Professional Training NB

About Professional Training Division

The Professional Training Division (PTD) was developed to give pre-professional dancers a comprehensive program designed to further develop technique, strength and artistry in a rigorous environment to prepare them for a career in dance. Dancers selected for this program are chosen for their talent and potential to pursue a career in professional dance. The focal point of this program is to develop students into artists and assist them in their transition to professional dancers with Nashville Ballet or other professional dance companies.

The program is divided into three levels – each level progressing with increased studio time. By gradually increasing the amount of studio time, students develop the strength and technique necessary to handle the challenges associated with intense training while minimizing injuries. Students are placed in their levels by our professional and expert faculty based on ability and strength, not by age.

The structure is:

  • PTD I
  • PTD II
  • PTD III/Trainees

Why choose Nashville Ballet’s Professional Training Division?


  • A pathway to success
    Nashville Ballet emphasizes the promotion of current students into our second company (NB2) and our professional company, when possible. Students also pursue careers at other prestigious companies such as Texas Ballet Theater, ABT Studio Company, Ballet West, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Cleveland Ballet, Columbia Classical Ballet, Ballet Nebraska and California Ballet of San Diego. Students have also gone on to attend college programs including Pointe Park University and University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

  • Access to a professional company staging new and notable repertory
    Being a part of a larger organization offers daily inspiration from company dancers performing world-renowned works from choreographers such as Balanchine and Kylián, plus original pieces from Paul Vasterling and emerging choreographers.
  • Access to staff
    Our faculty are some of the most accessible in the field and focus on one-on-one training with dancers.
  • A remarkable facility
    Recently renovated in 2015, The Martin Center for Nashville Ballet was customized to fit the needs of our professional dancers, school students and administrative offices.
  • Performance opportunities
    PTD dancers perform several times throughout the year – during December in Nashville’s Nutcracker, during October in-studio showings and during spring ticketed performances with NB2. Trainees may also have the opportunity to perform in Community Engagement programs throughout the community with members of NB2.
  • Education outside of the studio
    Recognizing that education is an important part of each student's development, Nashville Ballet has a unique partnership with Belmont University that allows dancers to apply their dance experience in PTD toward a Bachelor’s degree. Dancers can pursue a degree through part-time enrollment and flexible class schedules. Click here for more information.
  • Comprehensive curriculum
    Curriculum includes technique, pointe, variations, partnering and contemporary. Students receive supplemental training on a rotational basis in other disciplines such as floor barre, conditioning, cardio, yoga and Nashville Ballet repertory. They also receive education in dance history, resumé writing, media training, audition tips, nutrition, video observation and other topics relevant to dance professionals.


Daily Schedule:

  • PTD I: 4:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
  • PTD II: 2 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
  • PTD III/Trainees: 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

This progressive schedule trains a dancer’s body toward dancing a full day while minimizing injury.


Education Outside of the Studio:

Belmont University

Recognizing that education is an important part of each student's development Nashville Ballet has a unique partnership with Belmont University that allows dancers to apply their dance experience toward earning a Bachelor’s degree while dancing in Nashville Ballet's Professional Training Division. Dancers can pursue a degree through part-time enrollment and flexible class schedules. Click here for more information.

Admission & Tuition

Admission to the Professional Training Division is by audition only. Auditions are available through our Audition Tour, by appointment or by video. Students may be accepted directly into the Professional Training Division at the audition or after attendance at our Summer Intensive. Tuition ranges from $5,000 - $6,000 annually depending on if a student has attended the Summer Intensive, and merit scholarships are available.

Photo by Tim Broekema

Photo by Tim Broekema


On average, how many students are in the Professional Training Division?

The three divisions of PTD have 45 students total, an average of 15 per level.

Are payment plans available?

Payment plans are available on a case-by-case basis. Contact Annie Carter, School Registrar, at (615) 297-2966 x203 or by email at Final payments for the year are due at the beginning of May. Outstanding balances will be automatically charged to payment cards provided by May 5, 2018.

I am not local to Nashville. Where do out-of-town PTD students live?

PTD students who move to Nashville seek out their own living arrangements around the city. Anna Pepper works with us as a resource for dancers transitioning in to pre-professional or professional life. Among other services, she offers connections to local realtors who help dancers and their families find affordable housing. Dancers often find roommates when participating in our Summer Intensive. If you did not participate in Summer Intensive and do not know anyone in Nashville, we have a Facebook group for posting/seeking roommates and housing for incoming PTD and NB2 dancers.

I have not graduated high school yet. What are my options?

Many of our PTD students are homeschooled or self-educated through online or virtual school. Some universities offer online high school programs, such as Brigham Young University and University of Nebraska. Metro Nashville Public Schools is another good resource for online curriculum. If you are unsure, we also encourage students to talk to their current high schools about options such as finishing your degree early, remotely or with potential partner online schools.

How quickly do students progress through the levels?

Students progress at their own rate. The goal is to advance through each level of PTD, to NB2, to apprentice, and finally to the company. Promotions occur within the limitations of space and budget.

Is it possible to advance at any point during the year?

Yes, within the limitations outlined above.

What involvement does Mr. Vasterling have with the PTD students?

Mr. Vasterling takes an active interest in ensuring that the school is doing its job to train dancers for work as professionals. He considers it a priority for the entire organization, and part of its mission. In the past, he has set aside time to teach the Professional Training Division for several weeks in January.

Do all PTD students dance in Nashville’s Nutcracker?

Some students elect not to participate in Nashville’s Nutcracker. Additionally, some roles do require a student to be selected by the artistic staff. However, it is an option for all PTD students.

What additional repertoire can PTD students expect to perform in?

PTD students have their own rep that they perform in the fall and the spring. It will include company work that is already in our rep, full-length classical work plus original contemporary and classical works created specifically for the PTD program.

What do students do in the case of injury?

Is there a resident physical therapist at Nashville Ballet?
There is not a resident PT at Nashville Ballet. However, we work very closely with Susan Underwood Physical Therapy. They also provide support to the PTD students in lecture and information sessions, educating them on what is going on with their bodies as dancers.

What about orthopedists or other doctors/hospitals?
We work closely with massage therapists, chiropractors and sports doctors in the area. Information is available upon request at the front desk or by emailing

When recovering from an injury, are students allowed to observe and participate in the non-dance aspects of the program?
Students are encouraged to watch and participate in non-dance aspects as they are able.

Are there opportunities for part-time employment with Nashville Ballet, such as teaching or administrative work?

Yes, depending upon a student’s work experience, job availability and the discretion of the Director. For available positions, visit For questions regarding employment for PTD students at the ballet, email or call (615) 297-2966 x203.

What arrangements are made for re-entry or refund if there is unforeseen illness, significant injury or other extenuating circumstances requiring a leave of absence?

Students are given the time necessary to complete their recovery program until they are able to dance again. Refunds due to injury are considered on a case-by-case basis, with mitigating and aggravating factors taken into consideration, such as the cause and severity of the injury.

If you have any additional questions, please email or call (615) 297-2966 x203.