Northeast Florida’s premier professional training center and conservatory of dance education. The Florida Ballet at Jacksonville, Inc. (d/b/a The Florida Ballet) was founded in 1978 by Laurie Picinich-Byrd and Michael F. Byrd. Michael, born and raised in Jacksonville, completed his education at the University of Florida before going to New York City to pursue a professional career in dance. Laurie had been trained in New York and London, England and was working as a choreographer, teacher and dancer. They met while working at the Metropolitan Opera House. Both had a passion for the arts and a desire to bring dance to a community to enhance the quality of life. Michael wanted to give back to his home city and so The Florida Ballet at Jacksonville was born.