Bluegrass Youth Ballet Is All About the Students

Adalhi Aranda Corn is not your typical dance mom. She’s the mother of a dancer, 9-year-old Adalhi, and a 4-year-old son, Mariano, who is not the least bit interested in dance.

Corn, a professional dancer in Mexico and the U.S., is also the founder of Bluegrass Youth Ballet, a non-competitive dance and music studio, and cultural center in Lexington.

You won’t find the screaming instructors, crying kids and overbearing moms of reality TV at Bluegrass Youth Ballet.

Instead, you’ll find kind and caring instructors, happy and creative kids, and cooperative parents who help out with everything from marketing and fundraising to costumes and props.

That’s exactly what Corn envisioned when she first opened BYB nine years ago. Corn, who began dancing at age 12 in her native Mexico, first came to the U.S. to work as a professional dancer in 1994 in Indiana.

She moved to Lexington in 1999, working with the Lexington Ballet and the Kentucky Ballet Theatre. She married her husband, Duane Corn, a classical guitarist in 1997.

Adalhi opened BYB with 45 students in 2003, the same year her daughter was born. “It was the year of creation,” she said.

“My vision was to create a very cultural, educational and positive dance school,” she said.

With nearly 300 students today, BYB offers high quality instruction for students interested in professional careers but also serves those who just love dance.

“We have a place where children can devote their life to dance, and we have children who want a regular childhood with plenty of family and school time,” Corn said. “We offer the best training regardless of ability or the dancer’s ambition. Students can go at their own pace.”

It is this family friendly attitude that drew Lisa Blackadar and her 13-year-old daughter, Grace Byars, to the program.

“I like the quality of the instruction,” Blackadar said. “The instructors are kind, they have a sense of humor, and they never forget that they are teaching young kids. It’s the opposite of what you see in reality shows.”

The sign on the BGYB’s door reads “CulturARTE – Where Culture, Art and Community Meet” and it is a good definition of Corn’s goal.

The center houses three dance studios, two music rooms, a kitchen and a playroom for siblings of the students.

Classes are offered in Baby Ballet, Creative Movement for preschoolers, pre-ballet, ballet and modern dance as well as Suzuki classical guitar and violin, piano, voice and even TaeKwonDo in Spanish.

BGYB is a multi-cultural program. While approximately half of the 250-300 students are white, the remaining half come from as many as 30 different countries. Many of the students attend the Maxwell and Liberty Elementary Schools’ Spanish Immersion Programs.

Instead of competitions and recitals, BGYB performs three shows each year. This year’s schedule includes “The Day of the Dead” in November, a condensed version of “The Nutcracker” in December, and a brand new production of “The Little Mermaid” in the spring.

Unlike some studios where professional dancers perform the shows, BGYB uses its own students in its shows – up to 100 per show, although dancers are not required to perform.

Again, it’s all about what’s right for each child.

“We’re not a competition school,” Corn said. “Competition in ballet should be with yourself, not with other dancers. this is my vision for the school, and I wish I had a place like when I grew up.”

The non-proft BGYB offers tuition assistance to students who need it at their studio at 1595 Mercer Road. Info: or 271-4472.