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.

St. Paul’s School 

St. Paul's School students performing "Corner" by Caili Quan (photo by Melissa Blackall, courtesy St. Paul's School)

St. Paul's School is one of the most prestigious academic boarding schools in the country—and it happens to have a pretty stellar dance program, too. While the school's emphasis on scholastic rigor differs from other performing arts schools, students must audition for acceptance to the dance program, and many go on to pursue dance in higher education.

Located: Concord, NH

Student Body: Of 530 total students, there are 15 to 18 full-time St. Paul's School Ballet Company (SPSBC) members, an audition-only year-round program that can be used as athletic participation credit at the varsity level. 100 percent of students—and all faculty members—live on campus.

Financial Aid: Need-based financial aid is available; seven regional merit-based scholarships are also available.

Faculty: Two full-time faculty members; visiting artists in 2018 included former Merce Cunningham Dance Company member Jamie Scott, Twyla Tharp Dance's Alex Brady, and BalletX's Caili Quan.

New Familiar Face: Former ABT Studio Company director (and former Dance Spirit editor in chief) Kate Lydon joined the faculty of St. Paul's School this year, with a goal to provide SPS students with "top-notch ballet training and a thriving visiting-artist program," she says. "I want the dance program to be a place filled with intentional work, inclusivity, creativity, joy, and respect."

Alumni Activities: "Recent SPSBC students have attended top-tier universities with dance programs, including Barnard College, Columbia University, and Princeton," says faculty member Courtney Peix-Barros.

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

Dancer to Dancer
It's a Ziegler Zamboni! (screenshot via YouTube)

Everyone loves the multitalented Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler. Everyone loves Olympic figure skater (and pop-culture icon) Adam Rippon. Everyone loves when dancers ice-skate, and vice versa. So what could possibly be more lovable than the latest episode of the YouTube show "Break the Ice with Adam Rippon," in which Rippon teaches the sisters Ziegler to skate? (Nothing. NOTHING is more lovable than this freakishly cute video.)

Keep Reading Show less
Just for Fun
Three of our Insta faves (Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy, Robert Roldan, and Gaby Diaz) in one photo!

It's safe to say that we're obsessed with the "So You Think You Can Dance" All Stars. Over the past few seasons, we've loved seeing them up on that "SYT" stage, guiding each new batch of contestants. Unsurprisingly, many of the All Stars are as charismatic online as they are onscreen. While we wait to hear which All Stars will be involved in Season 16, here are six from years past that you should totally be following on Insta.

Keep Reading Show less
Just for Fun
Sage Humphries rehearsing "White" (Brooke Trisolini, courtesy Boston Ballet)

It's been an eventful few months for Sage Humphries, to say the least. Last November, the Boston Ballet company member made her (very well-received) choreographic debut with a piece called YOU, part of the company's BB@home: ChoreograpHER program. Just one week later, Humphries sustained an injury that kept her offstage for a couple of months. But she didn't have much downtime: Artistic director Mikko Nissinen soon asked Humphries to make a piece for Boston Ballet's first-ever appearance at Boston Calling Music Festival. Now that Humphries is back in the studio, Dance Spirit caught up with her to talk about making ballet rock, working with her composer brother, and what it's like to see her name next to William Forsythe's.

Keep Reading Show less
Choreography

Video

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Giveaways