Berkeley City Ballet

Community Subscriber
Berkeley, CA
Has Openings
Toddlers, Preschoolers, Kinder, School-Aged, Preteens, Teens, Young Adults, Adults
38 participants

Established in 1974 as a non-profit, Berkeley City Ballet remains a consistent and enduring part of the city of Berkeley.
Located in a family neighborhood close to downtown, UC Berkeley, Bart, and bus lines.
Offerring classes for students in Ballet, Jazz, and Contemporary for students two years and up. Plus, Dance Camps and Ballerina Birthday Parties. Easy online registration, payment, street parking and free trial class. Registration is ongoing and will pro-rate.


Parent Reviews

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Archived Reviews: 

Ballet at Shawl Anderson and Berkeley City Ballet

May 2015

Up to this year my daughter attended Berkeley Ballet Theater twice per week for a few years, was in the Nutcracker etc.  She was quite happy there, but for scheduling reasons, she can no longer attend.  We are not hoping that she will be a professional ballerina, but she did like the fairly serious (though not stress-inducing) instruction and the clear track that advances year by year.  Can anyone compare the experience of doing level 2 or level 3 ballet at Shawl Anderson?  Or at Berkeley City Ballet?  My daughter would like to continue dance training.

Dance Mom

I can only speak on behalf of Berkeley City Ballet, but it sounds like it could be a good fit for your daughter. It's a very warm, nurturing environment but with a serious focus on ballet. Classes are purposefully kept small and the training is excellent. There are also performance opportunities like Nutcracker and their Spring Performance which is coming up soon if you want to check it out. Erin O

My daughter danced at Berkeley City Ballet for 11 years and my niece is currently dancing there. I am also familiar with Shawl Anderson through my own experience taking class there and my daughter's experience. Bottom line: we are blessed to have so much great dance instruction in this area! BCB is more similar to, although a much smaller program than BBT. BCB provides very personal attention to each dancer and provides the opportunity to perform in three shows throughout the year. One of these, the annual Nutcracker, is a very high caliber production and a fabulous experience for ballet students at all levels. My daughter certainly received excellent training at BCB and they also supported her as a serious high school student. When it came time to apply to college, she was able to look at selective schools that had terrific ballet programs. She continues to dance and can thank all her years at BCB for giving her the foundation to do that. Shawl Anderson is also a great studio, with talented teachers and dancers. I do not know if they have a pre-professional track that gives students as many opportunities to advance together as a class or perform. You may want to check on that. A.R

Berkeley City Ballet VS. Berkeley Ballet Theatre

Sept 2014

I am searching for a reputable ballet school for my 4.5 year old daughter to take classes either after school or on the weekends. She has been asking for it for a long time.  She is a student at EBI and I don't think there are any ballet classes in spanish around here (If there are, please let me know!) So,.... I'd love to know what your vote is: Berkeley City Ballet VS. Berkeley Ballet Theatre? Why? mama

I am responding to your question about Berkeley City Ballet vs. Berkeley Ballet Theatre. I am a former dancer (full disclosure: I was among the first group of dancers to start at Berkeley City Ballet many years ago and taught ballet classes at BCB for a few years) and my daughter danced at Berkeley City Ballet for the last 11 years. After watching Berkeley High School's Dance Production, where advanced dancers from both studios perform, it is clear that both BCB and BBT turn out wonderful dancers, But they are different studios. The BCB pre-professional ballet classes are smaller and there are fewer of them: the training is personalized and excellent because of this. Each year, students at BCB get the opportunity to perform at least three times: in a very professional production of the Nutcracker; in a Spring Concert; and in a summer production. Recently, BCB opened its Dance Center and now offers a variety of open classes in modern, jazz and ballroom. Another feature about the culture at BCB is that it supports dancers that are both very serious about their dance training and serious about their academics. My daughter, who just started her freshman year at Harvard and is one of the new members of the Harvard Ballet Company, was able to balance both during her 4 years of high school. This is not easy of course, but at least dancers are given the opportunity to try. If your child becomes interested in studying ballet long term, this may be something to consider. Of course, there are also students who pursue only dance after BCB. My impression is that they are well prepared for their auditions and dance company life. We are very happy with the experience our daughter had at BCB. It clearly shaped her as a dancer and gave her critical skills to explore the world of college and beyond. Amy R

That's great your daughter wants to start ballet. It has so many benefits. Since she is just beginning, I would choose based on what is most convenient to you. I only have experience with Berkeley City Ballet having taught there in the past. I know the school strives to provide lots of individual attention and is very supportive of the students as they grow - they keep the classes small (10 in pre-ballet), have a performance at the end of the year for the little ones, and the teachers have been there a long time. If your daughter decides to continue more seriously, they have a reputation for being really strong at ballet training at the pre-professional level - but that's a long ways off! EO

