Lisa Collins Vidnovic began her career at age 14 when she was awarded a full scholarship to study at American Ballet Theater. She danced with the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet and with the Pennsylvania Ballet company for ten years. Today, Vidnovic manifests a passion for the performing arts and teaching as Founder & Director of the Metropolitan Ballet Company, founded 2001. Metropolitan encompasses a pre-professional training Company; a groundbreaking Boys’ Scholarship Training Program; and a standards-based Kinetic Literacy Program in partnership with The School District of Philadelphia. Metropolitan is also a creative launchpad for nationally recognized choreographers whose works are performed by the Company in fully-produced performances.
At Metropolitan, families are proud of their children on stage – boys and girls working together — and students thrive by working with diverse and accomplished adult role models. Vidnovic makes classical dance relevant in a multi-cultural community and is gratified to have built a devoted audience of 10,000 who attend Metropolitan’s concerts. Of note: over 300 boys have received $1 million in tuition-free classical training in the Boys’ Scholarship Program, since its founding 21 years ago. And over 400 K-2 students enjoy an in-classroom Kinetic Literacy experience – advancing core-curriculum standards — in three elementary schools, in partnership with The School District of Philadelphia.
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 brought classical ballet to the heartland of the United States, giving Ms. Collins the opportunity to work with artists such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Fernando Bujones, Cynthia Gregory, Natalia Makarova, Peter Martins, 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 career with Lyric Opera Ballet in Chicago, under the direction of Maria Tallchief, legendary New York City Ballet ballerina and Balanchine muse. Highlights of her three seasons with Lyric Opera Ballet included performing in George Balanchine’s choreography for Orfeo ed Euridice; as a soloist for the world premiere 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; 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, under the direction of founder Barbara Weisberger, master teacher Lupe Serrano, and artistic directors Benjamin Harkarvy and Robert Weiss. Ms. Collins performed corps de ballet, soloist, and principal roles in both classical and modern works including Swan Lake Pas de Trois, Merce Cunningham’s world premiere of Arcade, Paul Taylor’s Arden Court, ballets by noted choreographers Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Richard Tanner, and Peter Martins, and numerous Balanchine works. 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 (1983-1996) and at Bryn Mawr College (1990-2000.)
In 1996, Ms. Collins founded Metropolitan Ballet Academy in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and in 2001 established the non-profit Metropolitan Ballet Company to provide performance experience for pre-professional dancers. In 1999 Ms. Collins initiated a Boys’ Scholarship Program, providing tuition-free ballet classes for boys ages 7 – 18. With over 50 boys dancing at Metropolitan annually, the program is one of – if not the – largest in the country. Metropolitan’s Boys’ Scholarship Program was recognized in three Philadelphia Inquirer articles in 2019.
Ms. Collins initiates and maintains relationships with leading ballet companies and their schools throughout the country and is able to provide information, introductions and advising to her students pursuing professional careers.
In 2011, 2013 and 2016, Ms. Collins received the Youth America Grand Prix Outstanding Teacher Award in Philadelphia. In 2015, she was honored to accept the “Nonprofit of the Year” award from the Eastern Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Collins was invited to sit on the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts panel in 2013, and in 2010, Ms. Collins received the “Imagine Award” from Educating Communities for Parenting for her work with children and families in Philadelphia. Ms. Collins was invited to be a judge for the National Ballet Competition in 2020. She is one of ten recipients of the Philadelphia Arts + Business Council’s 2020 Arts Leadership Award.