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Excelsior School of Dance and Performing Arts (ESD) offers classes in Ballet, Modern, Tap, Hip Hop and Drama. ESD is proud to include the American Ballet Theatre’s (ABT) National Training Curriculum, a breakthrough 8-level program that combines high quality artistic training with the basics of dancer health and child development. The ABT National Training Curriculum consists of a comprehensive set of age-appropriate, outcome-based guidelines to provide the highest quality ballet training of dance to students of all ages and skill levels.

Directors Sonja Staines and Liza Pollok are both ABT Certified Teachers, who have successfully and respectively completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in levels Pre-Primary through Level 5 (comparable to ESD’s Primary through Level 8). Each student receives individual attention, and the syllabus system encourages personal goal setting as students, over the age of 7 years, aim for an annual exam to graduate to the next level.

All students enjoy performing in our highly acclaimed annual theatrical production. Our performances are enjoyed by all; from grandparents to neighbors, and of course mom and dad!

In addition, our program caters to our teens, offering vocational training options, class assisting, and a Teacher Training Program. ESD also hosts the professional touring ballet company, Ballet Excelsior of Houston, and eligible students aim to become part of the Ballet Excelsior Trainee program (BET). The BET program gives the dancers a company experience and provides more performance opportunities. This year BET will perform locally and travel to Project Dance New York City.

We strive to provide students with a wholesome environment where they can work to achieve their personal goals, develop their musicality and artistry skills, while developing confidence, respect for authority and their classmates, and disciplines that will aid them throughout life.

Our studio is located about 2 miles from The Woodlands Mall, yet in a beautiful country setting. Come and give us a visit!

About Us

Excelsior School of Dance and Performing Artsservices The Woodlands, Spring and surrounding areas of Houston, Texas. The studio is situated centrally two miles from The Woodlands Mall, yet in a beautiful country setting. 

ESD is directed by a mother and daughter team, Sonja Staines and Liza Pollok, who relocated from Australia in 1993, bringing with them a love for dance education and a caring about the individual student along with the Sonshine Christian Ballet Syllabus.  Since 1993, ESD has grown immensely, we have built our own building, have an amazing staff of committed, qualified and talented teachers and enjoy around 200 – 300 students each year. 

We also cater to a large portion of the Home School community, often times assisting and providing a ‘social network’ for these students who develop close friendships as they work together.

We love the theatre!  Ms. Sonja, as the students call her, has been producing theatrical performances for the past 30 years, in Australia, Canada and the USA, as well as recently taking her pieces to Bulgaria and China.  Mrs. Liza is much loved as a dancer and an advanced teacher, teaching and leading scores of young women, here and with international mission trips. 

E.S.D. is also the U.S. base for the Sonshine Christian Ballet Syllabus.  Ms. Staines and Mrs. Pollok both are co-writers of the syllabus, examiners, and organize examiners for participating studios.  In addition, they hold an annual S.C.B. Teacher Seminars here in The Woodlands.  The S.C.B. Syllabus is based on the European and Australian technique and provides the traditional building blocks to assist and develop a dancer, therefore provides very sound Teacher Training opportunities.