IBC | Frequently Asked Questions

If I am interested in learning more about IBC, what do I do first?

You are at the right place! Simply peruse these FAQ’s, as they may answer a lot of questions you don’t even know may be helpful. Feel free to contact our Admissions Director, Brooke Tague, with any further questions and to schedule a free trial/placement class. You may contact her via email Brooke@IndianaBalletConservatory.org or phone 317-202-1617, ext. 1. If your dancer is aged 3-6, you will likely not need a trial/placement class to know what appropriate level for which you should register. (Typically, ages 3-4 are placed in Preparatory 1 and ages 5-6 are placed in Preparatory 2.) Ages 6 and above are placed in levels that are appropriate for the child’s age, maturity, dance experience, potential, and the school’s alignment with the Vaganova curriculum. Students interested in our Pre-Professional Day Program must schedule an audition through the Admissions Director.

Is there a deadline for registration?

While we encourage students to register early, our registration is ongoing provided that the class has not reached capacity. For those placed on a wait-list, we will make every effort to an open another class in order to accommodate all who are interested.

What is Vaganova?

The Indiana Ballet Conservatory curriculum emphasizes the classical ballet technique based upon the Russian tradition of training called the Vaganova Method; this method has produced many of the world’s finest dancers. The Vaganova method of ballet instruction consists of eight standardized levels of instruction. IBC expands upon these eight levels to include a specially designed Preparatory Division for students ages 3-9.

The Vaganova method, developed in Russia over the course of 300 years, embodies the classicism of the Russian Imperial Ballet (now known as the Kirov or Mariinsky Ballet). Its goal is the creation of classical ballet dancers who are instruments of artistic and creative perfection. Derived from earlier Italian and French forms of ballet instruction, the Vaganova (Vah-GAH-no-vah) method used by instructors of IBC provides students with a structured, scientific and methodological approach to dance which takes the human anatomy into consideration. Hallmarks of the Vaganova system are the continual flow of the body with the coordination of arm and head positions. IBC prides itself on providing students with the best professional ballet training available and made possible by employing a systematic and consecutive method of instruction.

What does IBC hope to achieve with its training method?

  • foster a love of ballet
  • teach a comprehensive, high level of ballet technique
  • incorporate the use of the arms, hands, and fingers in harmony with technique to enhance beauty and assist turns and jumps
  • promote technical use of the back and shoulder blades as expressive instruments
  • employ coordination to develop dance expression
  • instill musicality by translating the character of a piece of music into a story or a feeling
  • prepare our dancers for a future professional career
  • help parents raise the students to be productive and well-rounded members of our community

What makes your faculty different than many other schools?

IBC is honored to have not only one top-tier teacher at the school, but an entire team of highly-esteemed, respected, and knowledgeable instructors with worldwide reputations, who have dedicated their lives to training the next generation of dancers right here in Central Indiana. Our students have received top International awards at YAGP- NY, Moscow International Ballet Competition, Indianapolis International Ballet Competition, and the International Ballet Competition - Varna. In addition, students trained by the IBC Faculty have received numerous scholarships to over 30 of the top pre-professional ballet programs in the United States and abroad, as well as scholarships to some of the finest university dance programs in the world.

This instruction has also produced graduates who have gone on to receive trainee positions, apprenticeships, and professional contracts with the Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida, Atlanta Ballet, Ballet Internationale, Ballet West, Indiana Ballet Company, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Boston Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Metropolitan Classical Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Nashville Ballet, and North Carolina Dance Theater.

How is your training different than many other schools?

We follow the Vaganova curriculum that has produced some of ballet’s most acclaimed and legendary ballet dancers: Anna Pavlova, Rudolph Nureyev, George Balanchine, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Svetlana Zakharova, Diana Vishneva, and so many stars of yesterday, today, and tomorrow! This training is regarded as very methodological, intentional, and time intensive. The hours our students spend in the classroom are often many more than any other local studio. The purpose of focusing on the Vaganova method is to offer very safe and sound teaching techniques that allow students to learn how each muscle in their body creates each movement. When taught correctly and intentionally, a student can avoid bad habits that cause injuries and poor technique. This kind of training is purposeful in its intent to produce professional dancers. In addition, by training the students in a consistent, standardized method, this creates a very strong and capable dancer who is able to adapt to any technical and choreographic demand expected in a professional setting. Further, while many of our students choose to dance for the pure joy of it without the intention of becoming a professional dancer, the joy is found in knowing these students will also have received the same proper training and high-quality dance education as our students who train with a professional career in mind.

How are the students corrected?

