FAQ: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who can attend ballet classes/ at which age should my child start classes at BBT?
We teach students from ages 2 to 72. Classes for our youngest children emphasize creative movements, acrobatics, posture, and rhythm. By age seven, children can start serious instruction in ballet. No exceptional physique, disposition, or athleticism is required before beginning classes at BBT because anyone can practice ballet as a form of exercise, relaxation, or strengthening.
What is the Advanced Division, and how does BBT know if my child is ready for it?
Students ages 2-7 years old begin in our Children's Division. Some children as young as 6-7 years-old show signs of physical ability, motivation, and certain intangible factors unique to ballet that may make them suited for pre-professional studies and potential careers in dance. Our faculty and staff consider these qualities and students' years of dance experience when inviting students to join the Advanced Division (also known as the Pre-Professional Division).
Can you please explain how the Open Division compares to the Advanced Division?
Students who have aged out of the Children’s Division and do not meet the strict criteria for the Advanced Division may continue their enjoyment of ballet in the Open Division. The Open Division is taken very seriously at BBT. Children have many performance opportunities, follow a curriculum that will help them grow and develop in their techniques, and receive the same attention and care as students in the Advanced Division. However, children in the Open Division are not required to take as many classes as children in the Advanced Division.
Can parents stay in class?
Parents of new students can stay in class when they first come to observe the school, but ONLY if they request permission in advance from the office. Our policy is not to allow parents in the classroom except for certain "open classes" and for young children (ages 2 and 3). After age three, we do not allow students to be with their parents in class as it distracts them from the learning process; it is essential for students to gain independence and to focus on the teacher rather than their parents.
How many students are in each class?
Typical class enrollment is 10-14 students, although this number may be smaller with student absences, etc. Each class is staffed by two adults: one instructor plus the accompanist. Semi-private and boutique classes are sometimes available and may have significantly fewer students, but they also have a different price structure.
Why should I enroll my child in ballet?
Classical ballet provides the technical foundation for almost all forms of dance. With a solid beginning in ballet, a student can quickly transfer the skills acquired to modern, jazz, contemporary, or any other style. In addition to learning how to dance, ballet lessons help students develop poise and body awareness, improve their coordination and flexibility, discover how to feel the beat and count musically, work in groups and learn how to carry and present themselves on stage.
Can ballet help my child with scoliosis or in-toeing (aka "pigeon toe")?
Yes, ballet can help scoliosis and in-toeing, but these conditions also require daily exercises and medical supervision, so ballet alone will not be enough. We can also refer students for evaluation to Harkness Center for Dance Injury at NYU Medical Center.
How are students chosen as soloists for BBT performances?
It is essential to understand that students dance before audiences of 700-1000 people at each BBT performance. Therefore, we must prepare a varied, visually exciting program that allows as many parents to see their children on stage as possible. It means we must balance the number of solos against the number of class and small group performances. Solos in ballet are different than solos in gymnastics, as students are not competing against each other in ballet performances. We choose students whose personality, ability, technique, and physical characteristics match the choreographer's vision for specific dance solos in the context of the broader dance program.
Do children have to buy their costumes for performances at BBT?
No. BBT has a large inventory of costumes, which can be tailored to each year's students. Costumes are one of BBT's most remarkable treasures; most are made by hand and are very expensive, which is why we do not sell costumes. Additionally, BBT rents many costumes for specific dances. A participation fee covers these costs (see the question below about participation fees for more details).
What are participation fees for dance performances, and how much are they?
Performances are very costly for any dance school, and most schools sell costumes at a significant markup to cover those costs (typically $150 or more per costume). BBT approaches this differently. We rent, rather than buy or sell, very elaborate costumes, and we charge participation fees to pay for the costume rentals, theater rental for rehearsal and performance times, as well as staffing costs for lighting and sound technicians, a wardrobe supervisor, wardrobe attendants and backstage assistants who help children change, supervise younger students as they come on and off stage, and troubleshoot last-minute issues. We keep our participation fees very moderate, typically ranging from $75 for one dance to a maximum of approximately $200 for a student who is performing five or six dances.
Which children get to participate in competitions?
