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Boston Ballet School

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I have been following the apprentice vs. college threads with great interest as my daughter is also close to the age of decision. Although she has attended year-round programs that do not feed into companies, we have decided that a company school might make more sense for her. She loves Boston and as a rising senior, is hoping to study at BB School next year. She will finish her academics through correspondence, so the schooling isn't an issue. Housing is, however. Although BB will help with finding host familes later in the summer, I was hoping to have some options lined up sooner (being a worrier). Are there any BB families out there or does anyone have advice? I saw that another student was posting a similar question on the teens board so I know we are not alone! I do not have enough posts for private messsaging but my email address is Michelle368@yahoo.com. Any words of wisdom will be appreciated!

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Guest unsoccer-mom

I have a good friend who is hosting a Boston Ballet student for the year. She is a terrific person with extensive knowledge and background in ballet and a daughter in the Boston Ballet program. Her house is in a close in suburb of Boston. I don't think she posts here and I don't know if she plans to host again next year. My point is that I think that you will have no problem finding a good host family with Boston Ballet's help.

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Thanks unsoccer-mom! From the correspondence I've received, that seems to be the best advice! I guess I'll just have to trust that things will work out. Out of curioisity, does anyone know if it is common for students to rent apartments close to the school as an alternative to the hosting situation?

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Guest unsoccer-mom

I am assuming that your daughter will be in 7i, the top level in Boston Ballet's intensive division program. Dancers will be chosen from that level for BBII, the apprentice program, at the end of the school year. The 7i level is pretty small usually under 20. The vast majority of these are local advanced students who live at home with their parents. Many, but not all are seniors in high school. Some are juniors and a few a sophomores or post-grads. There will be few, if any, looking for an apartment. There may be some BBII dancers looking to share apartments, but since many will be chosen at the end of SDP that is not something you will likely be able to arrange for until later in the summer. The area close to the studio is quite trendy and very expensive. There a lot of less expensive apartments that cater to Boston's large student population, but the students in these tend to be older as most school's require that the younger students live on campus.

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It is true that housing in an apartment near Boston Ballet is expensive and hard to find. There is however a YWCA Women's residence just a block from the school that I have known some students to house at. I have heard the rules at this Y are pretty strict and the security is tight. If she is mature enough to be on her own it might be a possibility until she had time to meet some of the new BBII members or other young dancers her age looking for roomates.

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Thanks Alina! I have looked into the YWCA residences (there are 2) and the rates and locations are great. Unfortunately, the minimum age is 18 and my daughter will not be old enough this summer to stay there. This reminds me of the housing problems we ran into with NY summer intensives. It looks like we'll continue to explore a host family situation. I am relieved to hear that there are good families in the area who are willing to do this. If anyone has anything else of a personal note to help me with this decision, please feel free to email me! Thanks!



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  • 9 months later...

Here are a few observations based on my daughter's experience in the first years of the preprofessional division at Boston Ballet, which is considered to be Vaganova-based.


Students are accepted by audition into the first level when they are at least eight years of age.


The school studio my daughter attended did have the same teacher for the first two levels (1i and 2i). However, because of staff changes, the students in these levels did not have the same teacher two years in a row.


Students attend a 1 1/2 hour class three times a week for the first two levels, and add an additional 2 hour class at the third level.


My impression is that the school emphasizes building strength and correctness of position in the early years. For example, the first 15-20 minutes of each class at the first two levels are spent on strengthening exercises, prior to moving to the barre.


The resuling look is very "pulled up." Also, there is a striking uniformity in the look across individuals in the class (however, this may in part be explained by the fact that the girls have been selected by audition and therefore generally are of similar ability).


When taking class elsewhere (for the Nutcracker and her summer program), my daughter noted that the Boston Ballet girls did not know all the steps the other girls knew. This shows the slow and exacting approach taken by the school.


Girls go on pointe several months into the third level, when most of the students are 10 years of age. I believe they are initally taught to spring onto pointe, rather than roll up.

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My family is considering a move to Boston to accompany our 16-year old daughter who has been offered a position in BBII. We have a son, 11, who is also a dancer. Does anyone have any information about Boston's year-round program. Just by way of background, he attends CPYB. Of course, most people know the amount of classes he takes and is accustomed to. I don't really want to discuss whether that's right or wrong. We even question it at times, however, I would like to know if the Boston program is a rigorous enough one for a child who so far aspires to be a professional dancer. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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Guest novamom

Its the mom, Congratulations to you and your daughter! She must be a very talented and hard-working kid. I grew up in the Boston area and have a sister that lives in Brookline, which is a buburb. It is a great city. So much to do in the area, and pretty accessible via the "T", or mass-transit (subway).

