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Ballet Schools- Canadian Pre-Professional Schools

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OK - I'm going out on a limb here, I'm sure there are dissenting views; however, I do believe that when we are speaking of "Pre-pro" ballet schools in the truest sense we are only speaking of NBS, RWB, Quinte, Goh, Alberta Ballet, Ecole Superior and Les Jeunes (?) (Quebec). I may be missing out on the East Coast, however, many eastern students study at the above-named schools. As mmded posted earlier, there are many threads/posts about these schools that could be reviewed and contain a wealth of information.


These are schools which offer intensive ballet schedules with daily/frequent pointe, boys' classes, partnering, residences, academics and/or billet families with excellent teaching staff. IMO - I would not really consider any other school to be pre-pro (although many like to use that title) - yes, some excellent rec schools have graduated students who have gone pro - Marqa's daughter is one, I know of one (in 15 yrs) at DS's old hometown school, but they are very few and far between. Most local rec schools simply do not have the number of ballet hours per week required to produce a pro-track student, most have NO boys, therefore no partnering or ppd classes. Teaching staff in most cases is not what you would find at Canada's larger schools, etc.


Also, I take a dancer's bio with a grain of salt - if it is not updated, or contains embellishments or omissions, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain where they truly trained. Most talented/ambitious dance students started off at hometown local rec studio, then probably auditioned for one of the larger schools to continue training at a higher, intense level. Often many of these students go on to do 1 or 2 years of post-grad training elsewhere and it may not be ballet - it may be modern, musical theatre, college, etc.


Now you guys can fire away! :D

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  • G2B4


  • Mel Johnson


  • Gracey


  • dancemomCA


No firing here DancemomCa. As a parent who has turned away from the traditional fulltime prepro schools for academic reasons, it is very challenging to put together a fulltime ballet schedule similar to that of the fulltime ballet school.


There is also where I think the US excels. A great many of their programs are afterschool or early release - thus leaving the parent a choice on where their child is taught academically and not requiring them leave home. The downside of that is the driving a parent must do!


For some parents who are happy with the academics provided be it at the school such as NBS or with an affiliated school such as RW, then this is not an issue.


What I do find though is that once there is potential noted and a school is made aware of the intentions of the dancer, they usually bend over backwards to see what they can do within their program to help.

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Thank you all for all of your contributions to this thread! I've learned a great deal and I really appreciate all of your input. :D


The purpose of this thread was never to find an ideal school for a particular or all children, just to find out what our options were. It was also certainly never intended to make anyone feel territorial about "their" school or region, we are all one country and these schools are assets for all of us, what works for one of our children may not work for another. And it was definitely not intended to stir up old issues and concerns! I truly feel that it is far healthier for parents, the schools themselves, and most of all the children, for us to have some options. In an earlier thread started by Gracey I had been very surprised to hear all of the discouragement about the amount of high quality training out there and I didn't think it was so bad. Now I am beginning to understand.


Without stepping on anyone's toes, I will just say what the situation is in BC and leave it at that. You can decide for yourself how this "rates" with your province and one day it would be great to have a discussion on why the differences, but probably not on this thread with this heading!


BC Schools:


Goh http://www.gohballet.com/

PDA http://pacificdancearts.ca/

Arts Umbrella http://www.artsumbrella.com/

The Richmond Academy of Dance .... I can't find a link for this. I know they have graduated several professional dancers : Heather Ogden is one, but there are others ... I just don't have time to google.


If dancemomCA's schools are all pre-pros, then these four definitely are.


"These are schools which offer intensive ballet schedules with daily/frequent pointe, boys' classes, partnering, residences, academics and/or billet families with excellent teaching staff." They actually all four meet my five points as well. http://magee.vsb.bc.ca/ This is one of the academic schools associated with the half day programs for at least Goh and Arts Umbrella (the others may be different). Look up the SPARTS program; the school is wonderful and accomodating re. exam and project scheduling, etc. and has a very high standard for a public school. Some AP courses.


There is (was?) also a dance school affiliated with Ballet Victoria, there may be one affiliated with Ballet Kelowna. If not, it would make sense that there would be soon.


There is a supposedly very good mentor program affiliated with Ballet BC as well. (I mean one older than the Arts Umbrella program.) http://www.balletbc.com/company/dancer-training/


There is a BFA in dance program at Simon Fraser University. It offers a dance major, an extended minor in dance, and a joint degree / diploma program with the National Ballet School. http://www.sfu.ca/sca/html/dance_1.html It also apparently offers a virtual dance program "Dancing in Cyberspace: Creating with the Virtual Body"!! http://cade.athabascau.ca/vol12.1/garlandnaugle.html


The University of BC has two dance clubs http://www.ubcdanceclub.com/ , http://www.ubcdancehorizons.com/ and a dance team http://www.ubcdanceteam.com/.


