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Natomas Charter School

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I am going to Natomas Charter School for performing arts next year, and wondered if anyone had any information on it.


I know this isnt a typical "pre-pro" school, but I dont know where else to put this?

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My daughter attended the homeschool program and has several friends at the performing arts school. What specifically do you want information on?

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How good the dance program is.

Ive heard mixed reviews second hand,

but I'd like to hear someone's opinion

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I've never heard of it, and had to google the faculty for 'dance'. I really know nothing at all about it. Maybe someone else can help? :yes:

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  • Administrators

I did go to the website yesterday, and read the student handbook. I wasn't familiar with the two dance faculty names, but as I am in Canada and the school is in California that probably doesn't mean much!


My initial impression was that there are a LOT of rules. I work for a public school board here, and haven't ever seen quite so many rules. Is this common in California schools?




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Natomas is a charter school which means it is a public school and subject to public school regulations but there is a parent board as well and they make a lot of the decisions too. The rules for Natomas are very strict and children are expected to be disciplined and to work hard. They can be dismissed from the school if they aren't willing to follow the rules.


The school combines a middle school and a high school so there are students ranging in age from 12 to 18. The academics were reviewed last year by an accredidation committe and found to be somewhat lacking but that may be because the point of the school is to give children who are not good at traditional academics a different way to learn. The school is divided into three sections: PFAA the Performing Arts School, Leading Edge which is the technology school and PACT which is the homeschool arm.


None of the girls at my daughter's pre-pro school take ballet at Natomas. They have said the classes are not hard enough for them. Most of her friends are 13 and have been on pointe for almost two years to give you a comparison. Many of them will take the jazz or musical theatre classes since they don't get those at the studio. I understand that the musical theatre classes are excellent. I would say that if you are looking for a rigorous dance program you won't find it at this school. My daughter says that the ballet program only goes up until Pointe 1 and they don't offer enough point or ballet classes for the serious ballet student


They have a beautiful new theatre on campus that is very state of the art and they have teachers that come in from the arts community to teach - Ron Cisneros for example used to be a choreographer for Disney and he teaches musical theatre. I don't know who is teaching ballet at the moment. The studios for dance are small but well equipped. My daughter doesn't like the floors though. When she took classes there the air conditioning didn't work when it was hot and the heater didn't work when it was cold.


The students have lockers and showers but there is a waiting list for the dance classes so not all the students who would like to take can and the arts are actually electives so many students only take one dance class a semester.


I would say that the atmosphere at the school is very nice. The students are well behaved and are there because they want to be there. All students admitted to PFAA have to audition to get in but priority is given to students in the Natomas area. Other students from other parts of Sacramento can attend but they are further down the list.


I would say that my daughter's friends enjoy going to the school and they enjoy being around other students who love the arts. My daughter however says shoe would not want to attend because the academics aren't strong and the dance program is not what she is used to at her pre pro school



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My initial impression was that there are a LOT of rules. I work for a public school board here, and haven't ever seen quite so many rules. Is this common in California schools?


Oh lordy! Yes. This school is low on rules compaired to the public school I currently attend.





Thank you so much!!!

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  • Administrators

Dana, the thing about most public charter schools, at least those which are performing arts schools, are very limited in terms of classes for serious students of ballet. They can be a supplement to another school, but definitely not the only means of training.

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Oh of course not! I am still going to be attending two other ballet schools, taking 13 classes (as of now) at one studio and 5-6 at another.

I had to audition to get into this school aswell. I believe I was one of the only freshmen who got in.

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My daughter went to a similar school in our area last year as a freshman and was very dissapointed. Their top level of ballet was where she was as a freshman. Of course, they don't put freshman in the top level so it was a very slow year for her. She did supplement at her studio but with homework it became very hard and also with Nutcracker she was just crazy. She did receive good training in modern but her main focus is ballet. I hope you got to watch some of their ballet classes and talk to them as to what level you will be in. You need to evaluate your schedule depending on what time you get out of school and how much homework you have. My daughter is not returning to the Arts school because the level of ballet just isn't there.

