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In Baltimore last weekend, I drove by the new arts district, Station North, and saw an ad for artist lofts in a converted warehouse called the Copycat Building. Ironic name aside, I thought it might be an interesting place for a ballet school--lots of space, high ceilings, right in the middle of an arts community with constant art exhibitions all around. Baltimore doesn't have much in the way of serious ballet schools, and even one good teacher working alone could make a difference. There are various logistical problems: where the students would change, for example, and where could one put an office? But the thought is intriguing. Rent is stunningly low in Baltimore (although it's most likely on the verge of climbing sharply, as DC becomes too expensive for anyone who doesn't make six figures a year) and it's always had a large and vibrant arts scene.

Such a studio would have to be a fairly bare-bones operation, and unfortunately tuition would probably be high even if there was an alternate source of funding. One positive note: the Peabody Conservatory would probably supply a steady stream of pianists. Also intriguing is the idea of having a limited number of students attending class 4-5 days a week from the beginning (I know, I'm dreaming :) ) to shape into beautiful dancers with all the tiny details so often lacking from today's students, including not just qualities such as épaulement and port de bras, but also knowledge of technical theory and appreciation of arts other than ballet.

I think the program would be based on the Vaganova syllabus until the students were comfortable en pointe, and then I would add trickier combinations than one usually sees in a Vaganova class--unusual accents, for example--and I'd like to add a French accent to the petit allegro.

This perhaps isn't the best introductory post, but these ideas have been swirling in my head for a little bit, and it's nice to get them out. :) I promise less school-related posts in the future.


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My daughter attends a new school with some similarities to the one you envision.

It is housed in an old mill complex rather than a warehouse. The complex also contains artist studios and even a group of craftsmen who handbuild harpsichords.

The director started the school in March of 2005 with creative movement classes. In the fall of 2006, she added five ballet levels. I guess levels 1-3 are relatively standard (I haven't actually observed any of them). Level 4 ended up being kind of a beginner's teen ballet class with about 8 students, but it met three times a week. My daughter was in level 5, and was probaby a high intermediate level class with about 5 students. (Most of the girls had defected from other area schools for one reason or the other.) So there was a big gap in terms of the training between levels 4 & 5.

Apparently the school had over a 100 students last fall, and has been so successful that the director is adding an additional studio for the coming fall (for a total of three). Obviously at this point the bulk of her students are the little ones. As one of the teachers said, "it should be a great school at all levels in about 10 years."

The ballet school also rents out space to a well respected modern teacher. She offered two classes in the space this past year, and will offer four this coming fall.

The tuition is pretty steep, but is competitive with rates in the area.

Here is the web site that shows pictures of the space, class schedules, and tuition:


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What a lovely daydream, Hans. Baltimore can be such a frustrating place -- we have great opera, symphony, theater, etc., here, but zero ballet. There have been performing companies here, and decent studios, but they all eventually vanish, or move to the suburbs. I'm just an adult student, serious but by no means advanced, and there are few, if any classes, worth taking around here, so I go down to DC.

I wonder (as long as we're dreaming here!): Would it be possible to offer, say, a one-week workshop, a master class kind of thing, in a space like, as a test for what could be done more permanently in this market? I can't even begin to figure out the logistics of something like that -- how you would manage a temporary rental, where the students would come from -- but it just seems that in a city this size there should be somewhere to go for serious ballet training.

Anyway, best of luck with your blog, and thanks for raising this issue.

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Sorry it's taken me so long to reply, Scoop! I only just now figured out how to approve comments. I agree with you that the lack of ballet in Baltimore is frustrating, especially given that other arts flourish there. I think your idea of a short workshop is excellent, and I would love to try it. It could be helpful for you and others trying to find good training in Baltimore, and it could also give me some name recognition in the area. :)

I will talk to some people I know in Baltimore and try to work something out--and if it does happen, I'll post about it here!

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Fendrock, thank you for the information and link--I'm glad to see this type of setup can be successful. It's great to look at the pictures (what a fantastic waiting room!) to see how such a school might be arranged.

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