Decades of history at HPSD
August Tye, HPSD’s Artistic Director, came to Hyde Park in 1992 to teach at the School of Chicago Ballet, a non-profit school founded by the late Maria Tallchief, former prima ballerina of New York City Ballet.
When the School of Chicago Ballet decided to close its doors, several of its board members, led by Marilyn Sheperd, decided to reconstitute the instructional program as the Hyde Park School of Ballet. The new School remained in the previous school’s studio home on Woodlawn Avenue at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago. August Tye became its first Artistic Director. Shortly thereafter, August’s sister Aimee Tye moved from Kalamazoo, Michigan to join the School’s staff.
Starting with 2 teachers, an accompanist, and 30 students in one studio, HPSD has grown to a staff of 32 part-time faculty, accompanists, and administrative support, more than 490 students, and 80+ hours of weekly instruction in four studios at three neighborhood locations. Over 20 years, Hyde Park School of Dance has grown and prospered, while remaining true to its commitment to Training, Performance, and Community:
- Focus on classical and contemporary dance in a structured progressive curriculum – all ages, abilities, and body types are welcome.
- 80+ hours of instruction per week September to June plus summer and special master class workshops.
- Accompanists provide live music; unusual at most schools.
- Tyego Next Generation youth companies and choreographer’s programs offer pre-professional training and experience.
- Choreography created for and by students to build student confidence and stage presence.
- Ballets created by the School’s faculty and performed by its students include Amira: A Chicago Cinderella Story, Alice in Wonderland, Carnival of the Animals, Wild Things, The Nightingale, and the annual performance of The Nutcracker.
- Community Engagement programs offer instructional programming in partnership with schools and community organizations, workshops, and community performances.
- 490+ students ages 3 through adult from 43 Chicago and Northern Indiana zip codes representing the racial, ethnic, and economic diversity of Hyde Park and the South Side of Chicago.
- Needs based scholarship program supports 12% of the student body.
- A safe, nurturing and collaborative community of students, families and alumni that encourages multi-generation participation in the School’s programs as dancers, volunteers, and community partners.
Key Milestones in HPSD History include:
December 1993: First Holiday Reception – Dances from the Nutcracker presented in the Unitarian Church studio with Aimee Tye as the Sugar Plum Fairy
Spring 1994: First Spring Concert at the DuSable Museum auditorium
Fall 1994: First performance at the 57th Street Children’s Bookfair
December 1995: First holiday performance of Dances from the Nutcracker at Kenwood Academy
Spring 1997: Carnival of the Animals premiers
June 2001: Alice in Wonderland premiers
May 2002: First gala; Faculty and Pro-Track students perform at Court Theatre
October 2002: First performance at the University of Chicago Symphony Halloween Concert
December 2002: First two-act Nutcracker staged at Mandel Hall
Fall 2005: Opens an office in the Unitarian Church and hires the first Executive Director, Ann Billingsley
Spring 2006: Pro-Track students perform with Kalamazoo Ballet at the Mid-States Regional Dance Festival
March 2007: Le Printemps Sauvage premiers
Fall 2007: Name changed to Hyde Park School of Dance; Pro-Track Program becomes HPSD’s youth dance company and is renamed Tyego Next Generation
May 2008: August Tye presents Level 41 – 20 Year Retrospective of Choreography by August Tye at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts
March 2011: The Nightingale premiers
Fall 2011: HPSD completes renovation of Studio B at Unitarian Church; HPSD alumna Mariam Thiam becomes Executive Director
December 2012: 10-year Anniversary of Nutcracker at Mandel Hall includes cast of 140 dancers and audiences of more than 2,500 for three sold-out performances and two community outreach programs
June 2013: En Avant, the 20th Anniversary Celebration at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
January 2014: HPSD hires its first full-time employee, Executive Director Terra Schultz
March 2014: The Nightingale is revived with performances at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
September 2015: HPSD completes buildout and opens Studio 3 at Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, allowing for expanded class and performance workshop opportunities.
October 2015: Allyson Ratliff appointed Director of Community Engagement to oversee local school and neighborhood outreach classes and performances
Summer 2016: 40 students enrolled in three levels of Tyego Next Generation pre-professional training program; summer classes and workshops expanded. TNG dancers featured in the 2016 Chicago International Youth Music Festival
Summer 2017: New summer programming for younger dancers including all-day Little Dancers and Young Dancers Workshops
Calendar Year 2018 marks HPSD’s 25th Anniversary
Spring 2018: Artistic Director, August Tye completes three-year program and receives Royal Academy of Dance Teacher Certification
June 2018: “Amira: A Chicago Cinderella Story” premiers at the Logan Arts Center
October 2018: LaWanda May replaces Terra Schultz as Executive Director
Spring 2019: Faculty member, Gayle Ratliff, awarded a School of American Ballet Teaching Fellowship
August 2019: Summer session ends with the first annual Summer Showcase at the Logan arts Center featuring pieces choreographed on HPSD students by alumni and staff
September 2019: TNG companies add a 4th level to serve 60 dancers ages 11 to 18.