Program Overview

The ballet curriculum at CHQ is designed for talented students who wish to pursue careers as professional dancers. Intensive training in classical ballet is supplemented with classes in contemporary, variations, character, hip hop and partnering. Most classes feature live musical accompaniment.

A major component of the program is the extensive performance opportunities throughout the summer. Students learn and rehearse choreography by resident faculty including Mark Diamond, Sasha Janes, Michael Vernon, and Maris Battaglia, which are often new works created especially for the students. A Balanchine ballet is typically staged each year by Patricia McBride, Director of Ballet Studies, for Apprentice and Festival dancers. Students present these works in our state-of-the-art 4,000 seat Amphitheater during two Student Gala performances as well as an evening performance alongside the Music School Festival Orchestra (Apprentice and Festival only). Workshop 2 dancers perform in both matinee Student Galas and Workshop 1 dancers present an end of program studio performance.

Apprentice and Festival dancers also have the option to participate in the Choreographic Workshop, where students create their own pieces with guidance from faculty to be performed by and for their peers. They also have the opportunity to collaborate with students from the Music School Festival Orchestra to incorporate live music into their works.

In addition to the rigorous class and rehearsal schedule, students also are able to take advantage of Chautauqua’s vast program offerings, including evening entertainment, lectures, galleries, and summer recreational activities in our serene lakeside community.

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Company Apprentice Dancers

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June 23–August 11, Ages: 16–19

Six women and four men are chosen for this prestigious program geared toward advanced dancers preparing to enter the professional dance world or enrolling in a university ballet program. In addition to the full School of Dance curriculum, Apprentices have the opportunity to take classes with and perform alongside visiting guest companies and Alumni Gala artists. They also receive individual coaching with Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and career mentoring from faculty members.

Photo: Jeff Cravotta 

Chautauqua Festival Dancers

balletJune 23–August 11, (ages 15 - 18)

Designed for advanced dancers, approximately 16 girls and 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.

My experience at the Chautauqua School of Dance helped me improve my technique and the supportive faculty and environment allowed me freedom of expression, helped me grow as a performer and as an artist, as well as giving me a renewed sense of drive and motivation.”

-Melanie Cuddeback, The Conservatory at Northeast School of Ballet


 Photo: Tanja Kuic

Workshop Dancers

20180721 WJ9A3664Workshop I (2 weeks)
June 23–July 6 (Ages: 11–12)

Workshop II (5 weeks)
July 7–August 11 (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, & hip hop with resident faculty and visiting guest artists.

"My time at Chautauqua was a unique, wonderful experience with incredible training, nurturing support and unmatched opportunities for me to grow and improve as a dancer."

- Chloe Webster, UNCSA

 Photo: Tanja Kuic

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.

Mini-Intensive Weekend (ages 11–13) BALLET 2
July 20-23, Tuition: $400

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 applicant pool during the video and live audition classes. Please indicate on your Workshop application if you would also like to be considered for this program. (Please note, If applying in advance, please use the “School of Dance” Slideroom application).

Sample Schedule


Pictured: 2018 Mini-Intensive participants with guest faculty Lindsay Piper of Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh


Young Dancer Weekend (ages 7-10) 
July 13–15
2018 Cost: $230

Ballet 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 professional company members. This is always a wonderful and exciting weekend for the students and a great introduction to our full term programs. (**Previously known as Pre-Workshop Weekend) Ballet 3

A live audition class for Young Dancer Workshop will be held in Buffalo at American Academy of Ballet on Saturday, January 19th at 2:00pm. Applications for the live audition will be online in advance and the fee is $20. Plan to arrive a half hour before the audition to get registered for the audition class. If you are not in the Western NY region, video submissions are also accepted. Requirements for the Young Dancer recorded audition are:

  • 5 minute barre (one side only), including pliés, tendus, passé, dégagé, grand battement
  • 5 minute center including pliés, relevé, tendus and petit allegro

Sample Schedule


“Experiencing dance at Chautauqua is inspirational because you are surrounded by the natural beauty of this magical lakeside village and so many talented people from the arts and academic world. It's an honor to study there with iconic figures in dance.”

-Libby Nebres, School of American Ballet

 Photo: Tanja Kuic