Founded in 1981, Bainbridge Dance Center is dedicated to providing quality dance education with a commitment to excellence, integrity and community. We provide students with a high level of professional technical training as well as the development of a healthy sense of self-esteem, a joy for learning, a respect for others, and a broad basis for a lifetime of art appreciation and participation.
BDC was founded in 1981 by Elizabeth Olsen and occupied the ground floor of an old house in a grove of giant horse chestnut trees on what was then otherwise open land, just up from the ferry terminal on Ferncliff Avenue. Susan Thompson, after dancing professionally in Boston and New York City, and managing Southwest Ballet, moved to Bainbridge Island with her family in the summer of 1986 and began teaching at the studio. When Elizabeth offered to sell her dance studio to Susan, the new islander leapt at the opportunity and became artistic director in 1990.
Under Susan's leadership, and with an influx of families moving to the Island, BDC flourished. The studio attracted talented faculty and a growing number of students, and soon the space on Ferncliff became too small to meet BDC's needs. Susan and her husband Hoyt Corbett then took the ambitious step to purchase land and build Bainbridge Dance Center a permanent home. Through the support of a loan from American Marine Bank, they constructed the two-studio building which BDC has occupied ever since.
In 1992 classes began at 844 Madison Avenue. Susan continued to recruit excellent faculty, and Bainbridge Dance Center continued to deepen its roots in the community and to be a locus for inspiration, creativity and quality training. BryAnn Bingham began working and teaching at BDC in 1996, becoming Associate Director in 1997. Susan and BryAnn became great friends and worked together in many aspects of the business.
In 2008, Susan was diagnosed with cancer and when she passed away in 2012, BryAnn Bingham became Director. BryAnn and the faculty carried on Bainbridge Dance Center's tradition as a place for excellent instruction, a place filled with compassion, devoted to empowering young adults to be the artists, creators, and people they want to be.
Christiana Axelsen, stepped in as Director in 2017. In one of life's strange full circle circumstances, Christiana is a former BDC student. She grew up attending both the old studio on Ferncliff, sporting her pale blue Music & Dance leotard at the annual performances when they were at Bainbridge High School, and then the new studio on Madison where she was in the original workshop where Susan choreographed her iconic work "Flight." Christiana was a faculty member at BDC from 2003 to 2008 when she moved to New York to continue her professional dance career. She returned to BDC in 2017 excited to empower and inspire the next generation of BDC dancers.