Dancing in the Big Apple
Part one of this blog post gave you a brief overview of some of NYC’s most diverse, unusual and avant-garde dance studios. In this follow-up post we’ll be looking at some of the city’s tried and tested dance schools that have been an essential part of the Big Apple’s dance landscape ever since their foundation.
The School Of American Ballet
165 West 65th Street – Lincoln Center
SAB is one of the world’s most renowned ballet schools and the feeder school for New York City Ballet. Approximately 450 students aged 6-18 attend SAB during any given school year, with 200 more being admitted to the school’s prestigious summer school program.
The School of American Ballet was founded in 1934 by the legendary dancer and choreographer George Balanchine and philanthropist Lincoln Kirstein. Balanchine’s aim was to create a ballet school capable of producing technically and artistically brilliant dancers. The founding of SAB begot another quintessentially American institution, the New York City Ballet, which to this day remains closely linked to the school.
The long list of SAB alumni features a multitude of illustrious names: Darci Kistler, Gelsey Kirkland, Ethan Stiefel, Suzanne Farrell, Maria Tallchief, Arthur Mitchell and Fernando Bujones have all graced SAB’s hallowed halls with their presence at one time or another.
The Ailey School
The Joan Weill Center for Dance
405 West 55th Street (at 9th Ave)
The Ailey School offers a wide range of programs, intensives and open classes. Its close ties to the world-famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater along with Ailey II, the school’s junior company in residence, make it a challenging and unique environment for its 3,500 students.
Programs are offered based on age range: Creative Movement (2-6), Junior Division (7-17), Professional Division (17-25).
The Ailey School offers exciting summer intensives for two age ranges, one of them being for young dancers aged 11-15 and the other for pre/professional dancers aged 16-25. The summer intensives run 5 and 6 weeks respectively. Students are given the opportunity to gain performance experience and attend classes in a variety of dance techniques.
For the time being, open classes are held through the Ailey Extension. The cost for a single drop-in class is $20, but various packages are available, the maximum amount being $320 for a 20-class card.
Joeffrey Ballet School
434 Avenue of the Americas
The Joffrey Ballet School was founded in 1953 by visionary dance teacher and choreographer, Robert Joffrey. At the forefront of dance education since its inception, the school has produced a large number of graduates who have gone on to dance in classical and modern companies in both the United States and abroad.
The typical Joffrey dancer is trained in ballet, jazz, modern, character, dance history, choreography and improvisation, with nutrition, anatomy, Pilates and yoga rounding out the curriculum.
All trainee programs require an audition. Auditions run year round in NYC and several summer audition dates take place in Europe. Prospective students also have the option to submit a video audition.
The Juilliard School
60 Lincoln Center Plaza
The Juilliard School was founded in 1905 as the Institute of Musical Art with the intention of establishing an American music school to rival its European counterparts. Juilliard’s Dance Division was created in 1951. It offers a four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts degree or a diploma.
Juilliard has a diverse student body with students hailing from 40 different countries across the globe. Over the years, Juilliard alumni have won an impressive number of awards, amongst which 105 Grammy Awards, 24 Academy awards and 16 Pulitzer Prizes.
Juilliard’s Summer Dance Intensive is aimed at young dancers aged 15-17 with a solid background in classical ballet.
Martha Graham School
Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance
55 Bethune Street
Named after its founder, the groundbreaking choreographer Martha Graham, the Martha Graham School is America’s oldest dance school as well as being one of its finest.
The school continues to imbue students with the spirit of innovation started by Graham herself. With a strong focus on the Graham Technique with its distinctive movement patterns and powerful dramatic expression, the school offers various training programs, intensives and open classes.
I hope you enjoyed this field guide to NYC’s best dance studios and schools. If you haven’t done so yet, make sure to check out Part I of this guide. Have you ever been to NYC? Have you ever attended a dance class in the Big Apple? Leave your comments below!