Governor’s School expands opportunities for young S.C. dancers

SCGSAH dancers dancing on stage.

SCGSAH dancers in the 2017 Winter Performance.

For ballet students in South Carolina seeking opportunities to take their dance skills to the next level, the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities’ Dance Department offers several unique programs for serious young dancers.

These include a statewide ballet competition; an open scholarship and recruitment audition for national university, trainee and summer programs; a free dance training program in the Lowcountry; and a five-week summer dance intensive, in addition to the renowned, tuition-free residential high school dance program. Students can now apply for all of these programs online at

“As a department, we strive to foster connections within the dance community and enhance training opportunities that nurture young dancers while celebrating and highlighting the talent within our state,” explained Josée Garant, SCGSAH Dance Department chair.

Student ballet dancers pose on the barre.

SCGSAH student dancers in their studio.

South Carolina’s premier student ballet competition

Ballet students, ages 10-19, are invited to participate in South Carolina’s premier student ballet competition, Grand Jeté, on Saturday, March 21. Students can compete by division for cash prizes totaling $5,400 and participate in master classes led by Governor’s School faculty. All competitors will receive feedback from out-of-state, internationally-recognized dance professionals Jeffrey Bullock, Helen Pickett, and Melissa Toogood. The registration deadline to compete in Grand Jeté is February 22, 2020.

“We’re excited to announce that we’ve expanded Grand Jeté to include more participants, a new award, a scholarship audition for acceptance into trainee and university programs, and a teacher workshop,” said Garant. “Even students who are not competing in Grand Jeté are welcome to attend the master classes and watch the competition on Saturday, as well as participate in the scholarship audition class on Sunday.”

Scholarship audition and teacher workshop

On Sunday, March 22, high school juniors and seniors can participate in scholarship audition classes in ballet and modern technique. Guest artist Danah Bella, dance chair at Peabody Conservatory, will lead the modern technique class, and the ballet class will be led by Governor’s School faculty Thomas Shoemaker. The current list of attending recruiters includes Adelphi University, Columbia City Ballet, The Hartt School at Hartford University, Hollins University, New World School of the Arts, Peabody Institute at John Hopkins University, Texas Christian University, University of Charleston, University of North Carolina Charlotte, and the University of Utah, and the school expects more to participate. The classes are free, and the registration deadline to participate is January 20.

Also, on March 22, the Governor’s School is hosting a teacher workshop open to all dance teachers in South Carolina. The director of dance at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School, Stephen Pier, will lead the workshop which will focus on the art and science of teaching classical ballet, its application to developing all forms of theatrical human movement potential, and the breaking down of various technical and performance challenges into manageable subsets. The registration deadline for the teacher workshop is January 20.

Free dance training program in Summerville

The Lowcountry Youth Dance Academy, a Governor’s School outreach program, offers free pre-professional ballet training to 5th-9th graders in the Lowcountry. Taught by Governor’s School faculty, classes will meet four times a week during the 2020-2021 school year and are held at the Impact Creative Arts Academy in Summerville. Interested students can learn more and apply online at The application deadline is January 17. Applicants will audition on Feb. 8, 2020, at the College of Charleston.

Five-week summer dance intensive

Students in grades 6-11 can apply for the Governor’s School’s Summer Dance Program, a five-week intensive that provides pre-professional training in classical ballet with a modern/contemporary dance component.

“This is a great opportunity for students who are considering a career in dance and those who are thinking about attending our residential high school program,” said Garant.

Tuition-free residential high school program

The Governor’s School’s Residential High School Dance Program prepares students for the competitive world of dance through pre-professional training guided by world-renowned faculty and special guest artists from around the country. Graduates from the program have attended the nation’s most prestigious university dance programs, such as The Juilliard School, Boston Conservatory and Fordham University’s Ailey School; and trainee programs such as NY Joffrey Ballet School and Oklahoma Ballets; and have joined companies such as Ballet Met, Charlotte Ballet, and Washington Ballet.

“The Dance Department invites students in the ninth or tenth grade who have the talent, ambition, and resilience to become future successful professional dancers to apply for our Residential High School program,” said Garant.

The application deadline for both the Summer Dance Program and the Residential High School program is January 8, 2020. Interested individuals can apply online at

About SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities

Located in Greenville, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities (SCGSAH) cultivates young artists from across the state through pre-professional training in the areas of creative writing, dance, drama, music and visual arts. In the public, residential high school, students refine their talents in a master-apprentice community while receiving a nationally recognized academic education. Summer programs are available to rising 7th-12th grade students, and SCGSAH serves as a resource to all teachers and students in South Carolina, offering comprehensive outreach programs designed to bring together artists, educators, community organizations and schools.