Princeton Ballet School’s Trainee Program Bridges the Gap From Student to Professional

Sponsored by Princeton Ballet School, the official school of American Repertory Ballet
December 6, 2022

Princeton Ballet School, the official school of American Repertory Ballet, offers a two-year trainee program where dancers can grow artistically and technically while preparing for next steps in their career. Led by Princeton Ballet School director Aydmara Cabrera, a former principal with the National Ballet of Cuba, the trainee program has a strong focus on both classical and contemporary training with additional studies in areas such as methodology and injury prevention. Alongside the school’s internationally recognized faculty, trainees may also receive coaching and classes with the American Repertory Ballet (ARB) leadership team, including artistic director Ethan Stiefel and artistic associate Gillian Murphy. In addition to livestreamed in-studio events, spring performances and an annual choreographic workshop, trainees may also have the opportunity to perform in ARB productions throughout the year.

Jasmine Jasper, born in Munich, Germany, and a proud alumna of the trainee program, was thrilled to join ARB2 (American Repertory Ballet’s second company) for the 2022–23 season. She credits her time as a PBS trainee for much of what prepared her to take this next step in her career: “In this program, you feel a sense of respect and trust that they have in you, so you’re able to prepare yourself for a more company-oriented lifestyle,” she says. ARB2 member Anthony Pototski also looks back on his time as a PBS trainee fondly. The Brooklyn-born dancer shares how the experience taught him “to be a better person, better dancer and overall better member of a team,” he says, citing the passionate faculty and the camaraderie with his fellow trainees. “Existing amongst such a vast variety of dancers really made me feel like I could be myself and grow alongside other dancers pushing themselves to reach heights they’d not reached before.”

Located in scenic Princeton, New Jersey, in close proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, PBS is in a thriving arts community with international appeal. Students from across the globe travel to join the PBS trainee program, with current dancers hailing from Italy, France, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Uzbekistan and more. The school is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program to enroll nonimmigrant students on F-1 visas. The program has also grown in numbers, with 10 new trainees in the past year alone, citing its excellence in training, individualized coaching, focus on dancer wellness and alumni success as the primary reasons behind this expansion. Almost half of ARB dancers are alumni from the PBS trainee program, while other graduates are experiencing successful careers in dance companies around the world. PBS also supports students’ continuing education and opportunities for employment, while providing professionally-led health and wellness workshops to support the holistic development of its dancers.

Four lines of young women in white and pink tutus on pointe. Between the lines a couple poses.
Princeton Ballet School trainees. Photo by Eduardo Patino.NYC, courtesy Princeton Ballet School.

Program size: 40–50 trainees
Age range: 13+  
Performance opportunities: Multiple livestreamed in-studio showcases; performances in major venues such as McCarter Theatre Center and the Patriot’s Theater at the War Memorial. Based on an individual’s progress and performance, trainees may have the opportunity to dance in additional ARB productions.
Tuition: $6,750 for the 2022–23 year; scholarships available (see website)
Room/board: Trainees are responsible for securing their own housing.
Daily schedule: Each day starts with intensive classes designed to polish technique and build strength. The program includes ballet, pointe, variations, contemporary, biomechanics/conditioning, choreography and repertoire to further develop classical and contemporary techniques and performance skills in a pre-professional environment.
Princeton Ballet School alumni: Unity Phelan (New York City Ballet); Michael Mindlin (dance supervisor for Hamilton); Sean Mahoney (Paul Taylor Dance Company); Emily Cordies-Maso, Madison Elizabeth Egyud, Shaye Firer, Jasmine Jasper, Annie Johnson, Andrea Marini, Anthony Pototski, Matanya Solomon, Ryoko Tanaka (American Repertory Ballet); Xander Perone (School of American Ballet); and many others.
Important dates: The best time to join the trainee program is during the PBS Advanced Summer Intensive (June 26–July 28, 2023). National and international auditions (virtual and in-person) run December 22, 2022–March 25, 2023. 

The PBS trainee program values discipline, commitment and a love of dance. If you’re ready to make the transition from student to professional, start building for your career at Princeton Ballet School, the official school of American Repertory Ballet.

Video by David Fernandez, courtesy Princeton Ballet School