Berkeley Ballet Theater

Berkeley, CA
Kinder, School-Aged, Preteens, Teens

Parent Reviews

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My daughter is 3.5 and currently takes ballet at Berkeley Ballet Theatre and we love it. We started at Tutu School Montclair at 18mo old. Tutu School is closer to you, but if you are looking for something more structured, I would suggest skipping Tutu School and checking out Berkeley Ballet Theatre or Van Der Zwaan Studio in Berkeley. Both are great and offer classes starting at 3yrs. 

Most schools have participation in dance recitals as "optional" but when 90% of the regular class time is spent on rehearing the recital dance it feels like they must participate.  So I would look for schools where class time is spent learning to dance, not learning one dance.   At Berkeley Ballet Theater where my child is a student, participation in recitals IS optional.  You can not participate in the Nutcracker or Spring recitals without noticing a difference- class is still the same and did not include preparation for the recitals at my child's level (cannot speak for others).  If you do choose to participate in the recital, you need to pay a recital fee (I think about 150) but it includes about 8 additional rehearsals on the weekends (tasteful costumes are provided for the show but not yours to keep).  There are also several dress rehearsals the week of the shows and a charge for tickets for recitals.  So they are not less time or money at all, but something you can forgo knowing that your child is still getting excellent ballet instruction.  Another great thing about BBT rehearsals and recitals is that they start and end exactly on time, are a very reasonable length of time, and demonstrate high quality dancing.  Having sat through many dance recitals at multiple places, this is something I really appreciate!  Hopefully you'll hear from others who can speak about other non-ballet experiences, but if you are looking for ballet instruction I really recommend BBT.  

I just signed my 3yo for the "We Dance Together" summer session at the Berkeley Ballet Theater.  First class this Friday so I can't tell you how we like yet, but may be an option to consider?

Berkeley Ballet Theater. They offer a solid foundation in ballet and modern dance. Although most of their graduates go to college (my daughter and her friends are at Columbia, Harvey Mudd, Boston University, and other elite schools), the training is of high enough caliber that some go on to professional dance careers. In addition, they encourage all to dance, even if they don’t conform to the traditional ballerina body shape. My daughter started there at the age of 7. We moved to the Bay Area, and initially enrolled her at a different ballet school. After one semester at the other school, she was no longer interested in dance, but a single class at BBT was enough to change her mind. 

Have you contacted Berkeley Ballet Theater ( ? They don't have an introductory class specifically for older kids, but they will place your daughter in a suitable class. If she's interested and motivated she will eventually be able to catch up with her age peers.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Oct 2013

RE: Ballet Class for 7-year-old boy?

Have you checked out Berkeley Ballet Theater? There are several boys enrolled at the school--I don't know their exact ages, but there is a special boys' class in addition to the regular classes with the girls: Edna

Jan 2010

Re: Which Berkeley ballet school for 4-y-o?
My daughter is finishing her third year at Berkeley Ballet Theater, and we think it's a wonderful school. This is her third ballet school: she started lessons in San Diego, then we tried one school up here that we did not like. (Note: we did not go through pre-ballet at BBT, so this review is based on our experience beginning with Level 3).

BBT takes very good care of their students. At the end of each school year, they have a parent-teacher-student conference, where they discuss the progress your child has made throughout the year, and what he/she needs to work on. The teachers are warm and caring, but also very well trained; my daughter's current teachers performed with the San Francisco Ballet and the American Ballet Theater. In addition to the dance training, she also has the opportunity to learn about related topics, such as anatomy and nutrition.

Beginning with Level 1, the students can all participate in the Nutcracker and the Spring Performance. Pre-ballet students have their own spring show. In addition, older students can sign up for optional performance workshops and modern dance.

I highly recommend BBT to anyone interested in ballet at any level! EH

Oct 2009

Re: Berkeley area ballet school?
My daughter is starting her third year at Berkeley Ballet Theater (she previously studied in San Diego). We have been very pleased with the quality of the instruction, and also with how each class is taught at an age-appropriate level. (The youngest children learn about how much fun dance can be, while the older students work very hard.) At the end of the year, a parent-teacher conference is scheduled to evaluate each student's progress.

The only drawback I can see to their program is a lack of flexibility for the casual dancer. While adults can take as many or as few classes as they like, the kids are locked into an increasingly time-consuming program. My ten-year-old takes three classes per week (5.5 hours total), and the time (and $$) committment will only increase as she advances. Edna

Oct 2009

Re: Berkeley area ballet school?
You didn't mention how old your child is, but either way would suggest observing same-age class at the schools you're interested in. My now teenager started at Danspace at age 7. Is now 14 and just finished a year at Berkeley Ballet Theater. Danspace is very developmentally appropriate and has a variety of movement classes. My child is not interested in pursuing ballet professionally but really liked the technique training she received at BBT. They are very different in approach and disciplines so I'd recommend you observe and age-appropriate class at each school you're interested in. Anon.

