Bronx Dance Academy School
Professional dance instruction in ballet and modern dance.
Test scores rise and fall
Bronx Dance Academy has long offered students the chance to study classical ballet and modern dance with professional dancers. Children used to pick either dance or art after 6th grade but now the school offers two distinct programs from the start: Dance, or Visual Arts, which includes history, drawing, painting and fashion design.
Over the years the school has sought to strengthen the academics with mixed success. Test scores spiked in 2009, then fell, then rose, then fell again as the school saw an increase in numbers of students with special needs, and the learning goals and tests increased in difficulty.
Once the school had four professional dance teachers, now it has two, plus a drama teacher and a visual arts teacher. Dance is no-nonsense classical instruction. Girls (who make up close to 80 percent of the student body) must pull their hair into a bun, wear tights, and a leotard; boys wear sweatpants and a T-shirt. Online concert videos show girls in a wide variety of costumes including traditional pink tutus with leotards.
Students who choose the art program draw fashion designs, and use pastels, watercolors and paint. There is also a ceramics kiln. Students present an art gallery twice per year. Some teens report that students don't respect each other on school surveys, but the online videos of the elegantly produced school concerts show that they have fun learning how to dance. Students perform twice a year.
One block from the 4 train on a desolate street next to a large cemetery, the Academy is a tiny school. Although few classrooms have windows, the rooms themselves are spacious.
Over the years some graduates have gone on to Talented Unlimited, the Manhattan performing arts school. Others have gone to Fordham High School of the Arts (modeled after Talent Unlimited, in the Theodore Roosevelt complex) or Wings Academy.
Special education: The school offers Integrated co-Teaching (ICT) classes with two teachers, in which children with special needs and their general ed peers learn alongside each other, and self-contained classes for special education students only.
Admissions: Priority to students in districts 9 and 10. 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. Punctuality and a good record of attendance are considered. Over 1700 applied for the Dance program in 2013 for 74 seats: over 1300 applied for Visual Arts for 30 seats. (Vanessa Witenko, February 2008; Lydie Raschka, updated with school data, August 2014)