SPRINGBORO, Ohio (WDTN) — A ballet company is celebrating a milestone in the Miami Valley. 

Barbara Pontecorvo opened Pontecorvo Ballet Studios with just 34 students in an old warehouse on Wagner Ford Road in Nov. 1991. By Christmas time, it more than quadrupled in size. 

“It built up very, very fast. So I decided since a lot of my dancers followed me from Dayton Ballet that I was going to go and start my own company,” Pontecorvo said. 

In Jan. 1992, she formed Ballet de Jeunesse, which later became Gem City Ballet. 

“The thing that I try to do the most is to bring ballets to my dancers that will challenge them both technically and emotionally,” Pontecorvo said. 

Born and raised in New Orleans, Pontecorvo started dancing when she was 3 years old.

“I went to the barre and stood in first position, and that was it for me. I don’t know what it was about ballet, but that was it for me,” Pontecorvo said.

A love for ballet and performing, Pontecorvo went on to dance professionally with companies like Houston Ballet, Chicago Ballet, and Dayton Ballet, among others. Following her decades-long performing career, she went on to form her own school and company, giving others the chance to follow in her footsteps. 

“It’s very special. I feel very honored to be able to dance with her, with this,” Gem City Ballet company member Christiana Allen said. 

Pontecorvo Ballet Studios has moved locations several times to accommodate the expanding school and company, and is now located in a spacious studio in Springboro. 

Over the last three decades, Pontecorvo has staged dozens of ballets and taught hundreds of dancers. 

“I’ve been able to grow. She’s given me so many opportunities to do performances. We do about four performances a year, instead of just one Nutcracker,” Gem City Ballet company member Lian Detweiler said. 

Pontecorvo has also worked with other notables in the dance industry, bringing in guest artists over the years to also work with her students. 

“I really wanted to bring a dancer up from being a little girl, a three-year-old, all the way up to being Sugar Plum in one of our performances and then that dancer to go to be a professional dancer,” Pontecorvo said.

Under her direction and training, she’s produced dozens of professional dancers. 

Thirty years after her company was formed, it’s coming full circle this season. The first ballet her company performed in 1992, “Paquita,” is part of her Spring Repertory. 

“The last ballet is very dear to my heart–‘Paquita’,” smiles Pontecorvo, as she runs through the lineup of the show. 

“We’ve been able to take the performances that she really likes from the past and we’re doing it again,” exclaims Detweiler.

“Weill Songs,” Suzanne Walker’s “Chromatics,” and a new work by guest artist Orlando Canova are part of this season’s program.

“The whole rep for this performance is really pretty special,” states Pontecorvo. 

As for her next move, Pontecorvo says she’s going to keep going. 

“I imagine one day I’m going to want to retire, but it’s not yet. And so, we’re just going to keep going and hopefully make it to 35 and possibly 40,” Pontecorvo said.

Spring Repertory performances will be held April 8, 9, and 10. For tickets, click here.

Following the last performance on Sunday, April 10, a big 30th anniversary celebration will be held at the Dayton Metro Library.