Barbara Ebert, Artistic Director Emeritus
Barbara Ebert was born in Topeka, where she studied music and took her initial ballet training under June Horwitz. She continued her study of dance and received her early performing experience in Kansas City, Lawrence and Tulsa, Oklahoma, throughout her junior high and senior high school years. At the University of Utah, she trained in all major styles of dance with a major in ballet with an emphasis in choreography and teaching. The ballet program at the University of Utah is one of the top ten in the world and is of an extremely vigorous and professional nature. While at the University, Mrs. Ebert studied all major styles of dance. Supplementary classes equally important to a well-rounded teacher were included in her college training. Some of the most important, she feels, were dance analysis, teaching techniques, choreography, anatomy for dancers, lighting, and production, contemporary trends in dance, pantomime, dance history, and French as well as a variety of classes in music, art, and theater. Out of Mrs. Ebert’s freshman class of approximately 200, only 7 were accepted to complete their degree. Earning her degree in 1973, Mrs. Ebert was the first ballet major allowed to complete her degree in three years. While attending college, she also performed for Ballet West and taught classes as a Teaching Assistant at the University for two years. In addition, she has studied with Dinna Bjourn (Royal Danish Ballet), John Callander (New Zealand Ballet), Eugene Collins (Ballet Russe), Bill Evans (Utah Repertory Dance Theatre), Phillip Keeler (San Francisco Ballet), Bruce Marks (Amerian Ballet Theatre), Toni Lander Marks (Royal Danish Ballet), Ruth Page (Ruth Page Ballet), Kathy Thibodeaux (Ballet Magnificat), Terry Thomas (Royal Winnepeg Ballet), and Andrea Vohdenal (Ballet Russe).
Mrs. Ebert opened a private dance studio over 40 years ago and devoted her career to the development of her students. In 2017, Barbara retired as the artistic director of the studio, leaving its direction to her daughter Lacee Ebert. Today, it is a well-established private dance studio, Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance, with approximately 500 students coming from all over NE Kansas to study. Through over forty years of teaching dance in the Topeka area, Mrs. Ebert has had many students attend prestigious summer intensives, many with full merit scholarships. These include Alvin Ailey, Ballet Austin, Ballet Magnificat, Ballet West, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Antonio Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The Rock, Tulsa Ballet, and many others. Many of her students have continued on in professional dance careers or with college degrees in dance. She has also been employed to teach ballet classes at Washburn University, Cair Paravel Latin School, and Topeka Latin School and is available for teaching Master Classes.
Inception of Ballet Midwest, Inc.
Because of the emerging potential in dancers who attended her private studio, Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance, and that which she saw in other community dancers, Mrs. Ebert with the help of family and interested friends, formed Ballet Midwest, Inc. in January 1977. Although the company employs the same director as Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance, it is run by a volunteer Board of Directors independently from Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance, making it a true civic ballet company. The company has also gone on tour to Junction City, Kansas City, and Salina.
“I danced and studied through my high school and college years with the dream of coming back to Topeka to develop a school and company where serious as well as casual dance students could receive the finest classical training. That dream has become a reality,” she said. Mrs. Ebert became Artistic Director of Ballet Midwest at its inception and continued to choreograph and stage for the company through its fortieth season in 2016-17. Following the culmination of the 2017 season, Mrs. Ebert retired as Artistic Director, however, she remains active in Ballet Midwest productions as Artistic Director Emeritus.
Mrs. Ebert choreographed and directed the first Topeka production of the “Nutcracker Ballet” for Dance Arts of Topeka, Inc in 1974 and 1975. She also choreographed, directed, and performed in “Ballet for Children”, a lecture demonstration series that was taken to 26 elementary schools. Ballet Midwest repeated this series in 2000 and 2001. As Artistic Director, Mrs. Ebert is responsible for the overall artistry of the Company. She has choreographed or staged fifty-eight repertory pieces and ten full-length classics for Ballet Midwest. Assisted by company dancers, she also enjoys doing educational programs for interested groups.