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Ballet Schools- Canadian Pre-Professional Schools

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:) Okay, I've started this thread because I think there are more options than people realize, but I am only looking for the very top schools here. I realize many rec schools in Canada have graduated beautiful professional dancers and many other schools have set themselves up as pre-pro schools with all the right class names, etc., but I would like to see only the very best, so here are my guidelines (please argue if you think they are not reasonable as they are very much off the top of my head and open to discussion).


Please, please post to this thread if your child goes to a very good pre-pro in Canada, it would be a great deal of work to find all of this out myself. Like I know there is something in Saskatchewan, but I have no idea what! When you post, can you tell us a bit about the program? A link would be grand, is it company affiliated, is there some sort of accomodation arrangement, whatever else makes it unique. (Oh, no apprentice only programs, okay?)


The citeria, according to Moi :


1. Must have six days a week of classes (five?), technique every day, pointe most or all days (age appropriate)

2. Must have men's technique at least once a week

3. Must have regularly scheduled pas de deux (once a week would be good) definitely for the advanced but for the intermediate would be good too. A teacher once told me girls should learn pas de deux before they are too old or they will have a fear of the lifts. Makes sense if they are ready. No pas de deux means no professional school. Companies do not have time to train someone from scratch, you might make it into the corps with no pas experience, but you won't make it out, therefore the training is incomplete!

4. Must have some sort of arrangement for half day academics. Otherwise the work load is ridiculous and the students will be skipping one type of class or the other.

5. AND ... as proof of quality ... MUST have graduated at least one (hopefully more) students into major companies not affiliated with the school and / or won international competition(s) (the biggies only please)


So do you think we have some? Please let me know, I would love to hear from the rest of the country. I will start with these two from BC (I can think of three more maybe's from BC and many many from the rest of the country, but don't know enough about them to add them.)




http://www.gohballet.com/ ... well enough known quality I think ... let me know if you want more.


http://pacificdancearts.ca/ .... click on graduates, if you let the cursor rest on their names it will tell you where they are. Schedule is posted - intermediate and senior classes are also taken by the P-2 crowd and advanced by the P-1's. This is also an excellent school for adult dancers to clean up their technique or for late starters like a boy in his late teens who suddenly decides he wants to try. Also excellent for those with not quite perfect body type, etc., a schedule that can't do six days a week, etc. Check all the photos, you too can look like that!! Has had Evelyn Hart, Johnny Chang and many others teaching, does two shows a year and an occasional tour.

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Top Posters In This Topic

  • G2B4


  • Mel Johnson


  • Gracey


  • dancemomCA


G2B4 - your criteria will not get you many other schools across Canada than the ones previously mentioned in other threads, taking into account half day academics, housing arrangements, mens' technique classes, possibly affliated with a company, etc. There are probably one or two in Quebec? I live in Ottawa and there is not one dance school that would fit this criteria. Others may have more suggestions.

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Great thread idea! I don't know how to create a link, but Alberta Ballet has a school which I believe would fit the criteria. I don't know all the details of their schedule.

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dancemomCA : the company and accomodation were just include them if you have them, sorry I put the accomodation in the list of criteria so have edited it. I don't think we could call it an excellent school with no boys technique or academics, maybe just a very good one! I'm not expecting to get many, just more than two ... do you think the following do fit the criteria? If so, we are up to six! :)







Does anyone know about these?


Arts Umbrella (Vancouver)

Richmond Academy (Richmond, BC)

Academy of Ballet and Jazz (Ontario)

School of Dance (Ontario)

Ecole supérieure de ballet contemporain (Montreal)

Ballet Jorgen's school


I'm sure I've heard of more ... I guess I'll while away the idle hour googling!

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I'll try to give some info on School of Alberta Ballet but DD is away at her SI so I can't get specific info from her.


DD joined School of Alberta Ballet 4 years ago. I don't know much about the younger classes.

