Once upon a time, ballet dancers in their late teens were faced with a choice between dancing professionally or attending college or a conservatory. Now, it’s often high school dancers facing the same choice – continue their high school and college education, or begin their professional dance training and embark on a career as early as possible.
For dancers facing these choices, there’s also a third option: choosing a pre-professional ballet or dance trainee program. A pre-professional ballet program allows young dancers to train for their professional dance career, while also completing their high school graduation requirements.
But how does a dancer choose a pre-professional ballet program?
What to Look for in a Pre-Professional Ballet Program
There are a few obvious things that you should look for when it comes to a pre-professional ballet program: a track record of excellence, top-notch training facilities, opportunities to study under world class instructors and alumni who are achieving success in the professional dance world.
At Joffrey we offer all of these: more than 60 years of history as a top school for ballet training; excellent facilities in New York and Dallas; a faculty composed of some of the best dance professionals from around the world and thousands of alumni dancing professionally on stages and screens all around the globe.
However, as important as these are, there are other criteria that are no less important when it comes to choosing a pre-professional ballet program.
Imagine being hired as a professional dancer to work in a company where every dancer received completely different training and learned completely different approaches to dance. Imagine how difficult it would be for all members of the troupe to work together, or for a director or choreographer to give instructions that would be easily understood by each dancer. It would be frustrating for everyone.
To avoid this situation, it’s important that pre-professional dance training programs be somewhat standardized so that when dancers enter the professional world, they have a similar base of knowledge. This base of knowledge is accomplished through standardizing the curriculum that is taught and making sure that schools operate in similar ways.
So, how do you know if the training provided by a particular pre-professional ballet school will meet these standards? One way is to look for schools that are accredited. Accreditation is an independent review process that ensures a dance school provides training that meets the standards of the reviewing body.
Accreditation also benefits students because it allows schools to transfer credits, recognize each other’s teaching and methods, and ensures that the degree or certificate conferred by the school is meaningful in the professional world. Without accreditation, there’s no guarantee that the credits you earn will be accepted at other schools or colleges.
In the United States, the most recognized and prestigious accreditation for dance schools is from the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD). Joffrey Ballet School is proud to be an NASD accredited school.
High School or College Credit
Another key consideration when choosing a pre-professional ballet training program is credit. If you’re a younger dancer who hasn’t completed their high school graduation requirements, or who is looking to earn a college degree, you’ll want to choose a pre-professional program that can help you accomplish these goals by offering course credit for your dance training.
Many dance schools offer advanced ballet training, but it is a select few that can offer you the ability to pursue your pre-professional dance training while also completing your academic requirements. This is key, because even if your goal is to become a professional dancer, you have to also accept that each dancer’s time on stage will come to an end eventually – either through retirement, injury or simply personal choice. That’s why it’s a must to have a solid education in addition to your dance training.
At Joffrey Ballet School, we offer a flexible, supportive academic program as part of our full-time trainee programs that allows you to earn high school or college credit while receiving your pre-professional dance training. Younger dancers in our pre-professional program work toward completion of their high school academic requirements; those with two or more years of high school can also work toward their BFA in Dance through our partnership with New Jersey City University.
Flexible, Yet Structured
Training 28 to 32 hours per week as part of our pre-professional dance training program is rigorous enough on its own, but consider that while you are training you also need to be building your curriculum vitae. To differentiate yourself from other dancers with similar backgrounds, you need to seek out additional performance and educational opportunities.
To accomplish this, you need some flexibility to be able to adjust your schedule as needed and to complete your academic coursework on your schedule. A good pre-professional dance training program supports your need for flexibility so that you can pursue these opportunities. A great one advises you on how to balance your academic, dance training and pre-professional pursuits – and even helps you seek out and land some of those “resume builders.”
On the other hand, a pre-professional dance program can’t be so flexible that it leaves dancers with gaps in their training or holes in their education. That’s why you want to find a program that provides flexibility but is still structured enough to provide complete training.
At Joffrey Ballet School, we offer a structured yet flexible pre-professional dance training and academic program through our partnership with the Keystone School. The JBS Blended program uses online learning and hands-on materials to deliver academic course content, individualized attention and academic support to ensure that academic requirements and dance training both receive the attention needed to put you on the path to success.
Take the Next Step in Your Dance Career With Joffrey
Pre-professional training is the bridge between being a serious dance student, and a working professional, so there’s a lot riding on making the right choice for pre-professional dance training. If you’re ready to learn more about becoming a pre-professional trainee with Joffrey, contact us today to talk to our Artistic Directors.