Sorry, I don't know anything about the winter program. I hope someone out there can help you with that one:D

Tell your daughter "good luck" from yet another BA mom:D :):D

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Guest unsoccer-mom

There are three programs in Boston that are well respected. Boston Ballet has an intensive dance division, as well, as a recreational one. The intensive division classes are held at all three studios which are the main studios in Boston's South End and suburban studios Newton and Norwell. The Norwell studio is on the South Shore toward Cape Cod and goes up to level 4-intensive. Newton is just outside of Boston to the west and goes to level 5-intensive. The only studio for the top two levels (6 & 7) is Boston. The number of classes depends upon the level. 4-i would meet five days a week approximately 2 hours per day. This would be the typical level for 12-14 year olds. Your best bet for finding a large concentration of boys would be the Boston studio as they have a program for inner city kids that they recruit heavily for boys.


Just outside of Boston in Waltham is Ballet Workshop of New England. I believe their program is a bit more free-flow with more optional classes. It is a Balanchine program and the director, Jackie Cronsberg has an excellent record of training dancers that are hired by companies. Sarah Van Patten of San Francisco Ballet and Sophie Flack of New York City Ballet both trained with Jackie.


Your son's third option would be the Walnut Hill School. There is a large contigent of boys (about 13) and separate daily men's classes. While this is a high school program, one of the boys came up through the WHS extension classes and was in the high school's top level by the time he was a freshman. He was homeschooled and started in the high school dance program at a fairly young age. He is now at NBS. There is another boy currently in their second highest level. He should be in eighth grade, but was allowed to enter high school early. I believe he was, also, homeschooled. He too attended the high school dance program as a grade schooler. Each level has about 20 hours per week of technique, pointe/men's, modern, and jazz. In addition, all boys attend partnering class and there is generally an additional 6-8 hours of rehearsal time. Two of Boston Ballet's most promising male students now attend Walnut Hill. The director, Michael Owen, trained at CPYB and has taught there, as well. I am sure you could explain your situation and could arrange to attend an audition class.


By the way, it should come as no suprise, but all three studios are very competitive and vie with one another for the top students. Each will tell you the others do not have a good program.

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I concur with unsoccer-mom about the programs to consider in the Boston area.


In terms of approach, I would categorize Boston Ballet as using a Vaganova approach, BWNE as Balanchine, and Walnut Hill as classical.


Ballet Workshop of New England is similar to the Boston Ballet intensive division in that it really does not provide a "recreational" option. Students attend at least four times a week from about age 11 on. It is a much smaller school than Boston Ballet. The school also has a youth company associated with it, and, as such, provides significant performance opportunities for young student dancers. For example, last spring they performed Balanchine's Stars & Stripes (among other things).


As far as I know, BWNE's year-round classes are exclusively ballet.


The Walnut Hill extension division (which preps students for the high school) is also small, and probably the most "free flowing" of the three. Kathryn Stark, the director, makes a point of personally teaching a significant number of classes at all levels, so that she really knows how each individual is progressing. In keeping with unsoccer-mom's comments, I think that Walnut Hill places students according to their individual talents and needs, and thus doesn't focus (at the extension level, anyway) on conducting a class that all progresses at the same pace through the year.


Perhaps because of its size and Vaganova tradition, Boston Ballet places students for a year at one level -- I don't know of any students who have taken class across levels (for example, three level 3 classes and one level four). I think Boston Ballet has a real focus on perfecting each level of the syllabus before moving on to the next.

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But there have been changes at Boston since the new director of the company, and also a new school director. I have not learned much about it yet, but thinking there might be some differences from the very Vaganova program now. And again, maybe not. Anyone know? I do not think the new director is Vaganova trained, and I heard there were faculty changes. Any truth to this?


Also, I recently held an audition in Boston for our SI, and I was very impressed with the students from Walnut Hill. I had quite a large number of them, male and female, and they are well trained. Much improvement in the level of students from there in the last few years!

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The Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education's website states that the interim principal of the school is Diedre Miles Burger, and that she "received much of her training from the Boston Ballet School." I don't know whether the school used Vaganova when she was a student there, but she may have a Russian influence. To be honest, I am not totally sure the Boston Ballet School is pure Vaganova--their students and graduates don't really look it, anyway. The site only lists principals and assistant principals, not teachers, so I don't really know who's actually teaching the students. I'm pretty sure Nissinen got rid of Terekhova and Berezhnoi, who were the ballet mistress and master, respectively, so that Russian influence is gone, at any rate. However, it does list Eva Evdokimova, who I'm sure will be very good for the company.

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there is also Jose Mateo's Ballet Theatre of Boston... i belive its in Cambridge


a trainee in my company is from BBSchool... i dont know about the guys but she is very stong, with clean technique... no extra "flounces" and "flops" just nice and to the point

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Hans, my understanding is that the new school director is Rachel Moore, formerly ABT, but I do not know her training history.

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