Boys’ Scholarship Dance Program

Lisa Collins Vidnovic, artistic director and founder of the Metropolitan Ballet Academy (MBA) and nonprofit Metropolitan Ballet Company (MBC), launched the acclaimed, tuition-free Boys’ Scholarship Dance Program in 1999 as a way to make ballet accessible to boys in the greater Philadelphia region. Over 235 boys ages 7-18 have participated in the program to date and several dedicated and talented young men have pursued professional careers in dance.

The all-boys, tuition-free program, for boys ages 7-18, is designed to enhance athletic skills, flexibility, and strength. The program provides weekly classes in beginning, intermediate and advanced ballet; partnering; modern; and guest instruction in jazz and character dance. Participants in the program also enjoy performance opportunities, including, for eligible students, an invitation to audition for our pre-professional training program and performing company. Students are accepted by audition. No prior dance experience is required.

Our inaugural year, 1999, drew twenty boys ages 7-15, eighteen of whom continued for the entire thirty-six week program. Now beginning our 16th year (2014-2015), we are proud that our program has grown, with over 50 boys enrolled annually. The program draws students from Philadelphia and its five-county region, and from all areas of interest. Whether the boys are bound for a career in dance, musical theater, figure skating, gymnastics or team athletics, all enjoy the opportunity to study dance in an all-male atmosphere from truly great teachers.

Vidnovic says, “Whether the boys are bound for a career in dance, musical theater, figure skating, gymnastics, or team athletics, all enjoy the opportunity to study dance in an all-male atmosphere from truly great teachers”. The distinguished faculty for Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced boys includes former principal dancer with the Pennsylvania Ballet Alexander Iziliaev and Bolshoi-trained Denis Gronostayskiy. Additional guest faculty includes artists from Pennsylvania Ballet, the greater Philadelphia region, New York City and beyond, who teach in MBA’s summer program and in master classes throughout the school year. Male dancers also learn partnering skills in classes with more than 300 girls enrolled in MBA.

Students in the Boys’ Scholarship Dance Program benefit from performing opportunities through MBC, which stages classical works and commissions new works from renowned New York-based choreographers annually. MBC boys are consistently recognized for their soloist and ensemble performances at Youth America Grand Prix and have performed at the Regional Dance America festivals and numerous community-based performances since 2001. From 1999-2012, MBC boys performed in a variety of Pennsylvania Ballet productions including the June 2012 premiere of Trey McIntyre’s Peter Pan, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, La Fille Mal Gardée, Cinderella, the June 2008 premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Carnival of the Animals (Peter Weil, age 11, danced the role of Oliver Percy in Carnival), and La Sylphide. For the first time in its 50 year history, from 2006-2012, all boys’ casting roles in Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker were filled by boys, the majority from the MBC Boys’ Scholarship Program.

MBC boys have been accepted into prestigious summer and year round dance training programs at American Ballet Theatre, School of American Ballet, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Houston Ballet, The Juilliard School, The Ailey School, Harid Conservatory, Joffrey Ballet, Kirov Academy, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Orlando Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and Atlanta Ballet.

Alumni of the Boys’ Scholarship Dance Program have been accepted into company, apprentice, and trainee positions at Boston Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, First State Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, State Street Ballet, Ballet Austin, and Washington Ballet.

Students from the program have been recognized for many special achievements, including:

  • MBC dancers garnered significant honors in the 2014 Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), the world’s largest international student ballet scholarship competition. In the YAGP New York City Finals, 16 young dancers (ages 10-14), eight of which were from the MBC Boys’ program, placed in the Top 12 in the ensemble category, performing the Children’s Mazurka from Paquita; the ensemble had previously won First Place in the YAGP 2014 Philadelphia Semi-Finals. Additionally, a male soloist Daniel Shevelev, from the MBC Boys’ Program captured the Third Place award in the YAGP Classical Dance Category, Junior Age Division at the YAGP 2014 Philadelphia Semi-Finals.
  • MBC Alumnus Lee Slobotkin joins 2nd National Tour of WICKED (January 2014-present).
  • MBC Alumnus Peter Weil is accepted to Boston Ballet’s Trainee Program (2013-present).
  • MBC Alumnus Ariel Breitman is accepted to the Studio Company of The Washington Ballet (2013- present).
  • MBC Alumnus J. Wyatt Peterson is accepted as an Apprentice with North Carolina Dance Theater (2013-present).
  • MBC Alumnus Cameron Auble-Branigan is accepted as a Company Dancer with American Repertory Ballet (2012-present).
  • Pennsylvania Ballet invited two MBA students, Peter Weil, age 15, and Darius Black, age 13, to appear in the company roles of Lost Boys in the PA Ballet company premiere of Trey McIntyre’s Peter Pan (June 2012).
  • For the first time in its 50 year history, from 2006-2012, all boys’ casting roles in Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker were filled by boys, the majority from the MBC Boys’ Scholarship Program.
  • From 1999-2012, MBC boys performed in a variety of Pennsylvania Ballet productions including the June 2012 premiere of Trey McIntyre’s Peter Pan, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, La Fille Mal Gardée, Cinderella, the June 2008 premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Carnival of the Animals (Peter Weil, age 11, danced the role of Oliver Percy in Carnival), and La Sylphide.
  • Pennsylvania Ballet invited three MBC students to travel to Ottawa, Canada ((December 2011) for their premiere of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. The students performed the lead children’s roles: Christian Lavallie (Prince), Lucas Tischler (Prince), and Juan Castellanos (Fritz).
  • MBC Alumnus Peter Sabasino is a finalist in Season 6, So You Think You Can Dance (2009).
  • MBC Alumnus John Christopher Piel is accepted as a Company Dancer with State Street Ballet (2006-present).
  • MBC boys have been accepted into prestigious summer and year round dance training programs at American Ballet Theatre, School of American Ballet, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Houston Ballet, The Juilliard School, The Ailey School, Harid Conservatory, Joffrey Ballet, Kirov Academy, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Orlando Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and Atlanta Ballet.

The MBC Boys’ Scholarship Program is proud to be supported by generous grants from The Loeb Performing Arts Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation and by many generous gifts from individuals. Metropolitan Ballet Company is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The MBC Boys’ Scholarship Dance Program welcomes your support. To learn how you can become a corporate or individual sponsor of MBC, or to arrange for matching funds donated by your workplace, please contact Lisa Collins Vidnovic at 215.663.1665. Contributions are tax-deductible. Thank you for your support.