THE TOP TEN BALLET SCHOOLS (2016)

top ten ballet schools 2016
It is an Olympic year, and like all major competitions, there are favorites going in. Favorites that are based on long-standing wins, countries that have dominated certain sports, and underdogs that have risen to the make the Olympic team… But these are not the Olympics… This is ballet.

Ready, set, go… Like any race or any competition, there is anticipation, adrenaline, and favorites. It is the mindset of the competitive human nature, survival of the fittest, or whatever you want to call it that causes ballet to evolve. No one will ever admit it, but it is true… Every school, every ballet company, everyone in ballet is always trying to show one up. Without this unspoken competition, ballet would not evolve… It even happens in the classroom, one person does 3 pirouettes, and another will attempt 4 to get approval, to get a nod, or get a correction… “Anything you can do, I can do better…” It is that mindset that ferociously drives ballet competitions, and how a dancer performs in the classroom. Most dancers claim to only compete with themselves, but that is a lie… They are also competing against the hundreds of other ballet dancers out there, hoping to get a job, or a spot at a top school… It is just like applying for colleges.

Every June, shortly after all of the schools have their year end performances, and after major companies announced their new rosters, I sit with a large cup of coffee and write. Before I go into the lists, which if you are that anxious for you can scroll down and skip this. There has to be some clarification about these lists… They are solely based on my opinions and statistics that I gather. And, yes I am extremely biased, but I am extremely honest… But there is something greater than just ballet schools and the alumni they produce… This year and the next few will prove, that the power of the ballet competition is becoming a stronger power player, now more than ever. Additionally, the power of social media is influencing the tides of the ballet world and you must wonder, how this is going to affect ballet as a whole. In fact, it has already started…

But this year was a spectacular year in the world of Ballet Schools and Ballet Competitions… and as a result the list it has shifted the list from last year…

1. Royal Ballet, London, ENGLAND (ballet school/ finishing school)… This year Royal Ballet’s graduating class kicked ass… No one could touch their graduating class, even if they combined with ABTII, Royal Ballet’s graduating class was close to flawless. With their students joining top companies around the world, I believe every one of their graduates landed a decent contract… Not to mention one of their students won the YAGP. But this is no surprise as Royal Ballet Upper School is filled with competition winners, their upper levels are always made up of international competitors. This school, even though the lower school is amazing, the reality is, that the upper school is a finishing school for exceptional technicians. (click here for the school) (Last year’s graduating class contracts…)

2. Vaganova Ballet Academy, Saint Petersburg, RUSSIA (ballet school/finishing school) has had a bangin’ year for their graduates. Their lower classes have a stunning group which is actually kind of diverse in ethnicity… More now compared to before. Social media superstars attending the academy from Japan, Italy, the US and more… This is probably credited to their principal/director Nikolai Tsiskaridze and his recruiting and social media exposure of the technique. (Website, but kind of sparse)

3. Escuela Nacional de ballet de Cuba, Havana, CUBA(ballet school/finishing school): This school has always been known for making powerhouse dancers, especially men. And for some reason their men are some of the best turners in the world. It is insane. (website)

4. John Cranko School, Stuttgart, GERMANY (ballet school/ finishing school) Pretty much hardcore Vaganova ballet training except it is supplemented with amazing modern and contemporary technique… Making it one of the best schools in the world, and a reason why prize winners from competitions choose that school. (website)

5. Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Moscow, RUSSIA (ballet school/ finishing school)- It is motherland Russia… do I have to say more? Bolshoi Ballet Academy is actually the Moscow State Academy of Choreography and is the affiliate school of Bolshoi. They are also partnered with the US to host summer programs here, and is affiliated with other schools around the world, including Brasil. (US Website)

6. Small schools all over Japan (ballet School) These schools are killing it at competitions and making a mark in the Asian market of ballet training.

7. Houston Ballet Academy, Houston, Texas USA (finishing school): Houston Ballet Academy has grown over the past two years… I mean they have always been known to recruit incredible leapers and turners… but over the past two years Houston Ballet has been cranking out American dancers left and right with impeccable Americanized Russian technique… Truthfully, again I have never been to the school, or observed the full school… but it is on my list of things to do this year. Houston Ballet seems to be the only American school at the moment who is infiltrating the European market and European Competitions. (website)

8. Ellison Ballet School, NYC, New York, USA (ballet school) is definitely making waves in the ballet world, and they are producing a ridiculous sum of professional and pre-professional dancers. It seems everyone wants to go to this school now, and has definitely come a long way since my post two years ago. It is turning into one of the top schools in NYC and in the world. (website)

9. School of American Ballet, NYC, New York, USA (finishing school): Despite everyone always being so upset that SAB is always placed extremely high on the list… This year, wasn’t that impressive… But I will defend that their technique may not be classical ballet, but it is ballet and curriculum creates musical, precise and interesting dancers. (website)

10. Scuola di Ballo del Teatro alla Scala, Milan, ITALY (ballet school): Argued as the second oldest ballet school in the world, the students from La Scala are much like the students of POB. They only want to dance for their home country, but this year’s graduates seem to be spreading their wings and heading all over.(website)

Other schools that were considered:

National Ballet School, Canada
Australian Ballet School, Australia
Royal Danish School, Denmark
Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, USA
Ballet Academy East, USA
Sunhwa Arts Academy, South Korea
Real Conservatorio Profesional de Danza Mariemma, Spain
JKO School, USA
The Rock School,USA
Vienna State Opera Ballet School, Vienna
Paris Opera Ballet School, France
San Francisco Ballet School, USA
Princess Grace of Monaco Academy, Monte Carlo
Master Ballet Academy, Arizona, USA
and others…

top ten us ballet schools

And finally, here is the list of the TOP TEN schools in the US for 2016. (In no particular order)

  1. School of American Ballet (SAB)
  2. Houston Ballet Academy (HBA)
  3. San Francisco Ballet School (SFB)
  4. Ellison Ballet School*
  5. Boston Ballet School (BB)
  6. Pacific Northwest Ballet School (PNB)
  7. Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet*(CPYB)
  8. Master Ballet Academy*
  9. Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis School (JKO)
  10. Ballet Academy East* (BAE)

*not affiliated with a major company

 

Now, by nature, and by history the following schools have regarded as the best schools in the world. They are the big hitters, those who have contributed to ballet history, and those who have contributed the greatest ballet stars. And for those who wondered what these schools are they are, in no particular order:

TOP 10 BALLET SCHOOLS IN THE WORLD BY HISTORY

  1. Paris Opera Ballet School
  2. Royal Ballet School
  3. Vaganova Ballet Academy
  4. Bolshoi Ballet Academy
  5. John Cranko School
  6. The School at National Ballet of Cuba
  7. School of American Ballet
  8. Scoula di Ballo del Teatro la Scala
  9. The School at Royal Danish Ballet
  10. National Ballet School, Canada

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