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About Us


Marin Ballet develops confident, healthy, and joyous students through exceptional ballet training, performances, mentorship, and community engagement.


A vibrant center where the community comes together to celebrate dance with students who are developing their full potential as dancers and young adults.


We believe in:

  • The ability of dance to transform, empower and inspire
  • Excellence and integrity in all we do
  • Mutually beneficial partnerships with community members
  • An environment that honors inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility
  • Trust, transparency, and respect in all our interactions

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Statement

Marin Ballet strives to be an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible organization, where everyone feels valued and respected.

We recognize that diversity encompasses a broad range of characteristics, including but not limited to age, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental abilities, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background and more. We also recognize the historical and present inequities in the dance field.

We will continue to evolve the culture in our school and artform through meaningful reflection and action. Marin Ballet is willing to find accommodations where possible and promotes open and honest conversations to collaborate on solutions.  We strive to be an arts organization that reflects our community and is relevant, accessible, and welcoming to everyone.

History of Marin Ballet

The history of Marin Ballet reflects the steady growth of Marin’s arts culture, the blossoming of regional dance schools across the United States, and ever-demanding educational and extracurricular expectations facing today’s youth. Marin Ballet remains vibrant and dynamic across decades of change due to its main assets: enthusiastic students of all ages, dance professionals dedicated to a standard of excellence, families and volunteers who value the arts, and ownership of a state-of-the-arts training and performance facility.

The Leona Norman School of Dance garnered community recognition in the 1950s and in 1963 was incorporated as the Marin Civic Ballet, a non-profit organization founded by Max and Phyllis Thelen. Mrs. Norman was a special guest at the Kirov Ballet’s annual graduation ceremonies, bringing back to Marin the highest standard of ballet training and performance of that era. Her dancers were recognized as an Honor Company in the fledgling Regional Dance America organization. In 1972, a visionary board of directors acquired the 100 Elm Street property for the school, and shortly thereafter the new Marin Center Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium offered a sophisticated theater for Marin Ballet’s annual Nutcracker performances.

In subsequent decades, the school’s six studios and Phyllis Thelen Studio/Theater have filled to capacity under the guidance of devoted artistic directors, teachers, and choreographers. Some students became professional dancers, such as Cynthia Harvey of American Ballet Theatre, Cynthia Lucas of the National Ballet of Canada, Jane Greene of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Joanna Berman and Alexandra McCullagh Newman of San Francisco Ballet, and John Lam of Boston Ballet. Whether a professional dancer or lifelong student, all have become highly accomplished dancers by high school graduation, with deeply-embedded life skills and appreciation of the arts.

Leona Norma, circa 1950

Marin Ballet has pioneered educational outreach and community partnerships, serving specific areas such as Marin City and San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood, and custom-tailored dance programs for elementary and middle schools. A generous portion of its students study on scholarship, and hundreds of free Nutcracker tickets are given to underserved families.

The 2022/23 school year marked the 60th Anniversary of Marin Ballet. A solid foundation, enduring mission, and stellar track record propel the school into a bright future, ever dedicated to the joy of dance.