Student Handbook 2014-2015

Greenwich Ballet Academy 

Student Handbook 


The Greenwich Ballet Academy is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The Academy admits students of any race, sex, religion, national or ethnic origin, and does not discriminate on the basis of such in administering its policies and educational programs.


GBA Mission

The Greenwich Ballet Academy is a ballet school that nurtures talented young students toward careers in professional ballet, if they so choose.  The Academy takes great care in directing each of its students on an individual path toward achieving excellence.  Small classes, taught by renowned professionals using a progressive interpretation of the Vaganova system as taught by the Vaganova and the Bolshoi Academies, ensure that each student is given the personal attention and instruction needed to reach her/his ultimate potential.  Our goal is to make classical ballet and contemporary dance accessible to any talented child with a dream of being a professional dancer, and to give each student an opportunity to acquire the needed skills and stage experience crucial to her/his future in dance.


Class Attendance Policy

To reach full potential in ballet, a student must attend class on a consistent basis.  We expect regular attendance from all of our students.  Please make sure your child arrives early, leaving them plenty of time to dress and stretch before class begins.  If a student must miss a class, please notify us.  Poor class attendance (missing more than three (3) days per month in Levels 2-8; more than two (2) days per month in Pre-Academy and Level 1) may result in dismissal from the performances and may affect the student’s promotion to the next level at the sole discretion of our Artistic Director, Yuri Vodolaga.

Students MUST attend all the production week rehearsals and dress rehearsals in order to participate in performances.


At 181: Parents should notify the Academy by email, or the teacher by text, that the student will be late.  The dancer must wait until the end of a combination and ask the teacher for permission to enter the studio.

At the GAC: The student must ask the teacher for approval to enter the studio.


Dress Code

The dress code is strictly enforced.  Each level has a specified uniform. Please reference the dress code at under the Uniform tab. This list is also included at the end of the handbook.  Beam and Barre, located at 352 Greenwich Avenue, has all components of the uniforms for all levels in stock.

The simple leotard and tights combination for girls and the bike shorts and snug-fitting t-shirt for boys make it possible for the instructors to see the dancers’ bodies so they can make the proper corrections.  GBA warm-ups or plain black close-fitting jazz pants or sweaters/jackets of a similar style are the only warm-up clothing permitted, and only for the first few minutes of class.

Hair is to be worn in a neat bun for all ballet classes including Character and Modern.  No jewelry is permitted in class, and nail polish is not allowed.

Please put your name on all articles of clothing and shoes.  Greenwich Ballet Academy is NOT responsible for lost or stolen articles.


Studio Policies

Student Etiquette

All dancers should be on time for all classes.  Students should plan to arrive so they are dressed and have ample time to stretch before classes begin.  Dancers must be respectful of their classmates and their instructors. Teachers reserve the right to dismiss a student from class for continued disruptive or disrespectful behavior.  If any problems persist, the student may be removed from class and a parent/instructor conference will be scheduled.

All dancers are expected to follow these guidelines:

-  Do not bring gum, food, or drinks (except water) into the studios

-  Dispose of any trash that may be left behind

-  Remain quiet in the waiting room until your class begins

-  Be respectful of yourself, your classmates, and your instructors.  Negative and disrespectful comments made to other classmates, instructors, staff or volunteers will not be tolerated

-  No cell phones are permitted in the studios – leave cell phones in the dressing room turned off

-  No talking during classes or rehearsals

-  Do not sit down during class or rehearsal unless authorized by your instructor; if you are not dancing during a particular sequence, you should be practicing in the back of the class

-  Tell your instructor before class or rehearsal if you are ill or have an injury

-Students may not enter another level class when in session unless specifically called upon to do so by the teacher.  Stretching before class must be done outside of studios.



General Discipline and Related

From time to time serious issues may arise in dancer and/or parent behavior.  In such cases the Artistic Director and/or director will discuss the issues with the student and/or parents.  If the issue recurs, a formal warning will be given that further misbehavior will result in dismissal or banning from GBA facilities. 

