Benson Academy of Dance - Marion Ballet Theatre

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"Why Walk When You Can Dance!"

Discover the joy of Benson Academy of Dance. The studio is regarded as the premiere dance school in Ocala, FL, and all of Marion County. Enjoy a convenient location, beautiful facilities including 5500 square feet of studio space with a comfortable lobby and lockers for your dancer, as well as the comfort of knowing you have discovered a place that will bring you lifelong support! Our mission is to provide a quality dance education including a solid technical foundation, a happy and loving environment, and a holistic experience throughout the developmental process of the individual through dance. At our dance school, you will gain new skills, make lifelong friends, engage in a nurturing environment, and have opportunities to perform in fantastical productions in Marion County’s vibrant art community. We offer dance classes in a wide variety of styles, including tiny tot classes, Kinder dance, Classical Ballet and Pointe, Contemporary, Modern, Jazz, Tap, Musical Theater, Dance Fusion, Hip Hop, Acrobatics, and Senior Citizen Movement Courses. Our programming includes ages ranging from 2 through Senior citizen and welcomes beginner through professional level students. In addition, Benson Academy students have the opportunity to audition for our resident performing dance company, the beloved Marion Ballet Theatre (MBT). MBT is a non-profit community service performing organization that produces several large-scale productions and supports many special populations and local events throughout the year. Marion Ballet Theatre is proud to be the resident dance company of the Ocala Civic Theatre stage. For more information, contact our Dance Company today.

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About Benson Academy of Dance

Benson Academy of Dance has been serving Marion County for more than 40 years. Based in Ocala, Florida, we provide high-quality dance instruction and present a full season of performances in collaboration with our resident non-profit performing dance company, Marion Ballet Theatre (MBT). MBT programs are funded through grants, Marion Cultural Alliance and our vibrant local art community and volunteers.

Our owner and artistic director, Nicole Benson, has been involved with the local dance community since she could crawl. Her grandmother founded Benson Academy of Dance in 1979, and her mother was the first teacher at the school. Nicole has had the opportunity to perform and teach with many acclaimed educators and artists throughout the east coast. She also serves as the appointed artistic director of Marion Ballet Theatre and is a professor of dance at the College of Central Florida. Nicole is proud to continue the family legacy by providing professional training and performances for the school's students and the larger community.

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We'd love to hear of your great experience with us by sharing your review of Benson Academy of Dance (MBT), with everyone by clicking on the Google icon below: 

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Lynda Pasteur

Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Tap
Benson Dance Academy and Marion Ballet Theatre is perfect for any dancer looking for quality, professional dance instruction and performance opportunities
Yes I would recommend
As both a former student and guest teacher at Benson Academy of Dance, my experience has been absolutely wonderful. Growing up, the studio was truly my second home. I took classes at least 5 times a week and danced with the company at the Ocala Civic Theatre, having the opportunity to perform full-length classical ballets such as Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Giselle, and The Stone Flower. I even got the chance to play the role of Clara in the company's annual production of The Nutcracker, which is still to this day one of my fondest dance memories. Ms. Nikki was actually my very first dance teacher when I was just 3 years old, and she instilled a passion for dance in me that carried me not only through high school and college, but also into my adult life. My training at Benson Dance Academy served as a foundation for me to go on to dance as a "SunDoll" on the dance team at the University of South Florida, to serve as the Director of Dance at West Port High School's Marion County Center for the Arts, and to perform as a guest artist with Dance Alive National Ballet in Gainesville. And today, I still love taking adult dance classes as often as I can! Thank you, Ms. Nikki, for helping to shape me into the woman I am today.

Olivia Hensel

Tumbling, Pointe, Ballet, Dance Fusion
Benson Academy of Dance and Marion Ballet Theatre have given me opportunities that I would have never deemed possible. I have been able to perform with numerous guest artists and take classes with them which have been integral in my own dance experience. Marion Ballet Theatre and Benson Academy of dance truly offer a pre-professional atmosphere and training. This school and the ballet company have enabled me to pursue dance past Ocala and beyond.
Yes I would recommend

Philip Ancheta

I have been a guest artist for 7 years.
Marion Ballet Theatre offers professional training and performing experience for the students at Benson Academy of Dance and is a cultural treasure to Marion County.
Yes I would recommend
As a guest artist of MBT, I have had the pleasure of working closely with the students of Benson Academy of Dance. I have personally seen the growth that both of these programs can and have had on their participants. The performers learn commitment, personal sacrifice, creative problem solving, stress management, team work, personal accountability, and a myriad of other life skills that can and will apply well into their adulthoods. The dancers have a professional work ethic and are joy to work and perform with.

