San Francisco Conservatory of Music/courtesy of Mark Cavagnero Associates
Bowes Center

San Francisco Ballet School will open student housing later this year

March 6, 2020
The school will provide living space for 52 students in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music's new 12-story Bowes Center

San Francisco Ballet School will begin providing year-round housing later this year for up to 52 students in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s new Ute and William K. Bowes, Jr. Center for Performing Arts.

The Ballet School says in a news release that the housing arrangement, which is scheduled to begin in August 2020, adds to what is already a multifaceted partnership between the two schools.

The Ballet School’s intermediate, advanced, and trainee-level students will occupy the Diane B. Wilsey 5th floor of the $193 million Bowes Center at 200 Van Ness Avenue. It will provide enhanced safety and convenience to Ballet School studioa; access to new performance and rehearsal spaces; a dining facility; and an overall improved quality of life for Ballet School students.

The Bowes Center is directly across the street from Davies Symphony Hall and centrally situated in the heart of San Francisco’s civic and cultural life among City Hall, the Ballet School’s studios, the War Memorial Opera House, and SFJAZZ.

The 12-story facility houses rehearsal spaces and two performance halls, including one equipped with sprung floors; study areas; a restaurant open to the public; an observation deck; and a café offering student meal services, in which Ballet School students can enroll. Up to 52 Ballet School students will occupy 13 suite-style rooms, and staff will live onsite to ensure student safety and wellbeing.

A private entrance for both student residents form both schools includes round-the-clock security and floor access that is further secured by elevator access passes. Ballet School residential staff will monitor the floor when students are present, including overnight. Music Conservatory students will occupy six additional floors with on-site residential staff.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the ability to provide housing for ballet  students is urgent because the 300 enrolled in the Ballet School - the oldest in the nation - are the primary feeder for the San Francisco Ballet. Intensive training begins at age 13 or 14.

The dance company and its school enjoy a worldwide reputation, but it often fails to attract the best young talent because 13-year-olds can't cook for themselves and manage the other challenges of living on their own, says Patrick Armand, the school's director.

Other ballet schools offer room and board, most notably the School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center in New York. For the San Francisco Ballet, operating both a school and a full-service residence hall - with plans for healthy food service and in-residence physical therapy to meet the needs of dancers - might set a new standard.

In addition to housing students, the Bowes Center provides 27 rent-stabilized apartments for the location’s former tenants who elected to stay.

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