Summer Intensive Guide 2023

It is that time of the year again; the time where everyone is overwhelmed, overworked, exhausted, and juggling a million different things. Yes, the 2023 audition season is upon us, and it is more stressful than ever. It could be that this is the first year back of full in-person auditions since the pandemic restrictions. It could be that there are more dancers trying to find placement. Or, it could be that this year is your first year out. Who knows? Every year during the middle of Nutcracker rehearsals and premieres, ballet schools around the world announce their national summer audition tours. This tour is a series of dates that audition thousands of dancers around the world to fill spots at their summer course.

Every year since I started A Ballet Education, I have included a list of placed to audition for the summer. Sometimes it causes controversy, sometimes it causes fear and panic, and sometimes, I am bias. Then again, what review isn’t a little bias? As the audition tours have come out, I have been helping my students plan their auditions, travel schedules, trying to avoid conflicts with competitions, how to navigate everything, and where they might end up.

Here is the problem. Ballet is on a good one, and everyone is so desperate for money, the reality is: Ballet Schools have already started auditioning for their 2023-2024 season. Stressful I know. Most people who are serious about moving to a professional school next September have already started locking in their matches through auditioning. Whether you passed the San Francisco Ballet School pre-screening, or were invited to the Paris Opera Auditions, or National Ballet School’s first round, the reality is, major schools are recruiting a year in advance.

This has now caused schools to start pre-registration for summer intensive auditions as early as the end of October, but now the majority of schools have released their dates. If they haven’t– they are following the “old” way; and they haven’t kept up with social media, or the current trend of ballet.

If you don’t know what a summer intensive is, click here for all of the many posts regarding summer intensives.

Here is A Ballet Education’s 2023 Summer Intensive Guide

(None of these schools have paid for placement or review. These programs are not listed any particular order, sort of.)

  • San Francisco Ballet School
    Patrick Armond, Director (San Francisco, CA)
    As one of the most respected ballet companies in the world, The San Francisco Ballet School has become one of the most recognized schools in the world.
  • School of American Ballet
    Darla Hoover, Chair of Faculty (NYC, NY)
    SAB, the famed school to New York City Ballet and the official school Balanchine founded, this school is the direct line to join the ranks of city ballet. The School of American Ballet is now under a new director, so who knows what the new look of the school will be? However, you should audition, because if you get in, it looks nice on the resume.
  • Paris Opera Ballet School
    Elisabeth Platel, Director (Nanterre, France)
    The Paris Opera Ballet School, literally the OG of ballet schools. This famed institution can be quite difficult to get into, but getting into the summer course can be just as hard. This short program allows you to attend multiple summer courses, and lets you work with some of the most respected teachers in ballet. And let’s be honest… it is the Paris Opera.
  • American Ballet Theatre, New York
    Stella Abrera, Artistic Director (NYC, NY)
    While ABT offers numerous programs and a variety of different levels, you really want to get into New York, and if you get in, you might want to consider it. Another school with a new director, ABT JKO and ABT Studio company might be the future of American Classical Ballet.
  • Elite Classical Coaching
    Catherine Lewellen, AD (Frisco, TX)
    Arguably, Elite classical coaching might be the school to beat in America. This pre-professional school has established itself on the competitive circuit, the collegiate circuit, and has launched professional dancers.
  • Miami City Ballet School & The Choreographic Workshop
    Arantxa Ochoa, School Director (Miami, FL)
    Miami City Ballet School is literally on the beach. So, who wouldn’t want to go summer in Miami? However, it’s not just the location. MCBS has slowly gained momentum and worked their way up to the top, offering a top level Balanchine experience, but offering the technical rigor of Cuban or Russian pedagogy.
  • Master Classes in Prague
    Daria Klimentova, Director (Prague)
    What was once reserved for professionals, or budding professionals, this year, the master classes in Prague will host young dancers under huge names likes Patrick Armond (San Francisco Ballet) and Simona Ferrazza (Dutch National).
  • Princess Grace Academie
    Luca Masala , Artistic Director (Monaco)
    Two weeks in Monaco, who wouldn’t want that? Spending two weeks at the famed Princess Grace is not only a delight because it’s on the French Riviera, but it also allows you to do other summer courses. This two week program looks great on the resue, as the princess grace academy has established itself amongst the world of competitive ballet but consistently winning the PDL.
  • John Cranko Schule
    Tadeusz Matacz, Director (Stuttgart, Germany)
    This beast of a school is housed in their new facilities courtesy of Porsche. This school has always been well respected, but has really become a part of the international ballet scene as they have recruited some of the biggest names and winners. Keeping up with the ballet scene on the global scale is difficult for state run programs, but JCS really is keeping up if not leading the way.
  • National Ballet School
    Mavis Staines, Artistic Director (Toronto, Canada)
    Probably Canada’s most recognized school, this school has always been amazing. However, like others who have followed suit, is finally keeping up with the global recruiting scene, and with the competitive world of ballet. This summer course is also marketing as a four week long audition for their coveted year round program.
  • YAGP NERVI FESTIVAL
    Larissa Savliev, Artistic Director (Nervi, Italy)
    Even the YAGP is keeping up. For the last three years, YAGP Europe has hosted a six day festival in Nervi, hosting some of the biggest directors and choreographers. This week long program offers students the ability to work with multiple directors in a short timespan and sets you up for the competitive season the following year.