Angelique Ferdinand

Intro to ballet class at CF
I liked how physically intense the classes were and how I got challenged to do better with each class.
Yes I would recommend
The dance instructor was amazing. She was patient but also firm in her approach. She taught be the correct way to use my body and keep it from self harm. The classes were fun and engaging.

Hailey Morgan

Tumbling, Fusion, Ballet, Pointe, and Modern
I liked how the classes were challenging and helped me become better everyday. The classes prepared me for the performances that we had in December and April, and then our recitals in June. My favorite thing about the classes was that my teacher was able to make them fun and challenging at the same time. The performance opportunity at this school was the best. I am so happy that I was able to perform with everyone their. Performing has opened me up and helped me become more confident. This studio gives each student a place to call home.
Yes I would recommend
I would recommend Benson Academy because it has prepared me for many challenges in my life. I danced at this studio since I was three until I graduated high school. I would highly recommend it to others because it is by far the best place in Ocala to learn Classical ballet training. This studio has helped me, even after I graduated. Currently, I go to the University of Central Florida and I am advancing my dance career as a part of the dance minor. I never would have made it through the auditions if I hadn't gone to Benson Academy. The studio not only prepares you to dance through auditions, but it also helps you mentally prepare since we have our own auditions during August and January for our performances. This studio has also helped me become a dance teacher for pre-schoolers in the Orlando areas. I have never been more grateful to be a part of something so special. I would recommend having your children coming to this studio because it is definitely the best place in Ocala to go if you want a good dance education, BUT everyone is truly treated like family.

Lotte Hellebuyck

Intro to ballet
I really liked how Nicole adapted aspects off the class to what would most benefit my training as a crossfit athlete.
Yes I would recommend
I met Nicole a few years ago as I had signed up for a ballet class at the college of central Florida. I absolutely loved the class and felt it was such valuable addition to my competitive crossfit training. Nicole is very knowledgeable at what she does and made me feel a valued member of her classes. Even though I am nowhere near a competitive dancer, Nicole helped me to get most of the ballet classes in a way that would benefit my training and would adapt movements when needed. I am a certified crossfit coach and have had the pleasure to work with some of miss Benson?s students to cross train them and help them get stronger. We now have been friends for the past years. Nicole has the kindest personality and puts so much love and care in her academy. I am so glad I still get to see her dancers grow as athletes. I love the atmosphere and hope to be able to see one of their performances soon!

Anna Sofia Barckhausen

Ballet, Tap, Modern, Fusion, Tumbling
The classical ballet instruction at Benson Academy is magnificent. This became apparent to us when our daughter participated in classes and intensives at other institutions and was able to stand out among the other participants.
Yes I would recommend
One of the best experiences that Benson Academy of Dance and The Marion Ballet Theatre has offered to our family has been the incredible productions of major classical ballets at the Ocala Civic Theater. I don't believe that there is another school in the area that gives its students the opportunity to perform complete works of the classical repertoire in an actual theater setting and with hired professional male dancers. These performances make our children learn incredible time management skills, discipline and endurance. It also gives them a chance to learn to partner with the professional dancers that are hired to teach and participate in the shows. Because of these large ballet productions, not only do the dancers become very close, their families get involved too. We all participate in bringing these shows to life with our help in costuming, prop building and running the backstage. It is a wonderful experience to be able to share all this with your children and with fellow families; so much so, that I sometimes meet people that were involved with the studio in the past, when their children were young, and they always laugh and have memories to share from when they had to make it snow or be in charge of the dry ice or drop the curtain. My family will forever cherish the wonderful times we all spent together with the dance families of Benson Academy and the Marion Ballet Theatre.

Janet Buehre

Affiliate of MBT and the theatrical ballet opportunity
Yes I would recommend
We have watched our daughter flourish in her dance skills since she has started here. The opportunity the kids get to train in a positive and supportive environment while working on many dance technique is great. She loves the affiliation with Marion Ballet Theate, where it provides yet another Amazing opportunity of theatrical dance and ballet. There is a class for everyone offered here and would highly recommend to the very beginner or the serious ballet student.

