Frequently Asked Questions
Below please find a compilation of our most commonly asked questions in regards to our training, programs, and policies. Please use the navigation panel to quickly find the question that best matches your need.
What programs does SAB offer?
SAB offers pre-professional ballet training programs for students 6-18 years old. Admission to these programs is by audition only. The Winter Term is SAB’s year-round training program for students 6-18 years old and runs from September through June. Visit our Winter Term Admissions page for more information about auditioning for SAB’s Winter Term. The School also offers summer programs for students ages 10-18. The five-week Summer Course in NYC is for intermediate and advanced ballet students ages 12-18. Our summer offerings also include the 1-week New York Junior Session and 2-week California Workshop for Young Dancers tailored for serious ballet students ages 10-12. Visit the summer programs admissions page for more information. The School also offers introductory ballet classes for 4, 5 and young 6 year olds via its Little Dancers program. Auditions are not required for this program. There is open enrollment for this program during the summer and fall.
How can I take class and/or watch a class at SAB?
Students must be enrolled in one of our programs to take class. There are no single classes or classes available for visiting students. Professional dancers who wish to take class may contact the the Artistic Manager for class information. Observation of classes is not permitted in the children’s and intermediate divisions. Visiting ballet teachers are invited to observe advanced classes at SAB; however, they are not permitted to take notes. Those wishing to observe a class must contact the Artistic Manager. Parents and guardians of students are permitted to watch class on special observation days during the school year.
Where is the School located?
The School of American Ballet is located in the Samuel B. and David Rose Building, 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York City, on West 65th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. A staircase and elevator at 165 West 65th Street provide access to the building entrance above street level. Find maps and detailed directions on traveling to the School on our Visit Us page.
What does SAB look for in a dancer?
First and foremost, the School of American Ballet looks at each applicant as an individual. The School is selective in admitting new students and renewing their enrollment from year to year. Admission is by audition only. Applicants must be young enough to derive the maximum benefit from their training, enjoy excellent health and have an anatomical structure suited to the demands of classical dance: a well-proportioned, flexible, coordinated body, legs that easily adopt the turned-out condition, and a high instep. They must also possess musical aptitude and a natural gift for movement. Applicants for the Summer Course must be intermediate or advanced students who, in addition to the above, are at a stage of technical advancement proportionate to their age.
When do students begin pointe?
At SAB, pointe work begins after a student has been studying for at least four years – in Girls level IV. Students gradually begin pointe work throughout the year. They’ll practice for 15 minutes at the end of each technique class and in a separate weekly, one-hour pointe class.
What are auditions like?
Boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 10 are evaluated individually and participate in a simple musical exercise. No previous ballet training or preparation is required for this age group. Auditions for 11 to 18 year olds generally are abbreviated ballet classes with the usual range of barre and center exercises. Pointe shoes are required for girls 12 to 18 years of age. All students should be prepared to show a copy of their birth certificate or passport at the audition. For more detailed audition information, please review the specific audition FAQs.
What is the cost of tuition?
Are there scholarships or financial aid?
For the Winter Term, the School has an extensive financial aid program for students at all levels whose financial situations necessitate assistance with expenses. Scholarships range from ballet class tuition only, to awards for residence hall expenses, travel, and academic high school tuition. For SAB’s summer programs, scholarships are merit-based and are decided at the time of the audition. Applicants are notified of their award at the time of acceptance. Awards range from partial tuition to funds for tuition, room and board, and transportation. There are no scholarships available for SAB’s Little Dancers program.
How do I get into SAB’s summer programs?
All students must audition for SAB’s summer programs. In the interest of health and safety, all applicants interested in applying for one or more of SAB’s 2021 summer programs must do so by submitting a video application online. SAB will not be conducting any in-person auditions this winter. Applications will be accepted through January 31, though for best consideration, we encourage you to submit your video before January 15. Learn more about applying by video for SAB’s summer programs.
How old (or young) do I have to be to audition?