Studio Areas

Food and drink (except water) are not permitted in the studios.  Absolutely NO street shoes are permitted on the dance floors.  Dirt, dust and debris from street shoes are a hazard to the special dance floors and may lead to falls and injuries and will destroy our state-of-the-art floors.  Students are not to lean on or touch studio mirrors.  The dance barres are for educational purposes only.  Students are not to hang or swing from barres; nor should clothes or towels be hung from the barres.  All teaching tools, props, visual aids, and sound equipment are the property of Greenwich Ballet Academy and should not be used without permission of the instructor.

At the 181 Westchester Avenue studios, the Costume Room is for Staff only.

Waiting Areas

The waiting areas at 181 Westchester Avenue and the Greenwich Arts Council (GAC) are for the convenience of our students and parents/guardians.  An adult must supervise all children at all times.  Running and misbehavior in the hallways will not be tolerated.  Please be respectful of others and the classes in session.  Quiet conversation is welcome, but hallway chatter (especially at the GAC) must be kept to a minimum.  We also ask that this area be kept clean and orderly.  Trash should be placed in proper receptacles.  All waiting room accessories (chairs, books, magazines, etc.) should be returned to their proper places after use.  Greenwich Ballet Academy is not responsible for items that are lost or stolen.

If you do send a snack with your child, please refrain from sending anything containing nuts.  GBA has several students with extremely severe peanut and tree nut allergies.

Please note that food is not permitted in the GAC, and GBA will be fined if food and/or used food containers are found in the hallways or in the trash bins.


We ask parents to remind dancers, especially young dancers, to use the restroom prior to class time and to please wash their hands after using the restroom.  If an emergency visit to the restroom is necessary during class time, dancers need only ask permission from their instructor.

Parent Visitation

GBA will try to schedule specific parent observation weeks. If needed and on specific cases, parents may request permission from the instructors to observe classes/rehearsals, with the exception of audition classes.  Please turn off all cell phones and pagers while you are in the studio.  Parents and visitors should refrain from opening a closed studio door to observe class and should never enter a studio to observe class without prior scheduled approval from the instructor

Parent Pick-up/Drop Off

At GAC:  Parents must plan to pick up their child from the studio punctually at class dismissal.

At 181:  Our studios close after the last class. Please be prompt when picking up your child .  Dancers should wait inside the studios until an adult has arrived to pick them up.

Many of our teachers commute by train or long distances, and it is a hardship if they have to supervise students because of a parent’s tardiness.  Parents should notify the Director or teacher if their child will leave with another adult.




Costume/performance fees are due at the beginning of each semester.  New tights are required for each costume and slippers must be in new or near new condition for the performances.  Parents are responsible for providing new tights and any necessary shoes.  Other costumes remain GBA property.

While in costume during dress rehearsals and performances, NO eating, drinking (except water), or sitting is permitted.  Students are responsible for hanging/storing their costumes and all related accessories exactly as they found them after each use.


All students in each level learn and perform in class pieces.  Height usually influences placement on stage, with taller students upstage of shorter ones—this is to increase visibility for all.  Very often, the availability of costumes and their sizes is a limiting factor in casting.

Casting of principal and solo roles is at the sole discretion of the Artistic Director.  A dancer’s strength and readiness for the role is the main consideration.  Casting may change due to illness and injury, up until each performance.  All students in a class may learn a variation as part of the normal program of instruction but will not necessarily perform it.  Casting of levels in Nutcracker may vary year to year due to the available student mix.

Graduating seniors are coached for the June Gala in an appropriate solo variation determined by the Artistic Director.

YAGP participation is exclusively by invitation from the Artistic Director.  Competition variations are chosen for participating students exclusively by the Artistic Director.


Class Cancellations

GAC:  Classes at the GAC are cancelled on snow days if the Greenwich Public Schools are closed. On Saturdays, please look for notice on our website and/or an email from GBA.

181:  Dance classes will not necessarily be cancelled at the 181 studios due to weather and might meet on school snow days. Please look for notice on our website and/or an email from GBA.


At Greenwich Ballet Academy, ballet instruction based on the Vaganova method emphasizes building strength within progressive training in technique.  It is the primary reason we schedule more classes per level than most other schools. In this way, we believe the risk of injury is minimized.  However, as with any sport, injuries can occur.


