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In Pas De Death, Dani is at her parents’ house in New Jersey for the summer, sidelined with an injury, although she was supposed to be attending the summer intensive program at Manhattan Ballet Conservatory. Instead, she gets mixed up in a murder investigation after convincing her parents to let her visit her friend Analisa at MBC.
Q: Is the Manhattan Ballet Conservatory real?
A: Like Mountain Shadows, MBC is a figment of my imagination, although based in reality. In fact, it’s highly modeled after an actual ballet boarding school, the School of American Ballet, the official training school of the New York City Ballet, one of the foremost dance companies in the world.
Just like the real-life School of American Ballet, MBC is a school-term residential program, with a summer intensive program available for promising students from around the world.
SAB was established in 1934 by legendary choreographer George Balanchine and philanthropist Lincoln Kirstein “as the first and most essential step in their quest to create an American classical ballet company.” Located at NYC’s Lincoln Center, SAB is generally considered the premier ballet academy in the United States, training more professional dancers than any other school. SAB’s alumni roster reads like a “who’s who” of the dance world in the 20th century, featuring such legends as Suzanne Farrell, Maria Tallchief, Arthur Mitchell and Chita Rivera.
Like SAB, the fictional MBC is also located at Lincoln Center, just around the corner from the Fordham Law School, where Dani’s mom is a visiting professor. (Convenient, huh? Although definitely a little too close for Dani’s comfort…)
Unlike Dani, Analisa is spending the summer at MBC’s summer intensive. The summer faculty includes many alumni and current members of the world-famous Manhattan Ballet Company. At the end of the summer, a select group of talented students will be invited to enroll in the upcoming Winter Term. Many students attend two or three summer intensive programs before they are ready to attend the advanced division of the school full-time. This is generally considered the first step towards a professional career.