studio Tokyo, Japan. Her resume includes training at the Goh Ballet Academy, in Vancouver, Canada,, and the Mutsumi Ballet Studio (taught by Hiroko Tomoda, former ballet mistress of The Tokyo Ballet), the Russia Ballet Institute, the Kishibe Ballet Studio, and Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan.
In 2008, the Massachusetts Academy of Ballet Educational Training Association (MABETA) was launched. The mission of this not-for-profit initiative is to educate residents of Holyoke and the surrounding communities about the art of classical ballet; to perform ballet at schools, senior centers and other community venues; to offer scholarships for the underprivileged and/or under-funded students interested in studying classical ballet. MABETA has formed many collaborative partnerships with community institutions including the Wistariahurst Museum, the Holyoke Children’s Museum, the South Hadley Public Library, Westfield Arts on the Green, Girls Inc. and the Holyoke Public Library. We gratefully accept donations for any amount to support our programs