To make a gift
To make a tax deductible gift to either branch of Ballet Renaissance (in southeast Michigan or in northern Colorado) simply mail your gift to Ballet Renaissance PO Box 3768 Estes Park, CO 80517. If your gift is in memory or honor of someone special, please kindly make a note in the memo section of your check. Thank you in advance for your heartfelt, generous gift which assists children and teens in a special way.
Mission & History
Ballet Renaissance is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to educating and inspiring youth and the community through the art of classical ballet.
Born out of Furnish's personal and professional experiences, Ballet Renaissance has a 18 year history of building bridges that span urban and suburban communities, uniting individuals in common vision. Sustaining the traditional, Ballet Renaissance remains open to new visions of hope and creative solutions for today's problems. A long history of alliances with various artists and organizations, has poised Ballet Renaissance for its current partnerships. In 2006, after dancing professionally in New York, Mr. Radoslaw Kokoszka, joined Furnish as Co-Director. Most recently Furnish and Kokoszka have expanded Ballet Renaissance's scope and mission by establishing a new branch of Ballet Renaissance in northern Colorado.
Ms. Brianna Furnish, Founder / Co-Director
Ms. Furnish, a native of Dallas, Texas is the daughter of a modern dancer and college modern dance professor, and danced alongside her mother from an early age. At age five, following in her mother's footsteps, she began formal studies in the Martha Graham modern dance technique, under private instruction from Juilliard graduate, Ms. Jerry Bywaters Cochran. At age thirteen Furnish was encouraged to begin ballet training (reluctantly at first!), as a means for augmenting her chances for a professional modern dance career. She began studies privately with Denise and Evelyn Brown and quickly fell in love with ballet. A year later she began training on talent scholarship with Dallas Ballet’s professional program, under the direction of Royal Danish Ballet‘s Flemming and Vivi Flindt. It was there that she first met and trained with the late great Madame Nathalie Krassovska, former prima ballerina with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, who became a significant mentor in Furnish’s personal and professional life. A year later, after relatively little ballet training, Furnish was accepted to the acclaimed School of American Ballet in New York, where she had the exceptional opportunity to study with such ballet greats as Mme. Alexandra Danilova, Suki Shorer, Mme. Antonina Tumkovsky, Andrei Kramerevsky and Stanley Williams. She was then accepted to train an additional year at North Carolina School of the Arts, where she studied under the careful attention of former New York City Ballet principal dancer, Ms. Melissa Hayden. Furnish danced for several regional companies in Dallas and Tennessee, including Krassovska’s Ballet Jeunesse and Tennessee Ballet (Memphis), while continuing private instruction with both Mme. Krassovska and the late Robert Scevers (Harkness Ballet). It is Krassovska and Scevers, along with Danilova, Hayden and Bywaters, who Furnish attributes with having shaped her own teaching style most profoundly. After moving to Detroit to pursue medical studies at Wayne State University, Furnish became involved with the Maggie Allesee Department of Dance, where she was given the - continue to the next slide
continue - Ms. Brianna Furnish, Founder / Co-Director
opportunity to stage a ballet for Detroit Public School's "All City" High School dancers and an opportunity to teach a special ballet outreach series. Inspired by the passion of Detroit students , Furnish founded Ballet Renaissance in June of 1997, as a means for fostering local talent and inspiring community. She taught college ballet as Adjunct Professor for Wayne State University’s Maggie Allesee Department of Dance (1996-2004), served as full time high school ballet instructor for Fraser’s Arts Academy in the Woods (2006-2007), and as Ballet Master Class Instructor throughout the Detroit Public Schools (1996-present). In 2006, after ten years of work in the city, Furnish completed her BS in Dance from Wayne State University's Maggie Allesee Department of Dance, the school through which her inspiration for “Ballet Renaissance” had originated. One of her greatest joys is performing with her long -time partner, Co-Director, Mr. Radoslaw Kokoszka, who has made a profound impact on her life both personally and professionally.
