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Ballet School

Ballet is one of the most demanding and awarding disciplines in the arts, ballet school is usually not a temporary course taken in a few years, but encompasses a ballet dancer’s existence from an early age until the dancer begins to work professionally with a company.

Even after the dancer achieves professional status, it is likely that he or she will return to ballet school at some point, and many retired dancers often teach in a ballet school. Therefore, the best dancers spend a good deal of time in ballet school.

Ballet requires the physical stamina of the most strenuous types of athletics, and the classes taken in ballet school focus on physical conditioning as well as areas of dance theory and technique. Classical ballet school begins for most dancers at an early age, and usually lasts a minimum of eight years.

Many ballet schools, especially those located in major cities, are allied with a certain ballet company, and the school provides professional dancers for the company. Therefore, many dancers have a good reason to be confident upon acceptance to ballet school, but years of training and time will tell whether the dancer will make it professionally or not.

As depicted in films, the environment at ballet school tends to be fiercely competitive, since it isn’t enough for many students merely to appear with a company one day, but to become a principal dancer. However, many close friendships develop at ballet school, and most of the competition is of a friendly nature.

Students often develop a close relationship and an admiration from their instructor, who is often a famous dancer in the field with years of experience. Since classes are usually small at ballet school, the student has the opportunity to benefit from personal instruction on technique.

For those who want to learn classical ballet, the ballet schools focus on artistry, clean lines, musicality and coordination. Students usually begin ballet school at the age of 11 or younger, and this is one reason parents begin teaching their children ballet as tots.

To be accepted to ballet school, even at such a young age, a dancer needs to demonstrate that he or she already has mastered basic ballet techniques and to show that he or she has the talent to develop into an excellent professional dancer.

Subjects learned by dancers between the ages of 11 and 16 include: –

  • Character study
  • Contemporary Ballet
  • Gymnastics
  • Ethnic Styles
  • Repertoire
  • Solos
  • Pas de Deux

Dancing is not just performing steps and moves gracefully, but involves conveying a character, since ballet is a form of drama and storytelling, as well as a type of dance. Character study will help the young dancer to get inside his or her character’s skin and tell the character’s particular story through dance.

Gymnastics are required for increased coordination and physical stamina, and male dancers are expected to engage in physical training to build their upper body strength. Dancers are also taught to build their repertoire at Ballet Schools, and to dance solos and with other dancers.

The second level of ballet school begins at the age of 16 and is completed when the dancer is 18 or 19. Many of the courses are similar to those learned at the first level, but are taught more in depth to prepare the dancer for a career with a ballet company.

Performance is emphasized as the dancer reaches the end of his or her studies, and he or she may spend the final year participating in company performances.

Gaining acceptance at ballet school, the dancer must prepare an excellent audition. Many representatives from ballet schools travel to various cities to see dancers audition, but more often, dancers must travel to the auditions. Some ballet schools will accept a video taped auditions, whereas others prefer to see the dancer perform live.

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