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Our Insights

What’s Special

First rate instruction in drama, dance and voice

The Downside

Some teachers grumble about boisterous behavior

The Professional Performing Arts School was founded in 1990 as a way to give aspiring actors, dancers, and singers the technical skills they need to become professional performers and the academic skills they need in whatever career they choose. Students receive first-rate training from professional studios and companies, including the Ailey School for dance, Rosie’s Theater Kids for musical theater, the National Chorale for voice and Waterwell for drama.

Graduates include singer Alicia Keys, Jesse Eisenberg (star of The Social Network), Justin Davis (HBO's "Boardwalk Empire) and Sarah Hyland ("Modern Family").

It's a small school where, it seems, no one gets lost. Principal Keith Ryan is a visible presence in the halls and classrooms. The school keeps tabs on students to make sure they do their homework and don’t skip school. Students are chosen mostly according to their artistic talent, with less weight given to grades and attendance, and there is a wide range of academic abilities in each class. Most students graduate on time and most are prepared to do college-level work.

Serving 565 children in grades 6 to 12, PPAS has a tiny middle school, with just 100 kids, about 32 each in grades 6, 7 and 8. All middle school students study drama, singing, and dancing in addition to taking a full academic load.

High school students have academic classes from 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., followed by two hours of their major: drama, vocal, dance or musical theater (which combines acting, dancing and singing). Acting and vocal are offered in the building, dancers travel to the Ailey School on West 55th Street, and musical theater majors go to Rosie’s Theater Kids a few blocks away. The school contracts with Waterwell, a professional theater company that produces original plays, to teach PPAS students acting. Some students study at the School of American Ballet or Julliard’s Pre-Collegiate program in classical instrumental or vocal music.

PPAS shares a building with a successful elementary school, Midtown West. The atmosphere is joyful if occasionally boisterous; class changes are lively. On the 2016-2017 School Quality Guide, some teachers grumbled that their colleagues do not help maintain discipline beyond their own classrooms. The principal said the staff is small and there is no dean to manage behavior, but pointed out that surveys show children feel safe in school. We do “let go of some of that disciplinary stuff,” he acknowledged and said it can take awhile for new teachers to “shift to the culture.” Even so, most teachers would recommend the school to other families.

The school has built in more academic rigor over the years and now offers a good selection of Advanced Placement classes. Children we spoke to were fired up about their studies; seniors showed off research projects on topics like sexual harassment and gentrification. We saw a moving monologue on gun control written by student.

A small percentage of students are already working in film, television or theater productions, both on and off Broadway. The school makes accommodations for them to ensure they keep up with their schoolwork but discourages teens leaving school for daytime auditions. The school is more than 70 percent female.

Special education: About 85 students have IEPs, but more than that take advantage of tutoring and extra help offered by community volunteers, peer tutors and special education teachers.

College admissions: A number of PPAS students continue their studies in the performing arts either in 4-year colleges or conservatory programs such as Julliard or Berklee College of Music. The majority heads to 4-year colleges. Top students have been admitted to Yale, Columbia, Oberlin, Carnegie-Mellon and the University of Michigan. One senior who already does commercial work was heading to Los Angeles and planned to get her business degree online, she said. (Lydie Raschka, May 2018; admissions update 2022)

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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From the 2022-2023 NYC School Survey

How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
81% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
52% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
78% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
77% Citywide Average

From the 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
1% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
79% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
42% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
51% Citywide Average

From the 2022-23 School Quality Guide

How many 8th-graders earn high school credit?
92% Citywide Average
How many students graduate in 4 years?
91% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From the 2022-23 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From the 2022-23 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
88% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
39% Citywide Average

From the 2020 School Directories

Uniforms required?

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
85% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs & Admissions

From the 2024 High School Directory

Musical Theater (M81H)

Admissions Method: Audition

Program Description:

In partnership with Rosie's Theater Kids, students receive pre-conservatory training in vocal music, dance, and acting. All first and second year students participate in an annual musical theater concert. All third and fourth year students perform in an end-of-year main-stage musical production. Audition Location: Maravel Arts Center, 445 W 45th Street.

Drama (M81J)

Admissions Method: Audition

Program Description:

In partnership with the professional theater company Waterwell, and built around the core values: engagement and empathy. Students take daily conservatory-style class in acting, movement/devising, voice & speech and theater studies. Each grade also participates in supplementary performance projects including classics, new play commissions, and student-created work. Goal is to develop exemplary artists who are equally engaged citizens. Audition Location: PPAS, 328 West 48th Street.

Classical Vocal Music (M81K)

Admissions Method: Audition

Program Description:

In partnership with National Chorale, students attend conservatory classes in vocal technique, sight reading, musicianship, ear training, and ensemble singing. Students study an extensive vocal repertory, music history, theory, performance technique, and movement for singers. Students participate in ensemble and solo performances throughout the year. Audition Location: PPAS, 328 West 48th Street.

Dance (M81N)

Admissions Method: Audition

Program Description:

In partnership with the Ailey School, students follow a course of study with a foundation in ballet and classes in Horton technique, modern (Graham-based) jazz, and West African dance. Audition Location: The Ailey School, 405 West 55th Street.


From the 2024 High School Directory

Language Courses


Advanced Courses

Algebra II (Advanced Math), AP Art History, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science Principles, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Psychology, AP United States History, Chemistry (Advanced Science), Social Studies (College Course [Credited]), World Languages (Advanced World Languages)

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Handball, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Table Tennis, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Flag Football, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on NYCDOE’s MySchools

NYC Department of Education: MySchools

Contact & Location


328 West 48 Street
Manhattan NY 10036

Trains: 1 Line, 2 Line, 3 Line, 7 Line, A Line, S Line to 42nd St; B Line, D Line to 7th Av; C Line, E Line to 50th St; F Line, M Line to 47-50th Sts Rockefeller Center; GS to Times Square; N Line, Q Line, R Line to 49th St

Buses: BxM2, M10, M104, M11, M12, M20, M31, M34A-SBS, M42, M5, M50, M55, M57, M7, QM1, QM10, QM12, QM15, QM16, QM17, QM18, QM2, QM20, QM24, QM3, QM4, QM5, QM6, SIM10, SIM1C, SIM22, SIM25, SIM26, SIM3, SIM30, SIM3C, SIM8, SIM8X


Principal: Leah Dyer

Parent Coordinator: Teresa Alschuler Gindi


Other Details

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with PS 212

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No

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