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St. Paul's School...

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Yes, the students were all the main parts--joined by some little kids as polis, party children, soldiers.

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Yesterday, 11:54 PM





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I just wrote a whole review on SPS...but my Dad's ANNOYING laptop doesn't register enter sometimes and goes back a few links...soo annoying.


All in all the class was good, everyone was friendly, the class was good. The campus was beautiful, and the two studios were very nice in good condition as well.


I promised I would post, and I will add more later...I'm just very annoyed at this laptop and need to get to sleep.

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Guest five feet seven

Hey, I'm currently a student at St. Paul's and in the Advanced Level. There are auditions for the company and leveling at the start of every school year. The teachers are Sharon Randolph, who was until two years ago head of the INterlochen Dance Dept, when she came to St. Paul's and Nikki Milano. There is a full academic day, six days a week. Academics are extremely serious. Students are expected to take a minimum of five acadmeic credits every term. The Ballet Program meets six times a week. There are, I think, about 19 hours of scheduled class/rehersal time. But as ballet tends to go, it often is more. There are four levels. The top level is very intense. This year there are only 8 people in it. The Int II class, [second highest], is also a very serious class. While it is not the biggest program, it is, i think, a very good program. So I just wanted to put this out there on the board in case anybody was interested in the school. PM if you want. Bye!

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I dont know if this is an appropriate place to post this, but I don't think that St. Pauls is the ONLY school in the area with both great academics and a great performing arts program-i go to Concord Academy in Concord, MA, and absolutely love it. Academics are the focus, and they are amazing-i am so inspired every day by teachers and other students-but the dance program is also excellent. while most people go on to college and not to companies and the program is modern based, there are classes m-f and the teacher (richard colton) is wonderful and extremely dedicated-in fact, he is working with me individually on a senior project in which i will get to originate roles this year, and he has also coached me on numerous variations. I also take an intensive ballet program outside of school, and for me, that mix of the two programs and the academics has been great-feel free to ask if you have any questions about the school! ( it is 50% boarding, 50% day)



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I had a placement class at St. Paul's today. I met Ms. Randolph and another teacher, I believe his name was Mr. D.? It was the advanced class, and I quite enjoyed it, but it does not seem to go advanced enough to be prepared for a company. Ms. Randolph did say that most dancers there do not go on to dance professionally. In fact, she did actually that "the program is borderline pre-professional." She gave me and my family quite a bit of information about the dance program, and St. Paul's in general, so if anyone has any questions I would be glad to answer as best I can.

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Does anyone have experience with or know anything about St. Paul's School in Concord, NH?


According to their website, it's a grade 9-12 coed academic boarding school that offers serious ballet training along with athletics. Nowhere in its information does the school claim to be a pre-professional environment--in fact, they say they are training students to be accomplished college dancers--but they mention that some alums have gone on to professional careers in big-name companies. The dance portion of the website is at http://www.sps.edu/dance.


I know one person who attended this school, but she is now in her 40s and she never aspired to a professional career.


We're curious if this or similar schools actually have quality ballet programs that might equal or surpass the training that my DD could get at a local studio. She is definitely not ready for a live-away situation at 13, but could be in her mid-teens (I don't know if I'll ever be ready for a boarding school for her!). She is a strong, motivated academic student and we wonder if such a school could offer good academics as well as the kind of training she needs to go pro--her current intention, though things could change.


I must admit that we really like the fact that if your income is limited, you may be able to attend St. Paul's for free or greatly reduced tuition!


I appreciate your thoughts about this or other schools! We are in rural New England and live on an extremely limited income due to our ballet commitments, so any advice on schools in this area, in particular, are welcome. The current economy does not allow us to consider changing jobs, selling our home, or supporting two family households to accommodate ballet.


(Moderators please feel free to move this post if it fits better elsewhere!)

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Dust bunny,

St. Paul's is a very elite Prep School. The last time I looked the we're ranked #1. With that said the focus at St. Paul's is academics. My DD performed in their Nutcracker several years ago as a community kid & at that time it was obvious that they focus more on academics. However, they do have a fairly new AD who used to be the AD at Portland Ballet. My DD had her as a teacher at a summer intensive one time & really enjoyed her teaching. Good luck!

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I have no doubt that St, Paul's is an excellent school for academics. But if pre-pro ballet training is a primary consideration, parents of DKs should note the annual cost to attend, versus other excellent (and maybe superior) pre-pro training options out there):


2012-13 Cost of Attendance

Tuition $48,250

Mandatory fees $995

Estimated personal expenses $2,550

Estimated total cost of attendance (not including travel) $51,795

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Yes, the fees are a bit mind-boggling...but their financial aid options appear to be very generous.


