Eugenia L. O’Brien | Founder of Portland Ballet
When Eugenia O’Brien moved to Maine, she found a city that had theater productions, symphonies, and a museum of art, but felt it was one art form short: ballet. She founded Portland Ballet, a community of professional dancers, and also Portland School of Ballet, where dancers as young as three years old are trained in the fundamentals of ballet. Before moving to Maine, O’Brien was a professional dancer, and she wanted the program in Portland to encourage aspiring dancers to pursue their passions as careers. She worked with Portland High School to create CORPS, a program in which students are granted early release to participate in a pre-professional, three-hour-a-day immersion program. The program has been highly successful. Students have left the school to join Dance Theatre of Harlem, New York City Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. O’Brien also collaborates with other arts organizations, including the Choral Art Society at Merrill Auditorium, as well as with the Portland Symphony Orchestra.