A Year at City Ballet
Welcome to City Ballet! Your dancer(s) and you are about to start a productive year with our program, whether you take ballet, pointe, modern, tap, or jazz. City Ballet’s goals are to nurture a love of movement, music, and performance while training dancers through a structured syllabus that builds their technical expertise and their physical strength. Because of this, a season with City Ballet has a distinct pattern that seeks to accomplish these goals for dancers over the course of a dance year.
Fall – Beginning or Moving Up in Your Discipline
A year of regular classes runs from August to May. Summer classes are offered in June, July, and August. Dancers who have previously studied with City Ballet will use their teacher’s recommendations as to class level; new students should consult with City Ballet’s Directors, Andrew Lamar and Cherilyn Joy Lee, as to their best placement. Many students choose to take classes in more than one discipline (ballet, pointe, modern, tap, jazz).
The fall is spent building technique for all students through various structured exercises. Ballet classes are traditionally organized, including stretching, barrework, port de bras, adagio, pirouettes, petite and grand allegro. Students are also offered the opportunity to choreograph short dances during various holiday classes. The techniques and skills begun in the fall are built on throughout the course of the year.
The Nutcracker – A Performing Opportunity for Selected Dancers
City Ballet performs a full length, richly costumed and staged version of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet in December. This is a wonderful, professional performing opportunity for students, and is made possible through the efforts of City Ballet staff and parent volunteers. City Ballet dancers are joined by guest artists, which in past years have included Carolina Ballet dancers.
Auditions are held in early Fall for enrolled astudents. There are roles available in the production for dancers and actors (male and female) from the ages of seven through adult.
Parents and dancers alike must realize ahead of time that a dancer who receives a role in the Nutcracker is making a serious commitment of time and energy from the beginning of rehearsals in September through the performance in December.
U.N.C. School of the Arts – A Weekend for Selected Dancers
U.N.C. School of the Arts in Winston-Salem sponsors the annual Festival of N.C. Dance in February. Selected dance schools are invited to attend, bringing a limited number of dancers for a very intense weekend of dance classes taught by the distinguished faculty of the School of the Arts. The City Ballet faculty invites a small number of dancers to attend and represent City Ballet.
City Ballet also auditions an original work for the Festival choreographed by City Ballet faculty or a guest choreographer. Auditions for this piece are open to advanced dancers. The piece is adjudicated and if selected is performed at the Stevens Center at the end of the Festival weekend.
Cecchetti Exams – Technical Skills Testing for Ballet Dancers
In addition to a diverse faculty with different teaching techniques, City Ballet belongs to the Cecchetti Council of America. City Ballet is the only dance program in Raleigh that trains dancers in the Cecchetti method, an internationally recognized method of classical ballet training. Beginning in early winter, ballet classes begin to focus more intensely on Cecchetti technique. The Cecchetti syllabus focuses on the technical and artistic accomplishments of students who have been prepared by member teachers. Each level provides attainable goals that build self-confidence in developmental progress and successful achievements.
Optional Cecchetti exams are offered for selected students in March. These exams allow students the opportunity to demonstrate technical abilities and an understanding of the course material. Students recommended for examination are chosen with consideration to dedication, level of technical skill and willingness to study and practice. National adjudicators travel to Raleigh to administer the exams. Students who pass the exams receive certification from the Cecchetti Council of America.
Spring Recital – A Performing Opportunity for All Students
In May, City Ballet holds its annual recital for all students in its dance programs. Like our Nutcracker, this is a fully costumed and staged production. All enrolled dancers are given the opportunity to perform in a theater production.
City Ballet is very proud of its recital productions, and suggests new and prospective students and families may want to view the videos of past recitals that are available at the studio.
Summer Program – A Time for Experimentation and Fun
The regular dance year ends with the annual recital; however, City Ballet runs a summer program including week-long intensive workshops in addition to evening drop-in classes offered in ballet, pointe, modern, tap and jazz. A number of guests are invited to join City Ballet’s faculty each summer.
Summer is an excellent time to try a new discipline. Dedicated ballet dancers might want to try jazz, modern or tap for a change of pace. Summer classes also allow dancers to accelerate their technical and artistic development.