Other programs you might want to consider:

Houston Ballet School (Houston, TX)

The Royal Ballet School Summer Intensive, Christopher Powney, AD (UK)

European School of Ballet, Jean Yves Esquerre, Director (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Cary Ballet Conservatory, Mariaelena Ruiz, AD (Cary, NC)

Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy, Dmitri Kulev, AD (Orange County, CA)

International Ballet Academy, Nadia Pavlenko, AD (Cary, NC)

Ellison Ballet, Edward Ellison, AD (NYC, NY)

Sarasota Ballet School (Sarasota, FL)

A&A Ballet (Chicago, IL)

Southland Ballet International Intensive (Fountain Hills, CA)

https://www.theballetclinic.com

More programs you might want to consider:

Harid Conservatory

Master Ballet Academy

Ballet West

Philadelphia Ballet School

The Washington Ballet School

Oklahoma City Ballet School

Tulsa Ballet School

Ballet Met

Juilliard

Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet

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.

Helgi Tomasson to Retire in 2022

After nearly 40 years of leading the San Francisco Ballet, Helgi Tomasson is retiring. Helgi Tomasson has made the San Francisco Ballet a world-class company, and arguably the best school in the country. For more about his career and his interview check out the Sf Chronicle Here.

Photo: Helgi Tomasson has served as artistic director and principal choreographer for the San Francisco Ballet since 1985.Photo: Brant Ward, The Chronicle

Top 5 Ballet Boys/Mens Programs (US)

As featured in Issue 6: It is funny that people still think there is a lack of male dancers in the US industry right now. In my opinion, there is a huge surplus of them, but they are flocking to five schools for sure. Sure, back in the day there were a few boys here and there, but now there are budding programs all over the US for these young men. They even have their own summer intensive. Now in Europe, that is a different story because male dancers are coming out left and right. Instagram proves that time and time again.

top ballet schools for boys

So… where are all the boys heading to and why? 

