A Few of The Top Year-Round Boarding Schools for Dance
Walnut Hill School for the Arts students (photo by Liza Voll, courtesy Walnut Hill School for the Arts)
For some high school students, the thrill of dancing away from home doesn't end when the summer is over. In fact, those who attend residential performing arts high schools live in dorms, work with esteemed guest artists and faculty, and spend half of every school day in a dance studio—from September to May. Offering a true conservatory experience, these schools can transform your technique and provide unique performing and choreographic opportunities.
Of course, there are some drawbacks: In most cases, boarding school means you're living away from home—and your home dance studio—and you might not be as likely to attend the latest "It" convention or take as many classes outside the classical ballet and modern canon. And the cost of tuition plus room and board can be prohibitive. But if you've got your sights set on a college or conservatory program, or are aiming for a company trainee position post-high school, considering a year-round high school for dance might be worth it. Here are five residential performing arts high schools you should know about.
University of North Carolina School of the Arts
University of North Carolina School of the Arts' production of "The Nutcracker" (photo by Peter S. Mueller, courtesy UNC School of the Arts)
Student Body: 101 dancers out of more than 260 high school students total; there are more than 1,000 additional students on campus in the college and graduate school programs. 20 percent of the high school dancers commute to campus.
Financial Aid: Residents of North Carolina receive free tuition. Merit-based scholarships are granted, and some need-based scholarships are also available.
Faculty: 16 full-time dance teachers; recent guest artists include American Ballet Theatre principals Misty Copeland and Isabella Boylston, and choreographers Doug Varone and Helen Pickett.
Alumni Activities: Most students continue on to college dance programs throughout the U.S., including University of Southern California, SUNY Purchase, and Butler University, while some have headed directly to dance companies. Yaman Kelemet, a 2017 graduate, is now a soloist with the Slovenian National Ballet, and Sierra Armstrong, who trained at UNCSA's preparatory program before attending its high school, joined ABT's studio company in 2016 and is now in the corps de ballet.
Fast Track: "Each year, several high school graduates return to UNCSA for college," says dean of dance and former ABT principal Susan Jaffe. "Students who completed at least one year of high school at UNCSA can earn a BFA here in three years."
Famous Grads: ABT's Gillian Murphy and Blaine Hoven, New York City Ballet's Claire Kretzschmar and Megan LeCrone, and choreographers Camille A. Brown and Trey McIntyre
A version of this story appeared in the December 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Living And Studying Where You Dance."
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
After a string of ballet-company rejections, Jennifer Sydor (here in Laura Peterson's "Failure") found success in other areas of the dance world. (Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy Jennifer Sydor)
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!