St. Paul’s School provides students with the opportunity to combine a rigorous academic education with the finest dance training in a dedicated dance facility.
The St. Paul’s School Dance Program fosters a fun, nurturing and artistic learning environment and prepares its students to dance at the pre-professional and college level through instruction in classical ballet, modern dance, anatomical theory and performance. Our faculty is committed to the idea that studying dance is a process and our students are always evolving and growing. Our goal is to train technically proficient dancers with a sound work ethic, promote artistic growth, and support dancers of all backgrounds.
Serious dancers may audition for the St. Paul’s School Ballet Company (SPSBC), a year-round program that can be substituted for athletic participation at the varsity level. SPSBC dancers work one-on-one with faculty and guest teachers and choreographers, rehearsing daily throughout the academic calendar, and performing four different programs per school year. Its repertory includes classics as well as contemporary works. Guest teachers and choreographers have included members of internationally recognized companies such as American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, BalletX, The Balanchine Trust, Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Twyla Tharp, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company and Batsheva Dance Company.
Onstage and Backstage with the SPSBC
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I participate in the Dance Program and not be of the Ballet Company?
Yes, you can! The Dance Department has a variety of classes you can take during the academic day. Taking a full year of dance class will fulfill your arts credit requirement for graduation. Beginners can take Dance I, and those with dance experience can take Ballet II, III, IV, or V. Approval of the Director of Dance is needed to take Ballet II, III, IV, or V.
I am interested in the SPS Ballet Company (SPSBC). What's next?
Complete the Dance Inquiry Form. Director of Dance Kate Lydon will follow up with you via email. If you have additional questions, contact Ms. Lydon at email@example.com.
What does the SPSBC commitment/schedule look like?
The SPS Ballet Company meets six days a week throughout the academic year. This is a three-term commitment. Students must audition and be accepted (based on their level of technique) into the Ballet Company. Dancers must take a ballet “block class” (they will be placed in Ballet III, IV, or V) that meets during the academic day as well as attend the afternoon “athlete block” rehearsal time. The ballet block class meets four times a week and the afternoon rehearsals are Monday-Saturday. Dancers will rehearse for four performances that occur throughout the year: Family Weekend, The Nutcracker, Winter Performance, and Spring Performance. Dancers also perform in Chapel once a year, and in an informal showing at the start of Anniversary Weekend (graduation weekend).
Dancers dance about 18 hours a week:
- Block classes: Three 35-minute classes / One 1 hour and 10 minute class
- Athletic block: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 3:30-5:15pm / Wednesday, Saturday 1:30-5:30pm (here dancers take additional classes and rehearse).
Dancers also have the opportunity to work with guest artists throughout the year. These guest artists teach class, choreograph original pieces, and coach classical repertory. Recent guests include Ethan Stiefel, Carlos Lopez, Rosalynde LeBlanc, Yan Chen, and Duncan Cooper.
If I want to be an SPS Ballet Company member, do I have to audition?
Yes. Every dancer auditions and re-auditions every year just like our varsity sports teams. Note that the SPSBC is a varsity sport, and the dancers are proficient in ballet and pointe.
What are the video requirements for application to the SPS Ballet Company?
Your video must be 15 minutes or less in length. Only perform one side of each exercise.
- Barre Work: Pliés (in first, second and fifth positions), Tendu/Dégagé, Fondu, Adagio, Grand Battement
- Center Work: Adagio, Pirouettes, Petit Allegro, Grand Allegro
- Pointe Work: Relevé, Passé, Échappé, Pique Turns
- Men’s Work: Preparation for Tour en l’air
NOTE: If you have additional video footage of a solo, variation, and/or performance that you would like to include, please do so at the end and indicate in what year the footage was recorded. If you are not the only person in the performance footage, please indicate who you are.
NOTE: If you are unable to film these video requirements, please contact Kate Lydon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SPSBC is a 'varsity sport.' Does the BC have a 'JV' team?
There is no ‘JV’ team. If you would like to participate in dance without being in the SPSBC, you can take a Dance I class, or a Ballet II class during the academic day. There also is a student run dance group called Funkdefied.
What type of repertory does the SPSBC perform?
The SPSBC’s repertory is similar to professional ballet companies. Dancers should expect to dance classical variations and excerpts, The Nutcracker, and contemporary work by a variety of choreographers. Many guest artists will create original works on the SPSBC dancers, while others will set previously created work. The variety of repertory allows the dancers to experience different forms of dance.
Is there an opportunity for SPSBC members to choreograph a dance?
Yes! Each year, the dancers of the SPSBC are asked if they are interested in choreographing on their fellow dancers. These choreographers are coached by Ms. Lydon and Ms. Peix, and present their original work in one of the SPSBC performances.
What colleges have recent SPSBC dancers attended?
SPS has a long history of producing accomplished and well-rounded dancers. Recent graduates have gone on to dance at college programs including Harvard University, Columbia University, Barnard College, Stanford University, Georgetown University, Northeastern University, and Kenyon College.
Have SPSBC dancers gone on to professional dance careers?
SPS Dance Program alumni have danced professionally with companies including New York City Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, Jose Limon Dance Company, Batsheva Dance Company, Smuin Ballet, and more.
Complete a Dance Inquiry Form so we can learn more about you.
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SPS welcomes artists and choreographers of distinction.