Photo by Igor Burlak Photography
Abigail Merlis and Tyson Clark Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor
Boston Ballet School’s Graduate Program introduces young artists to the responsibilities, expectations, and daily life of a professional dancer. This unique, season-long program prepares the next generation of ballet dancers for the transition from student to professional. Operating on a full-time schedule, the Graduate Program is designed for students who are at least 18 years old and have completed their academic grade school education.
Graduates train, rehearse, and perform alongside Boston Ballet’s second company (Boston Ballet II) and Boston Ballet’s main company. Graduates develop both their technical skills and their artistry through consistent daily training and dedicated performances throughout the year. This holistic approach helps young emerging professionals understand their role as a well-rounded working artist.
This tuition-free program offers 5 to 6 days per week of formal training and rehearsal with Boston Ballet School faculty and Boston Ballet Artistic staff. The Graduate Program offers a rigorous and consistent schedule within a tightknit, supportive environment.
For students who begin their professional training with Boston Ballet School through our Professional Division at Walnut Hill, the Graduate Program is a great next step. Each year, several graduates of the Professional Division are invited to take their training to the next level by joining the Graduate Program.
Like a professional company, the Graduate Program begins each day with a technique class. Over the course of the week, this class will either be held exclusively for the Graduate Program students or be combined with Boston Ballet II. Classes may also be split between ladies and men. Additionally, Graduates will regularly join the main Company’s daily class, giving them direct exposure to this professional setting.
In addition to daily technique, Graduates will have additional classes each week intended to further develop and refine their technical skills. These supplemental classes focus primarily on pointe or men’s work, pas de deux, and character.
Over the course of the year, Graduates work towards two different feature performances: Rising Stars – a production shared with Boston Ballet II in Boston Ballet’s Studio 7 Blackbox theater – and Next Generation – a one-night-only event at the Citizens Bank Opera House. The repertoire for these performances includes a variety of pieces that showcase both a breadth of artistic style and a depth of classical technique.
In addition to their own specific repertoire, Graduates are frequently asked to learn and cover roles in Boston Ballet productions. This invaluable access to the professional rehearsal process helps students develop critical skills needed to successfully learn choreography from rehearsal directors and stagers in a timely manner. For our 2023-2024 season, Graduates are learning roles in Nutcracker, Raymonda, Cinderella, and Carmen.
Regular, on-site Physical Therapy consultations – offered exclusively to Graduates – are available weekly. At the start of the season, Graduates receive a functional screening, the same screenings used for Boston Ballet’s main company, which directly assesses specific movement tasks required in ballet, such as a jump landing assessment, measuring quad to hamstring ratio, strength, flexibility, and balance. In addition to being a critical physical benefit to students, this Physical Therapy program supplements their professional education: dancers learn to advocate for themselves, understand their bodies, and develop their best practices for regular and preventative care.
Individual Attention and Support
The small size of the program is a tremendous asset in training, and its benefits extend into all areas of student development and wellbeing. Group and individual mentoring sessions are held regularly to support students’ ability to adapt to life as a professional. The approximately fifteen Graduates are the only individuals working with program leaders over the course of the season, so close and valuable relationships are formed with the faculty.
A variety of events are planned that expand students’ curiosity and their knowledge of their art, their industry, and their role in the profession. Students have access to Boston Ballet’s Physical Therapy and Nutrition consultants, seminars with sports psychology and mental health professionals, “Company Chats” with Boston Ballet dancers, and “Salon Talks” with Mikko Nissinen.
One of the top priorities of this one-year program is to thoroughly prepare all students for their next step into the profession. While much of this work takes place in the studio, our faculty guides students through the logistics and stressors of the audition process. In planning for their futures, students receive support in the following ways:
Shoes Provided to Students
For the duration of the season, pointe and soft shoes are provided free of charge for all students.
The program is overseen by Kathleen Mitchell, Boston Ballet School’s Artistic Liaison and Director of Graduate Program. Graduates also work closely each day with Joan Boada, Associate Director of Boston Ballet II. Additional faculty members regularly teaching Graduates currently include Pavel Gurevich, Rie Ichikawa, Alla Nikitina, and Dalay Parrondo.
In rehearsals and classes with the main Company, Graduates work with different members of Boston Ballet’s Artistic Staff, as well as with Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen. Finally, Graduates will have the opportunity to work with a variety of guest faculty, stagers, and choreographers over the course of the season.
The Graduate Program generally follows the annual calendar for the main Company. Typically, this consists of:
Upon invitation to the Graduate Program, students will be provided with a current draft of the Season Calendar. Boston Ballet Graduates are required to be available for all Boston Ballet and Boston Ballet II rehearsal and performance weeks. For the duration of the season, the Graduate Program requires a daily, full-time commitment. For this reason, Graduates are required to have completed their high school education.
Based on audition materials submitted over the course of the winter, select candidates may be invited to an in-person audition. All invitations into the Graduate Program are approved by Boston Ballet Artistic Director, Mikko Nissinen.
To learn more about the details of submitting audition materials, please visit Boston Ballet’s Auditions webpage. The deadline for initial submissions is Saturday, February 10, 2024. Please note, applicants will only hear back if they are to be invited to the next round of auditions.
For all inquires related to the Graduate Program, please contact Sean Watkins, Manager of Professional Track Programs, at email@example.com.
What is the age range for the Graduate Program?
Graduate Program candidates have completed their high school education and are between the ages of 18 and 20 at the start of the program. More experienced candidates may be interested in auditioning for Boston Ballet’s second company, BBII.
Is there a cost for the Graduate Program?
No, Boston Ballet School’s Graduate Program is tuition free. However, students are responsible for all living costs for the duration of the program. We do not provide any room and board, though we do help incoming students connect with each other and with local realtors during the housing search.
Do I have to audition for the program?
Yes, acceptance to the Graduate Program is by audition only.
Do Boston Ballet Graduates get a salary?
No, participants in the Graduate program are not employees of Boston Ballet and do not receive a salary. However, Graduates may independently apply for limited part-time work within Boston Ballet and Boston Ballet School.
Does Boston Ballet provide health insurance for Graduates?
No, Graduates must provide proof of their own health insurance. However, Graduates do have access to regular, free, on-site Physical Therapy consultations that do not require insurance.
Is there a dress code?
Yes, required dress code for classes and rehearsals will be communicated upon acceptance and registration and will be the responsibility of the dancer to provide. The only exception is for all pointe and soft shoes, which will be provided by Boston Ballet.