If your child is injured, the injury must be brought to the teachers’ and Director’s attention immediately.  If you have consulted a doctor, a letter from the doctor will be required for the student to resume training.  In some cases building strength in lower level classes is necessary in the recovery process.  This is very normal in ballet and should not be viewed negatively by the student or family.  In other cases, a complete break from dancing results in the most rapid healing.  Keeping an open line of communication between faculty and families is essential in minimizing the disruption of training.


GBA will do everything possible to help an injured student return to training.  However, an injury can sometimes result in the inability of the student to perform or be promoted.  At present, GBA is unable to offer refunds of tuition or fees in these cases.



  • The GBA office is happy to assist parents and faculty to coordinate their private lessons, but details and in-between conversations and changes should be handled directly with your teacher.
  • Arrive for lessons on time and be ready at the scheduled lesson time. If a dancer is going to be late or absent for any reason the teacher must be contacted directly by cell phone, texting preferred.
  • All Teachers may be reached directly via personal cell phone.  DO NOT leave messages regarding last minute private changes for your teacher on the GBA voicemail.
  • Payment is due to your teacher for each private lesson, in advance, or at the time of the lesson. Your teacher will accept cash and a check at lesson time. Forgetting to pay for a lesson is not respectful to your teacher.
  • Once a lesson is scheduled the dancer is financially responsible for that lesson fee. Only teachers can approve exception to this rule.
  • Studio fees are $20 an hour for our registered students.  Please pay the office directly once a month.  For your convenience, you may put your credit card on file to be charged at the end of the month.  Studio fees will only be charged for actually used studio times.


Parents’ Expectations

  • Parents, you set the tone for your child’s experience of ballet.  Ballet, at the end of the day, is a sport–and one of the most demanding–with all the attendant requirements of teamwork and team spirit.  We expect parents to observe good sportsmanship and to teach their children how to approach ballet with a spirit of cooperation and support.
  • Your child will progress in her/his own way and time.  Everyone has his or her unique strengths and weaknesses. Please be patient and enjoy watching the journey. Our faculty has nothing but the best interest and advancement of your child in mind.
  • Please accept casting and level placement graciously.  Our faculty has years of experience and know your dancers well. If you have a question about placement or casting please ask only about your child and what requirements there are for her/his class or role, and refrain from comparing your child to another. It is unethical for the teachers to discuss other people’s children with you.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, or if your child is having difficulties, please let us know.
  • If you need to talk to an instructor about a concern, please schedule an appointment with the Director. Arrangements will be made to speak to or meet with you at a convenient time. The beginning or end of your child’s class is not an appropriate time to talk at length to the instructor.
  • Please register, pay tuition and all fees on time.  It is very difficult for us to run an Academy and make scheduling plans without knowledge of enrollment.
  • Please be sure to review the GBA Handbook and all guidelines with your child.
  • GBA is a volunteer-run organization. We encourage and welcome the involvement of all parents as volunteers. If you have a particular interest please make it known to the teachers, director or a GBA Board member.
  • GBA is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization and is dependent on the generosity of its families and supporters in the community. In supporting our fundraising, you are supporting your child.

Student Code of Conduct

  • Our program is for serious dance students, and student’s will adhere by the Student Manual Etiquette requirements when in the studios, waiting room. dressing room, and performance venues.
  • You are dancing at GBA because you deserve to be here. You have shown the commitment and hard work necessary to dance in a pre-professional ballet program. Believe in yourself. Ballet progress is absolutely individual. We are never to judge others, or compare ourselves to others. Everyone has his or her unique strengths and weaknesses. Instead, learn from others and contribute to a spirit of cooperation and support.
  • Ballet performances are a team effort and require cooperation, respect and support of all persons involved. Every dancer is important in a performance, and role casting should be accepted graciously.
  • Regular attendance to class is imperative to your progress and shows respect to your teachers and fellow students. Please do the best you can to attend all classes and rehearsals.
  • Our teachers want the best for you. They will be honest with you, and at times this will not be easy to take. Look at their corrections and feedback as a sign of their investment in you.  They believe in you and have dedicated their careers to build you as a dancer. Respect their opinions and their many years of education and experience.
  • Being healthy is crucial to dance. Educate yourself about the nutrition your body needs to grow and be strong. Learn how to prevent injuries and take care of your body before and after class.
  • No one should ever feel unsupported by his or her peers or faculty. If you have concerns of any kind, please share them.  We never want you to feel alone at GBA. We are part of a family.