Picking the best ballet school in the Carolinas means finding which artists are running the best and safest businesses. Expert Gators picked the best ballet schools based on size, revenue and quality of instruction. Public schools and universities are not included in this list. The requirements for finding the best ballet schools, particularly for children, should start with safety and a good philosophy.
Remember, the best artists don’t always make the best teachers.
#1. Greenville Ballet School
Location: Greenville, SC
Founder and Owner: Andrew Kuharsky
Andrew danced with The Atlanta Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and The Joffrey Ballet before opening Greenville Ballet School in Greenville, SC more than 35 years ago.
Philosophy: Greenville Ballet School is the most accessible Ballet School in the Carolinas, meaning they take young children and adults of all ages and all levels. Their emphasis on safety and discipline has grown them to the largest Ballet School in South Carolina. Their stated philosophy is “to pass on the accumulated knowledge of many generations of professional dancers, teachers and choreographers with whom they have worked.”
#2. Carolina Ballet
(NOTE: While not a school, their summer intensive education programs expose attendees to the very highest level of dance anywhere in the world.)
Location: Raleigh, NC
Director: Robert Weiss
Robert was professional dancer at the age of 17 when he joined the New York City Ballet at the request of George Balanchine and eventually became principal dancer.
Philosophy: Carolina Ballet’s mission is to perform world-class professional ballet, entertaining and enlightening audiences in Raleigh, the Triangle region, the State of North Carolina, and beyond.
#3. International Ballet Academy (IBA)
Location: Cary, North Carolina
Artistic Director: Rossana Nesta Gahagan
Rossana Nesta Gahagan started her classical ballet studies in Italy at the School of “Balletto di Roma” and attended the “Accademia Nazionale di Danza, Roma.
Philosophy: The school specializes in bringing in International stars and showcasing their unique flair. International Ballet Academy (IBA) calls themselves “a professionally established ballet academy dedicated to providing exceptional instruction in ballet technique, point, partnering, variations, men’s class, jazz, Pilates, and pre-school dance.”
#4. North Carolina Dance Institute
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Founders: Kirstie Spadie (formerly Kirstie Tice) and Jay Spadie
Kirstie performed in West Side Story in the US, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Munich, and Glasgow, Scotland. She has served as the Assistant Director for the original Jerome Robbins choreography for West Side Story. Kirstie performed for the Miss America Pageant in production numbers from “Grease” and has been in several national television commercials. She was last seen as the dancing red dress in the Subway national television commercial.
Philosophy: They want to keep the competition and crazy out. This institution has a casual approach and is dedicated to a non-recital, non-competition atmosphere “focused on EDUCATION and EXPOSURE to classical ballet and contemporary dance forms for children and adults.”
#5. The Charlotte School of Ballet
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Founder: Gay Porter
The Charlotte School of Ballet was founded in 1968 by Gay Porter and was the first classical studio in Charlotte, NC. Gay was trained in London, England at the Arts Educational School.
Philosophy: They’re the oldest and best known in the largest city in the Carolinas. The ballet school has molded dancers for New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet.
Other Top Of Book requirements for being “Best Ballet School”
What’s the Ballet School’s Philosophy – Does the studio educate? Do the projects help everyone – paying little heed to age, size, and ability?
Who’s the Ballet School’s Instructor – Does the particular instructor have legitimate training and many years experience as an instructor, not just a dancer?
Do all the educators have a higher education in dance? Most ballet schools don’t have the same number of instructors. Educators with less than a Bachelor’s Degree in dance should be avoided. Is the Ballet School Teacher a Registered Dance Educator (RDE) from the National Registry of Dance Educators? It is a honor to be an RDE with techniques tried and assessed and observed by those who determine he or she is fit. Simply being an individual from a “great ballet company” doesn’t promise an incredible instructor. Do the ballet school instructors still perform and/or take classes to stay current and keep up his or her instructing methods?
Most extraordinary entertainers are appalling instructors.
What is the Ballet School Lesson Plans? What sort of foundation do the instructors follow for a) educating, b) managing youngsters, c) performing? Does the ballet school have other options besides ballet? Other dance may be better for an individual, so access to classes in tap or jazz should also be a consideration when picking the best ballet school in South Carolina or North Carolina. Young people might be qualified in one discipline but prefer another. Dancers should do what they like, not what they are good at.