The Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago are two of many prestigious ballet companies around the world. Yet, there are a many number of ballet institutions dedicated to the training of our future en pointe dancers.

We would like to introduce you to 10 ballet schools that are quite outstanding. Some of the go as far back as the beginning of ballet while others are more contemporary.


1. The Paris Opera Ballet School

Louis XIV founded the ballet institution in the year 1713. At first children were not meant to attend but that would change seven years later they formed the first regulations that would enable children to learn ballet. Four years after that Louis XVI enlarged the school’s repertoire-allowing enrollment of children under the age of twelve.

His belief being that the younger they learn the easier it will be. By the end of the Romantic period the school was struggling. Still it remained intact due to generous donations. This ballet school has been educating the world’s finest ballet dancers for more than three centuries. It has remained in the top three slots as best ballet education in the world and from what we can tell; it isn’t going down anytime soon.


2. The Sunhwa Arts High School

Founded in 1974 this Asian dance school has been producing international ballet stars on a regular basis. So much so it earns a spot higher than a school founded nearly two hundred years earlier. The high standard this high school imposes on its students is the reason why so many of its graduates excel.

While the ballet school is based in South Korea, they utilize Russian techniques mixed with extreme stretching. This particular school focuses on a specific body type. Many of their female graduates dance with an associate company of the Universal Ballet of Korea.


3. National Ballet of Canada’s School

Prestigious Ballet Schools: National Ballet of Canada

The National Ballet of Canada. © Simon P, GFDL

Betty Oliphant and Celia Franca founded this ballet school in the northernmost country of North America in 1959. It has become one of the world’s leading schools for those who desire a life of ballet dancing or teaching the ballet. They boast themselves as the only ballet school in North America with an internationally influential training program.

Based in Toronto, the National Ballet of Canada’s School is the finest ballet training Canada has to offer and the institution churns out graduates who almost always wind up dancing in ballet companies across the globe. Primarily they move on to become regular dancers with the National Ballet of Canada.


4. The National Ballet School of Cuba

One of our newer schools this ballet academy was founded in 1931 with the direction of Alicia Alonso in Havana Cuba. Today their instructors are members and professors from the National Ballet of Cuba. Their mission is to allow their pupils strengthen their practice of classical techniques and other styles and incorporate them with the passion and manifestation of Cuban ballet.

The National Ballet School of Cuba focuses primarily on the Latin American culture and their influence on the classical dance. Classes are held at Paseo del Prado, which was recently restored with more up to date facilities.


5. Royal Ballet School

Dame Ninette de Valois founded this London ballet-training program in 1926 as the Academy of Choreographic Art. Like the others before, she was inspired to start a ballet company and school to feed it with excellent ballet dancers. She partnered up with Lilian Baylis who obtained the Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

The school took up residence in the theater in 1931 where it was dubbed The Vic-Wells Ballet School that would feed dancers into the Vic-Wells Ballet Company. In 1939 both were renamed Sadler’s Wells Ballet School and Company respectively. Finally, in 1946 the ballet moved to the Royal Opera House.

Since its inception Royal Ballet School in London is considered one of the top three schools to obtain the most excellent training in the art of ballet.


6. The Australian Ballet School

Dame Margaret Scott founded this ballet school in 1964 as a part of the Australian Ballet Centre located in the Melbourne Arts Precinct. This is the first step to any Australian that would like to perform with the Australian Ballet Company. This school celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2014.

Their mission is to “be at the forefront, internationally, as providers of unique, professional dance training” programs. According to their website they not only focus on excellence in ballet and dance but hold their students to a high moral standard as well.  It is their intention to help exceptional students evolve into dancers for an international stage.


7. The Juilliard School of Dance

Prestigious Ballet Schools: The Juilliard School

Alice Tully Hall, part of the Juilliard School building. Photo by Victor Gomes

Playing host to some of the most talented youth in the world Juilliard first opened its doors in 1905 and since then has a name that is synonymous with excellence in artistic achievement. Founded by Dr. Frank Damrosch as the Institute of Musical Art. Dr. Damrosch wanted to ensure American musicians an opportunity to study in an advanced setting without having to leave the country.

The response was tremendous and the first year’s enrollment exceeded their expected numbers by five times. Unable to hold all those students the school expanded and moved in 1910 toward Columbia University. In 1924, when Augustus Juilliard passed on, he left his textile fortune to the school, and thus the Juilliard Graduate School was founded in 1924.

The dance division was not established until 1951. Since then Juilliard has maintained its reputation as one of the world’s finest musical institutions.


8. San Francisco Ballet School

Founded in 1933 the San Francisco Ballet School is the oldest in the United States. I was established along with the San Francisco Operatic and Ballet School. Adolph Bolm was the founding director and he opened the doors to offer an education in ballet, tap, modern, and interpretive dance.

Originally located in the William Taylor Hotel some classes were held in Berkeley, Burlingame, Oakland, and other surrounding areas. Since the institution’s inception San Francisco has generally been considered the ballet hub of the West Coast. For some time now the San Francisco Ballet School has been training some of the world’s best ballet dancers. Their summer intensive program has been a stopping point for some of the most successful dancers.


9. The John Cranko School

In 1961 John Cranko settled in Stuttgart with the idea to start a ballet institution. He dreamed of a place where the gifted youth of the world would study with the Ballet Company of the State Theatre Stuttgart. In 1971 the John Cranko school opened up to accept its first pupils.

This German dance school is considered one of the best places to train in ballet in the entire world. This the school up and coming dancers attend to sharpen their skills. Once their training is complete they move on to the Company of the State Theatre or to other prestigious ballet companies.


10. The Vaganova School

This historic school in St. Petersburg, dates back to 1738 when established as the Imperial Theatrical School. Jean-Baptiste, a French master of ballet was the first director. Their first year of enrollment consisted of twelve boys and twelve girls.

Started to create a professional dance company in Russia, nearly all the most successful dancers from the 19th century that either trained there or became teachers include Mikhail Fokine, Jules Perrot, and Charles Didelot.

Once Lenin died in 1924, St. Petersburg became Leningrad and the Imperial Ballet School was no longer in existence by order of the new government. They also disbanded the Imperial Russian Ballet. A new company was born under the name of Soviet Ballet.

In 1957 the Leningrad State Choreographic School, which was established in 1920, was renamed Vaganova School for Agrippina Vaganova who was influential in the expansion of contemporary Russian Ballet. This school has a long history of producing top-notch ballet dancers.


These prestigious ballet schools are responsible for developing and perfecting the best ballet dancers in the planet, to perform in the best ballet performances that we love to appreciate!

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