About Ballet at HPSD

Hyde Park School of Dance was founded in 1993 as Hyde Park School of Ballet, and ballet still comprises the bulk of our programming, from foundation-building classes for our youngest dancers all the way up to pointe technique and partnering for advanced students. 
As Chicago's only ballet school headed by an RAD-certified instructor,* our teaching approach is based on the Royal Academy of Dance training method, which emphasizes careful attention to the instruction of the most rudimentary fundamentals, progressing carefully and deliberately from level to level so as to minimize potential for injury. RAD dance instructors are more concerned with ensuring their students perform their steps with consistently improving technique than performing increasingly difficult steps at a lower standard of safety and artistry.

When enough time is spent achieving optimal technique before introducing new vocabulary, it is easier for the student to learn more difficult steps while maintaining the ability to perform the basics at peak standards. 

Ballet For Little Ones

First Steps, Creative Movement, and Pre-Ballet

Dancers under the age of seven are introduced to our program through a series of basic movement classes rooted in ballet fundamentals, providing a solid foundation for expansion into any form of dance.

These age-appropriate classes are fun, playful, and carefully structured to maximize the enjoyment and personal growth of our littlest dancers. Accompanied by live pianists and instructed by dancers who are active in the world of professional ballet. 

Ballet classes for dancers up to age 7 begin with First Steps (for toddlers aged 18 - 36 months together with a parent or caregiver) and progress to Creative Movement (for 3 & 4 year-olds) before moving on to Pre-Ballet (for dancers aged 4-7).

Ballet For Dancers 7 to 18


Ballet I
Ages: 7 years and up
Class length: 60 minutes
Recommended class load: once a week

Ballet I is an introduction to ballet with an emphasis on posture and correct body placement.

Ballet II
Ages: 8 years and up
Class length: 60 minutes
Recommended class load: twice a week

In Ballet II, steps become more complex as students focus on the coordination of arm and leg movements.
Ballet III
Ages: 9 years and up
Class length: 90 minutes
Recommended class load: three times a week

Ballet III begins with a barre workout to build strength and flexibility through quick dance movements and demi-pointe work. After barre, students practice technique in the center, focusing on adagio, stamina in jumps, and pirouettes. From the center, students move into across-the-floor work, which combines the skills stressed in the beginning of class with turning and leaping exercises.

Ballet IV
Ages: 11 years and up
Class length: 90 minutes
Recommended class load: three to four times a week

Ballet IV begins with a 45-minute-long barre to further develop flexibility. Focus on intricate movement intensifies, as do strengthening exercises specifically designed to prepare students for pointe work.

Ballet V
Ages: 13 years and up
Class length: 90 minutes
Recommended class load: three to four times a week

In Ballet V, class begins with a 45-minute barre focused on flexibility and increasingly difficult movements. In Ballet V, the focus on pointe work increases. Students who have not passed their physical and written examinations for pointe readiness will prepare through demi-pointe work, and students who are en pointe will begin to spend more time on pointe work. 

Ballet VI
Ages: 14 years and up
Class length: 90 minutes
Recommended class load: four to five times a week

The syllabus for Ballet VI is built on increasing complexity, stamina, and memory and recall. In Ballet VI, pointe shoes may be worn for the duration of class with instructor permission.

Floor Barre
Ages: 10 years and up
Class length: 75 minutes

Combines basic ballet technique with principles and movements borrowed from yoga and Pilates. With its innovative approach to stretching, strengthening, and breathing, Floor Barre builds core strength and corrects body alignment and posture issues, helping students become attuned to their body's movements. Originally developed to prevent dancer injuries, this mat-based class uses nothing but the dancer's own body weight for resistance, resulting in a low-impact but highly effective workout. Wear comfortable clothing, and be prepared to work barefoot. 

Pointe Training at HPSD

To begin pointe training students must be physically mature. Most children are ready sometime between the ages of 10 and 12. Ultimately it is the instructor who decides whether a student is ready for pointe work. Most students need at least four years of serious ballet training before they are technically ready (pre-ballet is not considered part of this training). In addition, HPSD requires students to pass a written exam of ballet terminology. Students who graduate to pointe are required to take a minimum of three 90-minute technique classes a week in addition to their pointe class. Students interested in beginning pointe training for the first time may elect to be evaluated for consideration at the beginning of the academic year. Those who pass physical and written pointe readiness examinations may begin training en pointe.

Questions about going en pointe? Send them to admin@hydeparkdance.org!

Boys' Ballet

Athletic boys-only classes provide a supportive environment for our young male dancers to explore the fun of dance. Boys are also welcome in the rest of our classes, which are coed. 
Boys' Dance I
Ages: 6 to 9 years
Length: 45 minutes

Boys' Dance combines athletic dance movement, stretching, and basic to intermediate ballet technique in a fun and energetic atmosphere. Core-strengthening movement games encourage creative expression while instilling an awareness of beginner ballet positions. 

Boys' Dance II
Ages: 9 to 12 years
Length: 45 minutes

Boys' Dance II maintains the energetic format of Boys' Dance I while building on the skills taught in its prerequisite, zeroing in on more advanced technique and increasingly difficult ballet positions. 

Boys' Ballet III/IV
Ages: 9 years and up
Length: 60 minutes

Boys' Ballet III/IV is for the experienced dancer who has mastered the skills taught in Ballet II or higher. The class includes physical conditioning to teach young men how to properly use their muscular support and alignment in order to enhance their control, agility, and form. 

Ballet Instructors

*RAD certification pending