Oct 2013

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

You might speak to Elizabeth Godfrey, the artistic director at Berkeley City Ballet. This is a small nonprofit school and Elizabeth does a good job of organizing the classes around the kids who are there at a given time. Last year there were four boys in about the 8-9 year range and they had a class just for them, and the one that had been there the longest also took some classes with the girls closer to his level. I heard that one boy has since left for SF Ballet and I don't know how classes are working for the remaining three. Good luck! ballet mom

Jan 2010

Re: Which Berkeley ballet school for 4-y-o?
We love the Berkeley City Ballet. Our 7-year old daughter has been going since she was barely 5. Its been a wonderful experience for her and has impacted her taste in music and her self-esteem wonderfully. She really enjoys it. joanna

Jan 2010

Re: Which Berkeley ballet school for 4-y-o?
My 9 year old daughter is in her fourth year of attendance at Berkeley City Ballet. She spent the first three in pre-ballet, where the youngest children explore creative movement and ballet fundamentals. The environment created here is very fun and playful for them while they learn control and comfortability of their bodies. In ballet one and beyond, the program becomes more disciplined and focused with a very safe and healthy approach. I have been impressed with the professionalism and dedication of the director Elizabeth and also love that they are a non-profit school. Though they do not have an adult company, the higher level students are BEAUTIFUL and WELL-TRAINED performers. They also partner with renowned companies in their Nutcracker and Spring performances. Like all good dance schools, the parents do not watch the classes but are able to attend the last class of the semester to observe their child's progress. As a mother with a dance background, I proudly support and recommend this ballet school. Andrea

Jan 2010

Re: Which Berkeley ballet school for 4-y-o?
I spent a lot of time investigating the different ballet schools in the Easy Bay for my 9-year-old daughter and chose Berkeley City Ballet. I viewed classes at the different schools, met with the directors and spoke with the students. I have been thrilled with BCB the program and can't say enough about the combination of world-class instruction and close-knit camaraderie. Unlike many pre-professional ballet programs, these girls work hard but treat each other like family rather than competition.

The school is the perfect size - students get individual attention, parents get to know each other and the standards are very high. The program even offers a month-long summer camp for the pre-professional classes to give them their first experience with ballet intensives. My daughter is loving the program and enjoyed performing in her first BCB Nutcracker over the holidays. I was blown away by the talent of the older students and very impressed with the production staged by artistic director Elizabeth Godfrey.

BCB is a place where I know my daughter will receive top notch training in a positive, supportive environment. I encourage you to explore BCB and see for yourself! jodi

Jan 2010

Re: Which Berkeley ballet school for 4-y-o?
My daughter has been a student at the Berkeley City Ballet for 6 years now and I am very impressed with the training she receives. Before enrolling her, I looked carefully at all our choices in the area--including San Francisco Ballet across the Bay. I am a former ballet dancer and understand the need for discipline and high standards. But I also know that not all ballet studios provide a supportive atmosphere for girls growing into dancers (and teenagers). The director of BCB, Elizabeth Godfrey, has found a way to both give excellent training and nurture a healthy environment. The best showcase for this company is their annual Nutcracker Ballet which is a very professional, well rehearsed production. This year the most advanced girls performed all of the major roles. THey all did an impressive job and it was inspiring for the younger students to see what years of hard work can lead to. Even if a student does not end up as professional dancer, the ballet training will inform their sense of aesthetic, their work ethic, and their confidence in their bodies and strength for the rest of their lives. My daughter, at age 13, goes 5 days a week now (6 during Nutcracker rehearsals!) and she loves it. As her mother, I feel lucky that she has found a passion that requires so much hard work but rewards that will stay with her for a lifetime. Amy

Jan 2010

Re: Which Berkeley ballet school for 4-y-o?
My daughter who is a senior at BHS has been going to Berkeley City Ballet since she was six and loves it. The teachers are professional and caring. Elizabeth Godfrey, the director, instills a sense of order and discipline into the students while creating a nurturing community of dancers. The kids start participating in the annual performance of the Nutcracker, the highlight of the year, once they reach Ballet 1 as Ginger Snaps and work their way up through the party scenes (mouse, soldier, Clara, Fritz and other party kids.) Then they start dancing in the second act dances, such as Chinese, Arabian, etc. Once they're proficient in pointe shoes, they start dancing in Snow, Flowers, etc. All the dancers have a ton of fun! Several graduates of the school have gone on to dance at professional companies and study dance at conservatory/college levels. My daughter will study classical ballet at Butler U. or U. of Utah, both highly regarded programs. I would recommend BCB to any prospective student! ballet mom

Oct 2009

Re: Ballet instruction for 9 year old girl
My daughter has been going to Berkeley City Ballet since she was six-years-old and loves it. She is a senior at BHS, and has already been accepted to Butler University's ballet program, one of the very few college-level classical ballet programs in the country.