DD joined at the pre-elementary level in the Professional Division. Levels in the Professional Division from pre- el on are as follows:





Pre-Professional - for high school graduates to polish up before auditioning for companies


From the Elementary level on, classes run 6 days per week. Pre-els do not attend on Saturday (I think).

Technique daily, pointe several times per week where appropriate for the level.

Men's technique classes at the upper level

Pas de deux classes from Intermediate on. at last once a week. More as the levels go up since they are

working on repertoire.

Early dismissal from high school - 2 schools working with the ballet school, one Catholic, one not although students can work with other high schools as far as flex. in schedule.

As far as graduates go - the Principle of the school and his wife (head pedagogue) have only been with the school maybe 5 years. (Bios on the web site www.albertaballet.com) There are now 4 dancers from the School of Alberta Ballet dancing with the company (Alberta Ballet). This has happened since the arrival of the Kilgours (principle and wife).



Cecchetti classes for technique and exams (DD just took her advanced Cecchetti exam.)


Not a residential program but there are students who billet with staff members or have apartments within blocks of the ballet school. The school attracts many students from Japan who then arrange their housing together.


The info I've given is correct to the best of my knowledge!

We have been very pleased with DD's last 4 years.


DD gets wonderful feed back from her SI teachers in the US as to how well-trained she is.

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Heather Ogden hails from Richmond Academy - is it a RAD school?


Ontario School of Dance is primarily an RAD school, but I would consider them recreational rather then pre pro


Ballet Jorgen is affiliated with George Brown College - thus for student who are post secondary.


Academy of Ballet and Jazz - pre-pro vaganova where Järvi Raudsepp and Sarah Clark hail from

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Academy of Ballet and Jazz - pre-pro vaganova where Sarah Clark hails from
....as well as my daughter, who was, in fact, the first and only graduate of the professional program to be given a contract with a national ballet company straight from the school (meaning she didn't leave for a different professional school for "finishing").


Here is the link: Academy of Ballet and Jazz


There are errors and embellishments in a few of the student bios, unfortunately, as well as omissions and lack of updates (3 of the students profiled stopped dancing while still in their teens) ..... :thumbsup:

Still, students from the school have joined companies and the training is superb.

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So sorry Marga - of course you are right. As well you bring up a very good point about accuracy and the fact that some dancers receive training from more then one school.

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Thank you very much, Gracey, for editing your post. I really appreciate it. Some very good dancers are quietly living (and loving) their lives in ballet without the benefit of much media attention. It has always been so. :)


Two outstanding dancers who received the bulk of their training with Nadia Veselova are Ursula Szkolak and Sahra Maira.


Ursula dances in Banff every summer and has freelanced in Canada and Europe in addition to being a member of the companies named in her bio. Being a very tall dancer, close to 6 feet, limits the opportunities for this extremely talented young woman.


Sahra Maira left to study for two years at the Kirov Academy, from which she graduated (class of Nikolai Morozov). Her bio omits her 3 years of dancing with the Universal Ballet (invited by Oleg Vinogradov). She is still invited to dance with them on the occasions when she is free. She attained demi-soloist status there and is presently a demi-soloist with the Hungarian National Ballet which she joined in 2003.


I wasn't going to contribute to this thread because the Academy of Ballet and Jazz doesn't meet all the criteria laid out by G2B4. It is primarily a recreational school (takes everybody) and only a smattering of students intend to become professional ballet dancers. There have been really only my daughter, Sarah, Sahra, Ursula, and Jennifer (almost -- she is presently in New York with the DTH school, having been given an apprenticeship to DTH last year, which, of course, doesn't actually rehearse as a company right now while it is in funding limbo) who have experienced becoming professional dancers. One of the profiled dancers, who is with ENB, attended the school for a few years while a child and then was accepted to NBS, from which she graduated. She attended our school's summer course for many years but was an NBS student during the year. Some other professional dancers have attended the summer course or taken classes for a short while before going elsewhere for their continued training (Noah Long, mentioned earlier in this thread, being one of them). One young man, who has been dancing with the Stuttgart Ballet for a number of years, took classes at the Academy one summer while at NBS and, deciding to change to our school, was advised by our directors to go to the Kirov Academy (from which he graduated) for the training in men's technique and partnering he would not be able to get at our school. We simply don't have enough boys.


