Bronx Dance Academy School

3617 BAINBRIDGE AVENUE
BRONX NY 10467 Map
Phone: (718) 515-0410
Admissions: District 10
Wheelchair accessible
unzoned
selective
Noteworthy
Principal: Sandra Sanchez
Neighborhood: Norwood
District: 10
Grade range: 06 thru 08
Parent coordinator: MICHAEL JAMES

What's special:

Professional dance instruction in tap, ballet and modern dance.

The downside:

Dance classes have 60 students.

The InsideStats

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Our review

Bronx Dance Academy has long offered students the chance to study classical ballet and modern dance with professional dancers. Now, the academics are stronger: teachers say it's no long a dance school with some academics. Instead it's an academic school with both a dance program and an art program. Test scores, while still low, have improved substantially, and the Department of Education awarded Bronx Dance Academy an "A" for the academic progress its students made in 2007. Only 20% of students met state standards on the English test in 2004; by 2007, that number had increased to 42%. In math, only 20% met state standards in 2004; by 2008, it had increased to 45%.

All 6th graders study dance in place of their regular physical education classes. Then, in 7th grade, they choose dance or art as a major, which they study four times a week for 90 minutes. Seventh graders learn tap along with ballet and modern dance. Children who choose art continue to take dance as their physical education class.

Four professional dance teachers teach no-nonsense classical dance instruction. Girls (who make up 85% of the student body) must pull their hair into a bun, wear tights, and a leotard; boys wear sweatpants and a T-shirt. Students seem at ease with ballet terms such as: "5th position... echappé ...relevé ...sissonne." Unfortunately, there are 60 students in a class, the contractual limit for physical education classes, according to the dance teachers. The leotard, ballet slippers, and tights are part of the school uniform and can be purchased at a discount at the school. Students perform twice a year, and some receive scholarships to Ballet Hispanico and Erin Mosley Institute of the Arts.

Students who choose the art program draw fashion designs, use pastels, watercolors, and paint. There is also a ceramics kiln. Students present an art gallery twice per year. Once a month, an artist from Pentacle, a performing arts organization, visits the school to work with teachers and students.

The Bronx Dance Academy, one block from the 4 train on a desolate street next to a large cemetery, is a tiny, clean, colorful school. Although few classrooms have windows, the rooms are spacious and well-organized. Classrooms have tables instead of desks and every room has a Smartboard (a white board attached to the Internet) and a large class library. Lessons appeared creative and fun. In one 6th grade math class, students chose a recipe and then were told that the party size increased and they needed 2 ½ times more baked goods. At the end of their computations, students wrote lengthy responses of how they completed the task. We also saw bulletin boards where students wrote in a Dear Diary form, a play script, and the traditional 5-paragraph essays. Final draft essays had good use of punctuation and spelling, but also showed the varying degrees of expertise in one class. Some 6th grade essays were short, while others filled two pages with eloquent sentence including the words "blissful," "passive," "indignant," and "lifelessness."

Some graduates go on to Talented Unlimited, the Manhattan performing arts school. Others go to Fordham High School of the Arts (modeled after Talent Unlimited, in the Theodore Roosevelt complex), John F. Kennedy High School, or Wings Academy (which has a good dance program), according to the Department of Education school report card.

Special education: The school offers Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT), classes with two teachers, in which children with special needs and children who do not have special needs learn alongside each other, and self-contained classes for special education students only.

After school: Tutoring and test-prep is available after school. Track is offered on Fridays, and a few students study guitar twice a week.

Admission: The school usually receives 600 applications for 60 seats. No dance experience is required. Applicants compete in a two-part audition, in which dance teachers scrutinize students' flexibility, tone and stamina. Those who qualify in the audition are called back for an interview before a teacher-student panel. One class of honor students must be accepted each year and applicants must provide a recommendation from a guidance counselor. (Vanessa Witenko, February 2008)

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