“Correction” is a common term used in ballet teaching. Through corrections, a student learns how to create each movement precisely and technically correct. It is imperative that students learn to feel the muscles they use for each movement. Oftentimes, a student sees a combination or particular movement and the brain does not connect with the right muscles until the dancers knows which muscle makes the correct movement. By using the wrong muscles to make even the smallest movement, a dancer can get injured or create a long-term bad habit that will prevent them from developing as dancers. Our teachers are trained and educated to know which muscle is behind even the slightest body movement. They need to manually guide a student in a gentle way to show him/her how to precisely understand the proper technique. In turn, it is important for students to understand that they will only improve as quickly as they can apply corrections, and that being corrected by the instructor is actually a “good” thing!

How are students evaluated?

Initial placement of a student into a class is based on a variety of factors including, but not limited to age, muscle and bone development, mental and social maturity, work ethic, years trained in ballet- and specifically in the Vaganova method, potential, etc. Students will partake in bi-annual exams, once in the fall semester and once during the spring semester. These exams are open to parents and are observed by all Faculty members. The purpose of these exams is two-fold; for the students to work towards completion of the set curriculum for their level and for the Faculty to observe that the students have indeed completed said curriculum. Students are evaluated on an ongoing basis and promotion of students into the next level may occur at any time during the semester, although it is most common at the end of the school year. There is no exact formula to dictate when a specific child, or a group of children, will be placed into the next level. It is highly dependent on the student(s) in a given class and may not be consistent from semester to semester or year to year. Placement changes, when they occur, are at the sole discretion of the Artistic Faculty and are non-negotiable. All students are placed into the level that will allow for maximum growth and improvement for the child. If you have questions about your child’s level placement or wish to discuss goals for the student’s future, please make an appointment with the Administrative Director.

How many levels are in your program?

There are 4 levels in our Preparatory Division and 8 levels in our Pre-Professional Division. In addition, our Pre-Professional Day Program is grouped into two classes - Intermediate and Advanced.

What is the difference between each of your programs?

The goal of the Preparatory Division, as structured by the IBC Artistic Faculty, is to fully prepare students ages 3-9 (approximately) for entrance into the eight-level Vaganova system of the Pre-Professional Division by developing proper technique and muscle strength in a steady, methodological way. In doing so, students who have completed the Preparatory Division curriculum at IBC will have received the proper foundation for their future ballet training and careers as well as a lifelong appreciation for dance.

The Pre-Professional Division consists of carefully graduated pre-professional Vaganova levels of classical ballet training, with an emphasis on building correct technique, increasing the student’s artistic awareness, and creating well-rounded dancers capable of adapting to the demands of 21st century choreography.

IBC’s NEW Pre-Professional Day Program offers an intense level of training and is dedicated to elevating the technique and artistry of serious-minded dance students who strive to have a professional career in ballet and dance. Enrollment is by audition only.

All students enrolled in IBC, regardless of program, will have the distinct opportunity to participate in professional productions.

At what age can a student begin taking ballet at the Conservatory?

Although there are exceptions, we recommend age 3 as a starting age; students must be fully “potty-trained” prior to beginning class at IBC. Our “Mommy & Me” class will even allow mature children ages 18-36 months to begin appreciating dance in a warm and encouraging atmosphere!

How old is too old to begin ballet?

It is never too old to begin ballet. Ballet is a physical activity that, when properly taught, can last until one is of an advanced age. In terms of a young adult pursuing a career in dance, one would need to be realistic about their goals and ability level, however we are happy to meet with any prospective student to help determine if we can help them reach their personal goals.

Do you offer adult classes?

We certainly do. Our adult dancers are fun and engaging dancers of all ages. Some choose to simply stay in shape, others may have danced as children or teens/young adults, while others are pursuing their passion in a more focused manner. We encourage you to try our program, as we can tailor it to your needs.

What styles of dance do you offer?

Ballet is the core of our entire program. With that said, it is essential for today’s professional ballet dancer to be exposed to many different styles to be versatile and successful in his or her career. In addition, training in other styles allows a ballet student to strengthen other muscles and become more comfortable with different kinds of movement, which is key not only in learning contemporary choreography, but also in protecting against injuries that often stem from insufficient strength and/or deficiencies in technique. To ensure we fully train our students to this end, we offer the following: Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, Tap, Gymnastics Stretching, and Yoga/Pilates. Underneath the umbrella of Classical Ballet, we also include Repertoire, Character, Pas de Deux, and Variations.

How do you know what level in which your child will be placed?

We encourage you to contact our Admissions Director to schedule a free Trial/Placement class for our Preparatory or Pre-Professional Division, or an audition for our Pre-Professional Day Program. During the placement or audition class, one of our esteemed faculty members will meet your child and evaluate his or her strengths and weaknesses to determine which level will best challenge him or her in a positive way.

