By Lauren Lipton

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Students from all over come to a school in Philadelphia, and they leave as some of the best ballet dancers in the world.

And now, the Rock School of Dance Education, at Broad Street and Washington Avenue, is celebrating its 50th anniversary!

“It has become, certainly in this country, one of the foremost dance training institutions,” says Bojan Spassoff (top photo, right), president and director of the school.  “We have dancers in virtually every major company in this country.”

And Europe.  And even some on Broadway.

“Japanese students, Chinese students, Latin-American, European — everywhere,” Spassoff notes.

(Rachel Richardson.  Photo provided)

(Rachel Richardson. Photo provided)

Sixteen-year-old Rachel Richardson (right, and center of top photo) came from out west.

“When I was 13, I moved across the country with my mom to study ballet full time at the Rock School,” she tells Positively Philadelphia.

And she is a big success already:

“I just won the silver medal at Youth America Grand Prix Finals, in New York City.  It’s the world’s largest ballet competition with kids from all over the world.”

Another alumna will be starring on the CW Television Network show, “Breaking Pointe,” this summer.

The Rock School has two different locations, the one in Philadelphia (“Rock Center”) and another in West Chester, Pa. (“Rock West”).

Rock Center is primarily geared for those seeking training in classical ballet, but it also offers instruction in hip-hop and urban dance, and runs a huge community outreach program for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“There are a lot of wonderful stories — I mean sad, but when they come here, it changes their world for them,” Spassoff says.  “It literally does.”

Listen to the full interview in this CBS Philly podcast (runs 5:32)…


For more information, go to therockschool.org.

And, for this week, that’s “Positively Philadelphia!”

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