Lisa Collins Vidnovic, founder and director of Metropolitan Ballet Academy and Metropolitan Ballet Company, has since 1976 enjoyed a life in ballet as a professional dancer, ballet mistress, teacher and choreographer. She is known professionally in the dance community and by her students as “Ms. Collins.”
Prior to founding Metropolitan, Artistic Director Lisa Collins Vidnovic danced for 10 years with Pennsylvania Ballet, where she also served as Ballet Mistress. Throughout a professional career spanning over four decades, Vidnovic performed many leading roles in the classical and contemporary repertoire and has worked with some of the world’s preeminent choreographers. Metropolitan students benefit from her wealth of teaching and performance experience, and her long relationships with choreographers, master teachers, costume and lighting specialists, and guest teachers from the international dance community who often participate in the school’s performances and training.
A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Ms. Collins began studying dance at age eight with Margo Crowdus, a disciple of the Cecchetti School. She later trained with Ballet Russe veterans Moscelyne Larkin-Jasinski and Roman Jasinski, Sr., who founded Tulsa Ballet. The Jasinskis were pioneers in bringing classical ballet to the heartland of the United States. Known for their revivals of major works created during the Ballet Russe era, they hosted dance luminaries from around the world, giving Ms. Collins the opportunity at a young age to observe and dance with visiting artists such as Frederic Franklin, Natalia Krasovska, Cynthia Gregory, Natalia Makarova and Ivan Nagy.
While dancing at the National Association of Regional Ballet / Southwest Festival (now Regional Dance America) in 1974, at age 14, Ms. Collins was awarded a full scholarship to American Ballet Theater in New York. At 16 she began her professional dance career with Lyric Opera Ballet in Chicago under the direction of Maria Tallchief. Highlights of her three seasons with Lyric Opera Ballet included performing in Balanchine’s choreography for Orfeo ed Euridice; as a soloist for the world premiere production of Krzysztof Penderecki’s Paradise Lost, with choreography by John Butler; and as a principal in Balanchine’s choreography for the Opera’s 25th anniversary production of Gounod’s Faust. She also danced principal roles in Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie and Donizetti Variations; and worked with Jacques d’Amboise as a principal in his ballet Capriccio Italien, and with John Taras in his Soiree Musicale.
From 1979 to 1989 Ms. Collins danced with Pennsylvania Ballet, working under the direction of founder Barbara Weisberger, master teacher Lupe Serrano, and artistic directors Benjamin Harkarvy and Robert Weiss. Ms. Collins was featured in a diverse repertoire of both classical and modern works including Swan Lake Pas de Trois, Merce Cunningham’s world premiere of the ballet Arcade, Paul Taylor’s Arden Court, ballets by noted choreographers Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Richard Tanner, and Peter Martins, and numerous ballets by George Balanchine. During her last two seasons with the company, Ms. Collins also served as assistant Ballet Mistress.
Ms. Collins taught on the faculty of the School of Pennsylvania Ballet from 1983-1996, and on the faculty at Bryn Mawr College from 1990-2000. She performed with the Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble from 1993-2000, exploring a keen interest in folkloric dance forms, and served as Ballet Mistress for the troupe from 1995-2003.
In 1996, Ms. Collins founded Metropolitan Ballet Academy (MBA) in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and in 2001 established the non-profit Metropolitan Ballet Company (MBC) to provide scholarships, performance training for pre-professional dancers, and outreach programs designed to promote a love and appreciation of dance in the community.
Ms. Collins is equally known for her work as a choreographer. In addition to her full-length productions for children and concert works for Metropolitan’s pre-professional training company, she received a grant from the New York State Culture & Arts “Building Ballet Repertory” program to choreograph for Albany Berkshire Ballet, and has choreographed new works for Raleigh Dance Theatre and Temple Opera Theater. Her work Contrasts was featured on the Concert program at the 2009 Regional Dance America/Northeast festival in Harrisburg, PA.
In June 2010, Ms. Collins was honored to receive an “Imagine Award” from Educating Communities for Parenting for her work with children and families in Philadelphia. In January of 2011, 2013, and 2016 she received the Youth America Grand Prix “Outstanding Teacher Award” in Philadelphia. Ms. Collins was invited to sit on the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts panel in 2013, and in 2015 was honored to accept the “Nonprofit of the Year” award from the Eastern Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Collins is a member of the Rydal Meadowbrook Civic Association Board of Directors and a Special Advisor to the Board for Norristown Educational Theater. She resides in Jenkintown, PA with her husband. They are the proud parents of two lovely, grown daughters.