Is there a uniform that is required?

Yes. There is a uniform list located under “Current Students” that will share what is appropriate for each level.

How often do students get to perform?

Providing numerous performance opportunities is a crucial component to the overall dance education for students at the Indiana Ballet Conservatory. Typically, IBC students will participate in The Nutcracker at the end of the fall semester and a full-length Spring Ballet at the end of the spring semester, although this varies due to the level of the student and the student’s desire for more or less opportunities. In addition to these mandatory performances, some dancers may be invited to perform solos, pas de deux, and group ensembles for various benefits and community-wide fairs and festivals. As a student progresses, there will be multiple opportunities provided. Students gain valuable experience from studio instruction and preparation periods, rehearsals in the theater, and full performances with an audience of families, friends, and Indianapolis arts patrons. Performances offer a chance for students to participate in a cumulative experience of their training in the studio, and to learn firsthand the artistry, expression, and technical excellence expected of accomplished artists. Students also learn how to conduct themselves professionally backstage while working with a professional stage crew, and gain valuable lessons in teamwork, adaptability, and compliance. Students at IBC will have the unique opportunity to perform works in the classical ballet repertoire, as well as original choreography by IBC artistic faculty.

Do you have a state-of-the-art facility?

Yes. IBC’s studios are all equipped with new, professional-quality sprung floors and Marley to ensure proper safety for the students. We strive to teach our students to pickup after themselves in-between classes and to treat the building with respect, as it is truly a second home for many. As IBC continues to grow, we fully intend to make further updates to our facilities as necessary, both in the studio and in the dressing rooms/common areas.

What is a practicum period?

For certain periods before each performance (typically about 3-5 weeks) the class schedule will be divided into two sections, the Practicum Period and a separate rehearsal schedule period. Classes will follow the regular class schedule during the Practicum Period, and will follow specialized rehearsal schedules where noted on published rehearsal schedules; on these days there will be no regularly scheduled classes, only the rehearsals listed. We do this in order to not take away regular class time throughout the semester to prepare for productions. The practicum period isolates the rehearsal time to a shorter, focused period.

What is YAGP?

The Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) is the largest international student ballet competition in the world for students between the ages of 9-19. As students must serve as representatives for IBC, participation in competition is strictly on an invitation-only basis at the sole discretion of the Artistic Faculty. IBC has received the awards for Outstanding School, Outstanding Teacher, Outstanding Choreographer, Youth Grand Prix, Hope Award, 1st Place Ensembles, and many other 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards. Due to the training at our school and the expertise of the Faculty, IBC students are continually invited each year to participate in the YAGP International NYC Finals, a week-long prestigious event in New York that gathers several hundred of the most promising young dancers from around the world.

Why does your school participate in YAGP?

One of the best ways a student can rapidly improve technique and artistry is to undergo the rigorous training necessary to prepare for a world-class ballet competition such as YAGP. Such preparation typically involves the mastery of one or more classical variations or contemporary ballet pieces (which typically require a minimum of 1 hour per week of private lessons per piece). IBC strongly encourages all invited students to participate in YAGP, as the experience will be invaluable in so many ways, especially for those who aspire to dance professionally. In addition, when we win major awards at YAGP it helps the entire school by enabling us to obtain grants, additional donations, and more students, and from those economic boosts we will be able to improve our studio space and the amenities therein for all of our students, offer more scholarships, keep tuition down generally, and give more benefits to our entire student base, even those who do not compete at YAGP. An added benefit for students attending various competitions is the opportunity to vie for scholarships for summer study at world-class ballet schools, scholarships to university programs, and contracts to major ballet companies, both in the USA and abroad.

How can my child participate in YAGP, or in other international competitions in which IBC students have participated in the past?

Participation in competition is determined by the sole discretion of the Artistic Faculty. You will be notified by the Administrative Director if your child is invited to compete and represent the Conservatory.

Are there reduced hours for students who don’t necessarily want a pre-professional track, but still want to retain high-quality training?

Yes. We currently offer “a la carte” pricing for our Preparatory and Pre-Professinal Divisions to allow students to pick and choose classes if you do not want to follow the recommended curriculum on the pre-professional track that we offer for more serious students.

Do you offer scholarships?

IBC currently offers all Pre-Professional Division (Evening & Day Program) Gentlemen full tuition scholarships. Additional scholarships may be awarded based on merit and individual need.

Do you help students with career guidance?

Absolutely. IBC is glad to assist its students with professional aspirations with career planning and guidance, and in providing recommendation letters, references, and video or photo materials for auditions. Students with strong professional aspirations are encouraged to set annual or bi-annual appointments with the Administrative Director, Artistic Director, and/or the student’s instructor. This process typically begins around the middle-school years. Please contact the Administrative Director if you wish to schedule an appointment.

