How to build a successful ballet school

Build Quality Relationships with Parents.

The quality of the relationships with the parents of students at ballet schools can make or break a ballet school. One of the biggest mistakes ballet educators make is establishing a hierarchical dialogue with parents through the use of statements like “Well, you weren’t a ballet dancer so you don’t know.” While that statement may be true, at the end of the day, parents are paying for a service, and lack of information or communication often leaves a parent frustrated and/or unhappy are critical. Again, transparency is key.

Building relationships is important, but don’t get taken advantage of. Set up clear boundaries, and set up reasonable expectations. Sometimes, we want to overcompensate because we are afraid of losing clients so we bend over backwards. Don’t.

Find the right balance and communication between teacher and client.

photo by Ashley Lorraine Baker, Dancer: Rachel Loiselle


Help this boy get to SFB!

A mom saw this post on a Facebook group and forwarded it on to me. So, I did my digging, and found out that this boy really needs our help to get to San Francisco Ballet School. Meet Joe Dufty from rural NSW Australia!

Photos courtesy of his mom.

It isn’t a secret that this coveted school is expensive, and for someone coming from across the Pacific, it is even more expensive. The crazy part? He isn’t even asking to help fundraise the full amount needed to attend. He is looking to raise less than half of the costs of attending and has already raised a fifth of his goal. So ballet world, it is that time of the year when children are getting their acceptances to their dream schools, but realizing that being accepted wasn’t the hard part… committing financially is. So, I am humbly asking you this fundraising season to help one of the many dancers I will be posting over the next month. Yes, I know, it is obnoxious that I am constantly asking for your financial help, but these kids really do need it. Please donate a few dollars to help him reach his goal via his go fund me!


If you are looking for help fundraising to attend a year-round school, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Pliés for Pointe Class

Not all pliés are created equally. Here is a plié combination from today’s pointe class at The Ballet Clinic. For those of you who are subscribed to A Ballet Network, enjoy!

Subscribe to get access

Watch more of this content when you subscribe today.

Preparing Pointe Shoes for Beginners

When it comes to pointe shoes and pointe work, there are many, many, many debates on…well almost everything about them. There are so many different opinions out there, making them hard to digest all the information floating around. Well, don’t worry, this is not one of those posts that is going to tell you all about the questionable information living on the Internet or what you should and shouldn’t do.

When it comes to pointe work, every foot is different and every child unalike. The same goes for every pair of pointe shoes. Therefore there are infinite numbers of possibilities and problems that can surface. Recently, we did an Instagram Live showing everyone how we prepare our beginning dancers for pointe work, and now it is available online. In this video we show you how to darn, raise the throat, taper the heel, and take down the sides of pointe shoes.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

PAQUITA DROPS TONIGHT!

If you have been following us on social media, you know we have been talking about Paquita. Tonight, well technically tomorrow, around 12:01 AM, Paquita will be available to stream on A Ballet Network. If you are new to this whole Paquita Project, here is the rundown.

I think the only way to become a dancer is to dance. And I don’t mean competition variations, but be a part of an actual ballet. It’s important for kids to understand that ballet, the art of ballet, isn’t about being a soloist or principal dancer, it’s about being a cog (dancer) in a huge machine (company) and you are all working together to produce something beautiful. It’s so important to understand that ballet is not about the individual, it’s about being a part of something larger, and constructing a picture. I think it’s easy for kids to get caught up in the chase for “stardom” or a principal title, when the reality is, it’s a long road from student to principal dancer, but it is a very short road from student to trainee. And once you are in that position a very exhausting process to prove you are ready for a job. 

Because Covid took away so many of their opportunities we thought, “Well why not just make a digital season through A Ballet Education? I mean it can’t be that hard right?” I was definitely wrong. So, we are very lucky at A Ballet Education that Ashley, Eric, and I all do photography and videography as well as teach, so we thought we would give it a go. But, we wanted to do it fast, and treat the kids like they were in a company. (I know, kind of hardcore.)

You might be thinking, why Paquita?
Paquita is my second favorite ballet in the classical repertoire. It is this wonderful third/second act of a ballet, depending on the version, that bonds the women of a company. It is this humbling experience where the principals, soloists, and corps all have to dance together. It is rich in history, and the fact that each ballerina got their own variation, a lot of times their own composer, it really opens this world up to changing steps to fit the dancer. It gives dancers the artistic freedom to use their own agency and make artistic choices without having to worry about carrying a full ballet, or the demands of a story, or the exhaustion of a full length. It is this ballet that is really empowering to women, as the female is not the victim and the male is the after thought. I think it is this moment in classical ballet, where we get to understand that ballet isn’t steps, or faeries or dryads, it is powerful women, doing cabrioles, and bravura steps. Paquita is really this jewel of ballet that we sometimes take for granted during YAGP season.

So here is how it went down. We didn’t charge the kids to participate, or random costume fees, or rehearsal fees, as you wouldn’t be charged in a company, it’s a part of the job, and at the beginning, it was just going to be in the studio in leos. But, we did put this crazy demand and expectation on the kids:

We only gave them four- 3-hour rehearsals, split over two weeks, and basically said good luck. Then on the second week, we decided we would test the kids, and hand out brand new solos, and give it go. At this point, we decided we would rent a friend’s studio that has the square footage and just do it there.

We are also lucky to have New York City Ballet Dancers in town, and let us be honest: dancers have to dance. If dancers don’t dance, their soul dies, and they spiral into this endless depression of crazy. So, it was decided that two Balanchine dancers: Ashley Hod and Andrew Veyette, would take on Paquita. Right? Good for them, stepping outside of their comfort zone.

So they were gracious enough to also participate, which led to Empire Tiaras rushing and creating the semi-costumes in 1 week and overnight shipping them. I know it sounds crazy. Even typing this, I feel like, “Wow, we are crazy.” But, it gets crazier.

We realized that because of the costuming, we needed better lighting, so we ended up asking our families for help financially. We are very lucky enough, that during the pandemic our non-profit: A Ballet Foundation, got approved. So, parents and friends of ours pitched in. So, we basically had to relight and entire studio to make it seem or feel like a performance.

And then, it gets even crazier. We decide that we are going to take on Swan Lake. What the heck, right? But this time around, we decided we are going to open it up for professionals and students who want to dance. Right? Crazy. So if you want to be a part of our Swan Lake Project, it will be assembled from start to finish in 1 week.

So, here we area day away from Paquita: three weeks from rehearsal to performance, edited and ready to go. I couldn’t be more thankful for my amazing team: Ashley Lorraine Baker and Eric Hipolito Jr, the talented and humble Andrew Veyette and Ashley Hod and the generous support from all of you. We hope you enjoy. 

Here is how to watch it: Subscribe on A Ballet Network and enjoy. Once you purchase your yearly subscription, you will be able to access it.

Disclaimer: It’s our first time making a full film, and they are students and produced against a negative dollar budget…. Also reminding that companies that dancers need to dance, even if it is just in-studio projects….