DIANE CALLAHAN‘s dance heritage reflects a rich and varied history. In addition to her predominantly Vaganova-based training, she also trained in the Cecchetti and Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) systems. She began studying dance with the co-founders of the Atlanta Ballet, Dorothy Alexander and Merrilee Smith. She subsequently studied with the famous Russian ballerina Alexandra Danilova. Other Russian teachers of note included Michael Panaieff, Maria Bekefi, and Paul Petroff. Ms. Callahan’s (RAD) training came at the hands of David Blair and Rosemary Valaire; while the Cecchetti influence results from her training with Michael Brigante and Carmelita Maracci. During her professional dance career, she worked with the famous choreographers George Balanchine, Eugene Loring, and Robert Barnett.
During her last two years in high school, Ms. Callahan was hired to dance at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in the ballets Giselle and Coppelia starring the illustrious Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso and her equally famous partners, Igor Youskevitch, and Andre Eglevsky. After graduation, she joined Alicia’s company, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and toured Mexico, Germany, Poland, Latvia, and the USSR, performing on both the Kirov and Bolshoi stages. She then returned to the United States and joined the San Francisco Ballet as a soloist.
Finally coming home to her native Atlanta, she was a principal dancer with the Atlanta Ballet for ten years. While with the Atlanta Ballet, she trained under Robert Barnett, former Atlanta Ballet artistic director and New York City Ballet soloist.
Ms. Callahan founded the Gainesville School of Ballet in 1969. In 1974, she founded the Gainesville Ballet Company to provide additional performing opportunities for her talented students. Today, GBC is comprised of ballet school students, select Brenau University dance majors, and professional dancers. Ms. Callahan is a faculty member at Brenau University, where she was instrumental in establishing its dance degree program. She also served on the Dance Advisory Panel of the Georgia Council for the Arts.
The training and experience available to Ms. Callahan’s students have enabled many of them to build a life in dance as performers and instructors. Former students and company members have starred on Broadway and have been principals and soloists with the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Atlanta Ballet, Eliot Feld Ballet, Louisville Ballet, and many regional companies throughout the Southeast.
Now teaching many second generation students, Ms. Callahan is proud and pleased to continue her life-long commitment to and passion for children—and the art of dance.