Dance Training

In Training: Ballet Goes to College

Three top programs to consider



Most college dance programs offer ballet technique classes, and some schools even present classical rep. Few, however, offer the specialization and experience you’d receive as a company trainee. There are, of course, the conservatories like Juilliard or universities like Butler, Indiana and Utah that carry well-deserved reputations as having top-notch ballet offerings. But don’t ignore these strong ballet programs that tend to fly under the radar.




Located: Columbia, SC

No. of dance majors: 75–80

No. of applicants per year: 150

No. of studios: 3 (6 when partitions are closed)



Degrees offered: BA in dance performance/choreography, ballet emphasis; BA in dance performance/choreography, contemporary emphasis; BA in dance education; dance minor

Ballet classes: Five times per week; pointe or men’s classes twice per week

Non-ballet courses required: Contemporary, improvisation and composition, choreography, anatomy/nutrition, Laban Movement Analysis, dance analysis and criticism, history, dance production

Recent repertoire: Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, Mozartiana and Apollo; Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s The Great Galloping Gottschalk

Recent guest artists: Chris Uchida (Twyla Tharp répétiteur), Jeffrey Gribler (Pennsylvania Ballet), Alan Hineline (Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet)

Alumni: Artistic and administrative positions with companies including Georgia Ballet Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre and Carolina Ballet


USC Dance Company in Balanchine’s Apollo. Photo courtesy USC.





Located: Erie, PA

No. of dance majors: 60

No. of applicants per year: 75–100

No. of studios: 3




Degrees offered: BFA in dance (beginning fall 2014), BA in dance

Ballet classes: Five days per week; elective pointe, variations and pas de deux classes

Non-ballet courses required: Modern, jazz, tap or musical theater, dance history, choreography, music for dancers, biology for dancers, pedagogy, kinesiology, Labanotation, dance conditioning

Recent repertoire: Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie, Gerald Arpino’s Viva Vivaldi, full-length Giselle and Bruce Mark’s La Fille mal gardée

Recent guest artists: Lisa de Ribere (School of American Ballet), Matthew Prescott (freelance dancer), Neta Pulvermacher (Neta Dance Company)

Alumni: Artistic positions with companies including Ohio Dance Theatre, Lake Erie Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Saint Louis Ballet


Ashley Cook with guest artist Eddy Tovar in La Fille mal gardée. Photo by Rick Klein, courtesy Mercyhurst.




Located: Cincinnati, OH

No. of dance majors: 59

No. of applicants per year: approximately 100

No. of studios: 3


Degree offered: BFA in dance, emphasis in ballet

Ballet classes: Five times per week; pointe once per week, variations once per week; men’s classes and male variations once per week; basic partnering once per week, pas de deux once per week

Non-ballet courses required: Modern, dance history, choreography, character, somatic practice, jazz, eurythmics for dancers, music for dancers, costume and makeup for stage, theatrical design and production, acting, anatomy

Recent repertoire: Bournonville’s La Sylphide, Act II, Balanchine’s Serenade, “Kingdom of the Shades” from Petipa’s La Bayadère

Recent guest artists: Victoria Morgan (Cincinnati Ballet), Edwaard Liang (BalletMet), Devon Carney (Kansas City Ballet)

Alumni: Artistic positions with companies including Le Ballet du Capitole in France, Smuin Ballet, Louisville Ballet and Sarasota Ballet


CCM students in Balanchine’s Serenade. Photo by Will Brenner, Courtesy CCM.




The Conversation
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)

Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.

Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.

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Health & Body
Getty Images

I'd been a professional dancer for five years when I realized the pain I'd been feeling in my hip and down my sciatic nerve was not going away. I had been treating it for two years as we dancers do—with regular visits to my masseuse, physical therapy, baths, ice and lots of Aleve—but I never stopped dancing. It finally dawned on me that if I kept going at the speed I was going (which was, well, speedy), the pain would only get more severe and unrelenting, and I might never dance again.

I told myself I'd take two months off, and all would be better.

That first morning when I woke up at 10 am, I had no idea what to do with myself. My life until that moment had been dictated by class and rehearsal, every hour accounted for. How should I fill the huge swath of time ahead of me?

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