Gretchen Bernard-Newburger started on her life’s quest to dance at the age of four. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, she began her training with Rebecca Lentz, and at age twelve with the Giacobbe Academy of Dance. By the age of fourteen, she was a solo dancer of the Delta Festival Ballet of New Orleans. Thereafter, followed master studies and scholarships at the American Ballet Theatre School, Balanchine’s School of American Ballet, David Howard Dance Center in New York, San Francisco Ballet School, Houston Ballet Academy, and the Centre de Danse André Glegolsky in Paris.
In 1979, she was awarded the bronze medal in the Junior Division at the USA’s First International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. From there, her career was graced with the extraordinary privilege of receiving invitations to join world-class companies as a soloist. She decided to join the National Ballet of Canada (1980-1985), followed by the London Festival Ballet (English National Ballet) (1985-1987), and the Zürcher Ballett (1987-1993).
During her performance career, Gretchen had the honor and privilege to have been coached and nurtured by the dance world’s finest artists such as Nikolas Beriozoff, Erik Bruhn, Richard Cragun, Alexander Grant, Marcia Haydée, Natalia Makarova, Rudolf Nureyev, Peter Schaufuss, Peter Wright, Rafael Avnikjan and, her last ballet director, Uwe Scholz. With her virtuosity, charm, and engagingly glamorous stage presence her career has embraced a rich and diverse repertoire. Gretchen performed soloist and principle roles in the major classics and full-length ballets and has been a favorite of many contemporary choreographers. She enjoyed guest engagements as principle ballerina in the USA, Canada, Italy, Slovakia, and Switzerland
In October 1997 Gretchen Bernard-Newburger founded Atelier Rainbow Tanzkunst (ART). ART now has 500 students of dance and a staff of fifteen professional dance teachers. In 2023, it is planned to celebrate ART's twenty-fifth Jubilee!
History of ART
In 1991 Gretchen Bernard-Newburger married and a year later gave birth to her son. These two events and her love of the art of dance led her to the decision to found her own school. In October 1997, under the name “Atelier Rainbow”, the school located in Switzerland took flight under the wings of USA born Ballerina Gretchen Bernard–Newburger. For the first five years, she alone taught all levels and up to 120 students a week. As the school expanded, additional professional staff was engaged.
Even as a young professional, artistic directors noticed Gretchen’s attention to detail and love of dance, encouraging her to take apprentice dancers under her creative wing for the purpose of learning new repertoire. These experiences led to a newfound love of teaching and choreography.
Learning from some of the world’s finest dancers, dance teachers, and choreographers has provided her with a vast array of pedagogical technique plus a broad perspective for the art of dance. Gretchen exudes a contagiously optimistic approach in her teaching and choreography, bringing all of her professional experience, self-discipline, and knowledge to the students of her school. “Madame Gretchen” has the gift of inspiring and aiding young dancers, understanding fully through her lifelong experience in dance, how to nurture young talent. Madame Gretchen’s direction and pedagogical style are infused with three important qualities: artistic vision, knowledge of technical traditions, and most of all, a passion to share the art of dance.