Arts Academy Boarding High School: Dance Major

The Academy Dance Division is a pre-professional training program based on the foundations of classical ballet technique. Academy dance students are taught to be proficient, confident and open-minded individuals who graduate the program prepared for the inevitable challenges of professional careers and higher education in dance.

The ballet-based program encourages versatility through additional training in various other dance forms such as modern, jazz and character dance. In tandem with a rigorous academic curriculum; frequent collaborations with other arts disciplines; and live musical accompaniment for select performances, the Dance Division provides students with a robust learning environment and cross-disciplinary education.

A Healthy Environment

Students in the Dance Division require an intense concentration and dedication to daily training and rehearsals in addition to maintaining their academic schedules. As such, the program strives to work closely with other faculty and staff to meet the educational, emotional and physical demands placed on young dancers during these formative years of study. In addition to dance classes and rehearsals, the faculty integrates injury-prevention techniques to the curriculum by using dance-related anatomical concepts such as Yoga, Pilates, Gyrotonics, and Somatic principles of Body-Mind Centering.

Performance Opportunities

Three fully-produced dance performances are presented each year to the public and surrounding community of Interlochen students, staff and faculty at the Center’s 1000 seat Corson Auditorium. During the holiday season the Dance Division traditionally presents a full-length narrative ballet which features live accompaniment by the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra. The Winter and Spring dance performances feature original choreography and restaged works by faculty and guest artists which are complemented by professional costuming and production design, often also featuring live accompaniment for select repertoire.

Seniors also have the opportunity to choreograph and produce a separate showcase in an intimate theater setting appropriate for young and emerging works in process. This unique platform offers students the chance to collaborate with their peers in the Dance Division while also opening an avenue to individual expression and creativity. Additional choreographic opportunities may also be available to all students upon request and availability.

How to Apply

Students may begin at Interlochen Arts Academy in ninth grade, or transfer in as a sophomore, junior, senior, or post-graduate.

Though not required, a campus visit is recommended. You can tour the campus, visit classes, and possibly take in a performance. You can meet and talk with students who are living the Academy experience.

Our admission counselors are here to help you in any way they can. If you wish to talk with someone about Academy programs, the application process, a campus visit, auditions, or other topics, they will be happy to work with you. Simply call 800.681.5912 or 231.276.7472 or email

Recent Guest Artists

Guest artists join the resident faculty to provide an opportunity for dance students to work with internationally-renowned teachers, dancers and choreographers. Recent guest artists have included:

Patrick Corbin is an American dancer and founder of CorbinDances. He danced with American Ballet Theater II, the Joffrey Ballet and the Paul Taylor Company where he was one of its most celebrated artists. Mr. Corbin received a Bessie award for Sustained Achievement with The Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Thang Dao was born in Danang, Vietnam. He resides in NYC as a dancer and choreographer and is the artistic director of Thang Dao Dance Company. He received his dance training from the Juilliard School, The Boston Conservatory and an MA from NYU. He choreographs world wide and received the 2008 Princess Grace choreography fellowship.

Randy Duncan has been a three-time recipient of the prestigious Ruth Page Award for Outstanding Choreography. He has worked with the Goodman Theater in Chicago and created work for dance companies throughout the world. His film credits include Save the Last Dance and Urban Transfer. He is the chair of the Dance Department at the Chicago Academy for the Arts.

Gina Patterson has danced with Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Ballet Florida, Ballet Austin and as a guest artist performing throughout the world. She is co-founder and artistic director of VOICE Dance Company. Hailed as choreographer of "startling originality," she is a recipient of Choo San Goh award for choreography.

Helen Starr studied at the Royal Academy of Dance and the Royal Ballet School. Graduating into the Royal Ballet, she toured extensively throughout the world as a soloist and eventually ballet mistress working with Sir Frederick Ashton, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Dame Ninette de Valois D.B.E., John Cranko, Leonid Massine and Rudolph Nureyev. She was a founding member of the New London Ballet and a principal dancer with the Louisville Ballet.

Denise Vale is the Senior Artistic Associate of the Martha Graham Company. She began her professional performing career with the MGDC in 1985, attaining the rank of principal dancer where she performed major roles. She also performed Night Chant, a ballet created for Vale by Martha Graham in 1989. Graham solos performed include Lamentation, Frontier, Satyric Festival Song, and Serenata Morisca.

Other recent guest artists include:

Leslie Peck – Balanchine repetiteur formerly with New York City Ballet
Steve Norman – teacher/choreographer formerly with San Francisco Ballet
Lisa Slagle – Former Joffrey and Ballet Oklahoma performer, advisor and teacher of the ABT syllabus
Alexandre Proia – international teacher and choreographer from New York City and Boston Ballet
Kristen Balfour – physical therapist for the University of Michigan

College Opportunities

Each year the dance program hosts a college day and invites nationally-recognized dance programs to campus. Students have the opportunity to meet faculty from college programs and audition for colleges. Guests at this year’s college day included representatives from:

  • Cornish College
  • The Hartt School
  • Indiana University
  • Mercyhurst College
  • New World School of the Arts
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  • SUNY at Purchase
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Michigan

After Graduation

Graduates of the dance program at Interlochen regularly enroll at leading dance programs around the country. In the past three years graduates have enrolled at the following schools:

  • Cincinnati Conservatory of Music
  • Cornish College
  • Dominican University
  • Fordham
  • The Juilliard School
  • Mercyhurst College
  • New World School of the Arts
  • New York University
  • San Francisco Conservatory
  • SUNY at Purchase
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Oklahoma

Graduates have performed with national and international ballet, modern and jazz companies including:

  • Ballet West
  • Complexions
  • Hubbard Street
  • Joffrey Ballet
  • Limon Dance Company
  • Alonzo King LINES Ballet
  • Paul Taylor
  • Martha Graham
  • Miami City Ballet
  • Milwaukee Ballet
  • San Francisco Ballet
  • Trey McIntyre


  • Richard Hinds – associate choreographer for Pippin; the U.S., UK and Australian Tours ofHigh School Musical. A Performer with Fosse, Cats, Grease and Disney’s High School Musical. Associate Choreographer for the upcoming Broadway musical, The First Wives Club.
  • Kathryn Alter – Limón Dance Company
  • Reid Bartelme – Performer with Shen Wei Dance Arts, Alberta Ballet, Ballet Met
  • Catherine Chiarelli – actress/dancer in The Starter Wife (TV); Dancer in Chicago, Phantom of the Opera and Evita
  • Janet Eilber – Artistic Director, Martha Graham Company
  • Justin Koertgen – Performer with Dayton Ballet
  • Johnny McMillan – Hubbard Street
  • Edward McPherson – Ballet West
  • Caitlin Mundth – Carolina Ballet
  • Matthew Prescott – Complexions, Joffrey, Trey McIntyre
  • Crystal Segura – Miami City Ballet
  • Shelly Washington – Twyla Tharp
  • Keelan Whitmore – Alonzo King LINES Ballet
  • Amy Young – Paul Taylor

Academy Dance Major image gallery

The Facilities: Hildegarde Lewis Dance Building

Photos: Dance Company at the NY Phil Biennial