The three preparatory classes are for children from 7 to 10 years of age who are admitted to the school after passing examinations for physical suitability and musical aptitude.
Students are educated in aspects of music and rhythm, posture is corrected, co-ordination and dance improvisation are developed. Before progressing to the junior level, the anatomically correct placing of the child in the basic positions of classical ballet is emphasized.
The lessons of class A and B are twice weekly and class C three times per week.
Educating a professional dancer takes eight years. After progressing from class I to VI, the training is concluded with two years in the Theatre Classes VII and VIII.
The pupil receives intensive training with the main emphasis on classical ballet technique. During this period other subjects are added including character dance, modern dance, classical and contemporary variations, pas de deux and dance composition.
The lessons take place six days per week. Small classes permit careful attention to the individual pupil. Progress made during the year is examined regularly by the staff. Towards the end of each school year, an examination determines if the pupil will progress to the following class.
Pupils from the age of 10 years are accepted into class I. It is possible for talented or more experienced pupils from outside the school to be placed in a class of their level by means of audition.
Parallel to ballet instruction, emphasis is also placed on a good academic education and, for this reason, the school maintains close relationships with local schools, e.g. "Stadtteilschule Hamburg-Mitte" or "Gymnasium Hamm", which offers courses as part of a "Ballettprofil" to obtain the German Abitur. After their academic school, children who do not live in the boarding facilities may come to the Ballettzentrum and have lunch.
The Theatre Class programme, with its full-time training syllabus, has the status of a "State Professional School of Ballet". Within two years, the ballet student should achieve the qualifications necessary to become a professional dancer. Studies end with a final examination and diploma. The aim of this daily training programme is to develop a versatile dancer prepared for the technical and artistic demands required by ballet companies of today.
Students of the Theatre Classes frequently take part in the rehearsals and dance in performances of the Hamburg Ballet. Traditional repertoire (corps de ballet, solo-variations and pas de deux from classical ballets) as well as the contemporary repertoire of the Hamburg Ballet are taught.
The academic programme includes anatomy, music theory and dance history. Foreign students receive German language tuition. Young people with adequate preparatory training are accepted from the ages of 16 to 18 years.
Lessons in dance composition (choreography) are part of the Theatre Class programme in which pupils are encouraged to use their own creativity. Using their classical and modern technique as a basis, the students explore the rhythmic, dynamic and spacial challenges involved in choreography, as well as the possibilities of expression and movement invention. At first, particular themes and musical works are suggested. It is the aim of this instruction to give pupils a structural basis on which they can develop their own choreographic ideas and thus become a creative partner for any choreographer they may work with during their professional career.
The Gymnasium Hamm offers a "Ballet Profile" for the German "Abitur".
The higher level of education at the Gymnasium Hamm has been specially developed for students of the School of the Hamburg Ballet. Students from Germany and abroad are given the possibility to combine their academic studies towards qualifying for the German "Abitur" and following their ballet training. This profile has been offered to students by Gymnasium Hamm since 2011/2012. The aim is to facilitate the combination of training to be a professional dancer and achieving the highest possible academic school qualifications. This enables students entrance into universities if desired. The ballet school staff co-ordinate with the Gymnasium who take the ballet curriculum into account when giving the final examination results.
The German "Fach Abitur"
Since 2014 the School of The Hamburg Ballet offers an alternative to "Abitur", the "Fach Abitur". The "Fach Abitur" is a specialised high school certificate of education which enables students to pursue their studies in certain subjects at universities in Germany. To qualify for the Fachabitur students must have successfully completed the 11th year at a German Gymnasium and the 8th and final year in the Theatre Class. These two certificates can be submitted to obtain this higher level of education.
The boarding school is open to children 11 years of age or older. The head and her team of trained chaperons are responsible for the care and well-being of the children. They are available to the boarders around the clock.
The second floor of the Ballettzentrum, where the boarding school is situated, guarantees undisturbed privacy for the boarders. A common room and the boarding school office is located on the same floor.