• Parent/Student Handbook and Policies


Studio Location:

Poolesville Village Center

19710-E  Fisher Ave.

Poolesville, MD 20837



Artistic Director:

Fran Ichijo




Advisory Board

Adrienne Dellas Thornton


Business Manager

Brooke Palmer


Parent Advisor

Beth Jones


Website:  hopegardenballet.com


Head Instructor:

Frances Ichijo



Mme Frances Ichijo-Head Faculty

Kristen Sahd-Ballet Teacher

Runqiao Du-Guest Ballet Teacher

Claire Jones-Ballet Teacher

Jessica Lindenfelser-Adult Ballet, Ballroom, LaBlast

Lynn Schraeber-Contemporary, Ballet 


Student Teachers/Interns:

Charlotte Vogel

Charlotte Gularson

Aubrey Dorman

Melissa Ohmen

Anna Porch



About  HGBA

Mission Statement

 Hope Garden Ballet Academy (hereafter HGBA) strives to develop ballet students and dancers of the highest artistic and  technical skill as well as of high moral character . Focusing on the Vaganova classical ballet system, but also exposing the students to other styles and types of dance, Hope Garden seeks to encourage development of the well-rounded dancer who can compete successfully in today’s marketplace.

While creating the professional dancer, HGBA program also includes the student who simply wants to study classical ballet without pursuing a career in dance. HGBA believes that Ballet is good for anyone and everyone, and strives to be inclusive, emphasizing the discipline, grace, poise and health gained from correct study of classical ballet. Every student has value and will be guided to become a generous, self-disciplined, good citizen.



Hope Garden Ballet began in 1998 with three students, Miss Fran,  and a dream in a small studio in Healthworks Fitness Center in Poolesville, MD, that measured 25 feet by 30 feet.  As the school grew by word of mouth and Healthworks’ town newsletter, Miss Fran (Mme Ichijo) carefully taught the students based on the Vaganova syllabus, and strove with each student to bring out the best in them. By 2008, the performing troupe, Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre was launched and the Academy student body had grown to about 50 children.  Necessarily, the studio space was doubled with the help of volunteers and professionals alike.  HGBA students have entered international contests, adeptly performed many classical solos and have even been invited to perform on TV.  HGBA moved to its new location in March of 2011. HGBA strives continually to provide the highest caliber of teaching and performing, preparing the dancers for a career in classical ballet as well as a lifetime of joy with dance.


Registration and Admission

Hope Garden Ballet Academy classes are open to all students who wish to train at the studios located in the Poolesville Village Center in Poolesville.  HGBA does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, color, national origin or sexual orientation.  Applications are accepted with or without dance training, but a student is required to take a preliminary placement class, upon which the correct level will be assessed. All Intermediate classes and above require a set audition prior to the fall semester. Class placement is based upon an assessment of the student’s fine and gross motor skills, the curriculum, the specific Vaganova level requirements, a student’s natural talent and their peer levels of social development and age.

To register, all students must complete a registration form, the attached photo release form, release of liability form, and, after reading the policies and rules,  that page must be signed by a parent, and any child over 9, and returned into the registration folder.

All information regarding the tuition for classes and the description of classes can be found on the website. (Hopegardenballet.com) All payments are due before the semester begins and are non transferable and non refundable. Parents may pay by check, cash, or money order, payable to Hope Garden Ballet Academy.  For late payments, a $20 fee will be assessed monthly. There is a $35 charge for all returned or re-deposited checks at the bank. Tuition can also be paid by credit card at the studio, and through PayPal, using major credit cards, as found on the website, with a small handling charge added.  When paying by PayPal, please also submit a hardcopy of the registration form and place it in the registration folder in the lobby or with the receptionist. ALL students must fill in the registration either on line through the website or on hard copy.  This ensures your registration and that we have current contact information for you, your child and which class they are signing up for.

Medical Authorization Form

New this year is a Child's Medical Emergency Authorization Form , to be found at the front desk.  This just gives us or any medical personnel the ability to treat your child in the highly unlikely scenario of the need for an EMT at the studio.  Please fill this out and submit at the front desk.

HGCBT Performance Fee

See the website and registration form for details regarding the Performance Fee, which is payable in a separate check to Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre  (HGCBT hereafter) within one month of  the time of registration.


Sibling Discount for tuition of HGBA

In the case of two students paying tuition from the same family, the student of the lesser amount of tuition may pay 7% less.  This is still a greater discount than the ballet schools in the area.



No refunds or credits are given for absences or missed classes.  Dance students are urged to make up any missed classes in any class of the same level or below, and must notify the instructor or director by e-mail prior to taking it. Make ups are not carried over from one semester to the next.  There are no refunds if a child withdraws or is ill.