What is your philosophy regarding nutrition and body image regarding a career in ballet?

Our philosophy is to acknowledge the health of each student is the first priority. Good nutrition is needed for our youngest dancers to our graduated dancers, as the rigorous dance training requires a fueled body to dance safely and effectively. Good eating habits are shared and learned verbally and by example. We do not encourage or accept unhealthy eating practices. Although it is a fact that there is an accepted “dancer’s body” in the professional realm of ballet, we encourage our older dancers to achieve this by eating in a healthful way while dancing and training as expected. Our youngest dancers are simply taught what good nutrition is, and that it is important to fuel their body properly to have the energy for class. Seminars on nutrition occur annually during both our Young Dancer Intensive and Summer Intensive programs.

How do you determine if a female dancer is ready to go en pointe?

Preparation for pointe work begins with a student’s first training and continues through the specialized pre-pointe exercises designed specifically to prepare students to begin working in pointe shoes. Readiness is a highly individualized assessment taking both bone and muscle suitability into account. The decision to introduce pointe work to a student is one that requires both instructor and parent confidence. There is no reason to believe puberty or a set age is a “one size fits all” parameter. This is an old-thinking mentality that has been debunked over recent years. The newest research shows that the most obvious physical feature is muscle strength surrounding the foot and ankle. This is achieved by genetics and the amount of class time spent building and strengthening these muscles. In fact, age is simply not a key factor, but a by-product of circumstance. Given the range of physical/developmental maturity in any given group of students, it is not uncommon for some students to be ready earlier or later than others. There is more than enough latitude in the starting of pointe work to allow for individual differences, without a net detriment to those who are ready later than their peers. The foremost consideration is each student’s health and physical well-being, present and future.

What is your Gentlemen’s program like?

IBC prides itself on its strong Gentlemen’s program. Male students are invited to enroll in the Conservatory beginning at age 3 and follow the same schedule and program as female students at the early training stages. Once male students reach a more advanced level in their training, separate Gentlemen’s classes are conducted in order to focus on the distinctly masculine qualities of classical ballet, such as multiple pirouettes, tours, dynamic jumps, battu, and male variations/repertoire. IBC’s male students also have the distinct privilege of working with two male instructors – Mr. Alexei Moskalenko and Mr. Sergey Sergiev – in addition to the other IBC instructors, which is a rarity in most ballet schools outside of large cities. This provides the students with an accomplished male role model and mentor, which will be extremely important as the students grow and develop as dancers and young men.

Do any of your graduates go on to dance professionally?

Yes. Students trained under the world-class instruction of the IBC Artistic Faculty have gone on to receive trainee positions, apprenticeships, and/or professional contracts with the Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida, Atlanta Ballet, Ballet Internationale, Ballet West, Indiana Ballet Company, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Boston Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Metropolitan Classical Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Nashville Ballet, and North Carolina Dance Theater. In addition, students trained by the IBC Faculty have received numerous scholarships to over 30 of the top pre-professional ballet programs in the United States and abroad, as well as scholarships to some of the finest university dance programs in the world.

Praised for their strong performances, professional conduct, and well-developed artistic abilities, students have also been sought out for guest artist opportunities and have been invited to perform at many important community events in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas.

Do you allow local children to audition for parts in your productions?

Although all enrolled IBC students are given first priority in casting for productions (because they are being training consistently by our Faculty under the set Vaganova curriculum), there may be cases where IBC opens up auditions to outside students based on the various needs of each production. Please keep apprised of our auditions via our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Why do you fundraise if you charge tuition?

Considering our dancers are in the studio far longer than most studios, we would need to charge accordingly to cover our costs. Charging our families the true cost of their child’s training would be an unrealistic financial burden. In order to compensate for the costs of these additional training hours, we must fundraise to make up the difference and be financially solvent. We also provide countless hours of performance opportunities, rehearsals, etc. These opportunities also cost additional amounts. Even studios that train students at a decreased time schedule fundraise for financial stability. In our case, it’s a necessity in order to provide this kind of pre-professional training.

Do you offer housing for out-of-town students?

Yes we do. Please contact our Admissions Director, Brooke Tague, at Brooke@IndianaBalletConservatory.org for further information.

How do I get more information about the Conservatory?

If at any time you should have additional questions, please contact our Admissions Director at 317-202-1617 ext.1 or Brooke@IndianaBalletConservatory.org. We are here to help you find a ballet “home” and understand that a website can only offer so much information. We always want to offer a personal touch that may help you feel welcomed and appreciated.