STATE STREET BALLET YOUNG DANCERS was founded as a pre-professional training program to provide young dancers with the discipline and performing experience necessary for a career in dance. The dancers train under the direction of Allison Gustafson and Nicole Comella and perform works ranging from classical to contemporary. Well known choreographers work with the dancers, providing them with the invaluable experience of learning cutting-edge works. SSBYD is an apprentice company to the professional company State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara, directed by Rodney Gustafson, nationally recognized for its innovative choreography and unique style.
Dancers from SSBYD have gone on to professional careers with State Street Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Ballet West, San Diego Ballet, Ballet Austin, City Ballet of San Diego, Sacramento Ballet, Smuin Ballet, San Jose Cleveland Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet and Company C, as well as many college programs. SSBYD has proven to be a wonderful experience and an exceptional training ground for our talented young dancers.
STATE STREET BALLET OF SANTA BARBARA was founded in 1994 by Rodney and Allison Gustafson. With at least three productions each season in Santa Barbara, State Street Ballet has also toured throughout the United States, as well as internationally in Taiwan and China. The company is directed by Rodney Gustafson, formerly with Geneva Ballet, Cleveland Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Mr. Gustafson went on to receive his B.S. from University of Arizona, and his M.B.A from Antioch University. State Street Ballet is known for its innovative choreography and unique style.
Allison Jones Gustafson received her training in Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas and was a founding member of State Street Ballet in 1994. She received her B.A. from Southern Methodist University and her M.A. from the University of Arizona. Her strong belief that a dance studio should provide a healthy environment where both learning and personal growth can occur stems from her academic research concerning the connection between the environment of the dance studio and a dancer’s self-esteem. Ms. Gustafson has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. Ms. Gustafson is Director of the school and Co-Director of SSBYD.
Nicole Comella received her ballet training in San Diego, California. She received a BFA in Dance from United States International University. Ms. Comella performed ballet and musical theater professionally throughout California, Utah, Mexico, London and Taiwan. In 1994, she became a founding member of State Street Ballet. She danced principal roles with the company for six years before becoming Assistant School Director and Co-Director of SSBYD. Ms. Comella has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 5 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. She is also a certified Pilates instructor and incorporates the method into her teaching.