Professional Dance Company and Performing Arts School in Columbia, Missouri - City Ballet Theater



Contact Us to Register for our School or Audition for Our Company
2022 – 2023 Show Season

Classes for Ages 4+ to Adult | Year Round Training Options | Trainee Program
Summer Intensives & Workshops | Personal Coaching
Professional Teachers, Dancers, & Choreographers

Class Descriptions

At City Ballet Theater School, we offer year-round pre-professional training in Ballet, Pointe, Variations, Boy’s and Men’s Technique, Pas de Deux, Contemporary Partnering, Modern, Contemporary, Jazz, Tap, Musical Theater, and Progressing Ballet Technique.

Alongside our weekly classes, Occasional Specialty Workshops will also be offered throughout the year, such as: Nutrition, Pointe Shoe Selection and Fitting Tips, Stage Make-Up Tutorials, Resumé Writing Tips, On-Stage and Back-Stage Etiquette, and Intensive and Company Audition Preparation.

  • All class and level placement is at the sole discretion of the director and by the director’s evaluation of each individual student’s abilities. Class placement and previous training elsewhere does not necessarily result in the same class or level placement at City Ballet Theater School.
  • Pointe is not based on age but on physical development and technical proficiency. A student’s ability to dance on pointe and take pointe classes will be determined by the director and may not necessarily be the same as a student’s previous experience elsewhere.
  • The amount of classes a student participates in per week depends upon the program in which they are enrolled. Because each of our programs follows a carefully planned school curriculum and class syllabus designed to properly train and prepare dancers for successful progression, all students are required to attend all classes offered in their respective program.

Classical Ballet

A perfect balance of artistry and athleticism, classical ballet is a unique and graceful art form. Every student in each of our programs is required to take the minimum of ballet classes each week according to the level in which they are placed.

All of our ballet classes are based in Russian technique and the basic principles of the Vaganova method, but dancers can expect to gain a comprehensive understanding of all three major schools of classical technique (the other two being French and Italian).

Students will also develop helpful knowledge of anatomy and healthy physical development, both of which are emphasized in Progressing Ballet Technique, which will also be included as its own separate class for our Intermediate and Pre-Professional Programs (see below).

All of our ballet classes focus on correct alignment, muscle development, and terminology in order to encourage a well-rounded study and comprehension of the art and technical proficiency of classical ballet.

Numerous other forms of dance also incorporate elements of ballet, including contemporary, modern, and jazz, making this technique an essential for all dancers!

Preparatory Program – Our Dance Movement (ages 3-4) and Pre-Ballet (ages 5-7) classes introduce our youngest students to classical ballet technique as they learn the basic positions, movements, placement, and terminology that will lay the proper foundation for future study of all dance disciplines. They will also learn wonderful skills for the classroom and everyday life, including coordination, creativity, musicality, teamwork, and discipline.

Intermediate Program – Students in our Intermediate Program ballet classes carry and continue to build upon the strong technique they have developed through focused barre and center work in previous levels of training. Dancers will begin to develop more personal artistry at this stage as they explore more classical, neoclassical, and contemporary ballet combinations and choreography. They will also learn about the basic principles and unique features of other well-known ballet technique styles and methods, including Balanchine and Bournonville.

Beginner Program – The students in our Beginner Program ballet class have a comprehensive understanding of the basics of classical ballet technique and terminology and have begun to build on this foundation with more complex steps, movements, and combinations, as well as place more of an emphasis on musicality and performance quality.

Pre-Professional Program – Our Pre-Professional level students have reached a point in which they have mastered all of foundational principles of classical ballet technique and terminology, as well as continuing to develop their own artistic style that they will carry with them into their future professional careers. At this level, an even greater emphasis is placed on honing movement precision, technical proficiency, and performance excellence. A significant focus of pre-professional students is to add the finishing touch to their years of training and transition into a professional mindset no matter which path the dancer may choose to take, including company work, choreography, and teaching.

School dancers will be able to be in school shows, as well as have opportunities to audition to be in City Ballet Theater Company shows. School dancers age 13+ will have an opportunity each year to audition to be a part of our CBT II Pre-Professional Student Company. School dancers 16+ will have a yearly opportunity to audition as trainees and apprentices with our City Ballet Theater Company.

For those who desire an even greater training experience, especially those striving for a full dance career, our Unlimited Program offers training to students ages 13-18. This program is for those dedicated to their craft who are looking for the same benefits of a pre-professional day-program in the afternoon and evening hours. We also offer detailed and personalized coaching classes for determined dancers and those who would like to go to the highly-respected Youth America Grand Prix. Please inquire for options.

Progressing Ballet Technique

Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) – this unique and innovative instruction helps dancers develop correct muscle strength, flexibility, muscle memory, and proprioception, along with numerous other physical benefits, while working alongside barre and center to enhance classical ballet technique.

Students of PBT gain a greater understanding of proper muscle use for correct body alignment and healthy physical development for all forms of dance.

Emerson is a Progressing Ballet Technique Certified Instructor (Junior, Senior, and Advanced), having trained in all levels of the program and successfully completed the PBT Certification Teachers Workshop under the direction of their Official Tutor of the USA, Robyn Segel Shifren.

All Intermediate Program and Pre-Professional Program students are required to take a weekly Progressing Ballet Technique class alongside their required amount of regular Ballet classes.


Our Pointe classes are specifically designed for our female ballet students who have reached a greater level of physical development and technical abilities through their dedicated classical ballet training in regular ballet classes.

