Jane DeRook started the Guilderland Ballet program in 1968, after developing a love for ballet when she saw A Midsummer's Night Dream in 1964. This year She celebrates the program's 40th anniversary.
Originally from the Netherlands, DeRook came to the United States in 1954. She moved to Albany in the 1960s as a general practitioner.
She began the ballet program for children with a board of directors consisting of parents. The classes were held anywhere there was space, such as the Christ of King's Church and in the gymnasiums of local elementary schools.
Over the years the program expanded, but the space did not.
"In 1988, I thought that was going to be the end. Then my friend, Armand Quadrini came and told me, 'Jane, take my old barn,'" said DeRook.
And take it, she did. In 1989, the Guilderland Ballet School opened at the barn on 200 Timothy Way to use as a studio. In 1999, they built an addition to the barn to include what is now called Studio 1.
"The thing I like about dance is there is no competition," DeRook said, "Dance is an art."
She said that being a dancer requires more than just desire. "You need to have a sense of musicology, you need to be physically fit, and you need to be strong."
The students at the school range in age from 3 to 18.
Classes take place on Mondays from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday classes are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The school also gives jazz and Pilates classes.
Trudy Brooks thinks the program is tremendous. A board member for more than 30 years, Brooks has put two daughters and a granddaughter through the school. "It is completely dedicated to the children," she said. "And they have the best teachers, as far as I'm concerned."