For many girls, ballet classes are just a fleeting fancy they eventually outgrow. But if your little ballerina is passionate and serious about ballet, she should move on to advanced dance lessons. The Bay Area has many ballet schools that can teach your daughter the techniques and skills needed to reach the pre-professional level. Consider sending your daughter to one of these ballet academies, and she can be dancing on her toes in a few years’ time.
Ayako School – Belmont
At Ayako School of Ballet in Belmont, the raw talent in young dancers is honed and perfected in the Professional Prep Division. The Pro-Prep division is made up of five ballet levels; the first level, Ballet 4, will require students to take at least three ballet classes a week plus one elective class (either modern dance or jazz). At the highest level, Ballet 8, students should take a minimum of 6 ballet classes or 5 ballet classes and one elective class a week (either modern dance or jazz). Not many ballet schools require their students to take a non-ballet elective, which is why the Ayako School is so unique. Director and founder Ayako Takahashi believes that exposure to other dance styles will enhance a student’s artistic understanding and personal dance style. There seems to be some truth into this, as most Ayako School alumni go on to compete in national dance competitions, join professional dance companies, or take up further studies in dance.
Visit http://www.ayakoschool.com for more information.
Bayer Ballet Academy
The Bayer Ballet Academy is known across the Bay Area for teaching classical ballet using the Vaganova method – a clean ballet style characterized by precise yet soft movements. Hard-working and talented students aged 12 and older may be invited to be part of the Academy’s Performance Program Level, which provides them with rigorous training and more opportunities to perform or compete. Students must attend class at least three times a week if they wish to be part of the school’s December Holiday Show and Annual Recital. At times, the Academy’s director Inna Bayer herself will instruct girls from the Performance Program, though only students who attend classes regularly will be awarded this rare privilege.
For information on class schedules and placement, visit http://www.bayerballetacademy.com.
Western Ballet has been teaching ballet to the girls of Mountain View for more than thirty years. Using methods from Russian, European, and American schools, Western Ballet provides dance training that rivals that of the world’s best ballet academies. Many of their alumni go on to join professional dance companies like the San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Nederlands Dans Theater. Of course, this is after a student graduates from the Youth Graded Program’s Level 8, the highest level a mature and skilled dancer can attain.
New students who pass the placement exam usually start at level 3, a class for 10-12 year olds who will eventually be eligible to do to pointe work. Depending on your child’s progress, she may move up the program’s upper levels, where she will take up modern dance and Pilates with classical ballet. Like the Ayako School, students of Western Ballet are exposed to other dance styles so that they may become well-rounded artists.
Of course, not all girls who want advanced ballet lessons are interested in becoming professional dancers. If this is the case with your daughter, she can attend Western Ballet’s Open Program, which offers intermediate and advanced training at a more relaxed pace.
For information on schedules and placement