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Tiers in Residential Schools

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I beat you to it Mouse! :ermm:

DD has contemplated moving to a residential school over the past year. We have put it on the back burner for now but should the desire/need arise again, how do we begin to decide what programs to consider? I understand cost is a huge factor as is location.

What I am curious about is what are the best schools in terms of training, reputation and future employment?

I realize acamdemics is important as well but I am interested in the ballet/dance portion only.

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  • Mel Johnson


  • Momof3darlings


  • K8smom


  • freespirit


Maybe one of the first places to start is by looking at the bios of dancers in companies to see where they trained. I think you would be able to get a fairly nice list of places that have a good reputation (both with training and placement) that way.

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This is like the question, "Which are the best SIs?", to which the answer is, "Whichever is the best fit for your child". Do the research on each school that you are considering, talk to your child's present teachers, and communicate with other BT4D parents whose children attend residential programs, if they are willing.


I know that this "ranking" has been attempted elsewhere, and the answers seem to differ depending upon who is doing the ranking!

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I don't think there is a definition or list of the tiers. In my mind the tiers have more to do with the popularity of the schools rather than quality of training. A top tier company would accept a smaller percentage of auditionees than a lower tier school. because the "top tier" school can have "the pick of the litter" they will also have a higher percentage of graduates going to top companies. I think a top tier school would also have a larger budget and staff. What's your definition of "top tier" or "second tier"?

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Just like colleges, I would think there is some sort of hierarchy of schools. Which residential schools would be considered the Ivy League of colleges? VS the local community colleges.

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One of my BT4D friends and I were joking recently and challenging each other to create the perfect new topic that is not so inflammatory as to get it closed immediately (Resolved: More dancers trained in XYZ method become knife-wielding lunatics than those trained in any other), but just edgy enough to make people a little crazy. I had just about decided that something having to do with an immutable parent-based physical feature (like the paternal grandmother's foot width), linking it to a desirable outcome (major company soloists and principals tend to have paternal grandmothers with wider feet) and tweaking it with a bit of gender warfare (but male soloists and principals' maternal grandmothers have a wider range of foot widths) would do the trick. But this topic has the potential to do well, too, if people feel compelled to start naming schools. Which I won't.


That said, though, I'll toss out what factors we've considered important as we contemplate residency for DD (in no particular order of importance, though I probably should sit down at some point and do that):


1. academics is very important to us, given the odds of making it in this field. Huge in fact.

2. a well-articulated curriculum or syllabus that favors slow but steady development and pays as much attention to how it handles young dancers (ages 13 and under) as it does to its nearly company-ready dancers

3. a moderate amount of performance, ideally with an affiliated company, but nothing that takes precedence over daily training

4. a break policy that encourages the kids to either not dance or do minimal dancing while on break: that tells me the school respects the importance of rest and recovery. this factor plus the one before it also say this school is in no rush to develop its dancers and publicly showcase them.

5. career planning as part of the training: how thorough is it, how successful is it with helping dancers find jobs or new careers?

6. with a young dancer, location is important. We want to be able to get there within a reasonable amount of drive time. And if we've got family nearby, all the better so they can serve as surrogate parents.

7. accessibility of adminstrators and teachers, and a good gut feeling about them as people. And no ugly surprises when you Google the name of the school and search terms like "legal, lawsuit, indictment and settlement."

8. the school's interest in the dancer: this might sound like only so much ego gratification, but usually if the school is really interested in the dancer, they come to you with some kind of a game plan for the dancer's development, and that tells you he or she is not going to be just another face in the crowd. We also regard significant financial aid offers a necessity but mostly because it confirms the school's sense of the dancer's potential. We believe residency should only be considered if everyone believes that potential is significant, otherwise a more avocational pursuit of dance would be the right thing to do. At least for our family.

For us, a first tier program is going to satisfy all these requirements (though admittedly location is more a personal factor than one that determines quality of the program).

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In my opinion, the concept of "tier" is a lot like "TVQ", a recognizability indicator, and may or may not be a reliable measure of a school's goodness or badness.

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I had to look up what TVQ ment. Here's what google got me:


TVQ measures the familiarity and appeal of all regularly scheduled broadcast programs, in all scheduled dayparts, to determine targeted audience attraction.


Now I know the definition of that, I agree Mel.

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And the thing about TVQ is that it's actually worked out by survey, Neilsen, Gallup and other polling services. I don't think that anybody's worked out a survey program for ballet schools that would be meaningful. Or at least, I wouldn't like to be in the room when they're doing the quantification of the data.

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Is there a list of pre-professional schools with affiliated companies that also publish typical contracts for dancers with pay scales? I have seen the listings with partial contract information in the industry magazines, but it would be interesting to see an overview as this relates to tier one/ two/ and three schools.

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I'm in perfect agreement with K8'smom. I think it will depend on who the person is which school is a good fit. As well, schools that were known 8 years ago to be "the" school are not necessarily thought of in that way now due to changes in staff, directorship, etc.



