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Down to a Fine Art

The Dallas Conservatory, founded by Jacqueline Porter, is changing lives of all ages through dance and the arts.

Dancer and artist Jacqueline Porter moved from New York to Dallas in 2007 without knowing a soul. Today, her creation, The Dallas Conservatory, is the area’s most prestigious performing arts school on three campuses, the first of which is on Inwood Road.

“It’s really something to celebrate,” says the conservatory’s founding artistic and executive director. “For a few years, we’ve been one of the largest private performing arts schools, not just in Dallas, but in the world. So many lives have been changed ... for students, parents, and employees. So many dreams have been born and come true.”

The Frisco campus boasts students from around the globe and teachers from Europe, Canada, and South America. TDC’s Castle Hills/Lewisville campus, which opened in 2022, is also booming, “populated by happy families and two large competitive teams,” Porter says. TDC hosts 2,500 students, including almost 1,000 “drop-in” adults annually, with 90 employees. Top dance professionals, like George Birkadze and Ashley Ellis, have relocated to Dallas to teach at TDC. “And to think, it all started above City Cafe on Lovers Lane in a tiny studio,” says Porter.

Much of TDC’s success is rooted in its diverse offerings—and the quality of each class in all styles of dance: ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, modern, ballroom, break dancing, Broadway, and hip-hop.

“We’re strong in acrobatics and fitness at all campuses, with classes including Broadway Fit, Ballet Barre, Pilates, and Yoga. We offer private piano in Frisco, plus singing and acting classes with performance opportunities at all campuses.”

TDC alumni dot the landscape. Sixteen alums are at top companies including Pacific Northwest, Houston, Washington, Colorado, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati ballet companies, as well as modern companies Parsons, Mark Morris, and Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal. One of TDC’s top dancers, Rachel Rohrich, danced for three years professionally at The Washington Ballet, then recently retired at 22 to pursue a career in medicine like her parents, a pair of Dallas physicians.

TDC performances happen on a regular basis. Dancers are scheduled to present excerpts from The Nutcracker on December 3 at NorthPark for a Children’s Health fundraiser. They’re also scheduled to present Swan Lake next spring in the Arts District.

“I love creating dancers and opportunities for as many dancers and dance educators as I can,” says Porter. “I’d love all the guys out there who’d like to try a class to know that we have lots of boys and men studying at TDC,” she says. “We have over a dozen male professional dancers on faculty who are amazing role models.”

But her vision doesn’t end there. “Everyone is invited to study with us, no matter your level,” she says. “Dance can change your life. After my professional dance career, I wanted to make a difference somewhere—Dallas has been a dream for a dance entrepreneur.”

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