  1. San Francisco Ballet School, Patrick Armand (San Francisco) / THE SFB school has always attracted some of the best boys in the world to come train. Not only are the creating insane technicians, but they also are able to help the young men find their inner artistry. The young men that graduate SFB are usually all very noble looking (that bravura dancer), clean, and strong. (Click here to learn more)
  2. Boston Ballet School Men’s Division, Peter Stark (Boston) /  While the School at Boston has flourished over the years, and with their new studio opening this year, Boston Ballet School has attracted numerous boys into their summer course, where they are recruited for the year. Their boys are usually on the leaner side and known for their pretty lines, good feet, and ease. (Click here to learn more)
  3. School of American Ballet, Kay Mazzo (NYC) The School of American Ballet turns out one type of boy, and that is the long-limbed Balanchine boy. This program is not for everyone, in fact, unless it is your dream to dance at NYCB, this is not the school for you. Again, it really only creates one type of boy, and that is a Balanchine boy. So, unless you are going to a strictly Balanchine/Contemporary Company… this isn’t the school for you. (Click here to learn more)
  4. Houston Ballet Academy, Claudio Muñoz, James Gotesky, boys Program (Houston) HBA has always been a school that a lot of young men head out to. But recently, with the help of social media, HBA has been showcasing their insane technicians and ferocious turners. The HBA creates some of the strongest men out there. (Click Here to Learn More)
  5. The Rock School, Bo and Stephanie Spassoff (Philadelphia) The Rock School is not shy when it comes to showcasing their boys and young men. A school that has been long affiliated with the YAGP, the Rock School turns out some of the best turners and jumpers out there. (Click here to learn more)

So, what does this even mean? It means that the caliber of male dancers right now is incredible. You have to jump and turn, have perfect turnout, be a great actor, and partner. The list goes on and on. But, the silver lining here, is that the quality of male dancers out there right now is beyond exceptional. Don’t get it wrong either, there are tons of schools out there offering great male programs. These programs are A Ballet Education’s top picks here in the US. If you aren’t at one of these schools, don’t freak out you can still have a career from another school.  If you want a chance to go to one of these schools, don’t forget to audition for their summer courses/intensives and then ask/apply to stay for the year.

Keep up the good training!
___________________

These schools are my picks based on several factors included ratio of students to teachers, ratio of male to female students, scholarships awarded, size of the school, graduate placement, perceived value, cost of education, and company contracts. And before everyone gets crazy, I made it clear that 1. It was only US and 2. It is my opinion.

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COME TRAIN WITH ME!

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The Big Ten (international schools)

If this was college football, well it isn’t. Haha. This is bigger than college football, this is ballet. Like football there are ten schools that everyone wants to get into. The only thing bigger than the school you get into, is the company you might dance for as an end result. In comparison, these are the Ivies of the ballet world, and you do have to have top marks to get in. Who are we kidding, you have to have everything to get in… Like the Ivy League list… there are three schools that will always compete for number one in the world. International, and probably the most historical, they are the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet School, the Vaganova School, and the Royal Ballet School. It is hard to say which one of these schools is actually the best, because they are completely different styles, and create very different dancers. 1. Paris Opera Ballet School or to be accurate, Ecole de l’Opera National de Paris, is actually the oldest. The school itself is impossible to get into, and because they are state subsidized like most companies, they can be extremely picky on who they take. Not only is the training ridiculous, but it is based on a points system, and only top marks move on. Now, the bigger question… Why don’t we see a lot of French dancers in the US? The answer is simple, they were made to dance for Paris Opera, and if they don’t get in, they usually don’t want to dance for another company…. Or if they do, it is usually a cutting edge ballet company with a contemporary flare. Paris Opera Dancers can be spotted a mile away for their impeccable control of turn out, their specific style of arms (very relaxed), and their calm attack to ballet.

paris opera ballet boys

2. The Vaganova School… The fact that a style is named after them, or pedagogy, it should say something. Like Paris Opera everything is based on the rigorous challenge of first getting in. At the entrance exams not only is the child looked at, but radiographs of their bones, and their parents’ bodies are taken into consideration. This is to guess height, hip width, etc. The school itself is notarious via youtube for broadcasting their graduating class exams, in which students perform the most ridiculous barre and center combinations you will ever see. Regardless, go Russia. This can be seen because it seems that in Russia, everyone has beyond 180 turn out, ridiculous extensions, the soft arabesque arm and most importantly they have the most glorious necklines.

vaganova school boys arabesque

3. The Royal Ballet School, conveniently and beautifully located at Covent Garden. (Well truth be told all of the schools mentioned above are housed at the most glamorous places in the city.) Royal Ballet also has their particular style and thought process behind ballet, don’t confuse this with RAD (Royal Academy of Dance). The Royal Ballet school is known to recruit students from the YAGP, VARNA, IBC, the Prix de Lusanne and so forth. Usually, if a dancer enters the school from a big competition win, they end up in the company. One of the prizes at the Prix de Lusanne happens to be a company spot at Royal Ballet. Royal ballet is known for softer and subtle arms, romantic like arabesque placement, and meatier legs compared to the the two prior. royal ballet school graduating class

Now… are has an American School taken place number 4? Nope, I think not.

