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“I can TOTALLY do this!” said Annie Joslin in 2004, fresh out of college and poised to purchase the American Ballet Academy business here in Salem.

Her parents were probably accustomed to hearing her say that.

Growing up in Salem, Annie started ballet lessons at age five, and danced and studied her way into a competitive dance scholarship at Texas Christian University.

She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a double major in ballet and business management.

Annie teaching balletAfter graduating from college, Annie was in Salem when she learned of an opportunity to purchase the dance studio she’d grown up in. It was “a chance of a lifetime,” Annie said.

Her longtime instructor had passed away, and in the interim, enrollment had dropped; the studio only had 35 students when Annie took over.

As the owner of American Ballet Academy, her goal is to help each student reach their personal potential, while also having a positive experience along the way.

Another goal, which she learned from her parents, is to be a visible, productive member of the community.

One way to do that was staging a holiday performance of the Nutcracker at Chemeketa Community College, and dedicating the profits ($2,800) to Salem Hospital’s pediatric department.

“My mother sewed many of the costumes and my father (Salem physician Donald Orwick) was a large part of the stage crew,” she said. “I love children,” Annie continued, when asked about her decision to make the hospital foundation her charity of choice. “Every child needs to be healthy, to thrive and learn. And the Salem Hospital Foundation is already doing so much, that I wanted to keep my donations at work locally.”

Last year, nearly all 250 of her students performed in the holiday presentations of The Children’s Nutcracker (which moved to the Elsinore Theatre in 2008, as it had outgrown Chemeketa’s auditorium), and American Ballet Academy donated $13,000 to the hospital’s pediatric department.

Since the fi rst Nutcracker performance in 2004, Annie has given $67,000 to the Salem Hospital Foundation. Some of the ways Annie and her students have helped children in our community with their gifts to the hospital foundation include providing funding for emergency resuscitation equipment, digital thermometers, and cuddly stuffed animals offering reassurance to anxious kids at the hospital.

“We started really, really small … Chemeketa practically donated the space to us,” Annie said. “I am so amazed at how far we’ve come from that fi rst show in 2004,” she continued. “I’d always hoped The Children’s Nutcracker would turn into a big community event, but never thought we would bring in over 2,000 people each holiday season to see our productions, and would be able to donate five times as much money to the hospital last year as when we started.”

Last year, the Children’s Nutcracker performances resulted in a $13,000 donation to the foundation.


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