Michelle_r

Boston Ballet School

269 posts in this topic

Rachel Moore has been director of the overall program for a number of years. Note that each studio also has its own principal.

 

I attended a public introductory talk with Nissinen last spring. At the reception following, I made a point of personally asking him whether he had any plans for making changes with the school (since this question had not been selected by the moderator as worthy of asking him during the program!). He told me that his focus is really on the company, and that he felt that the school was in capable hands (ie, Rachel Moore's).

 

My observations about the Vaganova approach have to do observations about the classes from several sources. What I hear most frequently is that the approach is slow and exacting, which is in line with what I have read here about other Vaganova influenced schools.

 

In addition, as far as I can see, Boston Ballet itself does not seem to show any strong preference for Boston Ballet trained dancers. This is in contrast with the NYCB, where I understand that most dancers spend at least one year at the school.

 

Boston Ballet School must place its graduates well, but they don't publicize it, so I can only speculate.

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Many Walnut Hill teachers once taught or end up teaching at Boston Ballet, and vice versa.

 

BWNE has a very small teaching staff. Carter Alexander is one of primary teachers, and he has also taught at Boston Conservatory.

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Thanks so much to all of you for the information. Does anyone know at what level Boston would give men's classes? My son is accustomed to having that built into his schedule. The Walnut Hill program sounds strong, but I'm not sure where we'll be residing, so that may be an issue. Boston is not the easiest place to get around, or so it seems on my short time there. I think a trip up there to check out the various schools would be appropriate. Ahh, now to find the time.

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The Boston studio at Boston Ballet has had boys' classes even at the beginning level (intensive division).

 

I think that it sometimes is dependent on demand. At least at the lower levels, if there are only a few boys, they have had one class a week for boys only (in Boston).

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I believe that the Boston studio has/had a boy's class. This was not for upper level students but more of a beginners class. When I saw the spring performance last year, my recollection was there was only one boy in the upper intensive levels.

 

Walnut Hill is in a suburb of Boston, Natick. There is a commuter train from Natick that goes to Boston's Back Bay station which is about a five minute walk to Boston Ballet's South End studio. The ride into Boston is about 30 minutes.

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We live in Central Mass and there are two more smaller schools you should know about. One is Acton Ballet (in Acton, MA) and the director is Kathryn Anderson (sp?) formerly of Boston Ballet. This is a very respected professional program; they have a youth ballet company as well. They seemed very focused on body-type. The other is Performing Arts School of Worcester (PASOW) where my daughter (11) attends. The dance department is small but was a good fit for my daughter when we moved here two years ago. They also have a small youth ballet company; the 'senior' members are outstanding (no boys this year). Unfortunately, this program has been in transition for the past few years, with annual changes in faculty. Last year, we were fortunate to have Dierdre Miles Burger as our director; she was fabulous, and the dancers grew a lot under her direction. The direction seemed more Vagonova influenced, clean lines. She did move to Boston Ballet as principal of the Newton school (two of our dancers went to Newton this year too); but continues to act as 'artistic director' at PASOW.

For your son, you should definitely look at the three programs already discussed; you may want to look at the Acton school as well. A lot will depend on where you live and how much you are willing to drive!

By the way, my daughter will attend her first 'away' SI at CPYB this summer. I recently joined this list to find more info to help us decide which program to attend. She is a little nervous since we read that it is not a 'fun' program, but she really wants to work on her technique - hence her choice. She is of average body type - not skinny- and has had solid ballet training for 6 years, so I think she'll do ok. Any tips you can give me on making her Carlisle experience more successful would be appreciated! You can 'pm' me (tho I can't 'pm' yet, until after 30! posts)

Good luck in MA - it's definitely more crowded up here!

Lorraine

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Sorry; I should have been clearer--Diedre Miles Burger is listed as the Interim Principal of the Boston Studio, not the Center for Dance Education.

 

That the Boston Ballet School's approach to training is slow and exacting is not necessarily indicative of Vaganova--nearly every teaching method I can think of would fit this description, as I haven't yet heard of one that is fast and sloppy. I'm pretty sure they still have Russian pianists and possibly some Russian teachers, but while their syllabus may be Russian-influenced, this does not necessarily mean it is Vaganova. That's not a bad thing, and I'm not trying to undermine the Boston Ballet School's credibility, as I think it has an excellent year-round program, but "Russian" doesn't always mean "Vaganova"--in fact, the Bolshoi, which is definitely Russian, is not pure Vaganova, though it is of course heavily influenced by that method and its resulting style.

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its the mom,

 

It's really not possible for anyone except the Boston Ballet School administrators and/or faculty to answer your questions because the school is experiencing the same sort of transition as the company right now.

