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Student Handbook

Artistic Director – Karl von Rabenau

Principal Teacher – LilaAnn Coates White

Executive Director – Maude Dornfeld 

506 W. Michigan St., Duluth, MN 55802 

phone: 218-733-7570

[email protected]

Company photos by Jeff Frye

The Beauty and Discipline of Ballet

A very old performing art, ballet traces its origin to the elegant dance in Renaissance courts of Europe. Because ballet is an artistic-athletic art form, its training is exacting, physically demanding, and mentally challenging; but the results are like those of no other training. Even for students who do not end up pursuing a professional career as a dancer, the results of the highly specialized training last a lifetime and provide benefits: an appreciation for the performing arts, great attention to details and a level of skilled focus in future interests, knowledge about how one’s body coordinates and functions through movement, and the empowering fulfillment of reaching goals through discipline and dedication.

School’s Mission and Vision

The School’s Mission is to give students the finest training in the art of classical ballet and other dance disciplines, enabling them to pursue a career in dance if they wish and allowing all students to develop strength, discipline, and grace through this most beautiful of the performing arts.

The School’s Vision 

Whether or not students pursue dance as a career, they will deeply experience a performing art; develop physical strength, artistry, and graceful pursuit; gain confidence to reach goals; and develop discipline to apply to their lives.

NonDiscrimination policy

At Minnesota Ballet, we believe that dance for everyone, and that diversity enriches our organization and experience. Equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the programs of Minnesota Ballet is provided to all individuals regardless of race, national origin, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, or disability in admission, access, or employment.

Class Procedures


Students need to allow 15 minutes before class to dress and girls to put up their hair. It is important to be on time for class; late students may be asked to sit out the class because there is not adequate time to warm up. At this time, preparation guidelines are altered due to Covid-19. Please see our special protocols.

Students are expected to attend all scheduled classes; attendance is critical to a student’s development in the art form and for advancement in the School. In order to be excused, students or their families must report all absences to the School prior to class time. Students who are injured are urged to attend class and take notes. Poor attendance may jeopardize participation in productions, class placement level, or financial aid.

Each class level follows a carefully-planned curriculum. Students are strongly advised against seeking outside training or outside private lessons, as these conflict with the curriculum of the School of the Minnesota Ballet. Private lessons with current faculty members is permitted. Please see Private lesson policy.

Dress code

Part of the discipline of  ballet class is the uniformity of dancewear; traditionally, each ballet level has its own color leotard. Dancewear fits snuggly to clearly show body positions and lines, making it easier for teachers to give corrections on technique. NO underwear is worn under tights for ladies.

Hair is always worn neatly, off of the student’s face. Ladies with long hair should wear it up in a bun or similar, secured style. Ponytail holders, pins, and hairnets should match the student’s hair color for a clean, blended look. For easy instructions on how to make a bun, see instructions.

All ballet students must follow the assigned dress code at all times. Male ballet students must wear black tights, black or white technique shoes, white socks, and white T-shirt that is tucked in. All female ballet students in Creative Movement through Ballet 7  must wear pink tights and technique shoes, and the designated leotard color for their class.

All class wear is available and may be ordered from Grand Jeté in St. Paul ( or 

Creative Movement–Ballet 5: Capezio cap-sleeve leotard style #CC400C 

Creative Movement-Pre-Ballet 3: light pink

Ballet 1: light blue leotard 

Ballet 2: lavender leotard 

Ballet 3: royal blue leotard 

Ballet 4: burgundy leotard 

Ballet 5: garnet leotard 

Ballet 6: navy leotard (CC100 camisole leotard)

Ballet 7: black leotard (CC100 camisole leotard)

Ballet 8: black leotard (CC100 camisole leotard)

Jewelry, except small pierced earrings, is not to be worn during class. Shoes should be neatly sewn with the same color thread. Dancewear should be clean and in good repair; damage and holes should be mended. Do NOT use fabric softeners on dance attire because it damages studio floors.

Please mark your student’s name on the inside of dance bags, ballet shoes, leotards, tights. Identification speeds the return of lost items.

Street attire must be worn before and after class to enter and exit the building. At no time should a student be entering or exiting the building in leotard and tights. 

All students may use the dressing rooms, but must keep items tidy and contained in a personal bag, and the dressing room and bathroom area should be kept neat. Students are discouraged from bringing and leaving valuables in the dressing rooms unattended. Minnesota Ballet is not responsible for any loss of personal items. At this time, dressing rooms are not allowed to be used due to Covid-19. Please see current protocols.

Cell phones should be turned off before students enter studios.

Observation Days

Once each semester, parents and friends are invited and encouraged to observe class during Parent Observation Week. For the dates, check the School calendar on the Ballet’s website under School, Class Info.


