Ashley and Ryan Calligan take over Vail Valley Academy of Dance after 30 years with Anne Powell
the Vail Valley Academy of Dance, the area’s dance school for tots, kids and adolescents, has changed hands to a new owner. Longtime Vail Valley Academy of Dance teacher Ashley Calligan and her husband, Ryan, have bought the business from Anne Powell, who’s owned the school since opening it 30 years ago, in 1989.
“We’re excited to keep Anne’s vision alive and grow the school without over-expanding,” Calligan said. “In the coming years, we’d like to have another studio space.”
Calligan has been teaching ballet for 17 years and now assumes the role of artistic director. She’s trained at the Academy of Colorado Ballet and the Academy of Russian Ballet, and her training has helped her in her teaching career. For the past five years, she’s staged her own full-length production of “The Nutcracker,” and her students have gone on to study at prestigious collegiate dancing programs including the University of Arizona, and the University of Oklahoma, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and the State University of New York at Purchase.
Her husband, Ryan, will run business operations as the new chief financial officer. Powell will stay on as an instructor at the academy while Calligan takes over heavy artistic operations. While the Calligans have been in charge since May, Sept. 3 marks their first official outing as the owners of the academy, coinciding with the start of Eagle County public schools.
Though the Vail Valley Academy of Dance is seeing a change of leadership after 30 long and successful seasons under Powell, Calligan hopes to keep that spirit alive.
“She just really transformed what was dance in the valley,” Calligan said. “We are so fortunate to be able to carry on this legacy that she so graciously set up for us.”
That legacy extends beyond just academy’s mission.
“I think she brought a kindness. She was strict with what she was teaching her students along the lines of the curriculum, but she is a very kind person,” Calligan said. “The people who have graduated from this school go on to hold her in such high regard.”
This year on the agenda, the Vail Valley Academy of Dance will stage its traditional winter production of “The Nutcracker,” working with Vail Friends of Dance. Auditions are on Saturday and open to the public. Fifty young dancers will get to work alongside 36 adult dancers, so Calligan expects the auditions to be competitive.
“It would be an honor to be selected for that performance,” she said.
The four performances for “The Nutcracker” are on Dec. 13, 14 and 15. In the coming years, Calligan hopes to produce more than one full-length ballet per year, and she’s shooting to produce another one in May this season.