HGBA requests all parents to notify the director by note, e-mail or telephone when a class has to be missed for a family reason, religious holiday, educational reason, or illness. Regular attendance is essential to maintain and /or advance in your level.  If an injury occurs, students should still observe the lesson to gain knowledge and not fall behind in the concepts or choreography being taught.  In order for an absence to be considered excused, the Artistic Director  must be notified in advance of the absence, by phone, note or e-mail.  Only 5 excused absences are allowed per semester, and excessive absenteeism will result in the student being  excluded from the Fall or Spring show. For Intermediate and above, any outside performances, master classes, contests, or auditions require permission from the director, and if they require many classes to be missed, then participation in the end of semester performance will necessarily be limited or will result in your replacement in choreography.

Intermediate and advanced students are encouraged to take a minimum of five weeks  summer intensives or classes either at HGBA or at an approved summer session to improve upon technique and artistry and  in order to be eligible for the show, unless otherwise recommended by the artistic director.



It is rude and disrespectful to be late, and part of dance training is to learn to be on time, and time management. In a dance company, time is money.  If class has begun, the student should report to the receptionist, and stand visibly by the door until asked to join the class  by the instructor. Do not enter the classroom when music is being played, and enter carefully.  If a student is more than ten ( 10)  minutes late, he/she may be asked to sit and observe class.



Questions, concerns and compliments alike can be communicated mainly through e-mail, and an accessible e-mail address must be provided by the parents to facilitate this. The receptionist will also take care of your questions and concerns.  Mme Ichijo’s e-mail is:      HGBallet@aol.com   Questions for Mme Ichijo can not be taken during class times, unless she is not the one teaching class. Conferences may be scheduled via e-mail or phone as needed, and are encouraged for the upper level students (Intermediate and up)  in the spring as an evaluation after exams. When  necessary, please text or call Mme Ichijo’s cell/office phone : 301-466-1906 especially in the case of an unforeseen absence, or to leave a message to discuss any issues you may have.  It is the responsibility of the parents to read all emails to get information regarding rehearsals, cast changes, schedule changes, and any other academy situations that may arise from time to time.


Dress Code

As spelled out in the website, certain color leotards are designated per class, as are the proper tights and shoes. Regarding warm ups or warmers, only tight fitting pink, black, or white leg warmers and shrugs are allowed.  No baggy clothes or shorts in class, but the final discretion is up to the teacher. Girls’ hair should be back off the face and neck in a neat bun. It is inappropriate for the student to enter or leave the facility in ballet attire, and girls are encouraged to wear a simple skirt or shorts over their ballet clothes for modesty if they can not fully change after class. If the body has been worked hard , a warm up cover is strongly suggested in cool weather. Dancers should always wear strong supportive shoes to protect their feet and arches when walking around in regular life.  Flip-flops are not a dancer's friend. LABEL ALL CLOTHING and BALLET SHOES and TIGHTS.

Contemporary Dance dress code for girls is black leggings worn over any color camisole, and bare feet unless specified by the teacher otherwise.

Private Lessons

At Hope Garden Ballet Academy we have a unique policy on private lessons. Mme Ichijo, of course, as a master teacher, is available for private lessons for the serious student, at $100 and hour. However, HGBA wants to nurture the talent of blossoming teachers, as well as offer an opportunity for some of the younger students to benefit from private lessons, where exact execution of steps and port de bras can be studied one-on-one. This is an economical solution as well for parents. Most schools do not do this, but it is a priviledge for the older students to be able to teach, and they have good training from Mme Ichijo to be able to do this.  This pattern has been very successful so far. Teachers must be punctual, dress professionally, teach according to instruction from Mme Ichijo, and teach the principles of respect and kindness, hallmark of HGBA.  ALL scheduled lessons must be coordinated through Mme Ichijo, including changes of schedule or teacher, as there are liability issues as well as studio time issues, and equanimity among all the young teachers. A follow up email or text is requested to insure that the information was heard correctly, regarding the lesson or changeMme Ichijo has the right to change any lesson time or teacher at any time, based on the schedule, school policies or behavior.


Locker Rooms

All Intermediate level and above students may have a locker.  The locker room is a public area for all the ballet students.  Therefore, there is to be no loitering in the bathroom, no eating, nor gossiping or any loud or mean behavior.  Parents will be informed if any of this occurs, and measures will have to be taken. Younger students have cubbies (not reserved) in the hallway for their clothes on a day by day basis.


Waiting Areas

The lounging areas are for eating, doing homework, and waiting/stretching before class.  Students must be courteous of others and relatively quiet. Parents are asked to not hover outside the studio doors so as to not cause congestion.  They may view through the windows. Please clean up and report any food or drink spills. No sodas or gum are allowed on the premises at any time, as they are just messy!


