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.

Interlochen Arts Academy

Interlochen Arts Academy students Austin Dabney and Asia Pyron in "The Nutcracker" (photo by Tim Broekema, courtesy Interlochen Arts Academy)

The boarding arts high school—just one piece of the performing-arts puzzle at Interlochen that also includes multiple summer programs, continuing-ed arts courses for adults, a public radio station, and a renowned presenting organization—offers a ballet-based program for dancers in grades 9 through 12. There's also an optional postgraduate year that allows students to more fully prepare for college, conservatory, or professional life. "It's a robust program that's centered on classical ballet technique," says director of dance Joseph Morrissey. "It's catered to students who want to go to college for dance, or who are hoping to join a dance company in the near future."

Located: Interlochen, MI

Student Body: 42 dance majors; 500 total high school students. 94 percent of students live at Interlochen; 6 percent commute.

Financial Aid: Available; scholarships are also available.

Faculty: Four full-time faculty members; guest artists and instructors during the 2017–18 year included former Merce Cunningham Dance Company member Dylan Crossman, hip-hop choreographer Kenya Clay, Limón Dance Foundation répétiteur Pablo Francisco Ruvalcaba, New York City Ballet's Craig Hall, and contemporary choreographer Loni Landon.

Alumni Activities: Roughly 90 percent of graduates enroll in some of the best college/conservatory dance programs; in the last three years, students have gone on to attend Juilliard, SUNY Purchase, New World School of the Arts, and San Francisco Conservatory.

Famous grads: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Fana Tesfagiorgis, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's Alice Klock, choreographer Sydney Skybetter, Dance Theatre of Harlem's Derek Brockington

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

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