The Colburn School’s Dance Academy Combines Top-Notch Balanchine Training With All That L.A. Has to Offer

Sponsored by the Colburn School
June 9, 2023

Nestled in the entertainment mecca of Los Angeles, the Colburn School’s Dance Academy is a full-time training program for dancers ages 14 through 19. Since its founding in 2014, the Dance Academy has been committed to passing on the heritage and tradition of the Balanchine style to its students. This legacy will continue with the appointment of Margaret Tracey, former New York City Ballet principal, as dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, which houses the Academy as well as Colburn’s dance programs for youth and adult students. “Our stylistic approach to training prepares students for multiple vocational trajectories in contemporary, neoclassical, or classical professional ballet companies,” Tracey says.

The diverse and seasoned faculty are the heart of the Dance Academy, and many are even répétiteurs for master dancemakers, including George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Merce Cunningham. Students get to learn and perform their iconic works, as well as collaborate closely with influential choreographers of today, like Alonzo King. Thanks to its location in Los Angeles’ dance hub, the Academy frequently hosts guest teachers on site, with notable figures like Wendy Whelan, Peter Boal, and the Academy’s own artistic advisor, Benjamin Millepied. The Academy is also an audition stop for top summer programs, including the School of American Ballet and San Francisco Ballet School. “Our pre-professional students have the opportunity to experience some of the highest-level performance art in dance, opera, music, theater, and film, all literally within walking distance of our studios,” Tracey says.

Versatility is a must in today’s industry, and the Academy includes various dance disciplines, such as Horton and Gaga, within the curriculum. Through composition classes, there are opportunities to collaborate with students in Colburn’s Music Conservatory to create and perform original pieces. “To live, train, and exchange ideas with other artists in pursuit of their passion benefits everyone,” Tracey explains. The Academy will also continue to expand on its wellness curriculum to include even more resources for injury prevention, nutrition, and mental health under Tracey’s direction. High school students can complete their academics through Oak Crest Academy’s hybrid program, which provides support in person and online.

With a vision for growth, the Academy plans to break ground on a facility with a 1,000-seat theater and five additional dance studios, solidifying its standing as Los Angeles’ preeminent training ground for the next generation of dance professionals.

Dance Academy students in Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, choreographed by Silas Farley. Photo by Abby Mahler, Courtesy Colburn School.

Program size: 25 students
Age range: 14–19
Performance opportunities: A minimum of four large-stage productions on or off campus, including the Winter Dance Celebration, Student Choreography Showcases, Collaboration Concert, Counterpointe, and Spring Dance Festival. Additional appearances at various venues for collaborative events, including the Colburn Gala, Museum of Contemporary Art appearances, and more.
Tuition: $25 registration fee, $300 activity fee, $8,000 tuition. (Tuition and room scholarships available for dancers for the 2023–24 school year.)
Room/board: $12,500 for room, $4,500 for board, $350 residential-life activity fee.
Daily schedule: Classes run primarily from 10 am–4 pm, Monday through Friday, and 12–2 pm Saturdays.
Alumni: New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, and numerous other professional companies, trainee programs, and university dance programs.
Important dates: June 17, 1–3:30 pm: audition via Zoom and in person. Dancers must preregister by emailing [email protected].  August 28–June 2: 2023–24 school year.

Considering applying to the Colburn School’s Dance Academy at the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute? “We are interested in working with curious and open-minded students who want to discover how they will individually and collectively contribute to our beloved art form of ballet in the ever-evolving landscape of our industry,” says Tracey. 

“Our pre-professional students have the opportunity to experience some of the highest-level performance art in dance, opera, music, theater, and film, all literally within walking distance of our studios,” says Margaret Tracey of the school’s Los Angeles location. Photo by James Fayette, Courtesy Colburn Academy.