If you’re a dancer looking to progress to the top levels in your field – and perhaps even become a professional dancer – it’s important to get the best training possible. And that means attending a top ballet school. So, what are the top ballet schools?
As it turns out, the answer is quite complex. It really depends to a large degree on what sort of ballet training you’re looking for – classical or contemporary – and what kind of instruction approach you are seeking. To get you started, here are a few of the top ballet schools around the country.
What Makes a Top Ballet School?
Before we get to the list, here’s some insight into the criteria we use to rate the ballet schools on this list. Our criteria include:
Quality of Instruction – Instruction is one of the most important criteria that makes a ballet school great or not. Top schools will have instructors from a wide variety of backgrounds, so that dancers can gain benefit from multiple perspectives, whether they’re learning musicality and classical repertory from a Russian trained master instructor, or modern approaches from a contemporary instructor trained in Graham style approaches.
Reputation and Longevity – some of the schools on this list have been around for literally generations. Here at Joffrey, with some 60 years of history behind us, we’re training our third generation of dancers. The fact that we’ve been around so long and placed so many young dancers in professional roles means that our name precedes us when our dancers walk into an audition.
Alumni Career Prospects – One of the things you’ll notice in the professional dance world is that the top dancers tend to have similar backgrounds. They’ll have spent some time at one – or in many cases, more than one – of the schools on our list. And that is because so often in the dance world, it’s not just what you know it’s who you know. The programs on our list have the connections to help their dancers find professional placement. In fact, some top ballet schools – like Joffrey – help students make connections while dancers are still studying.
So what are the top ballet schools in America? Here’s our short list.
East Coast Ballet Schools
School of American Ballet – located in New York City, the School of American Ballet was founded by George Balanchine, arguably one of the best known dancers and choreographers of the 20th century. SAB continues Balanchine’s legacy as the official dance school of the New York City Ballet, with a focus on classical ballet teaching.
Joffrey Ballet School, NYC – The Joffrey’s New York ballet school builds on the legacy of Robert Joffrey, one of the leading modern dance pioneers of the mid-20th century. Founded in 1953, Joffrey is focused on building versatile dancers; our programs include classical Russian instruction as well as modern, contemporary, musical theater, and folk styles.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of the American Ballet Theater – ABT is actually home to two schools: the JKO school in New York City, which includes a pre-professional division, and the Robert J. Gillespie school located in Orange County. The JKO School offers children’s through pre-professional training, including the ABT Studio Company, a performance troupe for trainees.
Midwest Ballet Schools
Joffrey Ballet School, Dallas – In addition to our location in New York, Joffrey offers a new pre-professional ballet training program in Dallas, Texas. Our Dallas program is focused primarily on classical, offering the same high quality of instruction and focus on versatility that our NYC program is famous for. Even better is that our Dallas location has a much lower cost of living, significantly reducing the cost of full-time pre-professional training.
Houston Ballet Academy – For more than 60 years, the Houston Ballet Academy has provided classical ballet training to more than 1000 students per year, from the pre-school through pre-professional and professional levels. Houston’s training programs are focused on training well-rounded dancers familiar with a variety of styles, and offers training experiences that include the opportunity to dance in the Houston Ballet’s second company during students’ second year of pre-professional training.
Cincinnati Ballet Academy – CBA offers classical training in the Vaganova classical Russian tradition, infused with more modern techniques. The school is affiliated with the Cincinnati Ballet and offers a full range of training from children’s through the pre-professional division.
West Coast Ballet Schools
Colorado Ballet Academy – Located in downtown Denver, the Colorado Ballet Academy is the official school of the Colorado Ballet and the top ballet school in the Mountain West. CBA is focused on classical technique in the Russian, French and Italian styles and offers significant performance opportunities.
Pacific Northwest Ballet Academy – For more than 45 years, PNB school has been considered one of the top ballet schools in the United States, and probably the best ballet school on the West Coast. PNB Academy offers classical ballet training from the children’s through pre-professional levels, along with performance opportunities that include the PNB’s famous Nutcracker production.
San Francisco Ballet School – The San Francisco Ballet School offers classical ballet training for children, pre-professional trainees and even adults. The school’s training is tightly focused on the athletic dance style favored by the San Francisco Ballet company; more than 65% percent of the dancers with the SFB were trained at the SFB School.
Looking to Attend a Top Ballet School?
If you’re a serious young dancer looking for a top ballet school, contact us today to register for an audition with one of our world-class master instructors, who have trained and performed with the top ballet schools in the United States, Russia and worldwide. Our focus on rigorous classical ballet training, along with modern and contemporary dance techniques, is why our versatile graduates are in demand with companies around the world. Contact us today!