Former Charleston Ballet Theatre dancers Stephen Gabriel and Jonathan Tabbert plan to open the Charleston Dance Institute this fall. Their Mt. Pleasant space is still under construction, but they’re offering summer sessions July 2-13 at the Charleston County School of the Arts. They hope to reveal the finished studio with an open house on Sept. 1, followed by fall classes beginning just a few days later taught by the dancers and two other teachers.
Tabbert and Gabriel have danced all over the country, from Florida to Nebraska and back. Both performed with the CBT for years. Tabbert was with the company for 13 years, and Gabriel for 15. Gabriel also served as the company’s ballet master for the last five years. “We’ve been in the Charleston dance community for quite some time,” Tabbert says. “We’ve both had a lot of experience and many years in teaching and directing.”
After traveling with different companies, teaching with various studios, and performing all across the board, Tabbert and Gabriel decided to plant their roots back in the Holy City with a studio of their own. “It’s kind of natural progression in any dancers’ lives,” explains Tabbert. “It’s something that’s been growing in our interests.”
While Tabbert and Gabriel have already welcomed some of their former CBT students to the studio, they look forward to promoting fresh talent as well. “We do have a core group of students ready,” Tabbert says, “but the more, the better.” The studio offers two student performance programs: Charleston Youth Ballet and Charleston Broadway Dance Ensemble.
The studio expects to offer professional outlets for unrecognized talent. And while Tabbert and Gabriel have split from the Charleston Ballet Theatre, they hope the dance community will work together, not compete. “We’re very passionate about collaboration,” Tabbert says. “We want to find the right place for every dancer.”