So, we do not meet the 2nd criteria point ("Must have men's technique at least once a week"). Usually the few (1-3) boys are given their men's movements while the girls are changing into their pointe shoes. In the summers when there have been at least 2 boys, there is partnering once or twice a week as long as the boys are there. Some don't attend the whole 5 weeks. And, they have to partner a whole bunch of girls!


Those students who are clearly becoming professional receive their pas de deux practice and experience outside of regular classes in weekly or bi-weekly rehearsals, as well as stolen moments in class. They are welcome to use the adjacent studio, if it is vacant, for personal practice. The teachers give a lot of extra time to the serious (ballet career-track) students.


Another criteria point not exactly met is "pointe most or all days". Pointe class for the advanced students is twice a week (an hour each time, one of them being a variations class). Again, those who are learning variations for a competition, or for roles in the year-end production, or for Nutcracker, receive extra tuition outside of class. From February on, rehearsals once, twice, or many more times a week, depending on roles, offer more time on pointe, practicing and perfecting the choreography of the chosen year-end ballets. The strongest students receive the most attention as they dance the most roles and/or compete. Presently, there is no competition preparation going on. The year-end showcase presents two full ballets, one for younger children with older students in solo or leading roles, and a full-length classical ballet. Sometimes a short modern ballet on pointe is presented as well.


"Must have regularly scheduled pas de deux (once a week would be good)": As I mentioned earlier, lack of boys makes this impossible. Even when there are two or three strong, ballet-career seeking, boys, there is no regularly scheduled pas de deux class. Pas de deux is practiced in preparation for the year-end show, and then there is once a week rehearsal -- or more -- for those involved. What is learned depends on the ballets being presented. It is always a classic: SL, SB, DonQ, etc.


"Must have some sort of arrangement for half day academics."


"Otherwise the work load is ridiculous and the students will be skipping one type of class or the other."

Yes. :D


As you may glean from what I have written, the Academy of Ballet and Jazz is not your usual pre-pro ballet school. It isn't really a pre-pro school at all but for the handful of students with professional intentions. (Over the years, a few students' families have even moved to be closer to the school.) For those lucky few who really want to dance classical ballet and will do everything it takes to achieve their goal, it is the best place to receive total and correct Vaganova training from extraordinary teachers. For the serious student, the training received will be comparable to that received in St. Petersburg. I would not send my child anywhere else. As in official pre-pro schools, the talented students will receive extra attention and roles and training. Focussed commitment to ballet is duly rewarded.

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G2B4 - I am not sure all those requirements are absoutely necessary to classify a school as a prepro. Those would be ideal, but are they absolutely necessary?

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I've numbered these criteria because I'm starting to find them cumbersome. Thank you all so much for all the information!


Rosentom, thank you so much for that wonderful reply re. School of Alberta Ballet. It looks like a wonderful school and definitely one we will watch with interest. It doesn't yet meet criteria number five, should we make them an apprentice? :yucky: I would lift number five but it would let in some that I know don't suit my idea of excellent - it is relatively easy for a regional company to have an affiliated school that meets the other criteria and it is definitely the fashion out here for people to call themselves a pre-pro when they do not have the quality you would expect and are frequently not as good as some of our rec. schools (many of whom HAVE met number five). But Alberta Ballet definitely does not look like that category and I'm sure will be something we can be very proud of.


Marga thank you so much for all the information on the Academy of Ballet and Jazz, that email was a wonderful source of information for all of us.


Gracey what requirements would you like to lift? They certainly aren't all necessary to be classified as a pre-pro, but as I said the most surprising schools are being classified as pre-pros! What I wanted was a list of the very top schools, all more or less equal in quality so a child would not feel shortchanged leaving one for another. So not a list of pre pro schools, but a list of excellent ones.


