The California Conservatory of Dance – FAQ

Life at the Conservatory

What ballet technique do you teach?

The ABT National Training Curriculum serves as the basis for our training program. It promotes a purely classical technique that can be used anywhere, in any kind of choreography, without affections. Yet, it is important to note that all our instructors are from varied backgrounds and versed in alternate training styles, such as Royal Academy, Vaganova, the French, Italian, and Danish schools, as well as Balanchine. The diverse knowledge our instructors bring helps us to foster an all-encompassing training program. We encourage our dancers to well rounded and classically versed so that they are able to achieve anything they set their mind too.

How often do students move up a level?

There is no set timeframe for when a student moves up to the next level. Teachers can make recommendations to the Director at any point during the year when they feel a student is both physically and mentally ready. At that time, the Director will evaluate the student to see if he or she is indeed ready to move up. However, it really depends on the individual student. Some may move up throughout the year and others will remain in their given level for another term.

Why are classes so small?

We feel that one-on-one attention is imperative to help students understand the concepts and affords the time to clean their technique.

How do you handle injuries?

We do not push a dancer who is recovering from an injury. We encourage our students to alert their instructors of any injuries at the beginning of their class. Students should also notify their instructor immediately of any developing or reoccurring pain. As we feel that prevention and caution should be our guiding rules, we are careful not to pressure students into overworking through their injuries.

What is the difference between “Open Classes” and Conservatory?

The Conservatory is a more focused and intense training program for students who wish to have a career in dance or train to enter a college or university dance program. The Open levels (Creative Dance to Ballet 5) provide leveled instruction that goes from basic beginning ballet through intermediate technique, again using the ABTÒ National Training Curriculum as a basis. Serious students can then audition for the Jr. Conservatory.

How often do Conservatory students dance?

They dance six days a week. Classes include technique (daily), Pointe, modern, jazz, body conditioning, pas de deux, character, Danse de Cour Royale, special technique, Pilates, and music and dance history. We often add classes as we see a need, such as how to sew Pointe shoes.

With so much dancing, how do students get their homework done?

We try to help with scheduling, and if your student needs extra time, we allow make-up classes.


Can someone enter the Conservatory in the middle of the year?

The Conservatory is divided into two semesters. There is a formal Conservatory audition held every August before the start of the first term. However, students may schedule an audition anytime throughout either semester. Student’s will be evaluated by the Director and notified of his or her acceptance into the program.

Do you have end-of-year conferences with dancers and their parents?

We have conferences at the end of each semester.

Do you host master classes?

Yes. In the past, we have had many notable dancers, teachers, and choreographers such as Andre de la Roche, Amanda McKerrow, John Gardner, Ted Kivitt, and Rochelle Zide. We view master classes as the dessert after the main meal, however. We prefer to offer them only occasionally so as not to disrupt the consistency of training with the same teachers.

What performances do you do?

We have performing opportunities through our youth ballet company, the California Conservatory of Dance Ensemble. We do not do recitals, but we have a winter and spring performance. In the past, we have danced at Soka University International Dance Festival and the Festival of the Children.

What is the California Conservatory of Dance Ensemble and are auditions mandatory?

The California Conservatory of Dance Ensemble is our for-profit youth dance company. Participation is not mandatory, but it gives dancers a chance to apply the knowledge gained from classes in a formal atmosphere—not only to learn our stagecraft but also to experience the excitement and fun of being on stage. However, we do not allow training to be overshadowed by rehearsals.

Do you offer intensives?

Yes. As the time gets close for registration, we typically post all intensive details. We offer both a summer intensive in mid to late August and our original and very popular Audition Preparation Intensive in late December, early January. Students have found the latter intensive invaluable in helping them prepare for auditions to programs offered by American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey, School of American Ballet, San Francisco, PNB, Kaatsbaan, and Boston. The intensive has been quite successful, with all our Conservatory students being accepted to one or more of these intensives.

Do you participate in community events?

We believe that giving back to the community is an important component of any arts organization. Throughout the year we participate in community events, such as SOKA and Children’s Festival. These not only allow our students the opportunity to perform, but they give back to the community that so generously supports us.

Organizational details

Do you have a parent guild?

Although we do not have an official guild we do require parents to volunteer throughout
the year.

Beginnings and endings

When do dancers go on Pointe?

There is no set age. We watch for strength, physically and technically. We also require that the dancers in question participate in at least three technique classes weekly to help avoid injuries and to maintain their physical and technical strength.

What happens at the end of the Senior Conservatory?

Although we cannot guarantee a job for everyone, we feel that part of our responsibilities in training dancers is to help them set up auditions, prepare resumes, look into colleges and dance programs of their choice, and arrange international auditions, as well as to be a source of guidance as they make informed decisions about their future. We strongly encourage them to reach their goals, but we feel that our role is one of support, not decision-making. Ultimately, the dancers and their families must make the choice.

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