Our Mission

Our mission is to provide professional quality performance opportunities to all area dancers and quality performances to central Ohio audiences.

Our dancers come from many different studios and communities throughout central Ohio, ranging in age from 8-18 with adults joining the group for guest appearances and stage productions. 

While Central Ohio Youth Ballet production values are high, the artistic staff places dancers in roles across a spectrum of ability and experience levels. Central Ohio Youth Ballet is not about exclusivity, but rather its mission is to nurture dancers at all stages of proficiency, talent and desire.

Our History

The Central Ohio Youth Ballet (COYB) is celebrating its 23rd anniversary season beginning with the 2017 production of The Nutcracker. The company began in the fall of 1994 when a dream and a need partnered.

Robert and Lisa Cole sought to work with youth in Licking County and the Central Ohio area. They were approached by a group of 20 well-trained dancers from Coshocton, Ohio whose studio had had to close and who were seeking training and performing opportunities. Those dancers sparked the beginning of what the Coles had envisioned in creating a quality youth dance company.

In the summer of 1995, not daunted by the monumental task of staging a story ballet, COYB ambitiously planned a fall production of The Nutcracker. COYB director Robert Cole aligned with a costumer, the dancers, and with supportive parents whose tireless efforts merged to achieve the Central Ohio Youth Ballet’s initial season of the holiday classic. The production was Act II of The Nutcracker staged at Denison Unversity’s Ace Morgan Theater, a 225 seat venue. Two performances were advertised and sold out quickly, necessitating two more performances. The following year, COYB faced a similar situation with two scheduled performances at the 1200 seat Newark High School Auditorium that sold out quickly. This necessitated their adding an additional performance there to accommodate the demand for tickets. Until 2000, the larger Newark High School Auditorium remained the venue for the Nutcracker until the company was invited to bring its production to the newly renovated Midland Theater in downtown Newark. Downtown Newark is a place the company calls its home.

The Central Ohio Youth ballet currently offers two main productions each year, The Nutcracker and the spring production, along with numerous smaller venue outreach offerings throughout the year, drawing dancers from seven central Ohio counties. The company’s most ambitious outreach offering was in 1997 when they arranged for all Newark City Schools’ sixth graders to be bused to the Newark High School Auditorium for a weekday matinee performance. The company has more recently focused on outreach offerings that afford interaction between the COYB company and the audience.

COYB has taken dancers to the Northeast Ohio Dance Festival, the Ohio Dance Young Artists Showcase and to venues that offer quality opportunities for the dancers. Additionally, during summers, COYB offers either a series of master classes or a one to two weeklong intensive. Resident guest artists for these intensives have included Bolshoi Ballet Academy graduate Eva Vladimirovna Draw, choreographer and former Cunningham Dance Company member Douglas Dunn, Tom Evert, former dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company and founder of DANCEVERT and most recently, Wendy White Sasser, former dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

The Central Ohio Youth Ballet joins with professionals and young dancers in the pursuit of excellence. Parents of former company members have voiced appreciation for the character development, discipline and leadership skills they feel their children have gained from COYB.