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Ivy League Schools with Ballet-Focused Programs

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I'm really not sure if I should post here, but I couldn't think of anywhere else that this could properly go without being moved. Mods, if you have any better ideas, that's completely fine!


According to Princeton University's website, it appears that they are trying to be rather more nurturing to ballet students than most. They offer a daily intermediate/advanced class for more recreational dancers (which actually not that many schools seem to do) - but - here's the main thing - they also mention:


"For professional track ballet students, Princeton Ballet School, an excellent school with professional instruction and its associated company, American Repertory Ballet are close by and very welcoming to our students. In the past, a few students have joined their pre-professional training track, which includes some public performances. "


I am very curious - how common is this sort of opportunity at Ivies, or near-Ivies? It seems that, if one were ultimately not suited for a professional career for whatever reason, that Princeton would at least make it relatively easy to continue dancing at a high level. I know, I know - part of it is convenience - but I've noted that Harvard University is located smack dab in Boston, which is certainly more populated than Princeton!, and yet regarding ballet, seems to only include it as a side-note in the general dance department. Two 'intermediate or advanced' classes a week, one pointe class a week offered at the school, and no suggestions at all for outside study.


I know that ballet is not so prized at some Ivy colleges - Brown, in particular, I've heard is very modern-based - but are there many others that emphasize this in this way? I plan to be applying at Ivy League schools and similar once the time comes, and I'm curious about other universities like this that seem to be trying to reach out to ballet students.


It certainly makes me want to go there instead of Harvard (if I didn't want to already)!

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  • Dance_Scholar_London


  • Mel Johnson


  • Marenetha


  • molly123


That is an interesting question. I would also like to know if there is an ivy college that offers a decent dance degree programme (undergraduate and postgraduate)

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Barnard (the female college of Columbia U) is strong in dance. Obviously NYC offers a plethora of dance possibilities. U Penn does not offer dance, as far as I know, but there are many opportunities to take ballet classes elsewhere.

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Marenethea -


American Repertory Ballet's Princeton Ballet School offers a summer intensive (my daughter is attending this summer) at which the dancers are housed in the dorms at Princeton. One of the perks of some of the summer intensives is their association with/proximity to college programs; it gives you an opportunity to check out a campus and its facilities (studios, dorms, etc.). In Princeton's case, the dancers dance at the PBS studios (which, I understand, are quite beautiful and air conditioned). My daughter was deciding between this program and Ballet West, which takes place at the University of Utah (in their dorms and studios). She may go to Ballet West next summer for the sake of really taking a look at U of Utah (if she gets in again!).


Don't know how old you are, but you might want to consider this "sight seeing" summer intensive way of college tripping!


Good luck! :)

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Speaking generally, the Ivies don't do a very good job with ballet at all. A couple are not sure if it will catch on, a couple are caught in the Oberlin/Bennington Modern Snobbery, and at least one doesn't approve of dancing as a matter of course.

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Mel, can you please explain what you mean by the "Oberlin/Bennington Modern Snobbery?" And also, are any of the Ivy programs decent at all for ballet? Which Ivies are possibly "catching on?"

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In my opinion, no Ivy League school is doing a good job with ballet and none shows any signs of changing.


And "Modern Snobbery" is the moldy oldy about ballet "not being a fit pursuit for the modern intellectual." Now Modern Dance.... :(

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In my opinion, no Ivy League school is doing a good job with ballet and none shows any signs of changing. 


Why is that? Is there no interest in performing arts at Ivy League Universities? I mean in dance. I have heard that Harvard has a strong theatre department, so it might be dance-related that there is not much interest in changing it.

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So does Yale, but ballet is not much represented in on-campus offerings. You must remember that until about 40 years ago, all the Ivies were men only, and there are vestiges of this sexism still about.

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Woah, I see. It will probably take some years (decades) to give dance more emphasis at Ivy Leagues. Thanks for that info

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I've got to agree with Mr. Johnson here, as usual.


Generally, *within* these university's programs, dance is not highly rated. If it is, it is usually modern/contemporary. What Princeton is doing, to my eyes, is noting that outside options exist. However, I do think that a daily Adv/Int class for recreational dancers is leaps and bounds above what others offer. I still think the key is to find outside classes, if you can, but it is not an option available to all (yeah, so I'm slightly bitter!!! :blushing: )


I remember when I was in the applying process (oh how long ago that seems)... I too was applying to ivies and to other top-tier schools. Location makes a big difference in the access to ballet classes - but location wouldn't help me. I had to consider finances as well, and my academic load (double major and a double minor, with rehearsals and work on top of it... not easy to squeeze in anything else, to say the least).


I ended up at George Washington University - not the 'biggest name' I got into, but something that made sense in terms of the professors I could potentially work with and the generous academic scholarships they offer. When I went to see the school, the ballet teacher was fabulous, even if it wasn't a fully 'serious' ballet program by any means. Just my luck, she left the university over the summer, before the start of my fall term.


I still danced - using those classes to fulfill some of my credit requirements and then taking up to the maximum level of credits every semester in order to squeeze in dance classes without increasing my tuition fees. But, as I found out, you could only take a class a certain number of times and still get credit for it, and the timings of the classes were sometimes difficult. So, I did explore other dance styles quite a bit, but I also lost a lot of my ballet, at a crucial point in my 'dancing career', and I don't think I'll ever get back to the form I once had... :) Despite that, academically and financially, I probably made the right decision.


That said, there might be some hope - especially if you are looking to just maintain yourself, a daily class is obviously an excellent option. I also visited Washington U. (St. Louis) and they had a nice studio and a mixed level class, but of quite decent standards. That was literally almost 10 years ago though, so ask around! And around Brown, if you are interested a friend of mine did outside classes (and she's much younger than me, so this was just a year or two ago) - so I could ask her for details if you'd like.


Sorry for the long post - we all have things in life that make us wonder 'what if....'! :shrug:

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Marenetha, is it important to you that the dance program be associated with the university you attend?


If not, note that the Jose Mateo school and company (www.ballettheatre.org) are directly outside Harvard Yard (5 minute walk away).


If you wanted to take class at Boston Ballet, you would need to take public transportation, probably about a 40-minute trip (each way).


Open classes are also available at the Dance Complex and Green Street Studios in Central Square, about a fifteen minute walk from Harvard or one stop on the subway.


As I noted on an earlier thread, my daughter danced in the Urban Nutcracker this year, and the cast included several Harvard students, one of whom danced with NYCB, prior to enrolling at Harvard.

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One of our pre-pro girls was offered a company contract last year but decided to go to Harvard instead. :yucky: (must be nice huh!) I asked her where she was going to dance and I thought she said Harvard offered some classes and she would go to Boston Ballet for others.


Clara 76

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... until about 40 years ago, all the Ivies were men only, and there are vestiges of this sexism still about.


Don't forget, though, that Harvard, Brown, and Columbia all had associated women's colleges (Radcliffe, Pembroke, and Barnard, respectively). Women seldom had the same privileges as men until at least the 1970's, but these institutions did have strong traditions of educating women. As for the other Ivies, I know that Princeton didn't go co-ed until the early or mid-70's, and I think Dartmouth was about the same time.


When we checked out Brown just a few weeks ago, they offered no ballet, just a very few modern classes, and a choreography course (which, at the moment, has exactly two students enrolled -- or maybe that's how many showed up the day my daughter sat in).

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That is correct - however - and Yale considered Vassar the sister school, but the degree of integration of these "separate but equal" schools varied, and still varies, from university to university. Each of the "female schools" were also long under the sway of the Bennington theorists, who maintained that ballet was unfit for academic consideration.

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