Walnut Hill School for the Arts students (photo by Liza Voll, courtesy Walnut Hill School for the Arts)

A Few of The Top Year-Round Boarding Schools for Dance

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.

Idyllwild Arts Academy

Idyllwild Arts Academy student, Denayia Miniex, class of 2018 (photo by Cory Jones, courtesy Idyllwild Arts Academy)

About a two-hour drive from L.A., Idyllwild Arts Academy first opened its doors in 1946. In addition to dance, the school's 318 residential high school students can major in varied arts programs such as creative writing, fashion design, or film and digital media.

Located: Idyllwild, CA

Student Body: There are 30 dance students, and most live on campus. Out of the school's total population, 278 students board, while the others live in the area.

Financial Aid: Available; scholarships are based on talent, academic merit, and need.

Summer Study: Idyllwild offers summer intensives for dancers ages 9 to 18, and while attending one won't necessarily give you a leg up on acceptance to the year-round program, "it's a great way to be introduced to life at Idyllwild and get to know faculty and current academy students," says Andrea Chesley of the school's dance and theater admissions office.

Faculty: Eight full-time faculty members; recent guest instructors include former New York City Ballet principal Jock Soto, former Limón Dance Company member Dante Puleio, and former Paul Taylor Dance Company member Orion Duckstein.

Alumni Activities: "100 percent of our students attend a university, conservatory, or professional program," says Chesley. Recent grads include Hamburg Ballet's Ricardo Urbina, Princess Grace Award winner and AXIS Dance company member Lani Dickinson, and Brooklynettes dancer (and former DS cover girl!) Anna Smyczynski.

A version of this story appeared in the December 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Living And Studying Where You Dance."

Latest Posts

Nathan Sayers

From "Dance Moms" to Complexions: Ballerina Kaeli Ware's Unconventional Path to Success

Take one look at Kaeli Ware's Instagram page and you'll be captivated. The elegant, impossibly long-limbed ballet dancer has over 110 thousand followers hooked on her every polished move. But the 19-year-old phenom isn't just a social media sensation. Having already conquered the competition scene and the world of dance reality TV, Ware recently joined Complexions Contemporary Ballet as a trainee. These days, she splits her time between NYC and Philadelphia, PA, where she continues to beef up her classical training at The Rock School for Dance Education.

She's not a traditional bunhead, and she's not a run-of-the-mill social influencer, either. Instead, Ware is creating her own hybrid career path—and it's taking her to impressive places.

Keep Reading
(From left) Alex Newell, John Clarence Stewart, Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, and Lauren Graham in "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist," courtesy NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Mandy Moore Puts Dance in the Spotlight in NBC's Newest Series, "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist"

Imagine living in a real-life musical, where spontaneous song-and-dance breaks happen as often in the street as they do onstage. After a series of unusual events, every dancers' dream becomes an unexpected reality for computer coder Zoey Clarke (played by Jane Levy) in NBC's newest series, "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist." Although at first her new powers catch Zoey off guard, when she learns to embrace them, she's able to connect with the world around her like never before.

And the best part? Every musical mashup puts incredible dancing front and center, thanks in large part to series choreographer and all around dance-for-the-screen extraordinaire, Mandy Moore. Dance Spirit chatted with Moore about choreographing for the dance-driven series, which returns to NBC with all-new episodes this Sunday, February 16 at 9/8c.

Keep Reading
Boston Ballet principal Seo Hye Han as Cinderella in Sir Frederick Ashton's Cinderella (Liza Voll, courtesy Boston Ballet)

5 Principal Dancers on the Ballet Steps That Still Challenge Them

Their technique might seem effortless onstage, but even the most seasoned ballet professionals have that one step that still drives them crazy. We asked five principal dancers to open up about the skills they still find challenging, and how they're working to finesse them.

Keep Reading
Enter the Cover Model Search