For the New York Junior Session and Young Dancer Virtual Workshop, students must be no younger than 10 and no older than 12 on July 31 the year of program applying. This means 9 year olds turning 10 by July 31 are eligible to audition. For SAB’s Summer Course, students must be no younger than 12 and no older than 18 on July 31 the year of the program applying. This means 11 year olds may audition for the Summer Course if they will turn twelve by July 31. Twelve year olds (as of July 31) may audition for all summer programs.
May I audition more than once for a summer program?
Students should not audition more than once per year for SAB’s summer programs. However, students may audition in successive years for our summer programs whether or not they were accepted previously as long as they still meet the age requirements.
May I audition for a summer program and the Winter Term at the same time?
No. There are distinctly separate auditions for SAB’s Winter Term and summer programs. We encourage all intermediate and advanced students interested in attending the Winter Term to first audition for Summer Course. A selection of Summer Course students are invited to enroll in the School’s Winter Term every year.
Is there a fee to audition?
Yes. The audition fee is $42.00 for all applications including international applicants and those who are applying for more than one program.
What should I wear when recording my summer audition video?
Girls should wear any solid color leotard, tights and ballet slippers/pointe shoes. Please do not wear skirts or warm-ups while recording your audition video. Boys may wear any solid-color t-shirt without words or pictures; tights (black or grey), ankle socks (white or black), and ballet slippers (white or black). Face masks are acceptable if your recording space requires it.
What does SAB look for in a dancer?
First and foremost, the School of American Ballet looks at each applicant as an individual. The School is selective in admitting students; and enrollment is by audition only. Applicants must be young enough to derive the maximum benefit from their training, enjoy excellent health and have an anatomical structure suited to the demands of classical dance: a well-proportioned, flexible, coordinated body, legs that easily adopt the turned-out condition, and a high instep. They must also possess musical aptitude and a natural gift for movement. Applicants for the Summer Course must be intermediate or advanced students who, in addition to the above, are at a stage of technical advancement proportionate to their age. Applicants to the Young Dancer Series must be committed ballet students with a minimum of 1.5 years of training.
When will I be notified of the audition result?
All summer applications receive their results via email. All results will be distributed via email beginning in January. We will provide a more detailed audition result schedule in January.
Applicants receive a separate result communication for each program to which they applied.
Can I audition for more than one summer program?
Yes-if you meet the age requirements. Students who will be twelve years old on July 31 are eligible for all summer programs that same year. Ten to 12 year olds may audition for the New York Junior Session and the Young Dancer Virtual Workshop. Thirteen to 18 year olds are only eligible for SAB’s Summer Course in NYC. Students will have a chance to indicate all programs to which they are applying on the registration form.
Can I attend more than one summer program in the same year?
Yes! You may apply for more than one program (as described in the question above) and attend all programs to which you are accepted.
How do I audition if I live outside the United States? Is there a fee?
All applicants, including International students must audition for the 2021 summer programs by submitting a Video application. Learn more about applying by video to SAB’s summer programs.
What should I include in my audition video?
SAB has created specific guidelines to follow as you create your audition video. The video should be approximately 15 minutes in length and portray the student in an abbreviated class with the barre and center exercises listed in this document. Pointe work is required only for students 12-18. Students ages 10 & 11 may include pointe exercises if they have already started working on pointe, but these exercises are not required.
What if I do not have access to a dance studio to record my audition video?
This is OK! We recognize that many students may not have access to a ballet studio for filming their audition video. If you are recording your video application at home or in a non-traditional dance space, please only include steps that can be safely executed in your space. Suggested exercises may be modified as needed based on the limitations of your floor surface. Please include only what you can safely accomplish.
Winter Term Auditions for 11-18 year olds
When are the Winter Term Auditions for 11-18 year olds?
Winter Term auditions for this age group are held in September-typically the Tuesday after Labor Day. Accepted applicants will enroll within the week.
What is the audition format?
