The mission of the Peoria Ballet is to further the participation, education, and appreciation of all disciplines of dance as a cultural art form, with a particular emphasis in ballet. Peoria Ballet is supported by numerous volunteers, board members and sponsors. A big thank you goes to everyone who has helped Peoria Ballet thrive over the last 40 years. The Peoria Ballet has celebrated its fortieth season and has been an important institution within the Peoria area arts community since its founding in 1965 by Shirley Pizer. The company began with seventeen dancers. A premiere performance was presented on April 30, 1966. The Peoria Ballets first artistic director, Mr. Jack Slater, established many important ties within the community including relationships with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, the Peoria Civic Opera, Peoria Players, Cornstock Theatre and Illinois Central College, where the PBC was in residence from July 1974-1989. Today the Peoria Ballet continues to collaborate with many civic and educational groups in the Peoria area including Family House, Childrens Hospital, St. Judes, Easter Seals, Lakeview Museum, WTVP, Peoria Players, Cornstock, PARC, Opera Illinois, Peoria Symphony Orchestra, District 150 and Arts Partners as well as local musicians, composers, and artists. The Peoria Civic Ballet School began in 1976 under the direction of Marc Ligon. It was located in a small studio in the basement of the Jefferson Bank building. In the early 1980s the Peoria Ballet School moved to the landmark GAR Hall at 416 Hamilton Boulevard in Peoria where it remained for twenty years. Because of its downtown location in a 100-year-old building, the Peoria Ballet was constrained to one studio with offices, costumes and other essential operations located in five different places. In August 2000, artistic director, Erich Yetter, came to the Peoria Ballet with ambitions to develop a professional company in order to present even more beautiful dance productions for the enjoyment of Central Illinois residents. Mr. Yetters hard work has culminated in 6 successful seasons. During the third year, there was a three-production season, eliciting critical acclaim. Mr. Yetter has the backing of the staff, students and Board of Directors as he broadens his plans for a larger professional company, grander productions and creative growth for all facets of Peoria Ballet. Peoria Ballet has been honored to be included in events to support St. Jude Midwest Affiliate, OSF Childrens Hospital of Illinois, Childrens Home, Family House, Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, the Sun Foundation and other charities. The 2004-2005 marked Peoria Ballets most integral production season. With the advent of the 40th anniversary, it is Peoria Ballets desire to improve upon and touch the Peoria area public with productions that stir the soul, a dance academy that inspires young art lovers, dance programs that specifically target underprivileged students and students with physical and mental disabilities, lecture demonstrations for several thousand schoolchildren and more than 60 different dance classes provided each week to students of all ages and ability levels at the Peoria Ballet Academy. The Peoria Ballet is a recognized leader in dance providing performance, education and community service to the people of central Illinois and is respectful of the opportunity to do so. The upcoming 2007-2008 season includes performances of the Nutcracker and Wings.