Any parent having a concern about a child’s class should first talk with the class teacher and then, if necessary, with LilaAnn Coates White, Principal Teacher: [email protected]

Parents are advised to carefully check times for each class because it can vary from day to day.

Concern for Health

School of Minnesota Ballet prioritizes the health of its students. Students are encouraged to continue strengthening and stretching exercises they learn in class at home. The School will notify parents of any concern it has about a physical or psychological condition affecting a student’s ability to participate in class. If any teacher notices the appearance of rapid weight loss or otherwise dramatic change in physical appearance or apparent mental well-being, parents will be called. Minnesota Ballet is not responsible for injuries sustained in classes, rehearsals, performances or other SMB activities.

Attending Company Performances

Parents are urged to further their child’s dance education by attending company performances with their children. Ballet students greatly benefit from seeing the steps they are learning in class being performed in a professional production. Attending Minnesota Ballet productions will give students the opportunity to be introduced to ballet masterworks: classic full length story ballets, as well as a wide range of classical to contemporary repertoire. Every August a discounted season ticket offer is available to the registered students of School of  Minnesota Ballet and their immediate families.


Important notices, such as for a change in a class time will be posted on the official website as well as the SMB Facebook page An e-mail will also be sent when possible to notify students and families of pertinent information. A student and/or parent email address should be provided at time of registration. Please check your e-mail regularly and notify the office if you are not receiving e-mails, or have a change of e-mail address. Parents, please refer to the School Calendar for performance dates, school breaks and other important information. The  School Calendar can be found on the MNBallet website and will also be posted at the studio.

Snow Day Policy

School of the Minnesota Ballet does NOT hold classes on days or evenings when Duluth public schools are cancelled for extreme weather. Classes at the Depot will be cancelled anytime the Depot building closes because of weather (weekday, Saturday, or evening). To verify closings, call the Ballet office, 218-733-7570, or check the Ballet’s website (, or SMB Facebook page.

Make Up Classes Policy

Students who miss a class for any reason are invited to take a make up class. Make up classes may be taken in the level below a student’s current level. Students who’s classes meet once per week may take a make up class on a different day and/or one level lower. Please notify the school about student absences whenever possible.

The Ballet does not give credit or refund for classes missed except in the case of a serious illness or injury that results in the missing of many classes. Please notify the Ballet office as soon as possible in such a case. 

Registration and Tuition Policies

Registration and tuition are due prior to the first class of the semester. Students cannot attend classes before their registration form is submitted to the Ballet office and tuition payment has been made. The registration form can be found at the website registration page/button. Students continuing from semester 1 to semester 2 will automatically be re-registered when payment for semester 2 is received. There is no need to fill out another registration form. A $20 late fee will be charged to any student taking class before registering.

There are no refunds or transfers on tuition. A finance charge of 1.5% per month (18% per year) will be added to tuition not received by payment deadline. Students will not be allowed to continue classes or participate in activities or performances if tuition is not kept current.

Under extenuating circumstances, parents may apply to the School to arrange alternative payment schedules. Parents granted an alternative payment schedule must sign an agreement for such a schedule.

Parents with three or more students enrolled in the School will receive a 5% discount on combined tuition total.

Registration and tuition payments are done online via our website: 

Financial Aid

A limited amount of financial aid is available to qualifying students per year. Those wishing to apply can locate an application on the Ballet’s website. The deadline for Semester I applications is the first Saturday in September.

Those recipients wishing to continue receiving financial aid in Semester II should send a letter a week before the start of Semester II stating the need for continued financial aid and state any change in the family’s finances. A strong attendance record during the previous period of financial aid is mandatory for the continuation of financial aid.

Scholarship Program

The Suzanne Kritzberg Scholarship is awarded annually to a student who has shown especially hard work and a passion for dance, qualities Suzanne demonstrated throughout her extensive 22-year career with Minnesota Ballet as performer and teacher. The Robert Gardner Scholarship is awarded annually to a male student who demonstrates dedication and potential as a ballet dancer.

Those wishing to apply for the Suzanne Kritzberg or Robert Gardner scholarships may inquire by e-mail. The deadline for applications is the Friday before Semester 1 classes begin.

Saturday Samplers

Saturday Samplers, held the Saturday before the start of Semester 1 and Summer Term, are ideal opportunities for potential students to try a class at no charge. Faculty will be available to evaluate new students for placement in the most appropriate level. Returning students are invited to use the Saturday Sampler as a warm-up. Parents may watch the sampler classes and register their children before, during, or after the classes.