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Can schools be ranked in terms of placement rate upon graduation or within X years of graduation? If your goal in seeking a residency is to produce a company-ready dancer, then I would think this statistic would be of prime importance.

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The question that I would have would be - how would you know how long each dancer had been at a particular program? I know of dancers who have been to more than one res program during their HS years, so who gets the credit if a dancer is hired somewhere after graduation?

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According to my (unscientific- just read their bios and tried to keep track) research of the dancers at ABT (Principals, Soloists, Corps, and Studio Co.,), there seems to be a wide range of paths that these dancers took that landed them at ABT. There are some common threads, such as many studied at one time or another with either SAB's or ABT's SI., but that's not the only way.


Moscow Ballet School- 1

School of Dance in Kiev-1

Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colon-5

National Ballet School of Cuba-3

Victor Ullate School-5

Kiev Ballet School-1

Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Royal Ballet School finishing-1

Le Studio in Pasadena, then West Coast Ballet Theatre, then Halliday Dance Centre-1

School of Classical Ballet, Moscow-1

Helena Lobato and Dalal Achcar Ballet Schools- I’m guessing that the following are SI’s: The Harid Conservatory, Paris Opera Ballet, Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet, Cuballet- 1

Minsk Ballet School- 1

Academy of the Maryland Youth Ballet-1

Bolshoi Ballet School- 2

Columbia City Ballet- (NCSA Finishing)- 1

Madison, Wisconsin (local school), School of Milwaukee Ballet, CPYB, SAB- 1

Vaganova Ballet Academy-2


Arizona Ballet School-1 then POB school

National Ballet School of Romania. Finishing at Westside School of Ballet, and SAB-1

Ayako School Of Ballet, Bay Area Youth Ballet, City Ballet School (teachers from these places) (UBA Finishing)- 1

Uruguay National Ballet School-1

Alberta Ballet School, Finishing at RWB-1

SAB, then Pacific NW Ballet school-1

Draper Dance Studio-1

San Diego City Ballet School-1

Severance School of Dance-1

NCSA- from 15 on-1

Calvert-Brodie Studios in Columbia, South Carolina, Harid from 14 on-1

Houston Ballet Academy-2

Academy of Russian Ballet, UBA from 12 on-1

Ballet Arts, then Alvin Ailey School-1


San Pedro Dance Center, Finishing at Lauridsen Ballet Center-1

National ballet School of Canada-1


Boston Ballet School-1

Giacobbe Academy of Dance, (SAB finishing- 1)-2

Palm Beach Center, finishing at SFB-1

Lauridsen Ballet Centre-1


Shanghai Ballet School-2

RWB school, then UBA, then Royal ballet School-1

Ballet Dallas, then Houston Ballet Academy- 1 yr.-1

Paris Opera Ballet, then Academy of Dance Salle Playel in Paris-3 yrs. Then English National Ballet School in London, then SAB-1

Eastern Virginia School of the Performing Arts, then UBA-1

L’Institut Superieur d’Art-1

Mobile Ballet, then NCSA-1

Helena Baron School of Ballet-1

Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts-1

Belorussian Choreographic School-1

Memphis Classical Ballet, then Draper Center for Dance Education-1

Inland Pacific Ballet, then Orange County High School of the Arts-1

Diane East School of Ballet-1

Hawaii State Ballet-1

Ballet Arts Minnesota, then UBA-1

Midwest Academy & Ruth Page Academy, then SAB-1


School of Ballet Oklahoma-1

Centro Mineiro de Dancas Classicas-1

Real Conservatorio Professional de Danza de Madrid-1

Instituto Colombiano de Ballet-1

Ballet Academy of Miami, then MCB academy-1

California Ballet, then UBA-1

CPYB, then SAB & POB school-1

Ballet Theatre of Central Pennsylvania, finishing SAB-1

Richmond Ballet Center for Dance, then Studio Maestro-1

Sun-hwa Arts Middle School, then 3 yrs @ UBA, then 1 yr @ John Cranko-1


School of Oregon Ballet Theatre, then SAB-2

Seiskaya Ballet, then Royal ballet School-1

Bangkok- Dance Centre and Varaporn & Kanjana Schools, then Goh Ballet Academy-1

Alabama Ballet School-2

Suitland High School for the Arts, then Dance Theatre of Harlem-1

State Street Ballet-1

Terry Simpson Studio, Australia-1

LaGuardia High School-1

Academy of Colorado Ballet, then Harid-1

South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities-1

Royal Ballet School-1

The Pavlovich School of Dance of Columbia Classical Ballet, then 2 yrs. UBA-1

Studio of Classical Ballet, then 2 yrs NCSA-1

The National Theatre Ballet School, Australia -1

Ballet Hispanico, then SAB-1

Irine Fokine School of Ballet-1

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Very good question K8's. In addition, when looking at company/school bios. You have to ask yourself: How long had a student been there, 4 years, Senior year only? If from professional bios, did the student go to the residency for school or for summer only, can you distinguish that?

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