Mr. Radoslaw Kokoszka, Co-Director
Mr. Kokoszka is a native of Wodzislaw Sl., Poland, Mr. Kokoszka began his early ballet training as a boarding student at the Ludomir Rozycki State Ballet School in Bytom, Poland. At age 13, he moved to the United States with his family, settling in Hamtramck, MI, and was introduced to Ballet Renaissance through the 1999 American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive, a three-way collaboration between New York’s American Ballet Theatre, the Detroit Opera House, and Wayne State University’s Maggie Allesee Department of Dance. He trained and performed as Furnish’s ballet partner and Founded the first annual Ballet Renaissance Summer Intensive for Kids. He received numerous talent scholarships and trained at a number of prestigious professional schools including: the Harid Conservatory (FLA), Boston Ballet (MA), Kirov Academy (Washington, DC) and the renowned School of American Ballet (New York), from which he graduated. Mr. Kokoszka was part of New York Choreographic Institute before dancing professionally for Carolina Ballet, New York’s emerging Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, where he had the great honor of performing George Balanchine’s Don Quixote for the annual acclaimed Edinburgh Dance Festival in Scotland (2006). Kokoszka has trained and perform alongside the world’s greatest talents and maintain alliances with trusted peers and colleagues, bringing a wealth of knowledge and resources to Ballet Renaissance. He is an exceptionally talented, professionally trained and experienced dancer, and a thorough and accomplished instructor and choreographer. Particularly committed to breaking stereotypes regarding male dancers and providing strong healthy role models for boys, Kokoszka possess a special skill-set for instructing male students in the classical technique.
Ms. Elizabeth Crall Mawhinney - Detroit Instructor
Began her dance training in Mansfield, Ohio, at the Ethyl Battin Dance Academy and attended summer programs at the School of American Ballet in NYC and Jacob's Pillow in Massachusetts. She received a B.A. degree in dance and an M.A. degree in theatre, respectively, from Butler University and The Ohio State University. Her performing credits include dancing with the Ruth Page Chicago Opera Ballet, Radio City Ballet, Emily Frankel Dance Drama Company of NYC, Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, and summer stock companies under Equity contract in Minneapolis, Seattle, Ohio, New Jersey, and Indiana. In Detroit she is a member of the adjunct faculties of Marygrove College, Wayne State University, and Ballet Renaissance. Previous faculty positions include teaching and/or developing courses in dance and theatre movement for Radford University in Virginia, University of Oregon, Butler University, and Wayne State University where she was also a faculty member of the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive for several years. While tenured at Butler University she was resident choreographer for the Butler Ballet and received grant support for dance history research conducted in France. After moving to Detroit in 1987, she served on the Board of Directors of the former Michigan Dance Association. She currently is a member of the Board of Directors of Detroit Dance Collective and an Advisor for Ballet Renaissance.
Ms. Lisa Levy - Detroit Instructor
Is a metro Detroit native who grew up in Farmington Hills, MI. She self-professes to have discovered dance when she was 4 years old, falling in love with ballet immediately and insisting that her parents sign her up for classes (sound familiar to anyone, parents?). She attributes the bulk of her early studies to Detroit’s Carole Cotter (former Boston Ballet ballerina), for whom Lisa also taught children’s classes. Later, Lisa studied with the late acclaimed Detroit ballet teacher, Mr. Iacob Lascu (Marygrove College and Oakland University Dance Departments), and as a high school student, Lisa had the privilege to perform as a corps de ballet member for Lascu’s well-respected production of “The Nutcracker.” Lisa supplemented her classical training with various Summer Ballet Intensives, including those at Marygrove College and the International Ballet Seminar (Gelsey Kirkland, Janina Cunova, Mikhail Lavrovsky, Audre Deckmann Mendel, Ute Mitreuter, Victoria Rockhill-Schneider, Jurgen Schneider, Mark Spivak, Margarita Zagurskaya; instructors). She holds an Associate Degree in Social Work and graduated this past December with a Bachelor’s of Science in Behavioral Science (a combination of Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology). She plans to continue her studies at the post graduate level and use her education in these fields, to help children. She recently completed an internship at the Common Ground Shelter in Royal Oak, which assists children in crisis, and is now continuing intern work at the Burger School in Garden City, a special school for children with Autism. At Ballet Renaissance, her passion for ballet meets her commitment to help children and we welcome her to our Ballet Renaissance family.
