Made in Fort Worth: Margo Dean School of Ballet
Generations of Fort Worth’s children have danced under the watchful eye of Margo Dean. Since 1950, the Margo Dean School of Ballet has offered excellent dance training where a student can find joy and pleasure in the movement of dance. Many dancers have left the school for careers with major ballet companies and on Broadway. Madeworthy was fortunate enough to talk with la grande dame du ballet de Fort Worth about her life’s passion.
Madeworthy: When and where did you get your start in dance?
Margo Dean: I began studying ballet at age three from Katherine Yeager in Weatherford. I saw my first ballet when I was eight, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
MW: When did you first start offering dance classes in Fort Worth?
MD: I started teaching ballet in Fort Worth after my marriage in 1948 at the studio of Dorothy Edwards. In 1950, I started my ballet school, teaching out of our house on Thomas Place across from Stripling Junior High. After two years, I moved the school out of our home to a studio on Westview, where I taught for the next 28 years. In 1981, I moved to our present location at 3803 Camp Bowie Boulevard.
MW: Where have you seen your students perform on a national or international stage?
MD: Students from my school have performed at New York City Center, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., in New Zealand, the Cleveland Playhouse, the Monte Carlo Sporting Club in Monaco, the National Theatre in Washington D.C., the Schubert Theatre (now the CIBC Theatre) in Chicago, the Majestic and the St. James Theatres on Broadway, and at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. [They’ve danced] on stages in Greece, China, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, as well as in [ballet companies in] Orlando, Atlanta, Pittsburg, and Marseille.
MW: For dancers who want to pursue a professional career, how many hours a day do they practice?
MD: Dancers who want to pursue a professional career need to come to dance at least five day a week once they are older and should be taking a one-and-a-half-hour ballet class, followed by another class or rehearsal, totaling between two and five hours per day.
MW: With performances coming to a halt last year, are you planning on hosting your SUMMER DANCE CONCERT and Holiday Special for 20210?
MD: Yes! This year we are making plans for our annual outdoor SUMMER DANCE CONCERT, which will feature the work of Spanish director/choreographer Luis Montero, as well as those of Ruben Gerding, professor of ballet from Southern Missouri State University, and Ballet Concerto Resident Choreographer Elise Lavallee. This performance is presented with a professional company and is offered to the public for free. And hopefully by December, things will have improved, and we can be back in the theatre for our Holiday Performance.
MW: Is it ever too late to start dancing? Do adults join your classes who don’t have prior experience?
MD: It’s never too late to start dancing! We offer adult classes in beginner and intermediate ballet and flamenco.
MW: What have been some of your most memorable moments in your career?
MD: One of my first memorable moments was watching my first Giselle at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City in the 1950s with Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso. It was also her first Giselle to dance.
Other memorable moments include seeing my son Webster Dean perform in professional ballet companies domestically and abroad, most notably Ballet West in Salt Lake City, where he was a soloist, and in musical theater as well.
Starting the outdoor SUMMER DANCE CONCERT for Ballet Concerto in 1981, watching it grow and develop over the years, presenting professional ballet to everyone in the community at no charge and at the level of excellence and professionalism it has achieved is another. And bringing in outstanding guest teachers and choreographers to work with the dancers has always been thrilling to me as well.