In 1977 a gallon of gas cost 65 cents, the first Apple II computers went on sale, and Kathy Chamberlain opened a ballet studio that has since helped thousands upon thousands of dancers “whose dreams are based, like hers, on a love for the art and beauty of dance.”
Kathy remembers vividly at age 4 watching dancers from the New York City Ballet perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. She told her parents that night that she wanted to do ballet, too. Little did she know that one day she would be a protégé of the School of American Ballet, an official school for the New York City Ballet, where she had received a Ford Foundation scholarship.
She ultimately declined an offer to become a “winter student” at the age of 16, not wanting to leave her family to move to the big city alone. A high school counselor helped her to discover her passion for teaching dance. It was the ideal combination of her two loves—children and ballet. She began teaching at the same school in Richardson where she had taken classes herself, but when they increased her hours with no change in pay, she decided she could do it herself. Her dad told her if she could put together a business plan, he would help co-sign a loan. She opened her first studio two weeks after resigning.
The studio in Plano has now been open 40 years, and though originally offering classes in ballet only, now there are classes in classical, jazz, tap, modern, composition, and even dance for musical theater. Children’s and adult classes are for “everyone who is interested in furthering their education in dance, no matter their skill level.”
“I started my school 40 years ago because I wanted to give Collin County excellent training in a safe and happy environment,” Kathy says. And Collin County is lucky to have her. Kathy has been named as one of the Top 10 Women in Collin County for her contributions to the community and is a recipient of the ArtCentre of Plano’s Arts in Education award. Grateful for all she has been able to accomplish, she has been tireless in her efforts to give back. The non-profit Chamberlain Performing Arts is committed to promoting professional quality dance programs and outreach. Their partnership with Boys and Girls Club in the Relevé After School Dance program and the Shining Stars classes for students with special needs are extending dance opportunities to populations that may not be served elsewhere.
Model Christy Turlington said once “I associate wisdom and grace with age.” Kathy Chamberlain has always been graceful as a dancer, but the wisdom she has passed on to her students over these 40 years, and the grace she demonstrates outside of dance are what makes her even more admirable.