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Boston Ballet School students tour Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Photo by Igor Burlak, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Over the years, one thing kept Boston Ballet School director Margaret Tracey up at night. While she feels enormous pride in the training the school's pre-professional division provides, she worried about how her students are doing outside of dance: namely, in academics and residential life. "My sleepless nights happen when I think about a young student who's living on their own and struggling with something, or whose online school program is overwhelming them," says Tracey. "Those sit outside our core competencies as a ballet school, and, yet, I can't ignore that it's a huge part of their daily experience."

Though Boston Ballet School has provided housing and academic options to its pre-professional students, they haven't proved sustainable. That will soon change. Next fall, BBS will join forces with the dance program at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, a boarding high school in nearby Natick, Massachusetts. The partnership, called Boston Ballet School's Pre-Professional Division at Walnut Hill, seems like a win-win for both organizations: It offers BBS dancers college-preparatory academics and an on-site residential facility, and gives Walnut Hill an affiliation with a major ballet company.

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Walnut Hill students and Prometheus company members create choreographic phrases together.

Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts, has a new company in residence: Boston-based modern dance group Prometheus Dance, led by Tommy Neblett and WHS faculty member Diane Arvanites. In a mutually beneficial move to the school, Prometheus Dance will be curating performances, holding conferences and teaching drop-in technique classes, while Walnut Hill provides the company with a home base.

Walnut Hill School for the Arts is a conservatory-style performing arts boarding school with 60 dance students currently enrolled. Partnerships with Boston Conservatory and Ballet Austin enable students to seamlessly transition into academia and professional careers after graduation.

Photo: by Antonio Viva, courtesy of Walnut Hill School for the Arts

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