DENISE PAAVOLA, Artistic Director, a Flint native, founded Young People’s Ballet Theatre (YPBT) in 1988 and served as its’ Artistic Director for twenty-four years. Between 1980 and 2012, she also owned and directed Paavola School of Dance, the primary training school for YPBT. In 2012, she semi-retired and donated her school of dance to Young People’s Ballet Theatre but remained on staff teaching our advanced students. In 2016, Denise returned as School Director of YPBT and is excited to return this year as Artistic Director once again. Her early dance training here in Flint led her to a professional dance career with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Ballet Michigan.

She also holds a BA degree in Elementary and Deaf Education from the University of Michigan and an MA in Learning Disabilities from Eastern Michigan University. Denise developed Young People’s Ballet Theatre on the premise that all inspired dancers in Flint and surrounding areas are provided the opportunity to study with professional teachers and choreographers and perform classical ballets. Her unwavering passion for ballet and mentoring of young dancers is fundamental to our core philosophy here at YPBT.