Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers to close ×
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Academic issues- Looking for boarding school

Recommended Posts

So I would love to go to a boarding school and having a good ballet/dance program is a must. I'm not sure if I wan to major in dance (join a company etc.) so I'd like to have a good education as well in order to get into good colleges. I don't know, but it seems like a lot of the major arts boarding schools (walnut hill, idlywild..) spend a lot of time on the arts, but not as much time on the education. Any suggestions for schools that have a good combination? thanks!

Link to comment

If by "good colleges" you are referring to Ivy League you might want to check out St. Paul's in Concord, New Hampshire. It may not necessarily turn out ballerinas that go on to join professional companies, however someone we know was able to be their Sugar Plum Fairy and got in to Harvard.

My impression was that Walnut Hill was known for its academics as well but I do not have any personal experience with the school.

Link to comment

My DD is in her second year at NCSA. While she may not graduate from high school with all the college credits that my non-dancing older son did, I have to say a lot is expected from them academically.

Currently, DD is swamped with end of the term projects AND getting ready for the winter dance workshop!

Link to comment
  • Administrators

I posted this link a while ago, following Prix de Lausanne:





This is an example of a dancer who has managed to combine academic studies at an elite prep school with intensive ballet study. Not a schedule for the faint of heart I would imagine, but this is one young man who will do well in a dance or academic arena.



Link to comment

The aforementioned very talented, bright and wonderful young man (he is a friend) is not a boarding student. However, he has managed a VERY challenging academic and dance schedule nonetheless. Just wanted to clarify based on topic of "boarding school with dance".

Link to comment

No Prix de Lausanne for me, but I was in a similar situation for my high school years--it was anything but easy. I'm very doubtful, based on my experience, that he is a boarding student at Milton. Boarding schools generally have some possessive issues of their students that are magnified significantly when you board. It took alot before my school would let me dance with an outside program due to conflicts with what they considered "required aspects of boarding life." Once I got things worked out, it was an experience I wouldn't have traded for anything and offered me some amazing experiences that I most likely never would have had otherwise, but it was tough getting to that point. Senior year though, I was dancing with a small regional professional company, a youth company, and dancing a full pre-professional schedule of 25-30 hours of class/week and also directing the student company at my school.


My suggestion to you would be to very carefully research and question the schools before you make a final decision. Ask, if you're planning on dancing with an outside program (like the boy in the link), what they're restrictions on that are and how transportation and such would be handled.


St. Paul's definitely springs to mind (I know of one fairly recent male grad now dancing professionally or at least had gotten offers and was accepted into a very competitive college program) as a school you might want to consider. Emma Willard (in Troy, NY) was one that I looked at that seemed very willing to work with students wanting to pursue an outside interest--they had a reasonable dance program but also seemed encouraging in the sense that they'd help you get transportation to other places (Albany Berkshire Ballet is nearby and they have a pre-pro program). Stoneleigh-Burnham school also has a decent dance department, though I don't believe it's at the same caliber as St. Paul's. Both Emma Willard and Stoneleigh are all-girls though, so I'm not sure if that's something you're willing to consider (I'm assuming you're female). What about Bossov/Maine Central Institute? Isn't MCI a decent school? I've also heard fairly good things about the academics at Walnut Hill--it's no St. Paul's, but the academics are good and students get into good colleges.

Link to comment

Interlochen is also strong academically and has a good dance program.

Link to comment

I would HIGHLY recommend looking into Concord Academy (Concord, MA). This is where I went, although not as a border. I loved it. I cannot possibly say enough good things about this school: I have never had such good, dedicated, and inspirational teachers, been so academically challenged, or met such an amazing group of students. I would consider the head of the dance department, Richard Colton, to be among the top three most influential people in my life (outside of my parents, of course!). I took dance 4-5 days a week at Concord throuhgout high school: mostly ballet, but for segments of the year we would do contemporary once or twice a week, and my freshman year we had jazz once a week. The ballet training is definitely contemporary based, which was an excellent compliment to my pre-pro school (starting in 10th grade: in 9th grade I was at Concord and also at a more recreational school for that year, to get adjusted). I danced about 20-25 hours a week in total. In the interest of full disclosure, it was very very busy: I would leave my house around 7:30 in the morning and not return until 9:30 or 10 at night, when I would start my homework. Concord is considered on par with schools like Phillips Andover and Exeter academically, although it has a less cutthroat and more artsy atmosphere, so this schedule was a challenge, but I loved it. I also developed amazing time management skills that have made a college schedule feel almost easy! I know this post has rambled on for awhile, but I just love that school so much--it really changed my life as a dancer, a student, and a person. If you want any more information please feel free to pm me!