The audition is an hour-long ballet technique class including barre and center work. Girls and boys audition together. Girls will have age-appropriate pointe work, and boys will have battu and air turns at the end of class.
Is there a dress code for the audition?
Girls may wear any solid color leotard, tights (pink or skin tone) and ballet slippers/pointe shoes (pink or skin tone). No skirts or warm-ups in class. Boys may wear any solid-color t-shirt without words or pictures; tights (black or grey), ankle socks (white or black), and ballet slippers (white or black).
Should I wear pointe shoes?
Girls 15 and older should wear pointe shoes for the full audition. Girls 14 and under should wear ballet slippers, but should bring pointe shoes into the audition. (They will be asked to put on their pointe shoes at the end of the audition class.)
Should I have had previous training?
Students ages 11-18 are expected to have previous ballet experience. Eleven to twelve year olds should have completed a minimum of 2 years of training (including beginning pointe for girls.) Thirteen to fifteen year olds should be training at the intermediate level, and students 16 and older should be at an advanced level.
What does SAB look for in a dancer?
First and foremost, the School of American Ballet looks at each applicant as an individual. The School is selective in admitting students; and enrollment is by audition only. Applicants must be young enough to derive the maximum benefit from their training, enjoy excellent health and have an anatomical structure suited to the demands of classical dance: a well-proportioned, flexible, coordinated body, good turn-out, and a high instep. They must also possess musical aptitude and a natural gift for movement. Applicants should be at a stage of technical advancement proportionate to their age.
When will I get my audition result?
Results will be distributed within 24 hours of your audition. More information will be communicated at the time of the audition.
If accepted at the September audition, when would I begin class?
Students accepted from the September audition would enroll in the current Winter Term which usually begins the following day. However, the earliest an accepted applicant may begin class is approximately one week after the audition. No student who auditions at the September audition will be allowed to begin class before this date regardless of how soon enrollment paperwork is completed. Additionally, enrollment paperwork must be submitted to SAB by 12 noon two business days before a student can begin class.
How can I prepare for the possibility of acceptance to SAB?
In order to begin class, a student is required to submit a medical form, part of which must be filled out and signed by a doctor. Students must have had a physical within one year of the first day of the enrolling Winter Term. If your child has not had a physical within the year, you may want to schedule one prior to the audition in anticipation of possible enrollment.
Additionally, accepted applicants may apply for financial aid. In order to apply for financial aid, you will need to compile documents outlined under the Financial Aid question below. Assembling this material in advance of the audition will speed up the application process.
Finally, all families will need to provide an initial deposit payment. The deposit payment will vary depending on the assigned class level and whether the student is applying for financial aid. After the initial deposit, families will have flexibility to select a payment plan for the balance of the tuition.
How much is tuition?
Tuition is different for each class level. Students at this audition will likely be accepted into Girls IV and up or Boys III and up. Review the complete listing of tuition fees by class level for the 2019-2020 Winter Term.
Is financial aid available?
Yes. SAB budgets almost $2 million per year for scholarships, financial aid and other subsidies. Ensuring that students with the highest financial need may enroll remains the guiding principle for the allocation of tuition, room & board, and academic aid during the Winter Term. SAB uses an independent financial need assessment company (TADS) to determine each student’s level of aid. Anyone wishing to be considered for aid must submit an application. Applicants should compile the following materials prior to the audition if they plan to apply for aid:
- Federal income tax and payroll information (i.e. W2, recent pay stubs, federal tax form 1040, 1099, etc.)
- Utility bills
- Rent or mortgage payment information
- Debt information (e.g. credit card debt, loans, medical bills)
Upon acceptance, SAB will provide directions for submitting a financial aid application to interested families.
Note: if you have already submitted a TADS application for the 2019-20 school year for another educational institution, you do not need to reapply.
Is on-site housing available?
