Program Overview

Chautauqua School of Dance provides an unparalleled pre-professional training experience for talented dance students that includes small classes in a nurturing studio environment, extensive performance opportunities, individual coaching and career guidance in a safe and picturesque lakeside community. 

Daily ballet technique classes are supplemented with classes in pointe, variations, partnering, character, contemporary, Pilates, Broadway and more. Classes are taught by distinguished world-renowned faculty and guest faculty currently performing with national companies. Students spend ample time in rehearsal learning full-length ballets that are often new works created on them by resident choreographers. A Balanchine ballet is typically staged each summer by Master Teacher and former NYCB prima ballerina Patricia McBride. Individual and small group coaching with Artistic Director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux allow dancers to focus on areas to improve and excel. With guidance from faculty, Apprentice and Festival dancers have the opportunity to create new works on their fellow dancers and collaborate with students from the Music School during the annual Choreographic Workshop. On-site physical therapy is available for each student weekly at no additional cost. 

Assisting students on their chosen career path is another important aspect of the program. Starting in 2020, Chautauqua Dance will be inviting Artistic Directors of major national ballet companies to visit the program throughout the summer. The directors will view our students in class and rehearsal, hold audition simulations, host Q&A panels, and meet with dancers about future career opportunities.   

Several student performances are presented to the Chautauqua community throughout the summer, including an Amphitheater evening with the Music School Festival Orchestra, two Sunday Galas, and in-studio showings. Additional performance opportunities for Apprentice dancers sometimes include an Inter-Arts Matinee, special Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra evenings, and inclusion in performances with visiting ballet companies. All Amphitheater performances are costumed by a fully staffed costume shop located in the Carnahan-Jackson Studio complex. Often costumes are designed and created specifically for the students when premiering new choreography.  

Chautauqua School of Dance boasts an impressive list of alumni who can be seen on stage in major national and international companies. Curated by Sasha Janes, the annual Alumni All-Star Ballet Gala serves as a celebration of the exceptional talent consistently produced by the school. Artists from top-tier national companies such as NYCB, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and more join forces for an exciting evening of contemporary and classical dance.  In addition to the performance, alumni host discussion panels and serve as School of Dance guest faculty, graciously sharing their knowledge with the next generation of Alumni All-Stars.

The Chautauqua Dance platform presents a rotating roster of diverse professional dance companies in the Amphitheater during the nine-week summer season, giving students exposure to a wide range of artistic styles both on stage and in the studio in Master Classes with artists from the visiting companies. Companies in residence have included: Charlotte Ballet, Stars of American Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Nashville Ballet, Pilobolus, and more.  Students are required to attend every dance performance as part of the curriculum. 

Chautauqua Institution provides an amazing location for aspiring dancers to learn and grow in a supportive, arts-centric community. Students are encouraged to attend performances across disciplines and access to all Amphitheater events is included in the program cost. When not honing their craft in studio or on stage, students can spend their free time biking around the grounds, swimming in the lake, eating ice cream with friends on Bestor Plaza, and enjoying the many summer resort activities Chautauqua has to offer.

Performance Schedule

Tuition, Housing, and Student Life

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Company Apprentice Dancers

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July 13–August 8 (Ages: 16–19)

This prestigious program is geared toward advanced dancers preparing to enter the professional dance world. In addition to the full Festival curriculum, Apprentices have the opportunity to take classes with and perform alongside visiting guest companies and Alumni Gala artists. They also receive coaching with Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and career mentoring from faculty members.

Chautauqua is unlike any summer intensive offered; it is truly a unique and eye-opening experience in the pre-professional ballet world. The opportunity to be taught by such world-renowned faculty for seven weeks and perform full-length ballets multiple times throughout the summer exposed me to what life as a professional will be and taught me so much. I came away from the summer with a whole new outlook and appreciation for ballet and improvement that was the result of such a rigorous yet amazing program.”


– Brigitte Kossuth, Wexford Dance Academy, Apprentice 2019

Photo: Jeff Cravotta 

Chautauqua Festival Dancers

07102019 StudentGalaPreview VG 02July 13–August 8 (Ages: 15–18)

Designed for advanced dancers, approximately 16 girls and up to 8 boys are selected for this seven-week intensive program. The Festival dancer curriculum has a major focus on individual artistic growth and technical improvement. They also have the opportunity for coaching sessions with the resident faculty including Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux.