Feb 2009

Re: Ballet for 7-year-old beginner
We found the Berkeley Ballet at the Julia Morgan Theater to be much, much too serious when our 5 year old took classes there. Girls were scolded for not having their hair pulled into a ''proper'' ballet bun, and they dictate the style and color of the leotard and accessories. While we understand they are training girls to become ballerinas, we thought the discipline imposed on the beginners class sapped all the fun out of it for our daughter. not a ballet dad

Feb 2009

Re: Ballet for 7-year-old beginner
We have been happy with the pre-ballet program with the Berkeley Ballet Theater. It is more serious than other programs (there is a class uniform, must have a bun, etc.). However, my daughter loves it--and has asked for this after years of dancing at a more ''general'' studio.

July 2008

Re: Best ballet company school
To the families looking for top notch Ballet programs - look no further than Berkeley Ballet Theater! There are programs for 2 year olds through adults, from beginning to professional level. There are special workshops given in addition to regular classes given in Spring and Summer.

My daughter has been attending BBT for 10 years (since she was 4) and loves it, her program is now 5 days a week with an optional 6th day; one day of Modern and 4-5 of Ballet. BBT's Children's division graduates have been getting into some of the best dance college programs in the country including Julliard, SUNY Purchase, and Alvin Ailey/Fordham. The assistant director, Susan Weber, is a college counselor specializing in Dance and Theater majors. In the upper levels, the children's division students get to work with the founder, Sally Streets, who choreographs for Diablo Ballet, ODC and danced professionally with Oakland and NYCB. Her daughter, Kyra Nichols, just retired from NYCB.

The Children's division does two shows/year. Nutcracker has eight full performances, which generally sell out, also school shows and the Spring Show has four performances and school shows.

We Dance is a program for toddlers and a parent, Pre-Ballet is once a week for 4-7 year olds and has a show at the end of the year. Adult classes are given in Ballet Fundamentals, Beginning ballet, Beg-int ballet, Pointe, Pilates, and advanced ballet, which is attended by professionals, college students and advanced children's division alike. There is also a newly formed Men's ballet class.

The Adults also have their own show in the spring, optional of course, but well attended and inspiring. Clara

Re: Ballet lessons for 5-year-old (Feb. 2004)
Last year when my daughter was 5 years old, I looked into Berkeley Ballet Theater's pre-ballet class and was able to observe it for several weeks becuase there was a confusion about my daughter's enrollment. This was what I saw -- the teacher danced/modeled in front of the class and verbally corrected students' arm/leg position and movement without showing individual kids how to do it right; the young assistant only danced with the kids and didn't play any role in helping them or showing them what they did right or wrong; and the atmosphere of the class, I felt, was quite cold. However, all the kids seemed to enjoy the class anyways, including one of the kids who was constantly told, ''Your arms are too high!'' ''Watch your position!'' etc., as she came out of the class and told her mother she had a good time dancing.

Re: Adult Ballet Classes (October 2002)
I highly recommend Berkeley Ballet Theatre. I've been taking classes there on and off for about 9 years. The teacher I've had most consistantly is Deborah Moss. She's great! She explains the exercises, takes time to really correct you etc. She's also really nice and funny.

I've stayed in the beginning class. People's levels are pretty varied, from real beginners to advanced, but starting back slowly, or recovering from injuries. There is an intro class, but if you have some prior training, beginning is probably for you. Last I checked there were classes Monday and Wednesday at 7:30-9:00 and Saturdays at noon.

There's another teacher, Kathleen Juba who also teaches, but I'm not sure of her schedule. They have a website, and the link for the adult classes is: Good luck! Mollie

Re: Adult Ballet Classes (October 2002)
I've taken the adult classes at Berkeley Ballet Theater for several years and really enjoy them. The adult classes are definitely diverse so you won't feel out of place there. I take the intermediate classes on Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30. I really love that teacher. She is a beautiful dancer as well as great at giving corrections. It's hard to find a teacher that puts that much effort into her adult students. She also teaches a beginning/intermediate class on Saturdays at 12:00 that I go to. I prefer this class over the 10:00 intermediate because it is way less crowded and it is slower so it gives me a chance to focus on improving my technique. I've also taken the Saturday and Sunday intermediate classes at Shawl-Anderson. These are great classes also but the instructors don't give any corrections which on the plus side means more dancing time but you don't tend to improve your technique.

Feel free to contact me if you want to talk more about it or if you want a dance buddy. I know how intimidating it can be to get back into dancing. I just started up myself after about 1 1/2 years of not dancing. This included the pregnancy and birth of my baby so my dancer figure is history as well! Diana