Johansen Olympia Dance Center was founded in 1972 by Bud and Mary Johansen as Johansen School of Ballet. The Center is devoted to offering high quality dance training to students of all ages and abilities in a positive and nurturing environment. The school moved to its current location in a historic brick building in downtown Olympia in 1985. The Center features sprung dance floors, pianos, mirrors, barres, a lobby waiting area, and dressing rooms. Ken and Josie Johnson began teaching at the school in 2004, and became the Directors following Bud and Mary Johansen’s retirement in 2008. Bud taught at the studio until his passing in 2023, and Mary still teaches at the Center. Ken began his training at Johansen’s in the 1980’s, danced with Ballet Northwest, and danced professionally on the East Coast. Josie began her training in New York at a school with a very similar atmosphere and philosophy to the Center, and danced professionally. (See Faculty bios for more detailed information.)
Alumni of the dance center have gone on to train year-round at prestigious schools such as the Kirov Academy of Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, School of Oregon Ballet Theatre, the Rock School of Dance Education, Joffrey Academy of Dance, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, BalletMet Columbus, University of Utah, New York University, Boston Conservatory, Point Park University, Oklahoma City Ballet, University of Arizona, Cornish College of the Arts, The Hartt School at the University of Hartford, and the University of Washington. Current and former students have also trained at renowned summer programs such as American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Academy of Dance, The Juilliard School, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Alonso King’s LINES Ballet School, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Ballet West, Colorado Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Ballet Arizona, Texas Ballet Theatre, Ballet Austin, Joffrey Ballet School, Rock School, Jillana School, State Street Ballet, Northwest Dance Project, and Princeton Ballet School. Dance Center students have competed in the Youth America Grand Prix, and alumni Giovanny Garibay participated in the YAGP finals in New York City in 2019.
The Center is home to Ballet Northwest, a non-profit youth company that performs an annual season at the prestigious Washington Center for the Performing Arts. Directors Ken and Josie Johnson are also the Co-Artistic Directors of Ballet Northwest.