The University of Victoria has a ballroom dance club and the UVic Dance Company. http://recplus.uvic.ca/sportsclubs/index.html


There is a youth company (lots of modern in the performing but lots of ballet in the training) open by audition to all Vancouver Island dancers http://www.dancestreams.ca/ . And another in New Westminster for lower mainland students that does a Nutcracker and an SI http://www.royalcityyouthballet.org/#


There is an awesome adult / late teen drop in dance centre in Vancouver http://www.harbourdance.com/ You will actually receive training and corrections here similar to a good SI - year round!


In addition, there are at least four rec schools that I know of that have GRADUATED (from pinkiehood) more professional dancers than a couple on dancemomCA's list.


So I am starting to understand that we were talking from different worlds entirely on the earlier thread. The other concern that was mentioned on the earlier thread was that enough was not being done to find employment for graduates and that others had "many more performing and touring opportunities while still in training". Since the Goh Ballet will be in China in two weeks and they have three kids at Varna right now, I don't think I can echo that complaint either. According to their website, the Goh has :


- had past tours and joint productions with other companies that included China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, France, The United States and Canada.


- Earned 19 Solo Seals from the Royal Academy of Dancing (the highest honor awarded).


- Received special awards and medals from:


International Genee Competition (Royal Academy of Dancing)

Prix de Lausanne, Switzerland

Asia Pacific International Ballet Competition, Japan

NBA Competition, Japan

International Award for Roseta Mauri, Spain

Helsinki International Ballet Competition

Varna International Ballet Competition, Bulgaria

Japan National Pas de Deux Competition

Seoul Korea International Ballet Competition

IV USA International Ballet Competition

Jackson Hole International Ballet Competition


I can't imagine how much work was required to get those medals and organize those tours, not to mention the effort in training kids to that standard. I think the other schools also do some touring, I'm not sure of the specifics. I know PDA went to Mexico last year and is I think going to China soon. PDA has an annual show called Art in Motion that Evelyn Hart and Johnny Chang danced at for many years in a row.


Anyway, it's been very educational, and I do thank you all for your input, especially Marga and Rosentom, you answered all that I wanted to know about those schools! :lol:

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:thumbsup: G2B4 - you have not stirred up old issues or concerns, BC may be different than the rest of the country, but in all honesty there is not really that many other dance schools already mentioned which offer the type of training and specifics you describe. I'm glad to hear that your province has many excellent choices. :shrug:


BTW- I just looked over some of the BC schools you mentioned and looking at the grads of Pacific Ballet, there is one mentioned who is now an apprentice with RWB. But this dancer is not a Graduate of Pacific Ballet who went directly to RWB - he "started" at 14 at Pacific Ballet, also attended Virgina School of Arts, spent summers in Pittsburgh, Boston, Banff, studied in the professional program at RWB, and graduated from the RWB Aspirant program in 2005. So really, his formative years were not spent at Pacific Ballet - I know I'm splitting hairs here, but I think some of these schools take great license with their "grads" especially when they link the company website to the name when in fact they may have only studied there for one or two years. It's not sour grapes here, as my DS knows this dancer, but can you see the confusion this type of advertising causes? And this happens all the time on both sides of the border!


Thank you for all the info on BC!

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dancemomCA - thank you for your reply! I'm trying to shut this thread down because I think it's getting a little edgy and I don't want anyone to be hurt or feel slighted ... but I couldn't resist your "new topic"! Maybe we should start a thread somewhere about dancers training in multiple locations? :thumbsup:


PDA has two men at RWB. I'm not sure which you mean, but I think similar could be said of all PDA dancers. He very much encourages them to spend summers away, and he has many many that are accepted elsewhere or come to him from elsewhere. The point I think is, that beautiful dancers from and to everywhere choose to come and spend a few years with Li. And it is very intense training, you will not leave with little improvement. He has (my opinion) "rescued" several that have spent some time at other schools and then been told to leave, they frequently then move on to other schools with companies attached. So who gets the credit? Well, I think it should be up to the dancers to decide who gets the credit. Have you ever heard Gelsey Kirkland's list?! (Both the RWB men list Pacific Dance Arts in their bios. I think all of his graduates do. Edited to add : Here is an interview with a Houston dancer who credits Li for his training. Bottom of page 3. http://www.benom.com/links/FPspring.pdf)


Earlier in this thread there was a question "Are there large numbers of talented and serious students in the pre-teen levels? (at Goh)". Sorry I didn't answer, the answer is yes, Goh has many lovely pinkies, but do they need them? Personally, I would rather my kids were out playing in the dirt at that age, I don't think preteen training is the same as serious training. You are training a body that, for the most part, doesn't exist until after puberty. And yes, some kids come to Goh from other schools, but they come for a reason, the training is exactly what they need at that time.