Link to comment
  • Administrators

speaking to the original poster's question........I guess it all depends on what you define as a "good" college. There are a number of dance residency programs with solid academic programs. Graduates from these can and do go on to excellent post-secondary institutions...so it is difficult for us to give suggestions here beyond what you've seen already.


I live in Canada, so our family's experience with University applications and so forth is very different to what I've read about in the US. Here it's competitive, but the US schools seem to have created an entirely different dimension of competitiveness. :clapping:


Nevertheless, if you do well in school and continue with a challenging dance schedule, colleges should take note. One doesn't need to go away to school to accomplish this.


all the best,



Link to comment

pointemaniac, have you reviewed the threads on the residency schools in the Pre-Professional Schools/Residence Programs? They are listed alphabetically. Dancers and parents who have experienced the schools first-hand have often discussed the academic components of the individual schools. Some use local high schools (e.g., Harid and Virginia School of the Arts), some have their own academics (e.g., North Carolina School of the Arts), and some use on-line programs (e.g., The Rock). Some have a stronger focus on academics than dance (e.g., St. Paul).


The definition of 'good academics' and a 'good college' may vary from person to person. Therefore, it is rather difficult for us to provide you a definitive list. The balance between the dance aspect and the academic aspect of any given school is something you and your parents will need to decide for yourself.


Please do take some time to read through the various residency school threads and add any specific questions regarding the individual programs to the applicable thread.



Here is an earlier discussion that might be useful to you: Ballet residencies: a listing and discussion


There probably are other topics in this forum (Pre-professional Schools General Discussion) that touch or are relevant to you inquiry. You might just scroll through the index and drop in on interesting-sounding topics! :happy:

Link to comment

My DD goes to Walnut Hill and it is very academically challenging. We thoroughly checked the academic portion first before allowing her to audition. She will graduate with all credits and more than she will need to get into a good school. And their academics are recognized by colleges as well as their art programs. Having worked in the private boarding school world, you should look around at good schools (they are all over New England) and contact those that you are interested in to see if they can accomadate you. Most prep schools require their students to take a daily "sport" and you could be done by 1 PM and head to dance as your sport where available.


As the mother of 2 college grads, 1 in college and 1 college bound and having worked both sides of college admission, you should also think of what your definiton of a good college is. Not only will it help in your search for a prep school but also help you outline what courses you need and want and compare the schools you look at with the courses you need. Remember that a lot of prep schools do not have "AP" courses- they do not need to- all their classes are AP in the eyes of colleges. Ask what the average ACT/SAT is at the Prep school and ask to see where last years grad have gone. Ask about their college counseling as well. And be sure to visit the shcools you are interested in- a day on the campus can make a huge difference in your selection. Also check to see if they had an admission test, whcih one is it and how much does it rank in their admission selection. Do you want or have time and access to the test? There is often a lot of work to an admission process and your time may be running out if not over for many schools this year- admission applications often close the end of February or the middle of March.


One other note- many schools are single sex- as a dancer you may want to go with a coed school as many all boy schools are heavy with jocks.

Link to comment

Take a look at Maine Central Institute http://www.mci-school.org/ and Bossov Ballet Theatre. MCI offers general level courses and AP and Honors courses. There are plenty of AP and Honors classes for a full schedule each year. The ballet training is very good and has produced professionals.

Link to comment

I go to Interlochen Arts Academy, and we have dance for 5 hours every day and 4 hours of INTENSE academics. I came from a very good public school where i took all honors classes, and the academics here are challenging.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

You will want to ask each prospective school where they send their graduates, not just where they have been accepted. Walnut Hill has sent recent graduates to top schools including M.I.T. last year. If you have a particular college in mind, you can contact their admissions and ask how many students they accept each year from a particular high school or boarding school. Maine Central Institute (MCI) is a small school with a very strong ballet program Google Andrei Bossov. Some competitive colleges may spend more time looking at an application when they don't typically receive numerous applications from the same school. Remember, you must do your best to be in the very top of your class academically if "Ivy League" is your goal and the same goes for many "good" non-Ivy colleges as well.


If dance is your primary goal over academics, inquire where their dancing graduates are currently dancing for pay. Don't be afraid to ask if you can contact them. Personal recommendations for both colleges as well as dance programs are a great tool to have.


On a final note, my dd is a student at M.C.I. with high academic goals. With a great deal of hard work on her part to balance a full dance program and a challenging CP/AP academic program, she is doing very well towards attaining her personal goals.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...