Program Overview

Learn More about American Ballet Theatre ® – America’s National Ballet Company

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The American Ballet Theatre ® (ABT) Certified School of Ballet at Rutgers University follows a specific graded curriculum divided by age, which is outlined in ABT’s National Training Curriculum (NTC). The program promotes discipline and creativity while encouraging each child to reach their highest potential. Classes focus on building a solid foundation in ballet technique with an emphasis on proper placement and safe progressions of movement while remaining sensitive to the developmental needs of young dancers at every level.

The ABT National Training Curriculum (NTC) combines scientific principles with elements from the classic French, Italian, and Russian schools of training. All students who meet the appropriate age guidelines are invited to participate in annual ABT Affiliate Examinations. Students must attend all classes listed for their level in order to participate in examinations. Students who participate in exams receive an evaluation rubric outlining their proficiency both technically and artistically with comments from a member of ABT’s Board of Examiners. Students successfully passing their examination will receive an official certificate listing the level of the examination class that they took along with their level of distinction. Students can pass successfully on 4 levels: pass, pass with merit, pass with honors, and pass with high honors.

All ABT Certified School of Ballet students are exposed to live performance opportunities at the conclusion of each semester. Performances are held in the Loree Dance Theater and the Victoria J Mastrobouno Theater in the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center. Participation in performances is optional. Rehearsals are minimal and held during regularly scheduled class times whenever possible.

The ABT Certified School of Ballet at Rutgers University annually hosts American Ballet Theatre Day at Rutgers. ABT Day is open to the public and includes a series of master classes, workshops, and lectures conducted by ABT faculty members. The American Ballet Theatre Studio Company concludes the event with a live performance in the Loree Dance Theater. Additionally, students may have the opportunity to participate in ABT affiliated events in New York City.


Primary 1 (Pre-K & K) classes introduce our youngest dancers to age-appropriate, beginning ballet exercises in an energetic, creative, and nurturing weekly class with live piano accompaniment. Students gain fine motor dexterity through activities that encompass story-telling and creating, as well as activities related to children’s literature and number counting. Incorporating the use of fun colorful props such as scarves, floor dots, and flowers enhance these physical, cognitive, and creative skills. Select Primary 1 students may participate in end-of-year exams adjudicated by a visiting member of ABT’s Board of Examiners.  Exam participation is determined by minimum age requirements.  Primary 1 is open enrollment and no prior experience is necessary.

Primary 2 (Grades 1 & 2) classes continue to build students’ vocabulary of basic ballet steps and port de bras, while still incorporating creative movement ideas in every class. Ballet class protocol and traditions are introduced in these levels. Select Primary 2 students may participate in end-of-year exams adjudicated by a visiting member of ABT’s Board of Examiners.  Exam participation is determined by minimum age requirements. Primary 2 is open enrollment and no prior experience is necessary.

The Young Dancer (YD) level introduces barre work and builds a strong technical and artistic foundation by focusing on alignment, placement, balance, flexibility, musicality, and strength through age-appropriate progressions. Students work carefully to build the fundamentals of alignment and the muscular development needed to advance to upper division levels where young dancer material is refined and expanded upon. Select Young Dancer students may participate in end-of-year exams adjudicated by a visiting member of ABT’s Board of Examiners.  Exam participation is determined by minimum age requirements. Young Dancer students are offered an optional contemporary technique class in addition to their ballet technique classes.  Students must take a trial class to determine appropriate class placement in the Young Dancer level and above.

The Junior Conservatory (JC) level introduces more complex barre work and builds a strong technical and artistic foundation by focusing on alignment, placement, balance, flexibility, musicality, and strength through age-appropriate progressions. Students explore more complex pirouettes and allegro steps, and use of port de bras with a defined sense epaulment. Students in this level are preparing for pointe work and may be selected to begin pointe work during the academic year. Junior Conservatory students are offered an optional contemporary technique class in addition to their ballet technique classes. Junior Conservatory students participate in end-of-year exams adjudicated by a visiting member of ABT’s Board of Examiners. Students must take a trial class to determine appropriate class placement in the Young Dancer level and above

The Pre-College Conservatory (PCC) is the highest level in the Rutgers/ABT-Certified School, and is a comprehensive program designed for students who seek to build artistic acuity and technical endurance while preparing for college dance programs and careers in dance. Pre-College Conservatory students learn and perform classical repertory in addition to ballet technique and pointe classes. Students in this level are asked to participate in a contemporary technique class, and have the option of supplementing their dance training with semi-private classes on the Pilates Reformer. PCC students participate in end-of-year examinations adjudicated by a visiting member of ABT’s Board of Examiners.  PCC Apprentices are integrated into all PCC classes except for Saturday technique and pointe class. PCC Apprentices prepare for a separate ABT-NTC Affiliate Exam class.  Students must take a trial class to determine appropriate class placement in the Young Dancer level and above

All classes feature live piano accompaniment and are taught by experienced ABT-Certified Teachers.

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