For aspiring dancers, many boarding schools offer dance programs ranging from pre-professional training to extra-curricular dance programs. Combining strong academics and supportive communities, these schools, and their dance programs, help young artists grow, develop and succeed collegiately at leading colleges, universities, art schools, and conservatories worldwide.

Unique among arts focused boarding schools, families will find schools dedicated to developing the student's intellectual abilities, as well as curricula and programs supporting professional, vocational, and technical curricula. These schools emphase specialization and pre-professional training.

Whether students dream of being professional dancers or want to pursue their passions recreationally, families and students can find schools with dance programs- ballet, classical, jazz, modern- at level of dance training and involvement they seek.

Surveying Dance Boarding Schools

For the serious dance student and aspiring professional dancer, Idyllwild Arts Academy offers both college-preparatory academics and pre-professional arts training. Founded in 1946 and located on the western slopes of California's San Jacinto Mountains, Idyllwild provides students an opportunity to focus single-mindedly on their art while receiving a superb college preparatory academic education within a supportive and collaborative environment. Within the dance department, students receive outstanding pre-professional dance training by renowned teachers through daily classes in ballet and modern dance. As such, the dance curriculum is designed to provide students with the technical and artistic versatility required to advance in the professional dance world. The dance department puts on two main stage dance productions as well as studio works throughout the year, including student choreography. Acceptance into Idyllwild is by audition, which can be completed in person, through its national Audition Tour, or by submitting a video or DVD. Many dance majors have gone on to dance in national companies and to attend some of the finest universities and conservatories, including the San Francisco Ballet, The Juilliard School, Miami City Ballet, NYU-Tisch School of the Arts, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, SUNY-Purchase Conservatory, Boston Conservatory, Dance Kaleidoscope, Cal Arts, Ballet Met, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Atlanta Ballet and the Louisville Ballet.

At Walnut Hill School for the Arts, located outside of Boston, Massachusetts, young artists learn how to work hard in order to excel in the arts, in academics, and in life. Walnut Hill offers a ballet curriculum that is a pre-professional training program designed to develop strength and flexibility through a pure classical technique. With five large studios with sprung floors, dancers are given the freedom and facility to pursue his or her own personal expression, and to adapt to the eclectic repertoires found in dance companies. Not all dancers aspire to be professionals and Walnut Hill provides a variety of paths from which to choose. Student life also provides opportunities for on finding balance between a rigorous day of arts and academic and campus and extracurricular activities. Students are active in a variety of activities and organizations, including community service, student government and special interest clubs. Walnut Hill dance students develop the physical and technical strength that propel a student toward artistic growth. As a result, many have gone on to dance professionally and recreationally at the Alberta Ballet, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Barnard College, Boston Ballet, Duke University, Indiana University, Mount Holyoke College, New York City Ballet, The Boston Conservatory, The Juilliard School and Twyla Tharp Dance Company among others.

Not all schools focus on training dancers at the pre-professional level. Many offer strong extracurricular dance programs. Westover School, an all-girls boarding school in Middlebury, Connecticut, features one of the strongest dance programs at the secondary school level. With three dance studios, students of all levels can dance ballet, modern, hip-hop and jazz as a part of the Westover Dance Ensemble’s year-long, audition-based group. During the summer, Westover is the home of the renowned Bolshoi Ballet. In 2009, Westover began a partnership with Brass City Ballet to provide students with a rigorous dance program with a ballet emphasis. Westover students can audition to become members of Brass City Ballet's Performing Company and have the opportunity to perform in major productions such as The Nutcracker and Spring Gala. With a variety of on-campus and off-campus student activities, girls can revel in a supportive and creative environment. Graduates of Westover have attended Amherst College, Brown University, Bryn Mawr College, Columbia, University, New York University, Oberlin College, and Rhode Island School of Design, among others.

In Dobbs Ferry, New York, students at The Masters School participate in an experiential classroom that develops skills and understanding to find their creative voices. Its proximity to New York City provides city-based learning opportunities and its music, drama, visual arts, and dance programs have long been among its most popular activities. Students train every day in a professional dance studio with wood floors, barres, and floor-to-ceiling mirrors with a professional dancer/choreographer, and they receive intensive instruction with professional guest artists from world-class dance companies and Broadway productions. In ballet, modern, jazz, tap, theater, ethnic dance, and choreography, students have the freedom to discover what is unique about their talent, and in the dance studio they perfect their technique with like-spirited, multi-talented friends. Students in the arts often study at New York City conservatories and art studios on Saturdays and can audition to perform with the Masters Dance Company and our two dance clubs, MUSE and Urban Connection. Graduates of The Masters Schools have attended New York University, Brown University, Cornell University, University of California –Berkeley, University of North Carolina School of Arts and The University of the Arts, among others.

Brentwood College School is a Canadian co-educational university preparatory school, founded in 1923. A boarding school by design with a contemporary, college feel, Brentwood’s educational philosophy is grounded in developing students academically, athletically and artistically. All Brentonians are involved in the creative process, both as participants and as members of the audience. Arts courses run for the full year and most students choose two arts each year. The T. Gil Bunch Centre is a 20,000 square foot facility that includes a 431-seat theater, a dance studio, a media arts room, a green room, four dressing rooms and other production related spaces, as well as a music suite. Brentwood’s dance program offers choreography and dance classes at the experienced junior dance, advanced dance, and intermediate levels. Life at Brentwood is built around community. With most students living on campus, much of student life is focused around the residential program as well as student clubs and activities. Graduates of Brentwood go on to attend colleges and universities in Canada, United States and Internationally, including McGill University, Harvard University and King’s College London.

A commitment to dance requires dedication and passion. Choosing the right school will help aspiring dancers find the program that meets their expectations and provides the appropriate level of training, support and facilities.