The Boston Ballet School and Walnut Hill School for the Arts on Tuesday announced a partnership to create the nation’s first all-inclusive professional ballet academy. Launching in the fall of 2020 at Walnut Hill in Natick, the academy will draw on Boston Ballet School’s top educators and enroll the school’s top students, providing access to Walnut Hill School’s academic program and housing.
After a year and a half of preparation, the new partnership focuses exclusively on Boston Ballet School’s pre-professional division, currently made up of 81 students – the school’s smallest branch. The BBS is the official school of the Boston Ballet Company and is among the largest ballet schools in the United States, enrolling over 4,000 students at locations in Boston, Newton and Marblehead.
Margaret Tracey, director of the Boston Ballet School since 2007, said the program’s goal is to get students into the professional world as quickly as possible.
“We prepare students to enter the profession after they leave high school, not after they leave college,” she said. “Our students will receive the full package, with Walnut Hill’s world-renowned education, housing, and community.”
Students who participate in this program will become members of the Walnut Hill student body and be exposed to other forms of arts education, which have been offered at Walnut Hill for over a century. The school’s principal, Antonio Viva, said the opportunity will benefit more than just BBS students.
“All of our students will reap the benefits of a new and improved dance program, one of the longest running programs we offer at Walnut Hill,” Viva said. “We hope to provide Boston Ballet School students with more than housing and college preparation, we plan to give them life training, where we equip young students to be global citizens.
Along with Tracey and Viva, Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen will direct the first chapter of the program. In a statement, Nissinen touted the chance the students will have to receive a comprehensive education alongside their rigorous ballet training.
Students between the ages of 13 and 19 are eligible for the Boston Ballet School Pre-Professional Program and acceptance is by audition only. The program has ties to the business itself, with many alumni joining upon graduation.