The Cincinnati Ballet is Building a New Facility in Walnut Hills

The organization announced a planned 2021 opening for the Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance on Gilbert Avenue

click to enlarge Rendering for the Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance - GBBN/PROVIDED BY CINCINNATI BALLET
GBBN/Provided by Cincinnati Ballet
Rendering for the Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance

The Cincinnati Ballet has just announced it will be moving to Walnut Hills. 

The Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance will be built on land at 1801 Gilbert Ave., with programming slated to begin in the summer of 2021, according to a press release.

The ballet company is currently headquartered in the West End, near the site of the forthcoming FC Cincinnati stadium. Cincinnati Ballet was involved in a dispute with FCC over zoning, parking and noise issues, but eventually settled with the team.

The new Walnut Hills space will be much larger than the current 36,000-square-foot building, which was built in 1994 and expanded 11 years later. The new 57,000-square-foot building — which is being designed by architecture firm GBBN (also the firm behind MEMI's planned riverfront music venue in Cincinnati) — will have eight studios, compared to the four in the current building.

click to enlarge Aerial view - GBBN/PROVIDED BY CINCINNATI BALLET
GBBN/Provided by Cincinnati Ballet
Aerial view

Cincinnati Ballet says longtime patrons Margaret and Michael Valentine have committed $10 million to the project, the largest one-time gift in the organization's history. It says it's "currently engaged in a building capital campaign" to fund the rest of the $30 million project.

“The Valentines’ generous gift is so significant and meaningful to the organization," longtime Artistic Director Victoria Morgan said in the press release. "They have a deep commitment to elevating the artistry of dance and its impact on Cincinnati and the region. This generous gift will take our world-class company to even greater heights.”

Scott Altman, Cincinnati Ballet President and CEO, said in the press release that the move was necessary in light of the company's rapid growth in recent years.

“The Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance will dramatically expand Cincinnati Ballet’s mission to enrich, expand, and excel in the art of dance through performance, a high-caliber academy, and impactful education and community engagement programs,” Altman said. “Cincinnati Ballet has expanded its professional mainstage productions and experienced record-setting growth in enrollment at our Otto M. Budig Academy over the last few years. In fact, we cannot accommodate demand due to full classes.

"Quite simply, the organization has outgrown its current space. The new ballet center will be an integral arts destination for the community and the region.”

Along with the Rhonda and Larry A. Sheakley Premier Studio, a 3,650-square-foot space with views of downtown Cincinnati that will be used for rehearsals and "educational demonstrations," the ballet's new center will offer physical therapy and training services in conjunction with Mercy Health, for both performers and members of the public. 

click to enlarge Rhonda and Larry A. Sheakley Premier Studio - GBBN/PROVIDED BY CINCINNATI BALLET
GBBN/Provided by Cincinnati Ballet
Rhonda and Larry A. Sheakley Premier Studio

Of the design, GBBN Chief Executive Officer Matthew Schottelkotte said in the press release, "The building’s transparency celebrates the activity within. People outside can see what’s going on in the studios. Inside, dancers look out at tremendous views of the city. From the lightweight steel and slender columns of the studios, to the way light enters the building, the project captures the strength, grace, and sheer delight of dance. The project’s prominent site along a major city artery is accessible and visible. It sends a clear message to the community, and people passing through the city, about the strength and importance of the arts in Cincinnati.”