Notices/Bulletin Board/Folders

Information, hard copies of forms, and other communications will be found in your folders at the reception desk.  Please check these at least weekly or more frequently.  You may also leave notes and checks in Mme Ichijo’s folder or for Board members of  HGCBT  or for others with whom you wish to communicate. There are also two bulletin boards in the lobby (one for HGBA and one for HGCBT) with occasional postings of news, successes, and information


Teachers and Conferences

Parents should communicate with the Artistic Director ideally through e-mail, telephone and in the folder. While it is pleasant, of course, to chat and greet each other,  thoughtful responses to your child’s progress or behavior is best addressed in a conference, or a phone call when there is time to properly address the issue.  Instructors can not deal effectively with questions well when they are about to start class or between classes, so feel free to set up an appointment.  Mme Ichijo, as Artistic Director, makes all final decisions on placement, with the teachers’ input, therefore do not suddenly approach the teachers about your child’s placement or progress.  Conferences are encouraged, and for Intermediate C students and above, they are required.


Birthday Parties

HGBA can host birthday parties for children 4-8 years old.  These are ballet oriented, fun, and educational.  Please contact the Mme Ichijo for details.  They can be held on Saturday afternoons or on Sunday as the schedule permits with advance notice.  


 Studio Rental

All matriculated HGBA students may stretch and practice ballet under adult approved supervision at HGBA with prior permission from the Artistic Director. Any teachers are required to pay a rental fee of $40 per hour for any use of the studios beyond the current schedule , and a written contract must be signed and paid for in advance, as this is a liability issue, and also requires the permission of the Artistic Director.

Lost & found

Please label all your child’s clothing, leotards, shoes and tights.  Inevitably, students leave pieces here and there and these are placed in the lost and found box at the end of the back hallway near the cubbies. As well, in the back hall, there is an exchange box , where you can leave your child’s outgrown slippers, and ballet clothes, and freely pick up ones that others have left, saving some money!


Arriving and departing

Students may be dropped off  at the front entrance of HGBA,  but please do not linger  in the handicapped space as other students are  coming and going as well. Do not park in front of the Beer and Wine store for long periods. Please use caution in the parking lot. Students should cover their ballet attire with a skirt or shorts and not walk around outside in ballet attire as it is inappropriate and unprofessional. Please advise caution to your children about the danger of car traffic in the parking lot. Ballet shoes should never be worn outdoors as it ruins them and tracks dirt into the studio as well. All HGBA students below Intermediate MUST ask permission of his or her teacher or the receptionist before he/she leaves the school for any reason, even going to Subway, as we are responsible for the children once they have come to HGBA for classes.



As stated in the website, HGBA follows the Montgomery county weather advisory and closings.  Please see the website for details.  www.hopegardenballet.com


Relationship with HGCBT

Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre is a non-profit performing troupe, a separate entity from HGBA, that provides opportunities to HGBA students and others to be on stage in high quality professional productions of classical works and also new productions and contemporary works by local choreographers. Performing is the essence of ballet, moving the hearts of the audience, and giving meaning to the daily hard work of classical ballet.  While no one is required to perform in the twice yearly shows, it is considered a privilege to be a part of it, and all of the children enjoy it and benefit from it.  The performance fee covers the cost of costumes, hall rental, and the DVD, while fundraising efforts cover the rest.  Performing gives the children a lifetime of memories, confidence, poise, and an understanding of what teamwork it takes to put on a production of this caliber. HGCBT rehearsals take place in the studios of HGBA, and your children are the stars! Ballet I has its winter recital in the studios of HGBA, and the rest of the students are able to participate in the Fall and Spring shows on the PHS stage or other venues.

Beginning in Spring 2015, all Int/Adv students in and out of HGBA, must audition to participate in the Spring Show. The HGBA exams serve as that audition in-house.  The parents and students who succeed in the audition must sign a contract in order to be in the show, agreeing to attend all rehearsals barring illness, funerals, weddings, acts of God, SAT's and auditions. Permission must still be given for these absences. If there are too many absences, or injuries, the part will be given to another dancer.  In addition, if the student displays a negative, lazy, or disrespectful attitude, is late, or gains unexpected weight, they will be subject to dismissal and may be asked to not participate in the show.

See separate Policy Handbook for HGCBT.


On Line and Internet Policy

Any reference by text messaging or on the internet (i.e. MySpace, Facebook, blogging, etc.) to Hope Garden Ballet Academy’s name or initials, its artistic or administrative staff or fellow students in a derogatory manner could be cause for suspension or expulsion from the school or HGCBT.  Photos related to or produced  from HGBA or HGCBT may not be posted on the internet without prior approval from the Artistic Director.