 

In the past I would not have recommended the advanced "Intensive Division" for your son because there were so few male students in the upper 3 levels.

 

I have heard wonderful reports about BWNE and wonder if it may be more suited to your son's CPYB training.

 

Fendrock, in the past Boston Ballet heavily recruited from the school and many dancers spent a year in the level 7 class with Tatiana Legat before being hired into BBII. Tatiana Legat was recently terminated as a teacher in the school, so it is fair to say that it's probable that the school will be taking a different direction.

 

Congratulations on your daughter's success and good luck in Boston.

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The average age for 1i at Boston Ballet is now 9-10 years old. Recently, it became policy that all students would do one year in level 1 in the main dance division before being invited into 1 intensive. Students must be 8 years old for 1 main. Occasionally a particularly gifted student might be admitted to 1i right away but it is not the norm. Students with previous training elsewhere bypass this step if they are selected for intensive by the principal. Your daughter is therefore in that catagory.

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Alina, thanks for the update (and correction).

 

I think this was a good change.

 

Other things to consider (assuming, first of all, that the school provides good instruction) - what are the performing opportunities, and how are students selected for roles? How much support and encouragement does the school provide on an individual basis -- for example, if the student will need to repeat a level, how is this communicated?

 

These are all areas of potential disappointment for students, and I think parents should think about how these are handled as they choose a school.

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Thanks to everyone for their helpful information.

 

I have talked to my daughter about making her own decision as she is the one dancing. We discussed her goals, the differences in schools, etc. We talked about the differences between recreational programs and training programs.

 

Her goal is to be a ballet dancer, the best that she can be. With that she decided she wants to go to the best school and she has decided on Boston Ballet's school. She does not mind dancing with younger students or delaying pointe until they feel she is ready. She understands that there are only 7 levels and that most dancers usually repeat levels. I told her it is better to repeat a level if a teacher feels it's necessary than to struggle unneccesarily and to start to dread class.

 

We were able to watch a little bit of a class with level 5i students and they looked beautiful at the barre. She is excited about her decision and looks forward to it. Thanks again.

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One question I forgot, Fendrock: What do you mean by opportunity for performance and how they are chosen?

 

I would think at this young age the school would concentrate on training, on building a foundation. Performance would come later, possibly high school age (?). I know the Nutcracker is a yearly event for Boston Ballet students and I would assume age, experience and ability would be criteria for assigning roles. No?

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The Boston Ballet School has a spring performance in which students participate. This is broken out by level. I believe, for levels 1-3 (main and intensive divisions), each studio has its own performance, and there is a separate performance (used to be held in Norwell, maybe it still is) for levels 4-7.

 

Students can also dance in the Boston Ballet Nutcracker. I believe you must have taken class at Boston Ballet the previous year in order to audition. Roles are generally cast with an eye to dancer size (in order to fit into the costumes), and you will receive a brochure which outlines the level and height requirements for the roles.

 

In addition, intensive division students sometimes have the chance to audition to dance in Boston Ballet productions which require children (for example, Midsummer Night's Dream and Sleeping Beauty). Because they are looking for dancers who look like children, it is hard to get a part if you are tall (I think the cut-off is around 4 ' 7 ".)

 

Schools other than Boston Ballet have their own Nutcrackers, which are cast almost entirely from the school population. Therefore, students have a much greater chance of dancing a variety of roles, even solo roles for advanced students. The focus is on giving the students a chance to perform, rather than supporting a professional production.

 

Some schools provide performing opportunities in addition to the Nutcracker and the class dance at the spring performance. For example, the repertory class may perform separately, or there may be an optional school-wide dance in which students may choose to participate.

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Fendrock, thanks for the info, I only knew about the Nutcracker.

 

That must be quite an experience for a child, dancing at the Wang in Boston in a professional production. Do they hand pick the children or do they audition? Has your child been in any of their ballets? My daughter is tiny for her age but I noticed that most children at the studio were tiny. Still, I would think that talent would matter more than size.

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Yes, they do have auditions for the Boston Ballet productions. Apparently it is quite something during Nutcracker auditions, when hundreds of students converge on the Boston studio -- one parent told me they had girls "hanging from the rafters."

 

No, my daughter has not been in any Boston Ballet productions, but I believe there are other posters on this board whose children have performed at the Wang, so perhaps they will chime in.

 

Size is indeed important -- it is really one of first criterion to determine if a student can audition for a particular children's part. So it is good that your daughter is small and will therefore hopefully have opportunities into an older age than those girls who have their growth spurts early.

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