SAB operates and on-site residence during the Winter Term for more than 60 students. Typically, SAB has already allocated all available spaces in our on-site residence hall prior to the September audition. Priority for housing is given to our re-enrolling students and to students who attend our five-week Summer Course in July. We encourage all students ages 12 to 18 who do not live in the New York area to first audition for a Summer Course, during which they would be automatically evaluated for acceptance to our Winter Term. If there is availability in our Residence Hall at the time of the September audition, accepted applicants will be offered spaces on an individual basis at the time of acceptance. Additional enrollment steps may apply if a space in the residence hall is offered.
I am/was a 2020 Summer Course student. Should I attend the September audition to be considered for the Winter Term?
No. All Summer Course students are evaluated as candidates for the upcoming Winter Term. The Summer Course serves as a 5-week “audition” for our year-round program. Any students who were enrolled in and completed the 2020 Summer Course are not permitted to attend the September audition.
Winter Term Auditions for 6-10 year olds
What is the purpose of SAB’s spring auditions?
SAB holds auditions in April to identify new students between the ages of 6 and 10 for the upcoming Winter Term, which begins in September and ends in June.
Does my child have to be experienced in classical ballet to audition for SAB?
No. Children between the ages of 6 and 10 do not need to have had any formal dance training to qualify for admission to SAB’s beginner’s classes.
What is the difference between auditioning at SAB or at a Community Audition location?
Children will have the same audition experience whether they attend an audition at SAB’s Lincoln Center headquarters or a Community Audition in Harlem, Chinatown, Bronx, Queens or Brooklyn. Children wishing to attend the audition at SAB’s Lincoln Center headquarters are required to pre-register online and pay a $38.50 audition fee. Children attending one of the community locations are encouraged to pre-register online but it is not required, and there is no fee charged for the Community Audition locations.
Can I change my audition location if I have already pre-registered?
Yes, if you have already pre-registered, you may change your audition location in advance of the audition date by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your request. Please do NOT complete a new pre-registration form. Note that refunds will not be provided for anyone who initially registers for an audition at SAB but later switches to a free Community Audition location.
How old does my child have to be to audition?
Children must be at least six years old by October 1 to audition and enroll for the Winter Term beginning the same year. Note that children who are not old enough to audition in 2020 might be age-eligible for SAB’s Little Dancers program, which does not require an audition. Children who are 11 or older as of September 1 are eligible to attend SAB’s fall audition.
What should my child wear to the audition?
Girls should wear any color leotard or one-piece swimsuit. Tights and ballet slippers are optional. Boys should wear a solid-colored t-shirt and shorts or tights/leggings. Ballet slippers are optional. Children are not required to purchase any ballet attire for the audition. All children with long hair should wear it pulled back in either a ponytail or bun. Children should not wear long pants or jeans for the audition.
When should I arrive for the audition?
Children auditioning at SAB’s Lincoln Center headquarters should arrive forty-five minutes before their audition appointment time. (Note that children/caregivers will not be granted access to SAB more than forty-five minutes before their scheduled audition.) Students auditioning at a Community Audition location should arrive at the audition time listed on sab.org for their age group.
How long is the audition?
Most auditions last 20-30 minutes. This can vary slightly depending on the number of children in each audition group.
If my child will be a different age in April than in September, what age group should she or he audition with?
Children should audition in the age group that corresponds with their age on the day of the audition. All five years old (who will be six by October 1) should audition in the 6- (or 6-7) year-old group.
What do I need to bring to the audition?
All parents/caregivers are required to show proof of birthdate for the auditioning child. Any government-issued ID, such as a birth certificate, passport or state ID, will suffice. Copies of the documents are acceptable as proof. (SAB will not keep copies of your documents.)
What happens at the audition? Does my child need to do any advance preparation?