Our female students who are ready to dance on pointe have additional, dedicated pointe classes as a part of their weekly schedule alongside their required amount of Ballet classes, Progressing Ballet Technique class, and Variations class.

Please note: A dancer’s ability to dance on pointe is determined solely by the director and based on the director’s evaluation of the dancer’s physical development and technical abilities.

Pre-Pointe – Female dancers who are not quite ready for pointe work will learn Pre-Pointe exercises in order to fully prepare them for future pointe work. These exercises will be very similar to what dancers can expect to learn once they begin pointe work, with the main difference being that dancers perform these exercises on demi-pointe while wearing their regular ballet technique shoes (also known as flat shoes).

Pointe – Female dancers in our Intermediate Program and Pre-Professional Program will participate in weekly Pointe classes alongside their other scheduled classes. At the determination of our director, the most advanced female dancers in our Pre-Professional Program may also wear their pointe shoes during certain regular Ballet classes throughout the week, either at barre, in the center, or both.


Variations class gives our students the opportunity to learn classical choreography often seen in famous ballets and dance performances throughout the centuries.

Both our female students and our male students will learn classical variations designed to highlight their individual strengths, with female dancers often performing on pointe and male dancers performing complex, powerful jumps and turns created specifically for their physique and muscle strength.

Some of the well-known character variations our female dancers learn in this class include Aurora and The Lilac Fairy from Sleeping Beauty, Odette and Odile from Swan Lake, Kitri and Cupid from Don Quixoté, and Esmeralda, among many others.

Our male dancers also learn recognizable male character variations, including Franz from Coppelia, Ali from Le Corsaire, Basilio from Don Quixoté, and Siegfried from Swan Lake, as well as many more.

Our Intermediate Program and Pre-Professional Program dancers have a weekly Variations class alongside their required Ballet and Progressing Ballet Technique classes.

Female dancers who are not quite ready for pointe or are new to pointe learn all their classical variations on demi-pointe in technique (flat) shoes, while female dancers who have developed the necessary technique skills and physical development to dance confidently on pointe in the center learn and perform most of their variations wearing pointe shoes.

Male dancers perform all of their variations wearing technique (flat) shoes for class, although they may occasionally wear special dance boots made for male dancers when performing on stage, depending upon the character.

Modern & Contemporary

Our Modern & Contemporary class combines the technique of modern with the stylistic qualities of contemporary. Both modern and contemporary dance styles emphasize a dynamic use of space and levels, parallel movements, weight shifting, contractions, and floor work, making these two styles especially complimentary.

This class is based on the concepts, positions, steps, and movements of the Horton technique – including a center warm up that builds on itself much like ballet barre does, as well as movements across the floor. This class also explores aspects of other well-known forms of modern dance, giving students a greater understanding of the unique differences among the most recognizable styles.

Much of the choreography in this class also focuses on contemporary, which is one of the most recognizable and popular styles of today. This style draws inspiration from numerous other dance techniques, including ballet, modern, and jazz, and much like lyrical, contemporary dance often highlights expressive storytelling and emotional feeling. In other cases, contemporary choreography may also purely be a showcase of the unique movement style of a choreographer or dancer.


Our Jazz classes teach students the foundational technique and steps of this style. Today’s jazz that is often seen on stage and on screen shares many of the technical aspects of classical ballet, combining this with its own unique stylistic aspects and complex movements, including jumps, kicks, and turns that are especially unique to this dance form.

In every level, dancers will focus on technique, isolations, rhythm, musicality, and performance style throughout this class, which includes dynamic combinations, progressions across the floor, and choreography.

Our jazz classes also incorporate Musical Theater, which introduces dancers to the main aspects of strong character-driven, storytelling performance.

While there isn’t any vocal acting or singing in this particular class, there is a special emphasis placed on character performance through movement and stage presence that is essential to every role.

Beginner Program – Jazz students in our Beginner Program are introduced to the basic elements of jazz, as well as the performance elements unique to this style.

Intermediate Program and Pre-Professional Program – At this stage, dancers have moved from the basics of jazz and focus on more complex steps, combinations, progressions, and choreography. More artistic style is also developed with a special emphasis in Musical Theater and character-based dance acting.


Tap classes teach complex rhythms, intricate patterns, and unique steps designed to produce sounds make tap an entertaining and exciting form of dance. While all dance styles engage the audience visually, tap dancing adds an additional element of sound beyond that of music.

Tap dancing has been featured on stage and in Hollywood films throughout the past many decades, and it has encompassed many different styles of artistic expression – from the light and airy effortless feel of Fred Astaire’s numerous performances, to the highly energetic and incredible routines of the Nicholas Brothers, to the brilliant technical showcases of today’s tap masters.

Preparatory Program – Our youngest dancers who take our Pre-Tap class learn the basics of tap, including foundational steps, rhythm, musicality, and terminology. Just as in Pre-Ballet class, this class also focuses on coordination, creativity, teamwork, and discipline.

Beginner Program – Tap students in our Beginner Program have learned all of the basics and begin to learn more complex steps, rhythms, and patterns that build on each other to create unique movements and sounds. Dancers in this level also begin to place a greater emphasis on performance style as they continue to develop their tap skills.

Intermediate Program and Pre-Professional Program – At this stage, dancers have mastered all of the foundational aspects of tap dancing and begin combining steps and rhythms into more complex patterns, combinations, and choreography. Artistic style is explored to a greater degree, and character work becomes an even bigger focus as dancers work on honing and refining their skills.

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