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Ballet at Barriskill

The ballet program at BDTS is designed to reflect that the study of ballet can benefit many people in many ways. From Pre-Ballet classes for 3 year olds to pre-professional and conservatory level classes, instruction and curriculum are designed to encourage acquisition of not only dance steps but also many life skills.


The Barriskill ballet educational program consists of Pre-School, Studio, Tween/Teen, Conservatory, Pre-Professsional, and Adult divisions in which the goal is to encourage and promote: physical, mental, emotional, psychological and artistic development and well-being. The environment is nurturing yet challenging and teachers are directed to deliver their instruction seeking a useful balance between the anxiety a student feels with new and challenging material and their desire to progress through the tediousness of repetition inherent in the dance education process.


These classes introduce students to the world of music and movement while encouraging self-discipline and respect for others. Classes are grouped by age and no experience is required at any level


STUDIO DIVISION (ages 6 yo and up)

These classes progressively introduce ballet concepts and build strength, flexibility and muscle memory while continuing to encourage acquisition of social skills.


Primary Ballet for 6 year olds introduces students to “ballet barre” work where they begin their study of concepts like placement and turn out as well strength and flexibility and center exercises


Ballet 1 (7-10 year olds) is for beginners with little to no experience.


Ballet 2 students are expected to have completed at least 1 recent year of ballet (not including Pre-Ballet) and requires teacher recommendation. Participation in two classes each week is strongly encouraged but not required. Students who take class twice each week advance more quickly than once a week attendees.


Ballet 3 and 4 require students to take class twice each week. Students must be placed into these levels by a Barriskill instructor.



BDTS is pleased to offer ballet classes for beginning teens and tweens who have no or little experience in ballet. Classes meet for one hour each week and include barre and center work. Beginning teens are also allowed to take Adult Ballet classes at the appropriate level.


Conservatory Level 5, 6, 7, 8A, 8B

Students who choose to participate in the Conservatory division classes are making a commitment to a more serious course of study. These classes require excellent attendance, classroom etiquette and a clear demonstration of motivation and participation. Classes are longer and require attendance three days a week. Participation in the school’s performance of the Nutcracker and the Spring concert is expected.



Students who are placed into the Pre-Professional Division demonstrate a commitment to excellence in participation, attendance, etiquette, and work ethic. This rigorous program requires students take class four days a week. Participation in the school's performance of the Nutcracker and the Spring concert is expected.


Advancement in the Ballet program after Ballet 2 is based primarily on the ability of the student to fully participate in the next level of instruction. Promotion from one level to the next after Ballet 2 is not automatic. Most ballet experts acknowledge that for most people 8-10 years of study, after the age of 8, are required for mastery of the art. This implies that the great majority of students will require more than one year in some levels. 


Advancement is based on several factors: acquisition of ballet skills and concepts, social and emotional maturity, and behavior in classes.



New students to Barriskill must remember that each school has their own particular set of priorities when it comes to placing students in levels. Some schools automatically promote students regardless of age, social and emotional maturity, skills and talent. Others exclusively use skills and talent as their means for evaluation. 


At BDTS we strive to make the best placement we can considering the multiple factors available to us at the time, aiming for a fairly homogeneous class wherein one or two students do not require excessive special attention. New students can either take a trial class or request a private interview to assess skills and maturity.


Also, it should be noted that placement in certain levels at certain times is not necessarily permanent, and students can be moved. Each instructor is always aware that students may be transferred into a higher or a lower level mid-year.


Dancing on pointe is considered to be a very advanced ballet skill and should only be done under strict supervision, as pointe work can be dangerous if attempted too early or with poor instruction. Most children do not have sufficient bone structure and development or muscular strength to allow a safe inclusion of pointe work until they are at least 11 years old. Many girls strongly anticipate their desire to wear pointe shoes but it is imperative that they remain patient and diligent in their work if they want to eventually go en pointe.

Girls in ballet level 6 and up may dance en pointe at BDTS upon passing a rigorous pointe eligibility test before beginning pointe work.

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