Behavior at HGBA

All students and parents will be relatively quiet in the hall ways to respect others, and  allow others to prepare for class, study,  or do homework. NOTE No cell phones are allowed to be used in the studio at any time, unless for music or taping. There is a hanger for the cell phones to place them safely. The class room is  a place to work, improve technique and focus on ballet. Cell phones are a supreme distraction. There will be no rough-housing or inappropriate behavior in the hallways or locker rooms.  The receptionist has full authority to maintain order and discipline. The hallway is for stretching, eating in the designated area, and studying. Continual misbehavior and disrespect by either parents or students will be grounds for dismissal from the academy. Parents in general, as in most professional studios, are not allowed in the classrom unless invited in. The observation windows are often covered, as it is distracting to the students to see people at the window. Parents, of course, can wait in the lobby waiting area.


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The following is to be read and signed by parents and students alike:

HGBA  Rules 

Be on time.
Hair neatly done.
No chewing gum in class.

Park cell phone in studio,on door hanger.

No gossip in the dressing room.
No food in the locker/dressing room.
Respect your teachers, guests, and elder dancers.
Read and know all the above classroom rules and policies.
Be polite to others , and always speak nicely about others.
No loitering in the dressing room; change and come to class.
Only water bottles are allowed in the studio, no cups, nor food.
Please stretch outside the studios, until right before your class time.
Show respect for the property of others, leave bags and lunches alone.
Stealing is grounds for dismissal.
Bullies, tirades, nor jealousy will be tolerated.
Respect all HGBA staff, and students, and families.
Parents and siblings wait in the lobby.
Leotards and tights clean and neat.

No food in any of the studios.

Keep studio and locker rooms clean.

Park cell phones on door hanger, turned off
Shoes clean and neat.

Suspension and Termination

There is a strict policy of no smoking, illegal drug use, or alcohol use at any time by HGBA students.  Any student with these infractions will be immediately suspended from the Academy.

Fran Ichijo, the Artistic Director of both HGBA and HGCBT, may dismiss any family, parent or student  from the school or company for breaking the rules, or not abiding by the policies, for being uncooperative, disruptive, rude, destructive, or for endangering the health, safety and welfare of her/himself or others. 

 Parent Signature___________________________________________________Date________

Student Signature__________________________________________________Date________

After reading the entire handbook, please sign this hard copy affirming that you have read and do agree to abide by the rules and policies therein; please sign releases below,  and place  in the registration folder. Read the policies on line as a reference.

Waiver and Release 

I, ____________________­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_______________­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­__________ [Fill in the participant’s name here even if the participant is under 18 years old.  If so, the parent or legal guardian will complete the signature block] (“I” and its derivatives), have read, understand and hereby freely enter into this Waiver and Release (“Waiver”) effective on the earlier of the date signed below or the first date I used Hope Garden ’s (defined below) facilities or equipment.

I have made reasonable and prudent efforts to determine my ability to engage in ballet and related activities.  I understand the risk of and dangers to death, bodily injury and property damage arising from ballet instruction and performances that might occur at any time including without limitation lessons, performances, summer sessions and trips.

Knowing said dangers and other related risks, I hereby assume and accept these dangers and risks from any and all activities at or with Hope Garden Ballet LLC and its owners, officers, directors, managers, employees, instructors, assistants, contractors, associates, lessors, lessees, landlords, tenants, licensors, licensees and invitees (“Hope Garden”).  I hereby waive and fully release Hope Garden from any and all liability and responsibility with respect thereto, including without limitation from my right to sue Hope Garden, rights that I did not know or suspect at the time of executing this Waiver and any other protection afforded by law.

Furthermore, I will indemnify, defend and hold Hope Garden harmless from any and all claims and liability arising from my participating in such activities at or with Hope Garden, including without limitation court costs and reasonable attorney fees.  I understand that it is my responsibility, and not Hope Garden’s, to obtain full and complete insurance coverage for my activities at or with Hope Garden.


Sign Name: ____________________­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_______________­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­__________

[If the participant is under 18 years old, the parent or legal guardian signs here]

Print Name: ____________________­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_______________­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­__________

[If the participant is under 18 years old, fill in the parent’s or legal guardian’s name here]

Date: ____________________­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_______________­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­__________


Photography Permission Form

I, parent or guardian of __________________________________ do hereby give permission for my child to be photographed, video taped and be portrayed  as part of the professional DVD that is part of the activities of Hope Garden Ballet Academy and the recital of Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre. I give permission for my child to be photographed in class and activities related to HGBA and HGCBT performances and activities, and for the resulting photos to be used in promotional and educational materials. 

Signature of parent: