Resume of Virginia Brooks Britton President and founding member of The Metropolitan Arts Collaborative 3421 Valley Drive Alexandria, Virginia 22302 metroartsco@gmail.com (See professional and student recommendations at bottom)

Virginia Britton has been a full-time dancer, choreographer, and teacher for forty five years. She has trained many professional dancers, owned and directed her own exercise company Dansynergy in San Francisco California, a dance school The Britton System near the Mount Vernon area of Alexandria, Virginia, and The Alexandria Ballet a dance school and ballet company.


Born to a military family, Virginia  lived in many locations nationwide and abroad studying ballet in most of them, including the School of the Washington Ballet. Moving to Panama in 1971 as a high school student Virginia  finished high school by correspondence from the University of Nebraska High School Extension and attended college through the Excelsior [formerly called Regents External Degree] program of the University of the State of New York, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts.


Some influential early teachers were Royal Ballet trained Sally Schmertz at The School of the Washington Ballet, Heidi Pope in her own school in Alexandria, Virginia for ballet and modern dance, and Ginela Vazquez in her studio in Panama, and at  the University of Panama, as well as with Milano Ballet trained Raisa Gutierrez.


At the age of sixteen Virginia was accepted into the Corps de Ballet of the Russian directed, government sponsored  National Ballet of Panama. The company was famously sponsored by Margot Fonteyn who performed as a guest and worked with the company. Virginia trained there with Nicholai Morosov, Luidmila Morkovina, and Yuri Tarasov. She debuted in La Bayadere, and subsequently danced in Paquita, Les Sylphides, The Afternoon of a Faun, Swan Lake, Pas de Seis, character roles such as El Amor Brujo and lesser known modern ballet and folkloric influenced work such as Ritmos y Tambores and  gala ballet productions.

At the same age opportunities to teach dance and  create exercise and dance arose. Virginia  developed an original approach, a more therapeutic less stressful method for teaching dance and exercise. At age eighteen Virginia taught exercise on television, and made a film advertisement for Pan Am with Alejandro Lugo on the island of Contadora.


The dance therapist Raoul Gelebert, was a major influence on Virginia's understanding of stretching and alignment and overcoming physical limitations with proper training with stretching.

                                                  

Virginia moved to New York in 1975 where she was given a full scholarship with David Howard at has school in Lincoln Center.  Virginia danced with The Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center as well as  American Ballet Theater, the National Ballet of Canada, and the Stuttgart Ballet. While in New York, Virginia studied with Maggie Black, and studied floor-barre with Zena Romett.


Virginia moved to Chicago where she studied with Maria Tallchief of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and danced with the Chicago Ballet under Larry Long and Ruth Page. Virginia performed various roles in the Nutcracker at the MacCormick Place.

While in Chicago Virginia taught Ballet for the Lenhoff School of Music and Dance teaching children ages six thru the adult classes.


In 1979, Virginia moved to San Francisco, California where she danced with Leap Forward, a modern dance company, performing modern and jazz inspired choreography by Consuelo Faust. She taught ballet at Dance Arts Studio in San Raphael, taught exercise for Dancergetics and subsequently created a new therapeutic exercise program for non dancers. Known as Dansynergy, Virginia trained over one hundred and fifty instructors and managed ten neighborhood recreational locations throughout the city, including the Pacific Ballet.The name was subsequently changed to The Britton System, refering to the addition of safe stretching and alternating muscle groups to avoid fatigue.


In 1985 Virginia moved to Alexandria, Virginia and taught for the Contemporary Dancers of Alexandria, the Alexandria Recreation Department, and the Center Club.  She opened a dance studio called The Britton System in the Mount Vernon area  which included many dance forms including fencing, but eventually moved the school to old town starting the Alexandria Ballet first at the Old Town Athletic Club, and in 1991 moved the school to the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association. The school offered Classical Ballet, Creative Movement, Modern Dance, and Flamenco among other styles. The Alexandria Ballet performed works choreographed by Virginia and others with up to three performing seasons each year, Gala Performances of guest companies, and up to forty performances a year of her original Nutcracker from 1991-2008. Virginia designed and hand made costumes, sets and masks for the performances. Sewing and decorating costumes have been influenced by the Royal Ballet costumes that Margot Fonteyn brought in 1974 to be a gift to that company. The Alexandria Ballet through the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association company offered three scholarships, outreach programs, in addition to instructor training.


In 2012 Virginia, was a founding member of The Metropolitan Arts Collaborative a 501c-3 non profit corporation. An organization dedicated to arts education, the mission statement is "Building communities through the arts". 


Virginia currently teaches classical ballet with The Metropolitan Arts Collaborative, Joy of Dance, The Metropolitan Fine Arts School, masterclasses at the Burke Civic Ballet- Buffas School of Dance, the ballet with modern dance program at T.C.Williams High School.


Professional recommendations:

To whom it may concern:
I have had the privilege of knowing Virginia Britton as a colleague and personal friend for over 30 years and can say that she is unrivaled in the field of dance for artistry, dedication, and integrity. Over the years, she developed the Alexandria Ballet from a small school company with an unlikely performance venue into a local institution known for it’s consistently sold-out, compact Nutcracker and original Easter Ballet productions. Numerous Ballet students thrived at the Athenaeum and some have gone on to professional dance careers like Daniel Powers of the Cincinnati Ballet and others such as Arianna Geneson, are studying theater, using skills gained under Virginia Britton’s tutelage. The Alexandria Ballet also sponsored a yearly guitar festival among a variety of concerts and offered classes in World Dance well before other studios in the area. The school offered scholarships to a wide array of local students with financial hardships and offered outreach in the form of after-school classes in Alexandria public schools. The company offered performance opportunities to professional dancers and students alike. Since leaving the Athenaeum, Virginia has not only continued teaching the finest classical Ballet to students of all ages, but has taken the Alexandria Ballet forth into new endeavors advocating for the arts and artists as a non-profit organization. Virginia’s creativity, experience, and spirit of altruism is unique and much-needed on the local arts scene.


