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School of the Pennsylvania Ballet

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$17.5 million project that will feature five dance studios, offices, and facilities for a soon-to-return School of the Pennsylvania Ballet. No housing though. Anyone in the area care to comment on the news and how this will affect nearby ballet schools?





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Bagg that's a very interesting question...I haven't seen anything about who will be named AD for the school and who will be teaching. There are several excellent schools in the area, so I suppose we will have to see how things evolve....

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I did read one article, the press release from PA Ballet, naming Bill DeGregory as the Director of the new/old School of the Pennsylvania Ballet. So happy to see they are doing so well!!!

Edited by vrsfanatic
hopefully more clarity
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  • 4 months later...

Wondering if anyone has heard anything else about the new school. DD is at residency but we have a lot going on here at home and she has expressed a possible desire to move back home. We are waiting to hear who the artistic and teaching staff may be.

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  • 4 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

My daughter is attending tomorrow's audition. This is a last-minute decision for her - we live in the area and she's very happy at her current studio, but curious about her other options. I also think she wants to see how well she does! She had done classes with a few of their teachers already, both at her current studio and at her intensive at the Rock School. I'll let everyone know what she thinks.

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My 14-year old daughter did attend the final audition for this upcoming year this morning, with several of her friends from her studio. The audition was conducted by Arantxa Ochoa, who is retiring as a principal with the PA Ballet to be the head instructor at the school, and there were about 30 people there in the 13+ age group. She enjoyed the audition very much and felt pretty good about how she did. Two of the more advanced students at our studio had attended an earlier audition, and neither of them was accepted to the program, so she thinks they are being pretty selective - they are both excellent dancers, so I am sure she is correct. We'll see what happens!


I'm very curious to see what the size of their program will be, since there's no indication about that on their (very sketchy) website. Perhaps they are keeping it very small to start with - they are needing to conduct their fall classes in their current studio space since the new space will not be ready for dancers until January. I'll be sure to post more information if I get it! This area has many top-notch dance programs, but there is naturally a lot of excitement about a school that will be associated with the PA Ballet Company!

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We just got the e-mail today that my daughter was accepted! No word about her level yet, but this may be an opportunity that we just have to take! I'll let you all know when I have more information, and when I find out more about the program.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My DD14 has made the decision to attend this program, and we now have much more information about it which I will try to summarize for you here. We now have the schedule, the full faculty list, and the policies manual; in addition, Roy Kaiser (the AD of the PA Ballet) and William DeGregory (the director of the school) hosted a reception for the families of accepted dancers this past Friday. Some highlights:

- According to the director, over 300 dancers auditioned, and about 100 were offered acceptances

- There are 6 Levels in the pre-pro program, and only Levels 5 & 6 have classes other than technique/pointe

- Each level is capped at 24 students (although in a private conversation with the director, I was told that my DD's level will probably start with about 20)

- For this fall, Levels 3-6 will be using the current location in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, and pre-ballet and Levels 1-2 will be using studio space in a Performing Arts Charter School in South Philadelphia. In January, all classes will be held in the new building on North Broad Street.

- Students are coming from all over the region! I don't have the full list, but glancing over a list of people requesting carpools, some will be traveling 1-1 1/2 hours to the studio. We are spoiled - we are trading our 5 minute ride to class for a 15-minute ride.

- Students will be allowed to audition for children's & corps parts in some PA Ballet productions; this year that will be the Nutcracker and Midsummer Night's Dream. Currently, no other performances are planned, although there is hope for that in the future.

- The core faculty is Arantxa Ochoa (who is retiring from dance in October to be the lead faculty member at the school), Martha Chamberlain (who retired as a PA Ballet principal in 2011), William DeGregory and Laura Bowman (who is currently in the PA Ballet corps). In addition, a number of other dancers from PA Ballet are listed as guest faculty.

- They will be offering a 5-week summer intensive which will be doing an audition tour. I don't have any more information about that at this time.


I felt that my daughter's placement was a bit low (Level 3), with only 4 days of dancing per week (7.5 hours) - considerably less than she has been doing. I put a call into the school to ask about the philosophy behind their curriculum and placement decisions, and the administrator had Mr. DeGregory call me directly. He said that there likely be quite a few students moved up a level during the first few weeks of the school, and he repeated that at the reception also. I also got the impression that there may be more classes available once they have moved into their new location, with 5 studios rather than 3. Students are welcome to take lower-level classes, but with the Level 2 classes in South Philadelphia that is not really feasible for us right now. And while they do not encourage it, they do permit students to take outside classes, so our plan this fall (if she is not moved up a level) is for her to supplement at the school she has been at for 10 years for both some additional ballet classes, and jazz or modern as well. Given that one of her teachers there is also Martha Chamberlain, they were fine with that.


Despite that concern, I have been very happy so far with the enthusiasm, planning and responsiveness of the faculty and staff. Roy Kaiser in particular seems to be 100% behind this project, and very excited about it. This is really a return to the roots of the company, which opened as a school in 1962 several years before the PA Ballet was a performing company. This article gives you a sense of the journey so far: http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20120506_Back_to_school_for_Pennsylvania_Ballet.html . And the new building will be truly amazing!


That said, it is a bit unusual to jump into a school that doesn't exist yet! There are so many intangibles that make a school a good fit (or not) for any given student. We are mentally committing through the second quarter (end of January) at which point we will re-evaluate.


Please let me know if you have any questions, and I will do my best to answer them. Classes do not start until September 17; once they begin I may have more to add here.

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Oh, and the official name is "School of Pennsylvania Ballet" (SPB) without a "the". I don't know if the title of this thread could be corrected, but that is how they are referring to themselves.

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When I was there under Barbara Weisberger, it was called School of the Pa. Ballet. Maybe that is why there is no "the".

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  • 1 month later...

Can someone please post the level 6 classes and times? The website only lists 6 days, 15 hours per week for level 6. TIA.

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Oldtown - I am currently on vacation but will be happy to do that when I get home on Sunday. In my recollection their classes run Mon-Thurs from 6-8:30pm, Friday from 6-8pm, and then from 10-1 on Saturdays, but I will be able to give you the specific breakdown of their classes when I get home.


Just FYI - their upper levels are quite small, with just 10 students in Level 5 and 4 in Level 6.

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ddsbiggestfan, thank you for all of the information! Please post an update when they announce auditions for the summer intensive. My dd did the Rock School's summer intensive last year and enjoyed it. I know she would love to audition for this as well. Good look to your dd!

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