BBT participates only in high-level professional competitions. We do not participate in any commercial competitions. At professional competitions, BBT is judged as a school, not merely as a group of individual student competitors. The judges at professional competitions are directors from schools and dance companies around the world, and they are responsible in part for forming BBT's reputation, as well as the potential dance careers of our students. Thus we can only choose students from the Advanced Division for competitions, who must be exceptionally motivated and well-prepared. Parents should be advised that children preparing for competitions must also take private and boutique classes that are in addition to and priced separately from regular tuition. We do not have time to prepare everyone for competition at this level.
How many times per week should children take classes at BBT?
BBT recommends that students take classes at least twice weekly for optimal results.
What are "make-up" classes, and how do they work?
Unlike many other schools, we recognize that sometimes illness, travel, and other schedule conflicts may occasionally cause a student to miss classes, so we allow students to "make up" as many as three (3) missed classes during a four-week session. Because we have many similar classes at different times at BBT, students may substitute a class outside their regular schedule for one they missed; this is a "make-up." To be eligible to attend a make-up class, students must verify the date of their absence in the class attendance logs, check space availability in the proposed substitute class(es), and submit an application stating this information, along with a nominal $1 filing fee. Make-up class applications are available from the school office.
Who are the teachers at BBT?
After our students, the teachers are the same pride and joy of BBT. They have all graduated from choreographic schools and have extensive professional experience dancing and teaching dance. In contrast to many other local schools, we never use students as teachers. We believe that the teachers for our youngest students are the most important because when a child has the correct foundation in dance and has been taught the right ways from the beginning, they will be ready to advance much sooner. For more information, please see
What type of experience does the staff at BBT have with children?
BBT is very selective in hiring comfortable and experienced teachers working with children. Before teaching a class alone, instructors undergo a three-month training process and then work as an assistant or second teachers in another class at BBT.
What is discipline like in class/ Do instructors have physical contact with students?
Teachers gently and respectfully touch children to correct postures, improve alignment, and adequately place feet, arms, and shoulders. It is crucial for preventing injuries and for teaching proper techniques. We expect children to follow directions, pay attention to instructors, and behave respectfully within BBT facilities because this is a learning environment, not a playground. If a child is sensitive or prefers not to be touched, it is vital to alert BBT before the first class.
Are classes taught in both English and Russian?
Classes are taught in English. However, since many of our students speak Russian and many instructors also speak Russian, some classes are taught in a mix of English and Russian. Since the language of ballet is universal (and many ballet terms are in French, anyway), the language of instruction is usually not an issue for students.
What is a private class?
Private classes are specially arranged times for an individual student to meet with an instructor and practice something of particular interest or need for that specific student. These classes are paid separately from tuition. Often private classes are designed to help students prepare for a competition or audition. Other students may request private classes to work on a specific aspect of their technique.
How much do classes at BBT cost?
BBT classes are affordable and competitively priced compared with other ballet schools in the area. Families who choose to pay for the whole year upfront (either ten months or twelve months at a time) will also receive a significant discount and save on registration costs. We also offer a 10% sibling discount. Additionally, BBT has developed a dynamic pricing structure for families with limited financial resources and offers a convenient payment schedule (broken into four-week sessions/billing periods) as an option. Furthermore, BBT offers scholarships to students in need of financial assistance. Please see our
How often does my child need to stretch?
Although children are inherently more flexible than adults, daily stretching is essential to ensure muscles remain strong and elastic—students who stretch only once or twice a week before dance class may be more prone to injury.
How important is it that my child be able to do "the splits"?
Sitting at a perfect 180-degree angle ("the splits") in gymnastics is often very important, but this maneuver can overstretch and tear ligaments. It is not the case in ballet, where the ability to do "the splits" is much less critical. We stretch the same muscles during the ballet, but we strive to avoid injury, so we do not emphasize this specific practice, especially with younger children.
At what age can my child go on pointe?
Pointe is a very physically demanding technique and requires daily practice to avoid injury. For these reasons, in Russia, students go on pointe only at 10 or 11 years of age. We do the same at BBT. We take our student's health and safety seriously, so we do not rush students but take time to prepare their bodies to go on pointe with special training and exercises. We evaluate each student carefully before they first go on pointe as we want to ensure they have completed all the necessary training and are physically and mentally ready to begin.
If you still have questions, please contact us