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A Message From Leslie Gourley, Owner and Director

September 6, 2022

Published by DSOB

75 Years Ago…

75 years ago, Hilda Gumm and Marie Roberts started Decatur School of Ballet as a junior company of the Atlanta Civic Ballet. Three quarters of a century later, the school is still providing quality dance education to dancers in the Decatur and Metro-Atlanta area.

When Ms Gumm and Mrs. Roberts started the school, ballet was really the only style of dance taught. Throughout the years however, other styles were added, and with the ownership of Kathleen and Ron Everett the school expanded into teaching jazz, tap, ballroom, swing, modern, theater dance, and hip hop. When I purchased the school in 2018, my goal was to continue offering a variety of quality dance classes for a variety of interests. As recently as last season, we added an additional style of dance - lyrical!

My hope is to continue to grow with our community, serving the dance needs of Decatur and the metro area. This year we are looking outward into our community with a couple of outreach initiatives. The first is called the “Meli Kaye Artist Residency”. Meli Kaye was a key figure in the development of modern and contemporary dance in Atlanta. After her dance company, “Company Kaye”, closed its doors, she became a resident choreographer for what is now called Decatur City Dance, as well as a teacher of modern dance at Decatur School of Ballet. We wanted to honor her legacy by sponsoring emerging Atlanta area choreographers by providing rehearsal and performance space for these artists. After an application and adjudication process, the first recipients of the “Meli Kaye Artist Residency” were chosen. 

Congratulations to Leo Briggs and Jacque Pritz. We look forward to seeing what you create!

We are also working to create some scholarship opportunities. Stay tuned for more on this as we work to develop something quite special.
An organization cannot turn 75 years old without a celebration, so save these dates: The week of May 15-20, 2023 will be our theater week and annual performance weekend. We are planning some special events and we hope that you and your family will celebrate with us. If you or someone you know studied with Decatur School of Ballet in the past, please email me at with your contact information. We have something special in mind, and would like to include as many people as we can!

We cannot start the season without a mention of COVID. While we are still in the pandemic, we are infinitely better equipped to handle it in the fall of 2022! You may still have questions about our procedures, so I will try to answer them below.

  • Masks are optional in our buildings and in our classes. Please use your own comfort level as a guide. However, the studio will not be providing masks upon entry this year.

  • We are not providing Zoom classes this season.

  • Our lobbies and dressing rooms are open!

  • Parents may resume observing in their dancer’s class(es). Each student may have a parent/grandparent observe 3 times during the year. Please do not bring younger siblings when observing. While we do not require you to schedule your visit, as a courtesy please check with the teacher prior to observing.

  • Please do not send a dancer who is sick. Dancers who miss for reasons such as illness, out of town, a special school function, etc. may make up in a comparable class.

  • Please pick up your dancer promptly after class.

  • Each of our four dance studios are equipped with air purifiers. We will continue to circulate air with floor fans and open windows and doors as appropriate.

  • We will continue to wipe down the barres after each ballet class and will spray the floors with appropriate cleaner/alcohol and mop at the end of each dance day.

We are so excited for our 75th dance season to begin - let’s all enjoy a great year of dance!
Leslie P. Gourley,Owner/Director, Decatur School of Ballet

Ref: email

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