Registration forms for School of the Minnesota Ballet include an agreement of permission for the School to use photos of students in classes and/or performances to promote the School and Minnesota Ballet. Students may NOT take photos/videos on the Ballet’s premises without prior permission from the School staff. NO photos/videos may be posted to social media without prior permission from the School staff.

School Committee

Under the auspices of Minnesota Ballet Board of Directors, this committee assists with performances involving students from School of the Minnesota Ballet and raises funds for financial aid to qualifying students. The committee is always looking for volunteers willing to help with events. If you would like to help, please contact the office, which will pass on your contact information to the School Committee chair. 

Summer Term

The Ballet is always an exciting place in the summer. Present students further their ballet training, and new students have the opportunity to try ballet study at one of the finest ballet academies in the state. Ballet 4, students who are ready to prepare to go on pointe take the pre-pointe class to ready them for this important milestone in ballet training.

Older students explore and enjoy other dance forms such character (European folk dance, included in many classical ballet works), modern, jazz, musical theater dance, plus create their own works in the choreography class and work on flexibility and core strength in the Pilates mat exercise class. The six-week term runs June through July, with the week of the Fourth of July off to allow for family get-togethers and trips.

Summer Intensive

In the second three-week half of the Summer Term in July, School of the Minnesota Ballet Ballet 4 through Ballet 7 experience all-day training in technique that all pre-professional students should have.

At the end of the intensive, students demonstrate techniques and present their own works-in-progress in the Student Summer Showcase outside on the Library Plaza stage. Upper-level students from outside the area also study in the intensive, bringing their enthusiasm and eagerness to augment their training. Younger students are urged to attend the showcase to see the dance techniques they will study in coming years and to appreciate the creative efforts of the older students.

Performance Opportunities 

Student Summer Showcase – On the last day of the Summer Term/Summer Intensive in late July outside in the Library Plaza, Ballet 5–7 students demonstrate ballet, character, jazz, modern, tap, and perform their own works-in-progress.

Sugar Plum Faire – Ballet 3 and up, Creative Dance, plus other technique classes make presentations at the Sugar Plum Faire in early November. 

Dance Day at the Depot – To celebrate National Dance Week toward the end of April, the School offers a special afternoon of dance. Ballet 4-7, plus technique classes, make presentations in the Depot Great Hall to family, friends, and visitors, and there is social dancing for all.

Creative Movement Presentation – Creative Movement through Pre-Ballet 3 make a presentation to grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, and friends on a Sunday afternoon in late April or early May at the Ballet’s Depot Studios. 

Student Performance – In May at the DECC Symphony Hall, the School showcases the development of its students, Creative Movement and up, and including the Creative Dance class and Open Division, at its annual Student Performance. Students spend some class time beginning in the spring to work on the choreography developed for their skill level.

Performance Opportunity Policies

The Student Performance gives students the experience of learning choreography created specifically for their class, rehearsing it, and performing it on the Ballet’s home stage.

Attending class in the weeks before the performance is even more important than usual. In rehearsing, students learn to pay attention to the many demanding details of ballet technique applied to choreography.

Students should arrive at the DECC Auditorium with makeup on unless there is specialty make-up involved for their role.

 Children should use the following items in moderation: Dark eyebrow pencil; Mascara; Light rose or Pink blush (NO red); Natural-looking lipstick (NO red); NO eye shadow; Long hair in a bun unless another style is requested.

Students should use the backstage door of the auditorium, located on Harbor Drive (up the loading dock stairs on the left), unless otherwise specified.

If dancers do not have time to eat before coming to the auditorium, they should bring a bag lunch. Students appearing in only the first half of the performance may come into the audience after intermission if they have a ticket, have removed their makeup, and have changed into street clothes. 

NO photography or video of any kind is allowed at either the rehearsal or the performance. There will be a professional DVD of the performance available for purchase. DVD’s may be ordered through the office or the night of the performance at the souvenirs tables. Orders must be in by the end of the performance and be prepaid.

Nutcracker Auditions

Nutcracker is a professional production. It is a privilege for any student to participate in it. To audition for children’s parts in The Nutcracker, children must be current, registered students of School of the Minnesota Ballet in Ballet 1-7, or ABLE class before the audition day. More advanced students may be asked to learn corps de ballet parts. In order to be considered for a role, it is mandatory to be at the audition.

Students should wear their regular class attire for the auditions.

Those chosen to be in the production are required to be at all scheduled rehearsals. Because this is a significant time commitment, children should not audition if they cannot make the time commitment required. There are no excused absences from rehearsals.

Minnesota Ballet takes the production on tour, typically in late November and/or December. Advanced students of the Duluth cast and other integral cast members who are needed on tour will be notified in advance.

