Programs of Study

Our highly experienced Colburn Dance Academy faculty has developed a well-rounded curriculum that covers everything from ballet to contemporary and urban movement. Classes follow the standard academic calendar (late August through early June) and take place in the mornings and early afternoons, Monday through Saturday. Students must participate in all aspects of the curriculum.

Primary Ballet

All our primary ballet classes have live piano accompaniment. Students must wear the Colburn Dance Academy uniform for each class: women wear black leotard, pink tights, and pink ballet slippers or pointe shoes;  men wear black tights, white T-shirt, and white ballet slippers.

This course focuses on the precision and efficiency of movement that’s core to technique in the style developed by George Balanchine. All dance students participate in one 90-minute class, five days per week. Female dancers must wear pointe shoes.

In this class, female students do strengthening and balance exercises at the barre. Faculty members coach dancers through combinations in preparation to achieving the en pointe ballet movement that, when mastered, appears quick, graceful, and effortless. The 60-minute classes are scheduled two days per week.

Male students work on jumps, beats, and turns–everything necessary to develop the power and physicality specific to male dancing. The 60-minute classes are scheduled on the same two days per week as the Pointe classes.

Colburn Dance Academy instructors challenge students to elevate their physical training into art through choreography. Dancers learn solos from iconic ballets, legendary Balanchine ballets, and other major works. We also invite professional choreographers to teach portions of their current works, so students become familiar with contemporary pieces. The 60-minute class is scheduled one day a week.

All students attend this class to practice dancing with partners. Male dancers learn to support their female partners in balances, turns, lifts, and jumps. Female students fine-tune body positions and correct techniques essential to dancing as a pair. Together, students develop a sense of collaboration and musical timing, and how to deliver an elegant performance. The 60-minute class is scheduled one day per week.

This mandatory class elevates students’ skills in solos, partner dances, and full ensembles. Dancers develop a stronger sense of spatial relationships as well as cooperation and coordination with multiple dancers. Our faculty, which consists of highly acclaimed professional dancers and accomplished teachers, prepares students for performances of established works and new choreography.

Extension Dance Classes

These classes focus on various dance forms, and are offered as special, multi-week courses.

Through our affiliation with the LA Dance Project, the Colburn Dance Academy offers contemporary dance instruction from some of Los Angeles’ top artists and teachers, including the LA Dance Project’s rehearsal director. Students learn traditional modern dance techniques, such as those developed by Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham, and newer movement vocabulary created by other established choreographers. Dancers will be able to observe and participate in the creative process of developing new pieces for the LA Dance Project.

This course is conceived and taught by celebrated dancer Melinda Sullivan, a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance. It incorporates elements of tap to teach rhythm, musicality, and weight shifting. Students wear hard-soled street shoes.

This class empowers dancers to interpret and relate to all types of choreography, from classical to contemporary. Many refer to urban movement and street dancing as the current generation’s version of character dancing, which informed much of the choreography in the past.

Enrichment Classes

As an active member of the Los Angeles performing arts community, the Colburn Dance Academy continues to build and strengthen relationships with other institutions and companies in the city, including major theatres and performing venues. These connections allow us to create broad exposure to dance, music, and other art forms. Students benefit from the access to premier performances and the artists creating them.

A dancer’s body must be carefully cared for and nurtured. This course features subject-matter experts and certified instructors with knowledge of dance training. Students learn techniques to stay physically and emotionally healthy. Classes include regular instruction on strengthening, stretching, yoga, and Pilates. Lecture topics include nutrition and healthy eating habits, stress management, and career development. Additionally, we bring in a physical therapist and sports medicine doctor who work with dancers on regular body maintenance and advise students on injury prevention. Students meet the first and third Thursdays of each month.

At Colburn, we believe students benefit from a broad education in the arts. In that spirit, Colburn Dance Academy members tour museums from throughout Los Angeles once a month. A museum educator provides a lecture and analysis of particular works. The Colburn faculty then prompt students to utilize the artworks as inspiration for their dance studies. Trips take place every fourth Thursday of the month.

Multiple students at similar skill levels attend one-hour group classes to learn how to play the piano.

Drama classes allow dancers to find a new way to express their artistic personalities. Our highly experienced drama faculty assists students in their exploration of this new world or creativity. This class can help build  improved communication and observation skills, and deepen analytical abilities–tools that can be helpful in life everyday.

Students participate in as many as two Colburn School performances as well as a variety of regular lecture demonstration opportunities.

There are numerous possibilities for Colburn Dance Academy students to collaborate with professional dancers and choreographers, including our acclaimed faculty, the L.A. Dance Project, and visiting performers. Dance students also join Colburn School music students to work together through coordinated curriculum, composition, and performances.

This program builds knowledge in areas outside dance to provide a richer understanding and inspire different interpretations of an art form. This program identifies a main theme from dance and then pulls in elements of other art forms that have influenced the theme. In addition to our knowledgeable faculty, experts from the industry may be invited to supply various perspectives.

Another key element is making sure students gain a comprehensive knowledge of all artistic and cultural elements surrounding a ballet. Studies review the choreographer’s influence, composer and music, cultural and social influences and how the dance reflects those attitudes. Plus, students look at how a ballet may influence other works. This broader examination empowers dancers to bring a deeper meaning to their performances.