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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ballet Schools in California - San Francisco Bay Area

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Mamabee, My DS attends a small Cuban Vaganova school on the Peninsula and we cannot say enough wonderful things about it. It's called Bravissimo Dance Studio and it's run by former dancers with the Cuban National Ballet. My son's teacher is Jorge Esquivel, who was Alicia Alonso's partner for years. His wife, who was also a principal with the Cuban National Ballet, teaches there as does their daughter. Jorge and his daughter also taught at the San Francisco Ballet for years before opening their own studio. We absolutely love the studio. Happy to answer any questions about it if that would help.

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cchow, according to my son, girls go on pointe starting in level 3 (around 8-9 yrs old). However, he says they rarely leave the barre in those first months until the teachers are confident that they're strong enough. In addition, the girls don't start learning variations on pointe until level 4, and even then not everyone does this -- some do on flat. Overall, the school seems to be extremely careful about what they do with the girls (as well as what they do with my son as it relates to doing lifts, etc.). I can speak more directly to how they've handled my son, who just turned 13. They won't let him do anything that they don't think he can handle physically. And there is always a teacher standing very close to him when he and his pas partner are trying some sort of lift. As for the girls, I would imagine that they show similar concerns. 

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  • 2 months later...

We just found out that our daughter has been accepted into the San Francisco Ballet (SFB) school-year program. I would like to hear from others' who have recent experience in this program (levels 1-3). What is the acceptance rate? And what % of students in level 2 move up to level 3 at SFB? Who are the teachers? Are level 1 and 2 students given the opportunity to perform in the Nutcracker? Are they inury-prevention oriented (i.e. making sure students are well-trained/strong and flexible enough before doing more advanced moves)? We attended the student showcase and were very impressed, but that's the extent of our exposure/knowledge of SFB. I would really like to hear about others' experiences. Thank you!  

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  • 1 month later...

Looking for any information or feedback regarding this school. I have a 13 year old boy who studied in ABT pre-professional program last year and is back in the bay. Not interested in training at the big company attached school this year. We are in the East Bay, and looking for solid boys training within a reasonable distance from us. Thanks!

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jennabates - you might try a search on this board (Pre-professional Schools General Discussion) for east bay cities such as Berkeley or Walnut Creek. There are some good schools in the East Bay that might suit your son - it may not be necessary to travel all the way into SF.

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Jennabates, I have merged your topic with a previous thread; you might want to read from the beginning of this thread for SF Bay Area pre-professionsal programs. 😁

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Jennabates: At City Ballet SF there is a boys/men's program with quite a few boys in your son's age range -- maybe a dozen boys 12 to 14. It is Vaganova training and definitely for the serious student. Nikolai Kabaniev is the men's director and his two senior boys both made finals at IBC this year and one of them won the top prize (he won the silver medal, they didn't give out gold).

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We are considering a move for our dancer to a new school, and looking at Contra Costa Ballet, Berkeley Ballet Theater, or Marin Dance Theater. We would appreciate any current feedback on these schools/programs.

Our daughter has been dancing for 10 years, started pointe work late last year and is a very strong dancer. We'd like to move her to a more rigorous program, but don't think she's ready to audition for SF Ballet School until she has become stronger on pointe.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

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We know a lot about Marin Dance Theatre.  Very classical, very tough.  Won't put your kid in same level to be with friends, etc.  Won't put your kid on pointe until very ready. There are many recreational dancers, but they have a true career bound program this year, complete with study hall and day classes for the older dancer.  They have sent kids off to major prepros or trainee spots

The junior kids program is also very good. They have strong emphasis on pilates, and fitness.

They won best teacher at YAGP if that means anything to you, and had some finalists (including a final round dancer). But I would not call them a comp school.

In their shows,  they would rather have dancers doing rock solid doubles rather than wobbly triples or quads. They won't allow dancers to wack their legs up with the line is compromised, etc.  Though this can be frustrating at times for our you tube watching youngsters :).

The director is well connected.  They are more Royal Ballet and Paris Opera influences vs balanchine or russian styles.

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Over the years I have met several students attending Marin Dance Theater and they appear to have beautiful technique and artistry. 

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  • 1 month later...

Recommend Contra Costa Ballet for girls.  One student was offered a full ride to Boston Ballet year round.  They have a great program for girls. 

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