It was amazing to be surrounded by all the talented dancers, musicians, opera singers, painters, sculptors, and actors that filled my summer experience with inspiration and growth. I will forever be grateful to the Chautauqua Dance program for creating an environment that I believe is helping me and so many others reach our potential as performing artists.


– Christiana Cecere, The Conservatory at Northeast School of Ballet, Festival 2019

Workshop Dancers

Workshop I 
July 13–August 8 (Ages: 11–12)

Workshop II 
July 13–August 8 (Ages: 13–14)

The ballet workshops for talented young dancers enroll 20 girls and up to six boys for either a two-week or five-week session (based on age). Workshop I has a studio performance at the end of week two. Workshop II has two performances in the Amphitheater.  Classes include ballet, pointe, variations, character, contemporary, & broadway with resident faculty and visiting guest artists.

"Chautauqua is a beautiful place filled with kind, supportive dancers and legendary faculty all in a quaint community where everyone loves the arts. The teachers care so much about each dancer, and will make sure you achieve your potential while having the best summer of your life!"


– Scarlett Starkey, Cincinnati Ballet Academy, Workshop I 2019

"Chautauqua is an amazing place where you can improve all aspects of dance, including your technique and performance skills. I attended Workshop 2 twice and both experiences were unforgettable. Everyone on the faculty care about each student and make sure they have the best experience possible. You are surrounded by amazing dancers and people who support you through the five weeks no matter what. One of the best parts is the end performance because you get to show your family what you have learned and how much you have improved. "


Elizabeth Bilotti, Manhattan Youth Ballet, Workshop II  2018 & 2019

Weekend Workshops

Chautauqua School of Dance offers two non-residential workshop weekends to introduce younger dancers to our full term programs. The workshops include classes with resident faculty and special guest teachers, family admission to the grounds for the duration of the program, and the opportunity to see students from the School of Dance in an Amphitheater performance. 

While housing is not provided, there are a variety of accommodations both on and off the grounds for families to enjoy all that Chautauqua has to offer.

Mini-Intensive Weekend (Ages: 11–13) 
Tuition: $4002019 Dance Mini Patti

This four-day program includes the opportunity to see the performance of our Festival Dancers with the Music School Festival Orchestra in the Amphitheater. Students will have three classes each day with Chautauqua Dance faculty and special guests from Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh. Acceptance is by audition only. Participants will be selected from the Workshop 1 and 2 applicant pool of live audition classes and video submissions. Please indicate on your Workshop application if you would also like to be considered for this program. (NOTE: if applying in advance, please use the “Dance 2020” Slideroom application, NOT Young Dancer.)

Application Fee: $40

Sample Schedule


The Chautauqua Mini Weekend Intensive is a rigorous ballet workout that exposes the students to different dance styles and pinpoints the necessary skills for becoming a successful dancer."


– Riya Chaudhry, School of American Ballet, Mini-Intensive 2019

Photo: 2019 Mini-Intensive participants with Patricia McBride, Director of Ballet Studies and Master Teacher

Young Dancer Weekend (Ages: 7–10) 
Tuition: $250

 2019 Dance YDW PorchBallet students ages 7–10 are invited to join us at the CHQ School of Dance July 13–15 for three days of classes on the beautiful lakeside grounds of Chautauqua Institution. The dancers are divided into groups of 25 based on age in order to keep the class size small. They have two classes the first day and three classes the second and third day. Classes are taught by CHQ dance faculty and special guests. This is a wonderful and exciting weekend introduction to our full term programs. (**Previously known as Pre-Workshop Weekend)

A live audition class for Young Dancer Workshop will be held in Buffalo at American Academy of Ballet on Saturday, January 11 at 2 p.m. Plan to arrive a half hour before the audition for registration. If you are not in the Western NY region, video submissions are also accepted. Requirements for the Young Dancer recorded audition are: No more than five-minute barre (one side only), including pliés, tendus, passé, dégagé, grand battement and five-minute center including pliés, relevé, tendus and petit allegro

Application Fee: $20

Sample Schedule


“Chautauqua Dance is a magical place, unlike any other summer dance program. Be ready for your child to experience a holistic transformation. We noticed improvements in our children's technique, musicality, confidence and overall independence. The world class faculty manages to accomplish all of this with honesty, kindness and respect. We couldn't be happier.”


Parent of Young Dancer 2019 and Workshop II 2018 students