Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Pre-Professional Division Trains the Next Generation of Professionals

Sponsored by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
November 8, 2022

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Pre-Professional Division equips its students with high-caliber ballet education in a thriving arts community. “In tandem with exceptional dance training, our seminar programming focuses on creating confident, well-rounded young adults welcoming students of all levels, interests and backgrounds,” says PBTS school director Marjorie Grundvig, who has been leading the school since 2005. With instruction from distinguished faculty, a diverse dance curriculum, a wide array of performance opportunities and exposure to choreographers and guest teachers, the Pre-Professional Division (PPD) encourages strong technique and versatility. The division also fosters a robust men’s program, mentored choreographic opportunities and a spirit of collaboration between the school and professional company. In fact, over 70 percent of the dancers on the current PBT company roster are PPD alumni.

Since its founding in 1969, PBT has been “a pillar of the Pittsburgh arts community,” says Grundvig, who notes how students are encouraged to engage with local audiences and neighboring arts organizations firsthand. PPD dancers grow their artistry through numerous performance opportunities, including main-stage company productions, community arts education programming and biannual showcases. The school’s Pittsburgh Connections Series hosts guest teachers from local dance companies and schools, exposing dancers to a diverse array of dance genres, including modern dance and styles from Africa and India.

Dancers also receive supplemental physical training, monthly seminars and access to other physical and mental health resources through the school’s close relationship with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the UPMC Sports Medicine team. The program offers residential housing for nonlocal high school students and is authorized to provide M1 visas for eligible international students. Merit and need-based scholarship or financial aid opportunities are available for qualifying dancers.

A Black ballerina outdoors in a grassy area overlooking downtown Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Pre-Professional Division exposes students to opportunities within the Pittsburgh arts community. Photo by Aviana Adams, Courtesy PBT.

Program size: Level 8 (across 2 groups): 30 women, 6 men; Graduate Program (3 groups): 50 women, 15 men
Age range: 14–23
Performance opportunities: PBT’s The Nutcracker and other full-length company productions; division showcases at Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse (PNC Theater); continuous arts education programming at local schools and educational centers; student choreography showcases (fall and spring); in-studio variation demonstrations
Tuition: $7,001 (Level 8) or $6,701 (Graduate Program) for 2022–23; registration fee: $45; deposit: $500
Room/board: Housing available for nonlocal Level 8 students
Daily schedule: See website for level-specific schedules
Additional opportunities: Graduate Program dancers are considered for apprentice positions with the PBT company.
Alumni: PPD alumni span 23 national and international professional dance companies, including: Boston Ballet: Patrick Yocum (principal); Kansas City Ballet: Gavin Abercrombie, Marisa DeEtte Whiteman; National Ballet of Canada: Ross Allen; Royal Danish Ballet: Elenora Morris; The Washington Ballet: Masanori Takiguchi; Tulsa Ballet: Maine Kawashima. At PBT: principals Yoshiaki Nakano and Amanda Cochrane; soloists Corey Bourbonniere, Marisa Grywalski, Colin McCaslin, Tommie Lin O’Hanlon, JoAnna Schmidt, Gabrielle Thurlow and Diana Yohe
Important dates in 2023: March 6–10: Pre-Professional Audition Week; June 12–23: Company Experience workshop; June 26–July 29: Intensive Summer Program; September 5: Year-round program begins

The PBTS Pre-Professional Program continually evaluates its curriculum to form well-rounded and adaptive dancers, giving the next generation of professionals the tools they need to succeed onstage and beyond. For more information about how to launch your career with PBTS, visit the school website.

A group of young men photographed mid-leap in a ballet studio.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Pre-Professional Division fosters a robust men’s program. Photo by Aviana Adams, Courtesy PBT.