From what I've read in the thread that Clara76 provided, even though some of the information there is dated, it seems like the academic thrust of this school is what attracts students, and the fact that there's a ballet program of some quality is a nice bonus. Personally I don't think it's the right environment for my DD.


Is it necessary to sacrifice solid academic training for pre-pro ballet training? DD is 13 now, and we are combining homeschooling, public school and a local pre-pro. This is working wonderfully right now and I can see it continuing if our meager finances hold out. But we continue to keep our eyes and ears open for all that's available in the event that something in our arrangement takes a turn. My husband seems to equate residential pre-pro programs as dancing first, academics as an afterthought, and doesn't want to see my daughter sacrifice her academic talent for what is likely a long-shot of a professional career. She has talent, dedication and goals, but so do thousands of other young dancers.


Any thoughts on the balance between academics and dance emphasis at residential pre-pros? Do they all "tack on" an online school or enroll at the local public high school, regardless of the quality of the academic program? Or can a local pre-pro not affiliated with a company still give her the shot she wants?

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dustbunny, different residential schools have a different balances and different ways of addressing the academic component. We have dedicated threads on each of the residential schools in the Pre-Professional/Residential Ballet Schools Forum.


We created that Forum and keep the dedicated thread format in that Forum to make is easier for folks who are researching the programs to find the information collected in one spot. Therefore, we'd ask that all discussions pertaining to individual schools continue in that Forum on their respective threads. (This thread will be moving to the existing St. Paul's thread shortly. :) )


Or can a local pre-pro not affiliated with a company still give her the shot she wants?


In short, yes---if the training is of good quality.


As for the more general questions you asked, we have the General Education Discussion Forum where we've discussed these questions periodically. I would suggest that you spend a little time dropping in on the various discussions in that Forum. You will find a good discussions and food for thought on the questions you posed in your last post, along with some issues or perspectives that perhaps hadn't occurred to you just yet. All good information! (I did exactly that when we faced the issue of whether to allow DD to go to a residential school or not and found that Forum and the dedicated threads for the various schools a fabulous resource!)


As you read and ponder, do feel free to revive those discussions that you'd like more on. I certainly am not suggesting that you not post questions, but, it really will be more beneficial for all ---especially those that come after----if we continue to add to existing threads in those Forums than to create new ones in different Forums. :thumbsup:

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Thank you so much, dancemaven, for pointing me in the right direction...and by all means, please move this thread where it fits best!

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Moderators - Saint Paul's is often referred to as SPS - that might be a good abbreviation to put in the thread title.


SPS is possibly the most selective private school in the USA, often noted as a HADES school (Hotchkiss, Andover, Deerfield, Exeter, Saint Paul's).

They have school 6 days a week. Tons of work. Students usually go on to matriculate at Harvard, Yale, Princeton (HYP) and Stanford/MIT and the Ivies.

The acceptance rate is probably 9%. They are considered a "full need" school, which means if you are accepted you will get the FA that you need.


As I understand it, ballet is essentially treated as an art AND a sport, so there is plenty of time to train and rehearse.


The word on the street is that, at least in the 1990s, it would not have been a good substitute for a ballet academy.


I am always intrigued by SPS, so if anybody has new information, I would love to see it. I will be happy to post any info I have here.


I have looked at the latest AD's background, and she seems at least very good. [. . . . ] I would guess that they are better than their placements might seem, because SPS students will often end up in leadership roles when they enter a career, so a very good dancer might just choose to go straight into teaching, academics, etc. and that would probably lower SPS' "stats" compared to a dance academy.

Edited by dancemaven
Edited to remove "I heard . . ." non-first hand information per BT4D policies.

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I emailed the Jennifer Howard, the head of the dance dept. at St. Paul's to find out what their dance schedule is, and below is her answer as well as the informational letter that is sent out to those interested in dancing at St. Paul's.



Advanced dancers at SPS dance six days a week for roughly 18-20 hours. For more information on the program you can visit sps.edu/dance. In addition, I have attached our informational letter to give you a better idea of our program.



Informational letter:


Thank you for your interest in St. Paul’s School (SPS). I would like to take this opportunity to tell you more about SPS and its dance program. St. Paul’s School provides students with the opportunity to combine a rigorous academic education with the finest dance training in a dedicated dance facility. The St. Paul's School Dance Program fosters a fun, nurturing and artistic learning environment, and prepares its students to dance at the college level by teaching classical ballet, modern dance, anatomical theory, and performance. Our goal is to train technically proficient dancers with a sound work ethic, and to promote artistic growth and an appreciation for the art form.


The SPS Dance Program is designed to train all levels of dancers, from the beginner to the most advanced students who wish to study dance in an inspiring learning environment. All classes are focused on challenging students and supporting their physical, mental and artistic development. The program is distinct amongst independent secondary schools in offering year-round dance classes as part of its academic calendar, including: Introduction to Dance, Elementary Ballet, Intermediate Ballet, Advanced Ballet, and Modern Dance.


