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About Us

  Richmond's original BALLET PETIT was founded in 1962 by Aline Solomon Martin and performed for two seasons sponsored by the Westover Hills Womens Club. Mrs. Martin next combined talents with area dance teachers Julia Mildred Harper, Corlese Wells, Eleanor Frye, Marion Mease, Marjorie Faye Underhill and James Lowell to establish the Richmond Ballet. 
  Reviving her mother's interest in providing performance opportunites for dance students, Shannon Martin Howell re-established BALLET PETIT in August of 1989. The company's goal is to create an educational experience that balances professionalism, responsibilty, focused effort, and fun! Integral to this goal is the belief that children's creative talents are best nurtured in an atmosphere that is supportive and noncompetitive.

  Company members are selected on the basis of enthusiasm, maturity, and talent. Members are expected to attend weekend rehearsals, maintain their academic studies at a "C" average or better, and participate in company fund raising efforts. During the rehearsal period, members support and encourage each other through the company's "Secret-Dancer" program. BALLET PETIT's activities are supported through private and business contributions and fund raising activities. As a self-supporting organization, the company's financial goal is to meet production expenses. Residuals, if any, are targeted for expanding the company's activites. 

   BALLET PETIT's board and staff contribute their time on a voluntary basis without compensation

  With a dance career spanning some 30 years, artistic director Shannon Martin Howell has studied dance with some of the most widely acclaimed professionals in New York and elsewhere. She holds a BA from Mary Washington College and has held numerous teaching positions, and her performance credits include soloist roles with the Richmond Ballet and the Mary Washington Dance Company. Her choreographic credits include works for the Haymarket Dinner Theatre and directing Chesterfield Performing Arts Company from 1982 to 1986.   Ms. Howell retired and closed the Richmond based Martinique School of Dance in 2010.  Currently, she is engaged in the Martinique School of Dance Enrichment Program in West Point.

  Karen Moore Gravely began her dance career at Martinique School of Dance. She has studied in New York and under numerous other instructors, including the Washington School of Ballet and the Tidewater Ballet. Karen has performed for more than 25 years appearing as a principal dancer with the Richmond Ballet as well as the Concert Ballet of Virginia, where she was also a choreographer. She has numerous choreographic works to her credit. Karen has worked with Ballet Petit since 1990 and was an instructor at Martinique from 1992 until its' closing in 2010.

  Ballet Petit is deeply appreciative of the support we have received from individuals and businesses in the community. The company is dedicated to providing performing opportunities for children through its annual production of "The Night Before Christmas". We encourage individuals and businesses who share our goal of enriching the lives of children and families in our community to contribute to Ballet Petit.
  If you would like more information about the Company contact us at BalletPetit@yahoo.com