Lori Clark
(MA Dance, American University, Adjunct Professor of Dance, George Mason University,
Dancer and Dance Anthropologist)

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To Whom it may concern:
I have worked with Virginia Britton since the last 1970's in San Francisco. We studied dance together, performed together and produced together. We were involved in creating performances, teaching children, and working with many professionals in the field of performing arts. Virginia is creative, kind, and capable of starting programs from the ground up to a completed performance. She has original works that would be conducive to the goals of your organization. I highly recommend her, and I wish she was here, working with me.


Sincerely,
Anne Catherine Hebert
Director, Hebert Dancentre, established 1949
324 W. North Street
Opelousas, LA 70570
337-942-9625

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Student Recommendations:

My name is Angela Lankford. From the ages of 5 to 18 years old, I studied ballet from the Alexandria Ballet School under the guidance of Virginia Britton. During this time, I came to see that Ms. Virginia genuinely cares for her students and wants to see them progress and grow in all aspects of their life and not just in the ballet studio. From Ms. Virginia I gained a solid understanding of classical ballet technique and I also learned performance skills that have benefited me in many areas of my life beyond her classroom. For instance, when I went away to college, I took an advanced ballet course at school with students from all over the country. My college teacher recognized that I had a very good understanding of technique and was very knowledgeable about the art itself. She praised my form and technique, and the only reason why I was able to do so well in this college ballet course was because of the principles, training, and lessons that I learned from Virginia Britton. The skills and ballet techniques Ms. Virginia has taught me have allowed me to succeed in other ballet courses after I left her studio. In addition to being an excellent ballet teacher, Ms. Virginia also has a number of other impressive talents to bring to the table. Not only can Ms. Virginia teach all levels of ballet (beginning at 3-year-olds and going all the way up to adults and professionals), she is also an excellent business woman, is great at crafting and sewing her own tutus and costumes for her students (which is pretty impressive. She used to make handmade tutus for every child in her school when I was 6 and 7), and she is very creative in coming up with ways to help the community and those in need. When I was about 16 years old, Ms. Virginia gave me the opportunity to help her teach a community outreach ballet class over the summer for children who may have never had an opportunity or any exposure to the arts before. Through this experience, I was able to gain valuable teaching skills such as compassion, patience, and how to show genuine love and concern for my students. I was even able to transfer these skills to the freshmen English courses I taught during my master's program. And since I even helped teach a couple of pre-ballet course, I also gained valuable skills that helped me to teach a Sunday school class for 3 and 4 year olds and to come up with activities to keep them entertained, but also helped them to learn important skills. So not only does Ms. Virginia teach students how to perform well, but she also gives them opportunities to learn how to teach others effectively as well which is a valuable skill for when it comes to helping others. Lastly, Ms. Virginia is just fun! Now, don't get me wrong, everything that I've ever learned about disciplining myself to achieve my goals have come from her and her dedication to pushing us all to do our best, but she also is a very fun person to learn ballet from. Her love of ballet shines through her teaching and that love inspires others to find love in the art as well. She has creative ways of teaching difficult concepts and is very good at motivating students to succeed. Overall, I think that our selfless and caring nature would make her a great candidate to run a non-profit program. I think that her genuine care and concerns along with her excellent teaching abilities will allow her to inspire and to change the lives of many just as she has done for me. I consider Ms. Virginia an important person in my life and a valuable friend who has been kind and generous to me and my family during hard moments in our lives. She's much more than just a ballet teacher to me. She's also helped me to become the person I am today. I think her ability to inspire and lead will greatly impact and change the lives of her students.


Thank you for your time,
Angela Lankford

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To Whom It May Concern,
I wanted to write to you to recommend Virginia Britton as a dance teacher. Ms. Britton taught ballet to my daughter, Rose when she was 4 years old. My daughter had a lot of high energy and I was nervous about her ability to concentrate in ballet class so young, but decided to give it a try. She was mesmerized by Ms. Britton and followed her instruction very well. She would come home with stories about different ballet stories, and fell in love with dancing. I would strongly recommend Ms. Britton as a dance instructor.


Thank you,
Rachel Burns

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Virginia is an amazing instructor in every sense of the word. She is patient, knowledgeable, and dedicated to her students and her work. She creates an ideal learning atmosphere for both kids and adults that is calm and professional, and places the safety of the student above flexibility and flashiness, unlike other schools. Her technique is clean, and her love for dance shows in everything she does. I highly recommend her for dancers of all levels who are looking for a consistent and well-developed program taught by an experienced professional.


-Katherine Kinnunen

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I am sending a testimonial about Virginia Britton, which I worked with for several years at the Nutcracker dance production. “I enjoyed working with Virginia Britton in her dance productions very much. Her professional attitude and passion for ballet makes you want to dance more and strive to be a better dancer than you are.”


Misha Mlejova, Sugar Plum for Nutcracker cca 2006-2011

Sincerely,
Misha Mlejova