The 10 Best Dance Schools in the World

The 10 Best Dance Schools in the World
Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet (St. Petersburg, RU)

Many of the world’s top dancers, like Rudolf Nureyev, Sylvie Guillem, and the illustrious Anna Pavlova, can be found to have benefited much from the rigorous instruction and professional growth provided by institutions devoted to the development of aspiring dancers.

This is no accident—few things have the power to turn inexperienced dancers into methodical professionals like the tools offered to students at the following dance colleges.

The following schools are actually where Rudolf Nureyev, Sylvie Guillem, and Anna Pavlova all graduated from.

But what each dancer needs to effectively polish their skill is different for everyone.

Dancers must therefore carefully consider the areas of specialization offered by the dance institutions they wish to study at, the faculty who may serve as future mentors, the types of notable alumni these institutions have historically produced, and the culture of the dance scene in the cities where these institutions are located.

To maximize their time during advanced study, individuals must consider each of these elements.

The list that follows deconstructs these facts and others, showing significant data dancers can take into account while submitting their applications to the top dance programs in the world. Some of these universities offer bachelor’s degrees, while others serve as dancing schools for aspiring professionals.

From Moscow to Oklahoma City, this list represents 10 of the best dance schools in the world. Although some of these schools focus on educating younger, pre-college students, they frequently provide a range of short-term classes, summer programs, and professional development courses for older students.

The 10 Best Dance Schools in the World

Many people believe that the Vaganova Ballet Academy is where contemporary ballet originated. As class sizes get smaller and smaller each year, this 275-year-old school only grants graduation to those deemed to be the very best dancers in their year.

As a result, just 25 of the 3,000 kids who apply to the school at roughly age 10 will graduate, at around the age of 19. However, classes for foreign students are offered yearly to those between the ages of 16 and 20.

Some graduating students may receive job offers from the Mariinsky Ballet company. Others make their way to organizations all across the world, including the American Ballet Theatre, Bolshoi Ballet, and Royal Ballet.

Three of the most influential ballet dancers of all time, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Anna Pavlova, are among the school’s extremely accomplished graduates.

Paris Opera Ballet School (Paris, FR)

This school is a part of the Paris Opera, the oldest national dance company on the planet, and is situated in the Paris district of Nanterre, France.

Due to its close proximity to the Paris Opera, this 300-year-old institution offers students the chance to interact with one of the most esteemed dance companies in the world.

Approximately 95% of the dancers in the Paris Opera company are graduates of the ballet school.

From Sylvie Guillem to Katherine Higgins, a rising star at the Paris Opera, the Paris Opera dance School has alumni who have changed the face of dance.

Elisabeth Platel, a renowned Benois de la Danse ballerina award winner who has choreographed for dance greats including George Balanchine, John Neumeier, and Rudolf Nureyev, currently serves as the school’s director.

Royal Ballet School (London, EN)

Dame Margot Fonteyn, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, and Kevin O’Hare, the current director of The Royal Ballet, are just a few of the distinguished alumni of The Royal Ballet School.

The Royal Ballet in London and the Birmingham Royal Ballet are two of the most esteemed dance companies that have historically accepted students from this school for dancers aged 11 to 19 located in London, England.

The Royal Ballet School, which also has painting studios, computer labs, a physiotherapy treatment room, and other facilities, guarantees that its students receive rigorous dance training in addition to excellent academic preparation.

The only dance school to have produced four of the thirteen Prima ballerina assoluta winners—Margot Fonteyn, Eva Evdokimova, Phyllis Spira, and Alessandra Ferri—is The Royal Ballet School.

Elmhurst Ballet School (Birmingham, EN)

This school has a close relationship with the Birmingham Royal Ballet and offers its pupils exclusive access to Carlos Acosta, the Cuban dancer who has held this role since 2019. Carlos Acosta is the artistic director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Students at Elmhurst Ballet School can also look forward to the chance to perform at the Birmingham Hippodrome, one of the best theaters in the UK.

The school’s cutting-edge facility includes seven dance studios, a 250-seat studio theater, and a theatrical workshop. It serves students between the ages of 11 and 19.

As artistic director, Robert Parker, a former principal dancer for the Birmingham Royal Ballet, provides pupils with guidance from a top industry figure. Dancers like Dame Merle Park, Melissa Hamilton, Jacqui Chan, and Paul James Rooney are examples of the eclectic range of dancers who are Elmhurst alumni.

The Juilliard School (New York, NY)

The Juilliard School (New York, NY)
TYair Haklai, Juilliard School-Manhattan-New yorkCC BY-SA 3.0

The Juilliard School’s Dance Division provides graduate and undergraduate students with the opportunity to refine their abilities in a variety of dance genres, including ballet, hip-hop, tap, contemporary African, numerous other Ballet approaches, and more.

Director of the program Alicia Graf Mack has performed on stage with Beyoncé, John Legend, Andre 3000, Alicia Keys, and Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet.

