Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy

Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy

Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy provides ballet training for over three hundred students. More than half of the professional company's dancers have come from the ranks of the academy.

The academy is housed in the home of the Houston Ballet, at 1921 West Bell east of the River Oaks neighborhood in Houston, Texas.


In 1955, the Houston Ballet Academy was established under the leadership of Tatiana Semenova, a former dancer with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

In July 2003, Houston Ballet Academy was re-named Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy in recognition of the key role Ben Stevenson, former artistic director of the professional company and director of the academy, played for 27 years in shaping and developing the school.

Main School Division

Children age seven and older may audition for admission into Levels 1-8 of the Main School program. Auditions are held twice a year. Students follow a structured sequence of training stages designed to increase their technical skills, stamina and discipline in accordance with their age and physical development.

Academy students learn the art of ballet from the professional company’s ballet masters and leading dancers, and also have the opportunity to gain professional experience through appearances in performances such as The Nutcracker and other productions.

Potential students may be identified through the academy's "Chance to Dance" program, an innovative program that seeks out and provides talented, low-income or at-risk children the opportunity to train at the academy through scholarships, dance-wear, and transportation.

Students in Level 1 through Level 3 attend one hour classes two to three days a week. From Level 4 on, the training intensifies and students attend longer classes four to six days per week. Classes in jazz, modern, and character dance as well as music studies are required for upper-level students. Students in Levels 5-8 also receive regular instruction in nutrition and career planning. School is in session from August through May and parents receive evaluations of their child's progress.

Level 1 and 2 students attend classes separated by gender. Boys in Levels 3 and higher continue to receive twice weekly instruction in Men's Technique but also join their female classmates in technique classes.

Students' levels are noted by different color leotards, worn with pink tights and pink ballet slippers. Lower level boys wear form-fitted white T-shirts with black bike-shorts and white socks. Upper level boys wear a white leotard with black footed tights.

Main School Division students participate in the Spring Showcase, a two-day graduation concert held at the Wortham Theater Center each April.

Graduates of the academy have joined leading dance companies throughout the world, including the Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Australian Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, San Francisco Ballet, Colorado Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Pre-Professional Division

Houston Ballet II (HBII) is the top level and pre-professional division of Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson Academy, and students attend daily class taught by instructors from both the academy and the Houston Ballet company. The HBII's repertoire includes both classical and contemporary works by Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch, Houston Ballet Artistic Director Emeritus Ben Stevenson, and many other choreographers. HBII has an extensive performance schedule throughout the year as they perform with the company in addition to having their own season. HBII is also another way for Houston Ballet to serve its constituents by reaching smaller communities that might not have the chance to see major ballet companies perform.

All HBII students are required to earn a high school diploma. The intense training schedule generally precludes traditional highschool studies, and the Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson Academy does not provide an academic program for the completion of high school. However, an education coordinator is available to assist students with their completion of high school through the many online and correspondence programs available. In addition, highschool graduates may apply to the nowrap|University of Houston–Downtown ("UHD") for college study and receive as many as 30 hours of college credit upon graduation from UHD after completing HBII.

ummer Intensive Program

The academy operates a summer intensive program for its own students as well as students from around the United States and abroad. Each year, faculty members hold auditions in thirteen cities around the country and select intermediate and advanced level students to attend this intensive six-week program. In 2004, over 900 ballet students auditioned and over 300 of them were accepted into the program. Young artists from all over the world (including Japan, Russia, Canada, and Chile) traveled to Houston to train at the academy and the most gifted students from the summer intensive program are invited to remain at the academy on a year-round basis.

Additional Programs

The academy also offers a variety of non-audition dance classes to serve the Houston community. Pre-ballet classes are available for students who are 4, 5, and 6 years of age, and open ballet and jazz classes are available for children and adults.

External links

* [http://www.houstonballet.org/Academy/Academy_Overview/ Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy Webpage]

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