Hailee Rodriguez

Ballet/Pointe, Modern, Jazz, Tap
One of the only dance studios in Ocala that provides classical ballet training and performance opportunities.
Yes I would recommend
I began dancing at Benson Academy of dance at the age of 5. I started with Ballet and tap and ended up staying until I moved from Jacksonville at the age of 12. Thanks to Ms. Nikki?s superior training and my work ethic installed into me during my years dancing nutcracker and rehearsing with Marion Ballet Theatre I am now on full scholarship as a trainee at Orlando Ballet. I have also had the opportunity to receive scholarships to various summer Ballet programs including Ballet Austin, Harid Conservatory, and Miami City Ballet. This school develops hard working adults and gives kids the oppurtunity to try new things. I highly recommend trying at least one class, because you never know if it will lead to a new lifestyle.

Hailee Rodriguez

Ballet, modern, and tap
The attention to detail in class and the amount of Ballet techniques is unlike any other school in Ocala. The nutcracker and other performances bring joy to the community and help create dancers.

Jessica Gilligan

My daughter takes all that is available for her level. Ballet/Pointe, Fusion, Acro, Intensives, Special guest, MBT Performance
The ONLY place in Ocala to get Classically trained Ballet. IMHO. We love that our daughter can be involved with Professional Local shows at the Ocala Civic Theatre.
Yes I would recommend
This is a pre-professional environment for those with a serious interest in ballet. If that is not the intensity that you are looking for that is OK too there is something here for everyone!

Dawn Winters

Ballet and Modern
Yes I would recommend
Benson Academy of Dance has been a part of my children?s lives for six years. Unlike many children, my daughters started to dance a little later in life. The staff and children at Benson Academy of Dance took my children under their wings and helped guide them into the beautiful ballerinas they are today.

Last year one of my daughters graduated from Benson Academy of Dance and is now at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida studying dance as her future career and forever passion. I applaud the staff at Benson Academy of dance for the level of excellence they put towards teaching the art of dance. And I am forever grateful for Nicole Benson believing in my children and helping them reach their full potential in the wonderful world of dance.

Cindy Leppala

My daughter attended all the classes over the many years she danced at Benson?s Academy of Dance.
There were several aspects of this tulip that we loved. I loved the expert guidance and attention to technique that was presented in lessons. Our entire family enjoyed being a part of the exciting production process. From helping with costumes to rehearsals for dancers and working backstage during productions. Dance at Benson Academy of Dance is a family affair and a really warm, fascinating and creative outlet for our entire family.
Yes I would recommend
We spent many hours at Benson?s Academy of Dance. The discipline, time management skills and comradeship were as important as the refined instruction and opportunities for performances. Our daughter love for dance was encouraged and through this studio she was able to develop and ex Lore her passion and made many lifelong friends as well. I would highly recommend this studio over all others.

Jessica Stroh

Classical Ballet/Pointe, Modern/Contemporary, Jazz, & Tap
At Benson's and Marion Ballet Theater I loved how much joy I found in class and on stage. It provided me with a great technical dance foundation. There were also a multitude of performance opportunities, in both classical and contemporary styles of dance, that prepared me for college and the professional dance world.
Yes I would recommend
I would absolutely recommend Benson Academy. It was my second home growing up. I lived at this studio from the ages of 7-17 training, learning, and laughing with teachers and friends. I now dance and choreograph in the professional dance world and I owe a lot of my passion and dedication for dance to this community. Nicole Benson, the owner and Artistic Director, is a passionate and creative leader who encouraged and inspired me, in the studio and out. I am grateful to her and the school for nurturing my passion and my dreams.

Mary Beth Mutarelli

My adult daughter was a student in the school, and a company performer, for more than 8 years.
What a fabulous opportunity to perform in full- length, professional productions at the Civic Theatre! She received solid foundational training that allowed my daughter to earn her MFA in Dance.
Yes I would recommend
Grateful to this school and company for everything given to my daughter!! Fantastic opportunities abound!!!



Thank you for your interest. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

(352) 629-6155
(352) 843-4765 (After Hours)


Hours of Operation
Tuesday - Friday,
4:00 PM - 7:30 PM
11:00 AM - 6:00 PM

1713 SW 17th Street,
Ocala, FL 34471

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Service Area
Central Florida