4. The Rest of the Russian Schools, take place number 4. This includes Bolshoi State Academy and St. Petersberg academy. Russia has definitely turned out powerhouses and they are proud of it. We should be thankful to them, and be more grateful that they don’t all come over to the US and audition for jobs, because then everyone would be unemployed. Hahah.

5. CPYB, if you don’t know what that stands for it is because they aren’t attached to a company. It stands for the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Headed and founded by Marcia Del Weary, CPYB seems to have the most active principals from a school in the US. The training is impeccable, and anyone can go. If you have a young son or daughter, send them there for a summer. They don’t audition. They accept everyone and turn everyone into a powerhouse dancer. Look at a lot of current American Ballerina’s bios… They are probably from CPYB…

6. School of American Ballet, or the notorious SAB. Founded by Balanchine, and the school of New York City Ballet, this might be argued as one of the hardest schools to get into. And they are known for one thing, the Balanchine Aesthetic. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the school, like Vaganova, Royal and Paris Opera, there is a very specific style. How can you spot an Balanchine or SAB dancer? Their hands (the claw), their crazy turn out, the way they take their bow (they break to 3/4 pointe and turn in), and their aggressive attack on musicality. Most of the dancers from School of American Ballet will find a job in another Balanchine like company.

7. NBS, Canada’s National Ballet School, the feeder school to National Ballet of Canada. Housed at the newly remodeled Celia Franca Center, NBS is known for creating extremely artistic and articulate dancers. What is really nice about this school is their Post-Secondary education program. This program is for dancers who have already graduated from school but need that one or two years of refinement, strengthening, and preparation for company life. In the US we call it second companies, but in reality a second company is a free corps. This is an actual program for dancers to utilize.

8. The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, also known as JKO. It is a newer school compared to the rest. In fact it was founded in 2004. It is the school to American Ballet Theatre and headed by Franco De Vita. This school is ridiculously known for their bravura dancers. Like most American schools now, the emphasis on turns and jumps are stressed here. The JKO school partnered with ABT’s Misty Copeland have started Project Plie, a program to help young minorities get the training they need to succeed in the dance world.

9. San Francisco Ballet School, so it was a toss up between the following schools because each are incredible: San Francisco Ballet School, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and Boston Ballet School. Each one is extremely unique and satisfying for any young dancer. It is also convenient that they are spread across the US. You might be thinking, well if you are going to group those schools you should also at Houston Ballet Academy, Miami City Ballet School, and maybe even Orlando Ballet School…. Wrong. You probably are thinking they are on the same level because their companies are on that same middle field. You are quite wrong. Their schools are incredibly different, and San Francisco, Boston and PNB are known for creating extraordinary dancers. Their dancers all are usually very classically based, with a touch of Balanchine in moderation. These schools push their kids extremely hard, and if they don’t join the company the actively seek work for them at other companies. ????????

10. Again, I have to lump these schools into a group because I like to call them the flashy schools. The Rock School for Dance Education and the Joffrey Ballet School. Both of these schools are very public and active in seeking students through the media. In addition, they strive for competitive edges in the ballet world. The Rock School probably has the most competitors at the YAGP, and usually they finish well. Joffrey actively seeks multi-faceted, and genre-versatile dancers into their school. So, there it is…. my Top Ten (ish) ballet schools in the world. I was going to include Denmark’s because of the Bournonville style, but realistically, the school doesn’t produce as many dancers as the others. I judge a school by the dancers they produce, the technique that they teach, and how many of their students go on to get jobs. That is the important thing here…