The Rock School takes pride in offering world-class dance education. Our goal is not only to prepare our students to dance professionally, but also to use the discipline and work ethic required in dance training to build success in all areas of their lives. The School instills these values in a nurturing, supportive environment, encouraging students to pursue their dreams. The Rock School offers dance classes to over 1,200 students annually from ages 3 and up. Classes are taught six days a week throughout the school year with a focus on classical ballet. This year our full-time students hail from the United States, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Panama, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Each year the School draws 1,500 students to its Summer Ballet Intensive auditions. 449 students attended The Rock School’s 2016 Summer Ballet Intensive program, which brings talented young dancers from and the country and the world to train with outstanding guest artists and perform for the Philadelphia community. The strength of our faculty, range, of our programs, and success of our students in major international competitions and leading ballet companies captures attention of the best young talent worldwide. We consistently see a significant increase in the level of students coming to The Rock School. The accomplishments of our professional-track students attract other gifted students to raise the “barre” in dance classes. This brings out the best in all of our young dancers and the results are extraordinary.
Performing is an essential aspect of The Rock School’s training program. All Rock School students have opportunities to perform in our annual student Showcase in June at the Merriam Theater and in Nutcracker 1776, the School’s energetic, full-scale ballet production, which features vibrant scenery, stunning costumes, brilliant lighting and special effects, original choreography, and dynamic dancing by all of our students from pre-ballet through our professional-track dancers. Rock School Summer Ballet Intensive students have the opportunity to perform for an audience of 8,000 at the Mann Center for Performing Arts in July. Many Rock School dancers also elect to compete in national and international ballet competitions throughout the year, winning prestigious awards and scholarships; Rock School dancers have won more gold and silver awards at Youth America Grand Prix than any other school in the country.
The Rock School will provide over $900,000, or approximately 15% of its annual budget, in scholarships and tuition discounts to its students this year. This includes full scholarships for approximately 30 students from low-income families who participate in the RockReach City Dance program.
Like Olympic athletes, the most dedicated and talented dance students require an intensive, time-consuming training program to fulfill their potential. Despite their focus, the combined schedules of training and traditional academics are difficult and put dancers at risk of abandoning their formal education. To meet this challenge, The Rock School developed the Rock Academics program, a cutting-edge technology-based college preparatory academic program for grades 7-12 designed for students enrolled in The Rock School’s year-round professional-track program. Rock Academics partners with the Keystone School, Commonwealth Connections Academy, 21st Century Cyber Charter School, and the Dwight School, as well as offer ESL and Post-Secondary Guidance. There are 44 students in the Rock Academics program for the 2016-2017 school year. All Rock Academic students are required to apply to college and several were accepted to prestigious colleges and universities, including: Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Indiana, and NYU.
The Rock Residency program offers room and board for 40 students in a fully equipped, modern and secure dormitory located directly across the street from The Rock School’s Philadelphia location. The Rock School’s professional-track program attracts promising young students from around the world looking to immerse themselves in an all-encompassing, rigorous, ballet training program. The Rock Residency program provides a supportive, nurturing and safe environment, allowing talented students to dedicate themselves to their dance training at an early age. The Rock School’s Ballet Bistro, located on the 2nd floor of The Rock School, offers nutritious meals daily to Rock School students, faculty, staff, and parents.
What makes The Rock School unique?
The Rock School is the second largest dance organization in the Philadelphia region. Nation-wide, the School is one of only a handful of dance institutions that offer a Residency and Academic program, allowing young dancers to immerse themselves in an intensive training curriculum while earning a high school diploma. The Rock School remains extremely dedicated to improving and expanding the impact of its outreach program to underserved children in the community. The ongoing Residency classes that RockReach provides, in conjunction with interactive assembly performances by Rock School dancers, make this program truly unique- as does its scope, breadth and depth. While other arts organizations may offer classes and performances to underserved youth, the peer-to-peer aspect of RockReach has a lasting impact on children. RockReach offers an introduction to ballet and dance that many inner city children would not otherwise receive and seeing what Rock School dancers can accomplish at a young age inspires them to set goals for themselves.
At the urging of George Balanchine, the Pennsylvania Ballet School was established in 1963. Officially renamed The Rock School for Dance Education in 2006, it continues to offer the highest quality dance training for talented young artists from around the world, as well as an extensive dance and movement community outreach program that now annually reaches 26,000 underserved youth by providing arts and fitness activities to inner city schools. With annual enrollment exceeding 1,200 students at its Center City and suburban locations and a budget exceeding $6 million, The Rock School awards more than $900,000 in annual scholarships, maintains a year-round supervised residence program in Philadelphia, provides a cutting-edge academic program for grades 7-12, and offers extensive performance and competition opportunities. Our current Rock Academics students hail from 20 states and 8 countries. Our professional-track students are the future dance stars of tomorrow; Rock School dancers are in virtually every major dance company in the United States, Europe, and Asia, as well as in film and on Broadway. Our dancers are consistently ranked among the highest levels at Youth America Grand Prix, the largest ballet competition in the world, and at the World Ballet Competition. For an unprecedented eleven consecutive years, The Rock School was named “Outstanding School” at Youth America Grand Prix and was the only school asked to perform at the YAGP 15th Anniversary Gala in Lincoln Center, New York City.
The Rock School has gained a lot of attention, leading to its popularity in social media. The School and two of its dancers were highlighted in the award winning and widely distributed movie, “First Position,” a documentary about their participation in Youth America Grand Prix. Rock School alumna, Beckanne Sisk, was a star of the CW’s hit television show, “Breaking Pointe,” which followed the dancers of Ballet West. Rock School dancers were asked to audition and invited to appear on NBC’s hit television competition show, “America’s Got Talent,” where the judges voted unanimously to send them to the Las Vegas finals. Additionally, Rock School dancers were invited to perform at the Philadelphia 76er’s season opener against the Miami Heat. The Rock School has partnerships with the Curtis Institute of Music and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and performs regularly at The Mann center for Performing Arts, Longwood Gardens, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and for various Board of Trustees meetings and events.
The Rock School for Dance Education is one of the nation’s premier institutions for classical ballet and dance training, dedicated to enriching the lives of all students and preparing those who are especially gifted for careers as professional artists. Through its multi-faceted outreach program, RockReach, The Rock School is committed to making dance more accessible to local communities by leveling the playing field so that everyone has equal access to art.