When you arrive at the audition location, you will be checked in and your child will be given an audition number to pin to the front of their shirt or leotard. Our staff will line up each group of children in number order and lead them into our audition studio (without parents). Children will be asked to sit quietly in the audition studio while SAB teachers spend time with each child one-by-one. Children will each be asked to stand in first position, point their feet and stretch their legs to the side and back. After these individual assessments are complete, music will be played and children will be asked to skip, one at a time, across the room to the music. Children with prior dance training will be allowed to demonstrate any step of their choosing to the music instead of skipping. No preparation, training, or prior experience is needed for any component of the audition. Occasionally, a small number of children will be asked to stay in the audition studio after the larger group has been dismissed so that the teachers can conduct a more detailed assessment. The fact that a child has been asked to stay at the audition longer is not an indication of a positive audition result.
On what criteria are the audition results based?
SAB faculty look for children with an anatomical structure suited to the demands of classical dance: a well-proportioned, flexible, coordinated body, legs that easily adopt the turned-out condition, and a high instep. Children must also possess musical aptitude.
When and how will my child receive their audition results for the 2021-22 Winter Term?
All applicants will receive a notification email containing their results in early May. More information will be communicated at the time of the audition.
May I request detailed feedback on my child’s audition?
No. Individual audition critiques are not provided.
I pre-registered and paid the audition fee for one of the auditions taking place at SAB’s headquarters but my child can no longer attend. Can I get a refund?
No, we are not able to provide fee refunds to students who do not attend an audition that they have signed up for, regardless of the reason.
What kinds of classes are offered at SAB?
SAB offers classes in classical ballet technique only. There are no classes in jazz, modern, hip hop or tap. SAB does not offer academic schooling. All students attend regular public or private academic schools in addition to training at SAB.
If my child is accepted, how often will she/he attend classes and when?
SAB’s beginning children (between the ages of 6 and 10) attend two 60-minute or 90-minute classes per week. The exact class schedule depends on the class level to which a child is assigned, but most classes will start at 4 p.m. or later and end by 7 p.m. on weekdays, and some class levels have a class on Saturday mornings. Attendance is mandatory and only excused absences are allowed. All classes take place at SAB’s Lincoln Center headquarters in the Samuel B. David Rose Building (at 165 W. 65th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam, Manhattan).
If my child is accepted will they need to audition again next year?
Children who enroll in the Winter Term do not have to re-audition each year. Instead, they are evaluated internally on an ongoing basis and will learn each May if they have been invited to re-enroll for the subsequent school year. Children who are not accepted after spring auditions are welcome to audition again the following year as long as they remain age-eligible. Audition results can change from year to year depending upon a child’s growth and development.
What is the annual tuition cost?
SAB strives to ensure that all students who pass our audition are able to enroll. A substantial scholarship program is available for female students with need, and all boys attend tuition-free for approximately the first four years of enrollment (beginning at the Prep level). The 2019-20 tuition for most first-year beginner females was $3,555. (Rates for the 2020-21 Winter Term will be set in April 2020.) SAB invites parents of female students to submit a financial aid application at the time of acceptance and communicates scholarship award decisions in early June before each family’s enrollment deadline. All students pay a $90 registration fee.
How can I apply for Financial Aid?
SAB has a substantial scholarship program for families with need. Financial applications are not available prior to the enrollment period. All children who are accepted to enroll in the 2020-21 Winter Term will receive a financial aid application in their enrollment materials.
If my child misses the Spring Auditions, are there opportunities for make-up auditions over the summer?
No. All auditions for children ages 6 to 10 are completed in the month of April. As we generally fill our available openings with children invited from spring auditions, we typically do not offer late auditions.
What is SAB’s relationship with New York City Ballet (NYCB)?
SAB is the official academy of New York City Ballet, and both organizations are based at Lincoln Center. Almost all of New York City ballet’s dancers train at SAB before joining the company. NYCB and SAB share the same artistic leadership, and almost all of SAB’s teachers are current or former dancers with New York City Ballet. NYCB features a number of ballets with roles for children (such as George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty), and all of those children’s roles are cast from SAB’s student body. Not every student enrolled at SAB gets to perform with NYCB, but many do.
If accepted to SAB, when will my child have a chance to perform with New York City Ballet in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker?
