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Ballet Talk for Dancers

School of American Ballet

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  • napnap


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One thing about the monthly unlimited. You can only use it once every 20 minutes (except for transfer), but there is no prohibition about sharing it. So, theoretically, your child could share an unlimited w another student(s). They would use a supplementary dollar-value card when traveling together or when both need the card, but they could pass the unlimited back and forth. This is an arcane solution and best for roommates and the very organized...Try posing your question to New Yorkers (vs ballet parents) and you might get other suggestions.

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@learningdance - you're right, just checked again, it's $112...that's a little better!


@Petroafossil - not a bad idea about passing back and forth - thanks!

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  • 5 months later...

Does SAB ever cut dancers from the upper levels, like C1, C2, and D? Wouldn't that have to happen to make room for other dancers seen at the SI and invited to stay? When do students typically find out if they are invited back for the next year?

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Oh, so it is not automatic acceptance for the next year in these levels. I was wondering how they might have room for others, since the classes seem to be pretty small.

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Invitations go out in late May, generally calls are made a week beforehand to inform dk's they haven't been invited back. Some may know sooner only because a decision regarding school/education needs confirmation of Fall status. I believe that is all levels, so nothing is automatic.

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Not to beat a dead horse....but you can (and in some cases, will) be cut at anytime at SAB. Your status is never guaranteed. As it was explained to me by a SAB alum and ex-NYCB Principal dancer, years ago (like 30 years) the school was different...more like a conservatory model (think Bolshoi, where after passing the extensive audition to get in you were in till the end) now it has a different business model.

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It's had its current model for over 20 years. My close friend's daughter was cut from the year-round back in 1994. I remember knowing about that possibility even before that when I first starting sewing for a different pre-pro in 1991 and a student was trying to decide whether or not to attend SAB after having been accepted to the year-round. She told me then that each year there was a possibility of being cut. BTW, she did choose SAB and she wasn't cut, but she never had the career I thought she could've had if she had stayed where she was for her last two years of training. She was on track for being a great professional ballet student, but she needed individual corrections and emotional support which she got at her original pre-pro, but not at SAB. I always thought it was a shame.


It's not unusual among some of the "A-list" pre-pros to be cut. I've personally known students who've had that experience with HARID as well. It's very tough being told late in the year that you won't be returning in the fall. You have to scramble to find a new place. Yet I'm not criticizing the practice at all. When a pre-pro has the reputation of producing the finest dancers, it's swarmed with applicants. Of course they're going to choose the ones that they feel they can work with the best. It doesn't mean the dancer won't have a career. In the case of the HARID dancer, she went on to Houston Ballet's school and has been dancing professionally, and very happily, with a well-known ballet company for the last 10 years. There is ballet life for many dancers cut from prestigious programs. Not everyone can go away to a pre-pro and thrive. Some need more of a hothouse type of attention; after all, they're still just teenagers.

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Even in just our tenure their it changed dramatically. In 2007 when we started, Peter Martins and Kay Mazzo ran the Artistic and Business side of the school, in 2009 it changed quite a bit as they/the board carved out the business side and hired an executive manager.


The School then definitely changed quite a bit, less touchy feely, more matter of fact. The school also grew from about 300 year round to like 525 during the same period. So definitely got less personal. For example, all students could get two free tickets to almost all performances, but as the school grew the privilege got abused, I.e. People reserving them for friends and relatives, so then all ticket privileges were removed and only available for advanced students. More focus on revenue, it used to be if you were late with tuition you could still dance, but even that changed.


Definitively became more revenue focused less family like.

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After all, it is a business. At present, I would not describe it as "touchy feely" at all. However, there are some very hands-on teachers in class. Student are issued tickets to performances through lottery. Also, students have developed a strategy to get in to all shows; however, I cannot share this strategy publicly at this time. :angelnot:

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Napnap, not so sure a not-for-profit constitutes a true business, particularly in SAB's case however I don't think their tuition covers the whole fixed cost of the operation, considering that they also provide up to $1.5mm in scholarship money each year to summer and year round students alike.


But when financial donations scaled back during the financial crisis in 2008-9 they were forced to squeeze more revenue out of their operations.

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Strong, well-run nonprofit organizations, like SAB, have adopted many best practices from business, like expecting students to pay their tuition and reducing overhead (i.e., free performance tickets for everyone).

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I remember reading sometime between 2007 - 2009 (the crash years) that the Ford Foundation, who generously supported NYCB for decades, had to drop a considerable amount of their support to them as well as other institutions due to the economic crash. So it's not surprising at all that NYCB, who never really had to think much about money, got serious about it. Since then, the ballet company has decreased their corps ranks and increased the ranks of both year-round and summer students. So I'm not surprised they've lost a lot of their personal touch. They finally had to start facing the reality that nearly every other ballet school has always faced.

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FYI, It wasn't meant as a criticism on my part to say that they changed their business model. I actually have admiration for how they have not only survived, but thrived in the changed landscape of arts administration (fewer donations, fewer government grants). I just think there is so much "mythology" out there about the school. It is important to remember these schools are businesses, and as such caveat emptor! LOL

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