The biggest event for the studio is their annual Nutcracker performance, which is usually at the Zellarbach Play House. This year they are performing on 12/19 and 12/20 at Ohlone College due to scheduling mix up by Zellarbach. Students begin performing in the ballet as mice and move on to perform in the Act Two parts once they are introduced to pointe.

I've heard of other school hurrying to get girls into pointe shoes, but the director is adamant about making sure that students' feet are fully ready for the shoes to minimize the chance of injury to their feet. (Feet are very important!) Kids are are given instructions to do their own hair, sew their own shoes (elastic, ribbons, etc.), and do their own stage make-up. In short, the school teaches their ballerinas to be self-sufficient and responsible for themselves.

Like any organization BCB has had its share of internal issues, but the studio has provided a real learning place as well as a second ''home'' for my daughter. I would recommend Berkeley City Ballet highly to anyone considering taking up ballet. Yuko F.

Oct 2009

Re: Ballet instruction for 9 year old girl
My 12 year old daughter is in the intermediate ballet class at Berkeley City Ballet and loves it! They have a pre-professional track (which my daughter is not in), but added classes last year for kids who just enjoy dancing and want to take classes. Because these classes are relatively new, they aren't very full yet. It's a good program - you should check it out! Sara

Oct 2009

Re: Ballet instruction for 9 year old girl
I am writing as a parent and an ex-ballet dancer to tell you about how terrific Berkeley City Ballet is and how much this company means to my daughter and our family. I was one of the original dancers in BCB when is was formed more than 30 years ago and I danced in the first productions of their Nutcracker. When my 7 year-old daughter expressed interest in ballet, I took her there to take class. What immediately impressed me was the way Elizabeth Godfrey, the Artistic Director, both supported the kids but also let them know she had high expectations for them. I felt this was still a serious and healthy place for a child to develop the technique that could either lead to a professional career or a strong foundation in dance.

Now at 13 years old, my daughter has fallen in love with BCB and ballet. She is rehearsing now to perform in her 6th Nutcracker this December and is as committed as ever. She had the opportunity to perform as Clara a few years ago and the role transformed her. Not only did I see technical improvement, but emotional growth as well. And, this is true of all the girls who have the opportunity to perform each year in the Nutcracker. This is a unique opportunity to perform side by side with professionals in a high quality production. The sets and costumes are lovely and the dancers are well rehearsed. Dancing in a ballet of this caliber is life changing for all these young girls and teenagers. And much of this is due to the personal attention that Ms. Godfrey gives to their dancing and all the production details. After seeing the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker this year, I can actually say that BCB''s Act I was as good if not better.

What is particularly impressive about BCB is how the value of teamwork is instilled in these dancers. Ballet is a highly individualistic and competitive art form and yet productions are not successful unless the company members work together. The corps de ballet must look like one body, moving together, for the right effect. My daughter's fast costume change from Act 1 to Act 2 will only work if an experienced girl helps her get from one dress into another. Older girls are encouraged to help younger girls--allowing the group to reach its maximum potential.

For us, Berkeley City Ballet is now a family affair: my husband also performs each year in the Nutcracker as a party guest. I will also perform this year as Clara's mom. It is lovely that this company that played such an important role in my childhood is now so central in my family life.

BCB also offers classes for dancers who just want to do it recreationally. Watch any of the big dance shows--''So You Think You Can Dance'' or ''Dancing With the Stars'' and the Judges are always saying that ballet training is at the foundation of any good technique.

American culture is not always attentive to what it takes to support and nurture the arts. Companies like BCB keeps training these young dancers and produces high quality productions like the Nutcracker. But, unlike a large ballet school like San Francisco Ballet, this company accomplishes its goals in a much more supportive and healthy environment. Despite the hard work, the girls really enjoy their time there. BCB is an asset not only to the girls and families that participate in their program, but to the entire community. Amy

Oct 2009

Re: Berkeley area ballet school?
My fourth-grade daughter is at Berkeley City Ballet. I recommend their program very highly. The students, teachers, and parents are a very close-knit and supportive group. It's been wonderful for my daughter to have this group of friends outside of school. Ballet was my daughter's idea and I'm not very knowledgeable about it (although I'm learning), but it appears to me that the quality of instruction at BCB is very high. The older students go to prestigious summer and college programs, and I've certainly seen my daughter learn and improve over the three years she's been there. The performances, particularly the Nutcracker, are very professional and tremendously fun for the students, who get to perform multiple roles alongside professional dancers. I'm impressed with how the artistic director shapes the performances to ensure the students have challenging roles. You might consider checking the Nutcracker out to get a feel for the school. This year many of the lead roles, like the Sugar Plum Fairy, are being performed by students. It's at Ohlone College in Fremont,

One last thing -- the summer workshop at BCB is, for my kid, one of the best things that's ever happened. She went for the first time this year and had a total blast. In addition to dancing four or five hours a day with a variety of teachers in different styles, they studied some anatomy and learned to spell ballet terms.