And by the way, I have so far got two, plus one apprentice! I can nominate who I think might belong, but we need someone who goes there to tell us what it's like for sure. I'm sure we all found Marga's and Rosentom's emails very enlightening, so do you think we could have the same for Quinte and RWB (dancemomCA?) and NBS (dancindaughters?)? Or anyone?


Arts Umbrella and Richmond both have at least 1, 2 and 4 met, and Richmond has 5 as well with several dancers with good careers, possibly they both meet all five points, I just can't confirm that ... I don't think Arts Umbrella has 5, they list someone at Stuttgart but I think that might be one of those situations like Marga was talking about.


Reading back over this and the thread that Gracey started, I can see I was rather astoundingly naive as to what is (or isn't!) happening in the rest of the country. I think I just assumed that since Vancouver has two schools as good as Goh and PDA, and several very close and I'd heard of a couple others across the country, that we must have loads of quality training. (We also have a very good adult dance centre in Vancouver called Harbour Dance. Someone in their late teens could actually get excellent training there in everything but pas de deux ... on a drop in basis.) Sorry for sounding like a Pollyanna guys, I had no idea it wasn't like this everywhere.


So now the question is, why on earth isn't it?!

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Umm... I don't think NBS needs "little ol' me" to speak for it. NBS's longstanding international reputation speaks quite well for itself. In any case, I don't know much at all about the upper levels, as my dd is only a summer school student and a very young one at that.


G2B4, imagine you were born in Churchill, MB or Smithers, BC or even in Nunavut... then you will know how where you live in our country has a huge influence on your opportunities for dance training. I think it is obvious to most people that Canada's small population and large geographic area means that many dancers have limitted options. Boarding schools such as RWB or NBS give kids from small towns a chance to pursue their dreams.

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" we need someone who goes there to tell us what it's like for sure. I'm sure we all found Marga's and Rosentom's emails very enlightening, so do you think we could have the same for Quinte and RWB (dancemomCA?) and NBS (dancindaughters?)? Or anyone? "


G2B4: If you do a search on RWB School or NBS I am sure will find many posts from numerous members whose dancers have attended the above mentioned schools in the past several years. For some of us who have posted pretty extensively about those schools during the time our dancers were there and have discussed many of the issues and concerns you have raised and have responded to specific issues with respect to those schools, to write a long post trying to describe a program within the confines of your criteria is something that I feel is redundant. What my dancer got out or did not get out of a specific program will not be the same as perhaps any other dancer and parent on this board.



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Dancindaughters, I was born in Smithers, BC, I was raised very close to even Nunavut and I still fail to see why there should be four excellent or close to it schools in Vancouver and four distributed across the rest of the country. I think I missed something there.


mmded, what I wanted to know about NBS and RWB was how they correspond to the class schedules in my first three points. If they only have pointe once a week or pdd once a month, then my criteria for measuring other schools should be adjusted too. Sorry for not making that clearer. I don't think I raised issues and concerns about those programs as none of my kids attended them, but I agree this would not be the place for an in depth discussion of them.

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My interpretation of issues and concerns is simply whether there is pas de deux or not on a regular basis, whether there is accomodation and whether or not there is half day academic programing etc. Perhaps I shouldn't have called them issues and concerns but that is what I see them as.

What I am really trying to say is it is really hard to categorize a program with a set of criteria and include it (or not) on a list of "best" schools and I am not sure how useful such a list would be. I could tell you what "it's like for sure" for my dancer but it would not be the same for your dancer or any another dancer on the board probably. Even if a school has everything on your list or a school is missing one or more requirements on your list there are going to be many who will not end up dancing professionally and a very, very small number who will. Perhaps arguably the most amazing and successful young dancer today has never trained at any school - pre-professional or otherwise, Daniil Simkin.

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