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pre professional training in a small town setting?


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Hello everyone,

We are moving back from France to the US and we have quite a bit of flexibility but would like to be on the East Coast, somewhere in the middle or Southern states, but not Florida. My daughter loves ballet and has been told here that she should do pre professional training (she is 13 and dances about 6 hours a week for now). It seems to me that the very best pre pro schools are often in big cities, New York, Boston, etc. We love living in the country, and are not ready to move into a city or big city suburb. So I am looking for the best possible pre pro ballet training that I can find, which is in a small town, or at least a very small city. Does anyone have any ideas?

Second question: I have looked at lots of websites for dance schools and conservatories, how can I figure out which are really good at pre pro level and which aren't? Almost none of them list where students go after.

Thank you so much in advance for your advice!

Edited by kanisacollings
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The two that come to mind for me are North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC?--Good school, south, small town

Central Penn Youth Ballet in Carlisle PA? Good School, Middle, Small town.


There are probably many more.

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BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio. There's lots of country within easy driving distance :)


Oops, sorry, just noticed you meant East Coast middle, not middle of the country.

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I suspect there are many choices outside the major cities.


My dd trains at Princeton Dance and Theater Studio in Princeton, NJ. You can live in a very suburban area, a small town or even a rural neighborhood (as we do.. I live adjacent to 3 small farms) and be in a very reasonable commuting distance to the studio. Yet, you are just about an hour to both NYC and Philadelphia. Excellent pre-pro level training in a small, personal environment (class sizes range from about 10 to maybe 24 dancers). Downtown Princeton itself is a quaint college town.


Also in Princeton is Princeton Ballet, the school arm of American Reperatory Ballet. They actually have 3 campuses I believe. And, the former director of that company opened up a competing school recently in New Brunswick, NJ (about 30 min from Princeton in a small city).


We are very fortunate to have several quality choices in our little part of the world.

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You could look at northern Virginia. There are some areas west of DC that are still very, very rural (Fauquier and Prince William Counties and even western Loudoun.) There are some schools in the area that are OK. Since she is currently doing 6 hours a day they would meet her needs for now and then she could transition to the larger schools, such as Washington Ballet. This area wouldn't be my first recommendation, though. Traffic is bad. You can get the more rural setting but you pay for it by having to drive in to the city eventually. And it's very expensive.


Richmond Ballet aslo has a school and it tends to have a lot more green-space that's a lot more accessible. You would have to drive into the city for classes (unless they've opened satellite studios) but you could find a quieter, more relaxed and rural-type environment (closer to the city) than in Northern Virginia.


I would second Carlisle. Still manages to be very small-town but you have decent access to some major cities for auditions for summer programs, company positions, etc.


You could also check out Pittsburgh. They have a strong school and my husband says there are areas outside of the city that are still more country-like in their setting.


Also check the thread on South Carolina schools. I know there are some good ones there and the state in general hasn't grown as fast as Atlanta and Washington DC. I'm thinking the schools I've seen most are in Columbia.


Cary, NC is also a beautiful area that has retained it's southern charm and small-town atmosphere. They have a school (can't speak to it's quality but I've seen discussions about it somewhere on the board) and there may be other schools nearby. Not sure whether NCSA is accessible from there.

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My personal advice would be to find a city you'll fall in love with, and go from there! There are pre-professional schools located around the areas you're talking about, and I'd expand your thinking to include Washington DC. The city is amazing with the best transit I've ever seen; plenty of things to do, and professional level ballet training in several places.


However, that city appeals to me, but it may not appeal to you and your family. If you have several automobiles, a city's transportation system may be of no use to you. Though many people do live in outlaying areas and commute daily to DC, that may not be your cup of tea.


Great ballet training does take place outside of New York City and other larger cities, and a dancer needs to consider whether a place is a good fit for her as well.


Another option can be to move wherever you please, and have her audition for residency programs. Or, find a good local school that has excellent training and a proper schedule, and supplement her training with Summer Intensives.


Have a good read around our site, and welcome!!! There is plenty of information here on training schools you may never have thought of, so I'm sure that will be helpful to you as well!

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Cary, NC is also a beautiful area that has retained it's southern charm and small-town atmosphere. They have a school (can't speak to it's quality but I've seen discussions about it somewhere on the board) and there may be other schools nearby. Not sure whether NCSA is accessible from there.


NCSA is not accessible from Cary, but if you start out in Cary and she is seeking a residential school in the future, you would have the HUGE benefit of in-state tuition at NCSA after being a resident of NC for 1 year. :)


If you have any interest in upstate NY, you may also want to consider The Draper Center for Dance Education, school of the Rochester City Ballet. This may be a bit further North than you are considering, though.

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Thank you everyone for all those suggestions, I will look into them as much as I can by internet. One more question if anyone has time.... obviously the most important thing is to visit a pre pro school and take classes. But in my preliminary research, I can look at their site and telephone them. What are the things to look for to know if a school is very good? Since we have flexibility, I would prefer to go to a school that has excellent training, although I do realize that sometimes the "best" school for particular student, may not be the "best"school for another.

Are the important things to look for.. where do they send their graduates (it rarely says this on the site)?

where do their students go on summer intensives?

What is the professional background of the teachers?


Any other suggestions?

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The first things I look at are the number of hours and days per week the girls are taking right before pointe work starts (the minimum of three 1.5 hour classes per week or something less?) and the number of hours and days per week at the highest level (is it six days a week for multiple hours per day or is it a one-hour class twice a week?). The first assures that the student is receiving adequate preparation for pointe work, the second is if the student plans on professional career. If the information isn't available online then you can always call the school. Obviously this doesn't assure good training but it will weed out a lot of schools. When I was researching studios before we moved to our current location I was able to weed out all but 2 or 3 in a large metropolitan area just by looking at websites.

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I was always told to look for companies or universities where students move on to. But while recently looking at the "graduates" page of DS' first studio I found grossly inaccurate information that really misrepresents the students' success at becoming professional dancers. I'm not sure how you can weed out the incorrect information though. We just happened to know first hand.

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You could also check out Pittsburgh. They have a strong school


Cheeta, would you consider giving me the name of the school in Pittsburgh? I think we need a change from where we are now and am looking for a solid school.




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The only place in Pittsburgh I know of is the school associated with Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, so I don't know if that may be where you already are. We know several students that have gone to their pre-professional program and also their graduate program. There's quite a bit of information on the school thread. Sorry I can't give any first-hand information - our information is second hand so I can't really repeat it.

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In the south, here are some with high-quality training with rural life available:


Maryland Youth Ballet, Silver Springs: http://www.marylandyouthballet.org/

Georgia State Ballet, Marietta: http://georgiaballet.org/

Virginia School of the Arts, Richmond: http://www.vsaart.com/

Vostrikov's Academy/Virginia Youth Ballet, Winchester: http://virginiayouthballet.org/.


Good luck!

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