Artistry, Quality, Legacy: The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory’s Pre-Professional Program

Sponsored by The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory
January 5, 2023

When Sharon Dante founded The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory in a small, one-room studio in Torrington, Connecticut, in 1969, she was determined to create a space for serious ballet education for the local New England community. “Since then,” says current executive director Victoria Mazzarelli, “we have enjoyed decades of growth, flourishing into an internationally renowned training program.”

Nutmeg has truly become that, offering professional-level training, academics and performance opportunities to young artists. The majority of its faculty are also alumni (“Once a Nutmegger, always a Nutmegger,” says Mazzarelli), which fosters a sense of continuity and personal investment much like a professional company. The school frequently brings in guest artists and teachers to provide diverse experience and expertise. Individual attention combined with the high standards of a competitive, pre-professional program create a “home away from home” that prepares students for their future career aspirations. “At Nutmeg, you can expect to build a strong relationship with your teachers,” says Mazzarelli, noting that dancers are guided through the process of professional or collegiate auditions and applications.

Dancers from across the country and around the world come to train at Nutmeg, where they benefit from the school’s residential housing facility, generous scholarship opportunities and its Conservatory Academic Program (CAP), which addresses live-in students’ academic needs. “We are committed to helping dancers develop the confidence and skills they need to succeed in whatever path they choose,” says Mazzarelli, who is a former artist with Ballet Frankfurt. The school partners with specialized professionals, offering physical therapy, strength training, Pilates and mental-health resources for dancers, as well as fun and revitalizing off-campus trips, all of which support its holistic approach to dance education.

Mazzarelli notes that Nutmeg emphasizes community engagement and real-life experience for artistic development, which includes ample opportunities to take the stage. Students perform at the historic Warner Theatre in more than 10 performances each year, including an annual Nutcracker production spanning two weekends and spring showcases highlighting students’ training in challenging classical ballet, modern and contemporary repertoire.

Program size: 40–45 students per year for year-round program (summer sessions are larger)
Age range: 13–20 
Performance opportunities: Nutcracker; two spring showcases featuring classical, modern and contemporary repertoire, with original pieces by guest choreographers; community performance opportunities (see below)
Tuition: Professional High School Residential Training Programs (with room and board) range up to approximately $33,500. Day Training Programs range up to $7,700.
Room/board: Included in Professional High School Residential Training Programs
Daily schedule: 7–7:45 am, breakfast; 8 am–12 pm, Conservatory Academic Program; 12–12:45 pm, lunch; 1–2:30 pm, ballet technique; 2:45–4:30 pm, pointe/partnering; 4:45–5:45 pm, repertoire; 6–6:45 pm, dinner; 6:45–8 pm, repertoire/modern technique/Pilates; 8–10 pm, free time/evening study. Sample year-round calendar found here.
Alumni: Graduates have pursued successful careers in professional dance and beyond. Nutmeg alumni currently perform in companies including American Repertory Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Louisville Ballet, Minnesota Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and more.
Additional opportunities: Nutmeg works closely with local organizations, including KidsPlay Children’s Museum, The Arc of Litchfield County (LARC) and Connecticut Junior Republic, offering students various performances throughout the year. To encourage a passion for teaching, older students are also invited to help younger-level students in rehearsals and classes.
Important dates in 2023: January 1: Beginning of audition tour; Summer Session I: June 18–July 1; Summer Session II: July 2–29; Summer Session III: July 30–August 12

If you’re ready to begin your path toward excellence in dance, academics and beyond, visit The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory’s website for more information.

A Black young man midair in a sauté passé
A Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory student. Photo courtesy Nutmeg.