The Stapleton School ballet division features a unique, specialized curriculum developed by Virginia Stapleton and honed over the past twenty-five years. The primary goal is to instill a love of dance while offering professional, quality instruction in a supportive and encouraging environment. Children are placed in class based on their age on September 1 of the school year. New students, ages 9 years and older, are placed depending on experience and ability.
Early Childhood (2.5 – 4 year olds)
Creative Movement (2.5 year), Rhythm & Dance (3 year), Introduction to Dance (4 years)
Creative movement begins the journey of dance. With a carefully structured class and gentle exposure to socialization skills, the children are introduced to large loco-motor movement (e.g. hopping, sliding, marching, prancing and leaping). Music, imagination and fantasy are the tools to explore movement and dance. As the child's motor and social skills develop, more challenges are presented. Upon completion of Intro to Dance, the child is capable of counting music, sequencing steps and memorizing sequences. More difficult loco-motor movements such as skipping and polkas are mastered, and the child has developed an ability to work cooperatively through dance. Classical music and use of ballet terminology inspires young children to become dancers.
Pre Ballet Division (5 – 7 year olds)
Pre Ballet 1 (5 years), Pre Ballet 2 (6 years), Pre Ballet 3 (7 years)
The dancer will be introduced to basic ballet positions (arms, hands, feet and legs) and some of the fundamental steps with a strong emphasis on moving to music. As with our Early Childhood curriculum, freedom to explore the physical possibilities without restraint is still an important part of the curriculum. Creative and imaginative exercises allow the dancer to explore freedom of imagination through movement. The main objective at this level is to keep the child excited about the journey of dance without frustrating them with the strict physical and technical demands of ballet. Upon completion of Pre Ballet 3, the dancer has been exposed to basic ballet positions and steps; memorization of 2 to 3 minute choreography; and has knowledge of a basic ballet vocabulary. The earlier playful aspects of instruction have instilled a joy for movement and now transition into more formalized instruction. The student is now ready to build the foundation of classical ballet technique and achieve their dream of becoming a dancer.
Contemporary Jazz (8-10 year olds)
Contemporary Jazz is an ideal class for dancers ages 8-10 wishing to expand their contemporary dance and jazz vocabulary. In this class, the dancer will explore rhythm, floor work, technique, and expression to a variety of musical genres, from familiar pop songs to jazz. Instructor Isabella Qureshi has a strong background in ballet, jazz, musical theatre, modern and hip hop from her training at Marymount Manhattan College in New York. No prerequisites are required to enroll.
Ballet Division (8 – 11 year olds)
Ballet 1 – Ballet 4
At this age, the student is ready to accept the rigors and discipline of classical ballet training. In Ballet 1 to Ballet 4, there is a strong focus on posture, body alignment and placement; as they play a key role in laying the foundation of classical technique. Specific steps and combinations to various rhythms help the dancer to develop a strong sense of musicality. These exercises also help the dancer to develop the memorization skills needed to master choreography. The principles and technique of ballet are very carefully and accurately presented to the student in an environment that continues to support and encourage all students. Although not required, students that are committed and dedicated to ballet may begin to take more than one class per week.
Advanced Ballet Division (12 – 18 year olds)
Ballet 5 – Advanced 3
At the upper levels, the ballet training builds on the established foundation with a focus on skill. There is a continued emphasis on carriage, placement and body alignment. Stretching, strengthening and increasing flexibility are significant components to achieving success. These classes maintain high expectations for ballet technique and the execution of combinations. The dancer's skills are expanded to include petite and grande allegro, adagio as well as speed and accuracy in various turns (i.e. chainnes, multiple pirouettes, and fouettes). Pointe readiness is determined on an individual basis; typically dancers at Ballet 5 have begun their pointe training and these classes include a significant amount of work on pointe. Additional areas of focus include developing personal style, expression and performance skills. Longer ninety-minute classes allow for building strength and endurance.
Youth Company (10 – 18 year olds)
The Stapleton Youth Company is designed to meet the needs of students that wish to pursue an intensive, accelerated and rigorous training path. Participation in the Youth Company provides the dancer with high technical standards and performing skills. Youth Company dancers take multiple classes per week and must be very motivated; as they work hard to develop skills that lead and inspire younger students. Company dancers perform in the annual Nutcracker. Participation in the Spring Ballet production is exclusive to Youth Company dancers and the production typically offers the opportunity to work with world class guest artists. Youth Company packages offer discounted tuition and workshop fees, as well as a year-end individual dancer assessment, performance opportunities, and field trips.
Joan Lazarus offers an Adult Ballet program. Please click here for details.