I'm relatively new to BCB and I'm sure there are many parents who would be willing to speak with you, but feel free to contact me at trenakerathome [at] Teresa

Oct 2009

Re: Berkeley area ballet school?
I don't have any experience with Berkeley Ballet Theater, but I just posted a reply to another question about Berkeley City Ballet.

Berkeley City Ballet has been wonderful for my daughter who will be studying ballet in college. Not all students of the studio go on to study ballet in college, but all of them do great in school. I think it's partly a reflection of the high standards that the director sets for their students. The kids develop a wonderful sense of camaraderie and working together.

I highly recommend Berkeley City Ballet to anyone thinking of studying ballet, but a good way to get an idea about the school and even talk to some of the students is to attend the performance of the Nutcracker.

This year BCB will be performing The Nutcracker on 12/19 and 12/20 (both days at 1pm and 5pm) at Ohlone College. Yuko F.

Nov 2008

Re: Ballet for 4-y-o, not strict, not loosey goosey I'm not sure which ''Berkeley one'' you are talking about, but Berkeley City Ballet does not seem too intense or strict to my 4 year old AND it does lead into a serious program later on. Check it out if you haven't. anon

Nov 2008

Re: Ballet class for 3 year old
Try Berkeley City Ballet at Grant and Dwight. My daughter has been dancing there for about 10 years, and I can't say enough good things about them. You need to leave your phone number and wait for a call back since they don't have a full-time receptionist, but you can also get information online. It might be a small trek for you to come to Berkeley, but I think it's really worth it. Their yearly Nut Cracker performances are really stellar. This year they will be back at Zellerbach Little Theater. If you can attend the performance, that would be a good way to see what they're capable of doing. yuko

July 2008

Re: Ballet school in Berkeley for 2-year-old
My daughter has done several sessions of Dance With Me at Berkeley City Ballet. It is great! The classes are a good balance of learning ballet basics (1st, 2nd, 3rd position), plies, port de bras (arm stuff), with free movement (dance like an animal, make shapes with your body), and the children learn the stories of famous ballets and dance to their music. Now she is going on to pre-ballet, where your 5 year old would go. BCB also has adult beginner classes. You should definitely go check out a class. happy bcb parent

July 2008

Re: Best ballet company school
Berkeley City Ballet has been a great place for my daughter for the past 7 years. She has developed discipline and grace and had fun along the way. She will be getting her first toe shoes this fall. The teachers have been top notch professionals. Those students who choose to work toward making dance their profession seem to have no trouble moving in that direction. The nutcracker each year is very well done. The kids learn great skill and discipline. I can't say enough great things about BCB (and I will admit I am a bit of a ballet snob when it comes to quality) Love Ballet

Re: Dance classes for 7-year-old BOY (Feb 2005)
Berkeley Ballet used to have some boys only classes and they used to offer very generous scholarships to boys too. retired dancer

Re: Pre_Ballet for 4.5 yr old (Dec 2002)
We love Berkeley City Ballet. It is great for both boys and girls.


My fiveyearold daughter just started preballet classes at Berkeley City Ballet on Dwight and loves it. This would be a good class for a child who may want to continue with ballet classes (or any other kind of dance). It's a serious studio that offers good training for older students, as well as little ones. The atmosphere in the preballet class is cheery and unintimidating. The students move across the floor, earn to line up and stand at the barre, play imaginative movement games. Even the preballet students must wear the studio uniform: black leotard with pink tights and shoes. One possible word of caution: My daughter likes her current teacher, who will be there at least through the semester, but there has been some recent turnover with the preballet instructors. We also checked out Oakland Ballet, where the preballet class has a big focus on actual dance movement, though in a relaxed, inclusive way (the kids' outfits there ranged from leopardprint unitards to tutus with sparkles). Because this was my daughter's first exposure to the basic ballet steps, she ended up feeling as if she was in a bit over her head, but the teacher/director seems great with young children. (Unlike BCB, this class had boys as well as girls.)

22 Apr 1996

I see that no one has yet mentioned Berkeley City Ballet on Dwight. They have Pre-ballet dance classes (though I'm not sure how young they accept). If you call (841-8913), they'll send you a flyer with all their classes listed, the ages recommended for those classes, and the cost.

As a comparison measure, I know that the monthly cost for a Ballet Basics course (1 time per week, 1 hour each time) is $44. Classes are ongoing, and you can enroll at any time.