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About Dance Institute

Dance Institute of The University of Akron is a ballet-based pre-professional program for students ages 7 through high school. Founded in 1967, Dance Institute is nationally recognized for its curriculum, which prepares students for careers in concert dance performance and dance education. 

Directed for 28 years by Gena Carroll and for 14 years by her daughter, Lana Carroll Heylock, Dance Institute established a heralded reputation for training and performance excellence. Mrs. Carroll was recognized with a Beacon Journal Woman of the Year Award in 1973 for her significant contribution to the art form, and Ms. Heylock was the 2003 recipient of the Akron Arts Alive! Outstanding Artist in Dance and a member of the founding steering committee of the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival. Ms. Heylock, who was a soloist with the Jennifer Muller/The Works Dance Company for 14 years prior to leading Dance Institute, is currently on the faculty of Jacksonville University and has taught nationally and internationally throughout her career in dance.

Dance Institute's ballet-based curriculum for children age 7 through high school offers rigorous training in ballet, pointe, jazz, and tap, and its summer intensives also include concentrations in modern, ballroom/character, and hip-hop. Dance Institute’s training emphasizes the artistic development, technical proficiency, and positive dance experience of each student, and the physical, educational and creative value of dance training.

The University of Akron is an institutionally accredited member of the
National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).


The Dance Institute (D.I.) at The University of Akron teaches dance as an art form, champions dance as a life-skill building activity for students of all abilities and interests, and prepares students for careers in concert, commercial, and musical theatre performance as well as dance education. Through expert training and the unique learning opportunities made possible by the many resources found at The University of Akron, D.I. inspires students to reach their full potential in the dance studio and beyond. 


The Dance Institute (D.I.) at The University of Akron will be the leader in dance education in Northeast Ohio while championing the benefits of dance for all learners; uphold the highest standards in technique, deportment, and community engagement; and maintain an environment that is both family friendly and conducive to learning.


  • Dance as a Performing Art
  • Fun, Family, Friendly, & Pre-Professional Class Offerings
  • Degreed Instructors
  • National Acclaimed Guest Teachers
  • Plentiful Performing Opportunities
  • No performance fees
  • No costume fees
  • No Registration fees
  • Safe, Educational Environment
  • Classes In Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Tap, Modern, Hip-Hop, Pilates
  • Something for Everyone: Preschool through Adult

Do you DANCE or do you D.I?