Ms. Nena Widtfelt - Detroit Instructor
Of Japanese heritage, grew up in the San Francisco area training in classical ballet at Contra Costa Ballet Centre in Walnut Creek under the direction of Ms. Zola Dishong and Mr. Richard Cammack. In 2003 Nena attended the San Francisco Ballet School Summer Intensive and soon after finishing the summer program moved with her family to Japan where she then trained until 2005 at the Tokyo Ballet School in Tokyo, Japan. Moving back to California in 2005, Nena continued her ballet training at Contra Costa Ballet Centre performing in their pre-professional company until 2008 and danced the roles of Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Rose Fairy in the Nutcracker, and Dark Angel in Balanchine's Serenade. She also performed a lead role in Catching the Light, a contemporary ballet piece choreographed by San Francisco Ballet's James Sofranko. Ms. Nena then attended Brigham Young University in Provo, UT (2008-2012 ) and performed with the school's touring ballet company Theatre Ballet. Ms. Nena was awarded many dance scholarships at BYU including the Dance Talent Award and Dixie Stoddard Scholarship. There she studied a variety of styles of classical and contemporary ballet and had the opportunity to explore and develop her abilities as a choreography. Ms. Nena performed such roles as soloist in Les Sylphides, Fairy Godmother and Winter Fairy in Cinderella, and Snow Queen in Han's Christian's the Snow Queen. After graduating BYU with a degree in Family Studies, Ms. Nena taught ballet for a variety of dance studios and in the summer of 2013, followed her husband to Michigan where she began teaching for Ballet Renaissance (January of 2014). Ms. Nena loves teaching, getting to know the students and sharing with them her knowledge of and passion for classical ballet.
If you are interested in becoming a part of our program click "Register" in the top right corner of the page to submit On Line Registration Interest Form, and Ballet Renaissance will contact you with further information. Class assignment is initially based upon the age of the student, but finalized by Ballet Renaissance instructors who will make final class placement recommendations based on observation of each individual student during the first several weeks of classes.
At Ballet Renaissance "Every day is picture day!" Aesthetics is an important part of the classroom environment and the art of classical ballet. There is a strict dress code for all children's ballet and teen ballet classes. There is no admission to class without proper dress code. (Adult Ballet students may wear appropriate ballet classroom attire of his or her choosing. We do require that all adult students wear proper ballet shoes for class – pink for ladies, and black or white for men).
Girl's Dress Code:
Plain black leotard (must be long sleeve), no skirts, leg warmers or other warm-up attire during the class itself; pink tights covering entire foot, pink leather ballet shoes, hair secured neatly in an "up do" (off face and back of neck). No jewelry. All girls are required to purchase a beige-colored camisole leotard. Camisole must be worn under costumes at all times (camisole may also be worn under classroom attire). Camisoles are important for keeping costumes clean and for preventing dancer’s skin from being irritated by the costume. Camisoles are worn like a bathing suit as a layer of modesty and provide a smooth aesthetic line under both costumes and classroom attire. Performance costumes are provided by Ballet Renaissance.
Boy's Dress Code:
Plain white, fitted tank top , black tights, black leather ballet shoes (dance belt is required for teens). For stage, boys and men are often asked to wear a plain white neatly pressed button down the front formal shirt. The rest of the costume is provided by Ballet Renaissance.
Ballet Renaissance students perform in annual performances and at times, throughout the community, to educate and inspire others.
Annual Performance Fundraiser:
Each spring Ballet Renaissance students and their families participate in a fundraiser to support performance and costume related expenses.
Michigan: During fall season, Ballet Renaissance students perform for Detroit’s Annual Noel Night, the evening of the first Saturday in December. A mandatory rehearsal is held in the performance venue, one evening prior to the event. The annual performance venue is selected for Ballet Renaissance by the Noel Night staff . Winter-Spring season concludes with an annual June performance typically held the third weekend in June. A week of technical and dress rehearsals are held the week prior to the performance in the performance venue. Summer season classes include the opportunity for students to perform in a special outdoor performance.
