Madame Fran Ichijo
Frances Drayton Ichijo began her dance training in 2nd grade in the suburbs of Philadelphia in1960. She was also able to train in the equestrian arts through the local Bridlewild Pony Club and graduated with her “B” rating, fostering a lifelong love and appreciation of horses. After getting a degree in Dance and Art at Hamilton College and performing with Kirkland Dance Theater, she continued her classical ballet training in NY under Patricia Wilde, Michael Maule, and Nancy Clemens at the then American Ballet Theater School. After auditioning for Adrienne Dellas in New York, she went on to become a founding member and soloist with the Universal Ballet Company in Seoul, Korea, from 1978 -1986, while also assisting her mentor, Mme Dellas, as Ballet Mistress of the company. For two years, she was director of the Sun Hwa Arts Ballet School which trained dancers for the company (UBC). Her students have gone on to dance in companies all over the world including Stuttgart, Basel, Atlanta, Ohio, and DC. Her performances include Giselle, La Sylphide, Pas de Quartre, Coppelia, Dellas’ Monument, and as a Step Sister in Cinderella, and many more.
Returning to the USA in 1986, and partly due to their own handicapped son, Fran and her husband ran a special needs horse camp for 5 years in the summer at their farm in Dickerson, MD.
Even though horses are an on-going passion, Fran has taught classical ballet to aspiring dancers for more than 40 years in Korea, New York, and the Washington, DC, Metropolitan area. She is a proponent of the the Vaganova system of ballet, and received her teaching certificate with commendation from the Academie de Danse Classique de Princess Grace de Monaco, under the tutelage of Marika Besobrasova in the 1980’s. Fran started Hope Garden Ballet Academy in 1998 in Poolesville, MD, launching the Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre (ballet company) in 2008. Fran received the Lifetime Impact Award in 2016 from the Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council, presented to her by the County Executive, Ike Leggett, at an award event in October.