NYCB casts children’s roles based on age and size. Generally only certain SAB class levels (and age ranges) are eligible to perform in any given ballet. Most Nutcracker children are aged 9-12 and have been at SAB for at least one year of training. Children from eligible levels are invited to attend Nutcracker casting sessions in late-September.
My 10-year-old student is attending the New York Junior Session in June and wants to be considered for enrollment in the Winter Term. Do they still need to attend a spring audition?
Yes. Students enrolled in the NY Junior Session who are locally based and interested in the Winter Term should attend a Spring Audition. The Winter Term audition result will not affect a child’s standing in any of SAB’s upcoming summer programs.
If my child is accepted to the Winter Term, are there any additional SAB programs they can enroll in over the summer?
No. SAB holds summer programs for 10-18-year-olds, but all auditions for these programs are completed in January.
When are Little Dancers classes offered?
SAB offers two Little Dancers sessions each year, one in the Fall and one in the Winter. Each session includes 14 weekly, 45-minute classes. The Fall Session runs from September to December. The Winter Session runs from January to May. There is no summer session for Little Dancers. Children must enroll for a complete session. Drop-in classes are not available.
Does my child need to re-enroll for future sessions?
Yes, each Little Dancers session is distinct. Students who are still age-eligible and would like to participate in future sessions must re-enroll.
Is the Little Dancers program a prerequisite for the School’s Winter Term?
No, enrollment in Little Dancers is not a prerequisite for SAB’s pre-professional training programs for students ages 6-18. Auditions are required for all students 6 & up. Any Little Dancers student interested in enrolling in the Winter Term once they are age-eligible will be required to audition.
What is taught in Little Dancers classes?
Students will learn the basic principles of ballet, including classical ballet positions and elementary steps, with a focus on musicality. Students will be introduced to the structural elements of a ballet class and will hone focusing and attention skills as they follow instructions and work as a group.
Is there a dress code?
Yes. Girls must wear lavender leotards in any style, pink tights and pink ballet shoes. Boys must wear a white T-shirt, black tights, white ankle socks and white or black ballet slippers. Children with long hair should wear it in a ponytail or bun.
What is the tuition for Little Dancers?
For the 2020 Fall Session which will be held entirely on zoom because of space limitations sue to social distancing guidelines, the tuition is $900 plus a $50 registration fee.
If my child enrolls and later withdraws from the program, can I get a tuition refund?
We regret that no refunds will be provided for children who withdraw prior to or during the program.
Is financial aid available for the Little Dancers program?
Financial assistance is not available for Little Dancers.
Are parents allowed to observe classes?
Yes. When we are able to offer in-person classes, a parent or caregiver is invited to accompany the student to the ballet studio on specified days and may observe class from the studio-adjacent lounge with viewing window. Only one parent/caregiver per child per class is permitted to observe due to space constraints.
My child is enrolled, what are the drop-off and pick-up procedures for bringing them to the school?
SAB encourages parents and/or caregivers to bring the child to the school 15 minutes in advance of the start of class.
If my child misses a class, is there an opportunity to complete a make-up class?
Make-up classes are not permitted due to the space constraints in each class section.
How many students are in each class?
For the 2021 Winter Session in which all classes will be held remotely, classes will have no more than 18 students in each section so that the teacher can can clearly see each student and provide individualized instruction.
When in-person classes resume, class size for Little Dancers will not exceed 18 students per group. Each class will be led by a teacher and two teaching assistants.
I have already enrolled my child, but I want to switch my child’s class day/time. Is that possible?
Class switches will only be accommodated within the same age level and are contingent upon availability in the other class section. Students may not switch class times/groups once the Session has begun.
Will my child have the opportunity to dance in The Nutcracker?
Only students enrolled in SAB’s Winter Term Children’s Division are considered for roles in New York City Ballet productions. Nutcracker performers typically range in age from 9-12.
Who can I contact with questions about Little Dancers?
All questions should be emailed to email@example.com.