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One of my studio friends recently graduated from Natomas charter school. I

know she didn't like the school for its dance program. She was always complaining that since the classes are only 45 minutes long, ( which IMO is hardly enough time for a barre) she was never sufficiently warmed up.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I graduated from Natomas Charter School PFAA five years ago. This was back when the school was still small and most of the students had a serious interest & talent in one art form or another. I hear that now days it is more of a "magnet school" for those who want to get away from Natomas High School, which makes me sad.


I went to this school specifically for dance. The dance program at NCS is not a hardcore, regimented pre-professional training program. This is not a privately funded school, so the instructors do what they can with the limited time and resources they have. Five years ago, the ballet program was very wishy washy. They went through 3 ballet instructors during my four years in attendance. I don't know who is running it these days. I can say though that Ron Cisneros (Tap, Jazz & Musical Theatre) & Jill Stripling-Brkic (Modern/Contemporary) are really high quality instructors and choreographers. Stripling especially pushed and challenged me as a dancer and I enjoyed working with her very much. Although her specialty is in modern dance, she is very picky and focused on ballet based technique. I thought the facilities were wonderful. I was one of the first to dance on those floors. The dance rooms had just been finished during my first year there. There are locker rooms & showers to change from street to dance clothes. I haven't seen the inside of the new theatre, but I hear its 'state-of-the-art' and beautiful.


The dance company at NCS is an extracurricular, fun ensemble of dancers. The company rehearses after school and performs at various local events. Master classes and guest choreographers are frequent. The company fundraises for big trips towards the end of the school year. These trips usually involve performing and master classes. I went to Disneyworld in Florida, where we performed and took a musical theatre class in which we learned some Lion King choreography. We also attended a week long workshop at CSU Long Beach, filled with all kinds of different dance classes, from hip-hop to ballet to ballroom. We also performed at this event.


To sum up, if you/your child is SERIOUSLY interested in ballet/dance as a future career, NCS PFAA dance program is a good daytime supplement to serious studio training. I don't know of any other high schools in the area that offer this level of a dance program. The academics are not the most difficult (a few teachers are exceptions), but at the standard level of most high schools in the greater Sacramento area. This school will expose you/your child to an art based environment and surround them with children/teenagers that share similar interests.


Anyways, hope this helps!

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Thank you for your review, kellygreen! Very helpful for those of us who are unfamiliar with the program. :lol:

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I find this thread particularly interesting since I am on the full time dance faculty at Encore, a new charter performing arts Jr/Sr High School in the High Desert (Southern California).


I think that in the beginning of a charter PA school, the classes may tend to be mixed level, which makes it challenging for the teachers because we have to keep the faster learners or more advanced dancers engaged and challenged, while remembering at the same time that we can't leave the slower learners/beginners behind. We are also, in the beginning, getting a very mixed bag of students because the quality of their previous (studio) education varies widely. For example, I am teaching two levels of modern dance. The higher level class consists of a range of dancers, none of whom have had significant prior modern dance experience but most of whom have had at least 3 or 4 years of somewhat rigorous jazz or ballet training. The first level modern classes have dancers who have had anywhere from zero to a year or two of previous dance experience. The ballet classes have a similar variation in ability.


In some cases we auditioned dancers who wrote on their application, "6 years of jazz dance," etc., but as the 6 years consisted of once weekly classes in a community center dance class, they were really still beginners, from our perspective. Such a child might well be in beginner classes across the board. Imagine the indignation of some of the parents: "My kid has been dancing 6 years! Why did you put her in beginning classes?" etc. etc.


Like Natomas, we also have students who are trying to continue their affiliations with their private dance studios. It is my hope to develop our program to the point where students don't have the energy left to take studio classes in the evening- not because I oppose the private studios but because I think the serious dance students should be getting all the dance training they can handle in the 2 to 3 dance classes and various dance rehearsals we offer. I am conducting a mainly modern dance based student company after school, which already has 12 dancers, all but one of whom are students at our school. We also have a dance team, which will be competing in several events each year, and are producing Cats as our first theater production, which of course has a load of dance. at I think that once we have been up and running for a while, if the dance students at Encore still have energy to supplement their training with evening classes at private studios, then we are not doing our job. Just my opinion.

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  • 5 months later...

So I am going to audition for this school in a month *cringe

and I was wondering what exactly should i expect for the high school audition. And what do they look for in a dance audition...and finally, is it super hard to get in if you don't meet any of the 'preferences' that they have?

Thanx in advance!

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