Rexburg dance company aims to make ballet accessible - East Idaho News

Rexburg dance company aims to make ballet accessible

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REXBURG — Ballet may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Rexburg. Two local women want to change that. Kiersten Lewis and Madissen Fujimoto hope their new ballet company, Ballet Etude, will create opportunities for local dancers and make ballet more accessible to the community.

Both women grew up with a passion for dancing.

“I grew up dancing,” Lewis told “Both of my parents were dancers.”

Lewis trained with her parents at The Studio for the Performing Arts in Nevada.

Fujimoto’s love for ballet began at the age of 6. She began training “seriously” in ballet when she was 8.

“I haven’t looked back since,” she told

Fujimoto began teaching dance right out of high school and moved to Rexburg with her family soon after. She continued to teach, on and off, for 15 years.

The women met at The Dance Collaborative, a nonprofit in Idaho Falls, right after Lewis moved to the area seven years ago.

“She (Fujimoto) had been here for quite a few years already,” Lewis remembered. It didn’t take the duo long to realize they shared a passion.

“From the time I moved here, we’ve talked about how it would be great to have more professional-level ballet (company) here in Rexburg,” Lewis said.

Fujimoto agreed. “The nearest company opportunities for highly-trained adult dancers would be in Boise or Utah, so we decided that we need to at least attempt to fill that void.”

They opened Ballet Etude Academy last year and began teaching adult dance classes. They aim to offer an inclusive, welcoming and supportive environment for dancers of all ages, fitness level, gender or ability.

“There is so much talent in our area, and there are not necessarily a lot of opportunities for adult ballet dancers to showcase that talent,” Fujimoto said.

Professional dancers Rachel Manley and Nic Gili train with one of the classes at Ballet Etude Academy. | Mary Boyle,

From there, putting a performance company together was a small hop. Ballet Etude Company was born. They held open auditions in January 2023 and have 12 dancers now, including Fujimoto and Lewis. They will continue holding open auditions each year, Lewis said. The company consists of two professional dancers and some local dancers who “have been training diligently for a long time,” she said.

Although Lewis admits most folks in the area don’t realize the academy and company exist, she has high hopes for expanding the professional-level dancing opportunities.

“I think as people become more familiar with who we are and the fact that we’re here, I think it will grow. I think people will love it,” she said.

“We are really excited to offer this opportunity for local dancers to connect with our community,” Fujimoto echoed.

Ballet Etude is preparing for its premier performance of “Little Red Riding Hood.” The company will present the original story ballet — which Lewis wrote — on May 26 and 27. The show will be at The Romance Theater on Main Street, Rexburg. will post more information about the performance as the date nears.

Mary Boyle,