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With nearly 20 years of teaching instruction and performances with numerous elite programs, Gretchen Patchell has a life that revolves around ballet.

"I knew when I was a kid that I would be a ballet dancer as my profession, so everything I did was (ballet)," Patchell said.

But despite working as an instructor at studios across the country, Patchell has never owned and operated her own studio, until now.

Patchell, who has danced with the New York City Ballet, Dutch National Ballet and former Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, officially opened York Ballet on Sept. 8 at 2997 Cape Horn Road in Windsor Township.

"It's been a long time coming," the Cumberland County native said. "I'm really excited to be able to cultivate my own group of kids (and) can make more of an impact."

Working with her sister and mother at the new studio, Patchell said her teaching style has been shaped by all of the "extraordinary teachers" she had throughout her training. She opts for a more positive approach than some ballet instructors.

"One of my favorite teachers ... I did things for her because I wanted to please her, not because she forced it out of me," she said. "I think you get more bees with honey than vinegar."

Enrollment has been progressing "slowly but surely," Patchell said, pointing out that, with ballet, all it takes is one passionate student and word of mouth to quickly grow. She chose the Red Lion area, she said, because the school system is good in the surrounding area.

"I want to create more of a family environment, where everybody is working together," she said, "and I actually want (my students) to become very good; sometimes you go to places and they just waste your time."

York Ballet offers numerous levels of ballet for children as young as 3 years old and through adulthood.

The studio also offers lyrical and hip-hop dance classes with the possibility of adding Irish step and tap dance classes in the future, Patchell said. Registration can be completed by visiting the studio, calling (717) 417-6105 or through the website at www.yorkballet.com. Registration is currently open.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.

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