On the sidewalk just outside Boston Ballet’s Clarendon Street studios, third-graders of all shapes and sizes were spilling out from big yellow school buses with bouncy energy and happy chatter. It was the final week of dance classes for the 240 students of Boston Ballet’s Citydance program, which has reached more than 60,000 Boston public school students in its 20-year history.
Each fall, initial workshops introduce dance to 2,500 third-graders throughout Boston’s school system. Those with aptitude and interest are invited to the Dance Discovery leg of the program. “We look for enthusiasm, body awareness, the ability to follow direction, and teacher recommendations that the program will be a good fit,” explained Citydance program manager Yo-el Cassell. For 10 weeks, these select students take classes in ballet and in different dance styles, from Chinese and modern dance to hip-hop and mime. Upon graduation — which for this year’s crop of students occurred last week — the students can continue training through Introduction to Boston Ballet School weekend classes, which are also free of charge. Some graduate from there to Boston Ballet School, which currently trains more than 60 Citydance alums.