In addition, serious dancers may audition for the St. Paul’s School Ballet Company (SPSBC), a year-round program that can be substituted for athletic participation at the varsity level. SPSBC dancers work one-on-one with faculty and guest teachers and choreographers, rehearsing daily throughout the academic calendar, and performing four different programs per school year. Its repertory includes classics and, through the recently launched Visiting Artist Program (VAP), contemporary works by some of the world’s most influential choreographers. The VAP has welcomed principal dancers from internationally recognized companies such as Miami City Ballet, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Batsheva Dance Company, New York City Ballet and master ballet teachers from Boston Ballet. During our 2013-2014 season, we will welcome Amy Young, principal dancer from the Paul Taylor Dance Company; Alex Brady, principal dancer from Twyla Tharp Dance Company; Diane Coburn Bruning, artistic director of Chamber Dance Project; SPS alumnus Doug Letheren ’03, principal dancer from Tel Aviv-based L-E-V; and SPS alumnus and former principal dancer with New York City Ballet, Philip Neal ’86, will create an original work on the SPSBC.

With its high-quality instruction, significant class and rehearsal time, and exposure to diverse choreographers and styles of movement, SPS has a long history of producing accomplished and well-rounded dancers. Graduates have gone on to dance at excellent college programs, including The Juilliard School, Barnard College, Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Columbia University, University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, University of Michigan Department of Musical Theater, and Vassar College.


SPS Dance Program alumni have danced professionally with New York City Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, Jose Limon Dance Company, Lar Lubovitch, Batsheva Dance Company, Twyla Tharp, Louisville Ballet, Carolina Ballet, and Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, to name a few.


When scheduling your tour and interview on campus, please be sure to let Admission know of your interest in the Dance Program so that you can take a placement ballet class during your visit. If you are unable to schedule a placement class, applicants should send a video to Jennifer Howard, the Director of Dance, at jlhoward@sps.edu. Please contact Ms. Howard directly for video guidelines. In addition, please take the time to fill out the dance program inquiry at http://www.sps.edu/danceinquiry.

For more information about the program please visit http://spsbc.tumblr.com and www.facebook.com/spsbc.




Jennifer Howard

Director of Dance

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I'm a little late to the thread but as a former St. Paul's dancer I feel that it is important that prospective dancers get an honest opinion. But first a little backstory... I danced pre-professionally for four years before attending SPS (I entered as a freshmen). I had been at a homeschool hybrid program and I spent the vast majority of my day at the dance studio. I applied to almost every top boarding school with a dance program because I wanted that elusive dance/school balance and chose SPS because of the fact that they have a "Company" believing that it would allow me to continue my training at a satisfactory level (if not quite as *intense*). 

My experience with SPSBC was less than satisfactory. I spent my time dancing under Ms. Howard, who, it is worth noting, is leaving the school after this academic year (2017-18). I adored the guest teachers and choreographers but felt that my dance training was suffering. Yes, I got to have some amazing experiences, but there was an underlying atmosphere of favoritism (which admittedly usually comes hand in hand with dance schools) that became toxic for me and by the end of my time there I ended up dreading dance classes. To be clear Ms. Howard is a lovely woman and I'm sure a good teacher, but I personally did not get from SPS what I expected I would. Ms. Peix (who I believe is staying) made the company worthwhile for me, but she did not teach classes regularly.

One of my main frustrations with the company is actually not with the company itself, but with the requirement that company members take "Block Class" (ballet class during the academic day). This sounds reasonable and does make sense, but SPS only has 6 academic blocks, 4 of which are filled with basic classes (math, science, hum, language) and the other two are left to the individual to fill. Most students opt to take a class of interest and leave the other one empty so that they have a free block to do their homework. Because of the dance requirement, BC (ballet company) members lose one of those empty blocks. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is something that I found to be incredibly frustrating. No other extra-curricular requires an academic commitment to my knowledge.

Personally, I believe SPS is a good option for dancers that are not on a professional track and that want to continue dancing, and have some truly wonderful opportunities, but have no expectation that this will be able to train them for a professional company. Every person gets something different out of a school, and while I did not expect SPS to be of the caliber as my Pre-Pro school, it was shockingly underwhelming. To my knowledge, no recent graduates have gone on to dance in major companies, though they do tend to be in good college programs (if they choose to dance after SPS). 

Every member of the company has their own view of it and this is just mine, but it is worth putting it out there. I do not mean to bad-mouth the school, but I was not happy at SPS and I wish that there was more information surrounding what it is truly like to be at these schools available. My intent is to provide one person's opinion and information about the program. If anyone has any questions about the program I'd be willing to answer them. We dancers have got to look out for each other. 

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