I am a huge supporter of dancers moving around, spending their summers especially learning other techniques and when you get a chance to study with someone exceptional, you do it. The school matters in that it provides the resources for the number of classes required, but really I think the teacher matters more and my DK says you start to know what they will say in combinations, what they look for in a pirouette, what they hate and what they don't mind ... so it is good to switch around! I don't think that's a terribly Canadian attitude, maybe we need a thread about Canadian loyalty to their schools?! I also don't really like how extremely territorial some schools get with their best dancers. I don't think it's a coincidence that many of our working dancers have a lot of schools on their resumes.


After all that, yes I agree it makes it hard to rank a school, but I think if they have enough kids on their list we can assume they are worth looking at! :shrug:

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oh G2B4 - I don't think this thread is getting edgy or hurtful and the info is really remarkable. I have to say that this is more info on the west coast then I have heard ever. I have always known that BC has a number of fine training facilities, more so then the rest of canada. It makes me envious!

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Thanks Gracey and dancemomCA. :ermm: I have read other lists of good places to train, but it was always hard to tell just what they were like and categorizing schools by opinion has the potential to be hurtful, so I put the criteria and now I understand that that was divisive too! :( Fortunately I have said everything I know about anything (and some guesses!) and have nothing else to add. If anyone else remembers a fine school and wants to say something, we'd still love to hear.

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I know of nothing in sask, and only smaller schools in the east coast which are rec schools.


I wonder if the lack of schools has anything to do with the lack of companies.


We saw Les grand Ballet Canadian which was impressive. Though outside of NBoC, most of the companies in Canada would be considered regional. Infact (and I may be shot for this) on a international scale would NBoC not also be considered regional?

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My exposure to Canadian ballet training is limited and I've only seen some schools from eastern Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, plus some little bit in British Columbia, but I'd have to say that it gives me a sense of dèja vu, as it looks a lot like the US did in the early 1960s, just before the Ford Foundation-fueled bump that started the ballet boom that lasted nearly twenty years. There are a few "name" schools, mostly affiliated with a performing outlet (a real professional company), a few good independent schools with high standards, and a lot of teachers who would like to be doing more, but for one reason or another (usually economic) are stymied from taking their students that important next step.

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Thanks Mel, for that input! Here are some birthdays:


Royal Winnipeg Ballet 1939

National Ballet of Canada 1951

Goh Ballet 1978


How does that compare to the states? Did you have other companies before NYCB? Thank you for your perspective, we were getting terribly Canadian here! :ermm:

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For sure! ABT started as just plain BT in 1940. There were a lot of little "opera ballets" in Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles, but they were a lot like the best of the pickup companies, regionals and first-line civic companies of today. San Francisco was an established company before the earthquake (They only date themselves from 1933, but I think they're being stingy)! And the US had the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, which could actually demonstrate a descent from the Diaghilev Ballets Russes which came out of Russia in 1909. The forebears of NYCB bore a lot of resemblance to the regionals, too. Did you know that the American Ballet (cf. School of American Ballet) went bust in Scranton, Pennsylvania? And you thought closing in Baltimore was tough!

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So you guys aren't THAT much older and you are so much farther along ... I wonder if someone's earlier post re. government funding wasn't bang on. We do have a habit of robbing Peter to pay Paul which makes life a little rough on Peter. And maybe it's significant that ballet is booming the farther away it gets from TO. Alberta is getting a nice company, but the Ottawa Ballet went under, didn't it Ottawa people? Do you think the Maritimes are putting all that ballet energy into Irish dance or something instead?

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What jump-started the American ballet boom wasn't government funding. It was a private foundation (Ford) that did it. (Why am I using automotive metaphors?) At the time they began contributing to ballet, the US government was even more theatre-phobic than they are today. But Canada IS different from the US in several important ways, and what worked here might not work there, although I daresay, it might not hurt to try! Yoo-hoo! MacLean's! Got a couple spare millions hanging around? Why not donate it to the cause of shoring up urban ballet companies and encouraging the spread and improvement of ballet teaching in suburban and rural areas?

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"Actually, there is a company in Eastern Ontario: The Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada:"


Is the Atlantic Ballet in eastern Ontario mom2? I always just assumed it was in the maritimes. What DO they have out there then? ('ll bet they're highland dancing ...!) :ermm:

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