As a result, alumni are present in all facets of the global dance scene.

Juilliard alumni range from Carla DeSola, a pioneer of liturgical dance, to Rina Schenfeld, Prima Ballerina at the Batsheva dance company, to Daniel Lewis, a contemporary dancer with a background in Yiddish theater.

Along with Alicia Graf Mack, many of Juilliard’s dance teachers are working professionals in the field. Examples include Deborah Wingert, who has danced for both real and video Shakespeare performances, Val “Ms. Vee” Ho, a tap dancer who has performed on Broadway, and Ray Hesselink, who has been in numerous films and talk programs.

Fordham University (New York, NY)

Fordham University partners with The Ailey School of Dance to offer undergraduate students the chance to combine the best of The Ailey School’s tradition of dance prestige with Fordham’s academic excellence through their Ailey/Fordham dance BFA. Fordham University is situated close to one of the world’s dance epicenters in New York City’s Lincoln Center Area.

With mandatory coursework in a variety of dance genres, this degree concentrates on giving its students a comprehensive understanding of the world’s dance techniques. It was created within the dance school established by internationally renowned dancer Alvin Ailey.

Through their Ailey/Fordham dance BFA program, Fordham University and The Ailey School of Dance give undergraduate students the opportunity to benefit from both institutions’ outstanding academic reputations and prestigious dance traditions. In the Lincoln Center neighborhood of New York City, Fordham University is located adjacent to one of the dance epicenters of the globe.

This degree focuses on giving its students a thorough understanding of different dance approaches from throughout the world and requires coursework in a range of dance genres. It was developed within the walls of the famed dance studio that Alvin Ailey founded.

NYU Tisch School of the Arts (New York, NY)

The Tisch School of the Arts’ BFA in Dance not only has an extensive curriculum that emphasizes both the artistic and technical facets of dance, but it also enables students to gain practical experience in the kinds of professional environments that career dancers work in on a daily basis.

The Tisch School’s curriculum is distinctive in that it starts with a fundamental dance education and progresses through the years until students join the Second Avenue Dance Company in their final year.

Students participate in summer residencies along the way, where they get intensive instruction from visiting dance groups, artists, and practitioners.

In 2022, Sofia Nappi, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE: A Dance Company, and David Dorfman Dance will be present at the Tisch summer residence.

As a result, this program gives students the chance to start building their professional network and portfolio. Therefore, it makes sense that three recent Tisch graduates were included among Dance Magazine’s 25 to watch in 2021.

School of American Ballet (New York, NY)

In collaboration with the New York City Ballet, the School of the American Ballet chooses kids from the ages of 6 to 18 to receive some of the most distinguished ballet instruction available.

Additionally, 200 kids in that age group have the chance to enroll in summer school and finish a five-week intensive training program.

The School of the American Ballet is led by Jonathan Stafford, a former ballet master of the New York City Ballet, and is home to a distinguished faculty that includes Aesha Ash, a former soloist with the New York City Ballet who also founded the organization The Swan Dreams Project to combat prejudice against Black women in ballet, and 60-year industry veteran Kay Mazzo.

The School of the American Ballet has produced 90% of the dancers in the New York City Ballet, with noteworthy graduates including Paloma Herrera, Mary Ellen Moylan, and Debra Austin.

Oklahoma City University Ann Lacey School of Dance and Entertainment (Oklahoma City, OK)

For anyone interested in a career in dance production at any level, this university is a wonderland.

This school offers exceptional chances for people who desire to make a contribution to the dance community with separate undergraduate and graduate degrees in Dance Performance, Dance Management, American Dance Teaching, and Entertainment Business.

Professor Jo Rowan established the Ann Lacy School with the belief that American dance genres like tap, jazz, and theater dance deserved attention in the academic setting.

It has long been regarded as one of the top universities in the world for these types of American dance because it was the first institution of its sort to teach these dance styles.

Jo Rowan, the creator of the course and the American Spirit Dance Company, is still an instructor at the Ann Lacy School today, giving students the chance to learn from an industry pioneer.

The Bolshoi Ballet Academy (Moscow, RU)

Graduates of this school, which is connected to the Bolshoi Ballet, have won numerous accolades including People’s Artist of the USSR, “prima ballerina assoluta,” and “premier dancer” awards, which are the highest distinctions a dancer in Russia can win. Students from ages 9 to 19 are trained at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

The director of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy at the moment is Marina Leonova, a People’s Artist of Russia, which is the greatest accolade bestowed upon artists by the Russian Federation.

Recent graduates of the institution have gone on to direct dance companies around the globe, including Alexei Ratmansky, who was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for his work with the American Ballet Theatre.

The Bolshoi Ballet Academy has such a significant impact on the dance community and the global art scene as a whole that the organization was given the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation in 2020 for its contribution to improving Russo-Japanese relations.

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