Colorado: Annual Performance is held the middle of May.
Tuition & Fees
There is a $25 registration fee due once the Registration form is submitted. Tuition is payable by Cash, Check, Money Order, PayPal, Credit or Debit card. There is a %10 discount for students attending minimum of twice a week of classes who choose to use our auto pay system. With auto pay, tuition is withdrawn automatically each month from the debit or credit card of your choice. All other tuition is due the first week of each month. All late or declined payments are subject to $25 fee. There is a $100 annual performance fee which students may "earn" by participating in annual BR fund-raiser. Ballet Renaissance is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization and exists in large part thanks to the generous gifts of individuals who support our program with tax deductible gifts. A gift of any size is significant and helps sustain our programming and outreach to youth and the community. To make a tax deductible gift of your choice please visit our home page and click on "donate" - On line tuition payments may be submitted via the "Tuition and Fees" button at the buttom of this page.
"There is always that one teacher you will always remember who helped to change your life. Brianna Furnish and Ballet Renaissance is that for me. When I was a teenager and all I wanted to do was dance my heart out, she provided me a means of expression and a platform to do so through classical ballet. Ms. Brianna (affectionately known by her students) helped to foster my creativity through strong support, mentorship and friendship. Had she and Ballet Renaissance not been in my life, I don't think I would have reached the successes I have today."
— Ms. Naima Mora, America's Next Top Model 2005, BR Alumna
"We have enjoyed performances by Ballet Renaissance for the past nine years... Ballet Renaissance provides a wonderful opportunity for students of all ages, and backgrounds to gain affordable, professional ballet training and performance opportunities... The whole process, we are pleased to note, is characterized by love, support, safety and appreciation of all who participate. We are enthusiastic supporters of this fine arts organization."
— Dr. and Mrs. Philip Clampitt, Ballet Renaissance Supporters
"Ballet with a positive core"
— National Dance Teacher Magazine 2004
"This program offers a wonderful foundation for dancers and cultivates their growth.
I am amazed every time I hear my girls using the correct & proper terminology of the positions and movements of ballet! Their grace is beautiful & it's attributed to the wonderfully talented instructors at Ballet Ren! I can't say enough about having this jewel right here in the city of Detroit! I don't have to drive far distances to get to this program..
it's right here! The culture & arts that my daughters are exposed to right here in their backyard is fabulous. From this, they have such a positive image of Detroit that unfortunately so many others don't have. We do our best to spread the word of
Ballet Renaissance. It's definitely been a treasure to us, our family & friends!"
— Ms. Andrea Henson, Ballet Renaissance Parent
"I've been very pleased.… It's like a jewel in the city,"
Andrea Henson of Detroit, Parent
— Detroit Free Press 2012
"Three years ago Ballet Renaissance came to Northern Colorado and changed my family's life. At first, only my daughter took lessons. She enjoyed the camaraderie
and the structure of the classes greatly, and she soon blossomed... Their kind and disciplined classical teaching technique both inspired my daughter to a greater love
for the art of ballet and moved her to higher levels of proficiency. Not long after, my sons became interested in dance and joined a boys' class they were followed by my husband, who had no previous dance experience. In addition to the excellent training the dancers receive, a wonderful sense of community and support flourishes within
Ballet Renaissance. I have loved watching my family perform together and have witnessed their joy and satisfaction with each successful recital."
—Ms. Kim Fitzpatrick, Ballet Renaissance Parent
"In Ballet Renaissance children aren't just moving their feet. They are moving their hearts and souls to the rafters--
to the music of Tchaikovsky and other classical masters"
— Detroit News 2001
“The rebirth of Detroit and dance go hand in hand. We have so much talent and passion here. We feel it is important to empower the voice and the talent
and the energy and the spirit of the community of Detroit”
— Brianna Furnish, Founder
— Detroit News 2001
"She was very shy, but she loved it, and she blossomed and loves coming here"
— Onnie Jacque of Detroit, Parent
— Detroit Free Press 2012
ESTES PARK, COLORADO