Auditioning is an important part of a dancer’s training. Auditions for Minnesota Ballet Productions are in-house, which means that most auditioning students have already demonstrated their abilities in class for their teachers and in student performances for the faculty. Students should not be discouraged if their part of the auditions seems short.

The best way to approach auditions is for students to prepare the way they do for class: arrive with ample time to dress and warm up, (girls) have their hair in a neat bun, wear clean leotard and tights in their class colors.

Students should listen to instructions carefully. They should notice details of the combination they are learning, such as the head position. There is a great deal of acting in The Nutcracker. If students are auditioning for a specific role, they should try to capture the spirit of that role. They should dance as if this were a performance.

If students aren’t selected to audition for the role they want, they shouldn’t broadcast their disappointment. They should do the best they can at the role they are chosen to audition for, and they will be noticed!

There are bound to be disappointments in the casting. Please understand that casting is by group decision—the Artistic Director and senior teachers. Students may be too young, too inexperienced, or for another reason unsuitable for the parts they have their hearts set on. Students’ attendance history in class will also play a role in the casting of this production.

Many dancers wait years for the roles they really want—if they ever get them— meanwhile, there is much to be learned from developing every role to its fullest.


Rehearsals are a very important part of a dancer’s training and are conducted in a professional manner. All cast members are required to be at all rehearsals, even if they are not in the cast being rehearsed at that time. Instructions and notes are given at all rehearsals; dancers also learn from watching dancers from the other cast perform the roles they will dance.

For rehearsals and performances at the DECC Symphony Hall, students should be dropped off 15 minutes before their call times at the backstage door on Harbor Drive (up the loading dock stairs on the left).

Students should go directly to their dressing room without entering the auditorium. For safety and security, children in The Nutcracker cast are not allowed during rehearsal in the auditorium, lobby, backstage, or anywhere else unattended.

If students are invited to see parts of rehearsal they are in, they should sit quietly in the auditorium.

Before performances, cast members should not be in the lobby in makeup and/or costumes once the public starts to arrive. Young dancers should remove stage makeup before going out to the lobby or leaving the theater.

Children cannot bring food into the theater rooms because it will stain their costumes. Water is acceptable. Greasy foods will be confiscated. Students will be responsible for the replacement cost of any costume damaged by food or drink.

When children are not on stage performing, they must stay backstage in their assigned area. Children should bring some quiet amusements to pass the time. Many belongings are misplaced backstage in the excitement of preparation. Children’s names should be marked inside ballet shoes and all clothing.

Jewelry and valuables should be left at home. Neither the Ballet nor the DECC is responsible for lost, stolen, or forgotten personal items.

Nutcracker Makeup for Children—Children should bring their own makeup to dress rehearsals and performances (there will be someone to assist in the dressing rooms).

Student cast members must be in proper makeup and hairdo for dress rehearsals as well as for performances.

Nutcracker Volunteers

It takes many volunteers to help with the behind-the-scenes work at The Nutcracker productions. Parents of children in the cast are asked to help with at least one performance—making sure that children are in makeup and costumes and under control backstage, selling souvenirs, ushering, or packing costumes after the last performance.

Parents are asked to write their names on the sign-up sheets posted in the Depot lobby or to call the Ballet office. Volunteers will receive instructions. Ushers are asked to arrive an hour before performance and will be able to sit in any unsold seats for the performance.

Supporting the Minnesota Ballet

The School of the Minnesota Ballet is proud of its fine high-caliber training and professional teachers. School tuition alone does not fully sustain the school; fundraisers and support from ballet parents and patrons help to keep the school functioning at its high level. Ballet parents are encouraged to support the Ballet by contributing to the annual drive and attending the Ballet’s fundraisers. Watch for announcements of these events:

Black and White Ball

A fundraiser lets you turn on the glam and have LOTS of fun supporting the Ballet. Wear your best black or white duds, enjoy great food, drink, and a floor show; enter the fancy hat competition and the lifesize Heads or Tails competitions and maybe win a prize; dance to live ballroom music or just watch the fun

Sugar Plum Faire

November at the Depot, this fundraiser kicks off the Nutcracker season and raises funds for financial aid. Enjoy dance presentations by the Ballet 3-7, Creative Dance, and Men’s Technique; wondrous desserts from The Exchange; and great shopping for ballet and nutcracker treasures in the silent auction.

Celebrity Dance Challenge

Performed at Fregeau Auditorium, Marshall School, Ballet dancers and their celebrity partners compete for the audience favorite and judges’ choice awards at this fun and popular event. Cheer and vote for your favorite couple. 

Wines & Steins

At this event in April at the Depot Great Hall, enjoy great hors d’oeuvres from some of the area’s finest restaurants, sampling wine and craft beers, great shopping in silent and live auctions, and a lively floor show by the

Additional Events TBA