Young Dancer Programmes

National Scholars and Associates programmes

These programmes provide the best foundation on the path to becoming a professional dancer and for students aspiring to train full-time at the New Zealand School of Dance.

Students are chosen from all over New Zealand by audition, ensuring those with aptitude can take class with similarly talented dancers. Classes complement the student’s current dance training while providing first-hand experience of the School’s teachers, training style and facilities.


The Scholars programme provides training for classical ballet students from the age of 10 (Year 6 at school).

Students audition to join the Scholars programme, and participate in conjunction with their regular dance training.

The programme focuses on the principles of movement, incorporating the definitions of technique as required in ballet, while embracing musicality and artistry.

Classes are small and the ballet training is supported by allied subjects such as body conditioning. The level of technique and the frequency of classes increase annually to the age of 16 in preparation for the School’s full-time course.

Student’s progress through a tiered structure is assessed each year and from Level 4 students participate in the Associates programme.

Classes are held on a weekly basis for lower North Island students and students on the National Scholars programme visit NZSD at least once during each term to attend training.

The current Scholars fee depends on the number of hours each term and ranges from $203 to $261 per term at Level 1 (total 64 teaching hours for the year). 

There are six levels with an increasing number of hours at each level.  Progression beyond Level 2 is at the discretion of the School.

At Level 6, the fee per term ranges from $533 to $688 (total 174 teaching hours for the year).

For questions or further information information about the Scholars programme please email Head of Scholars Sue Nicholls or phone 04 381 9255


The Associates Programme identifies ballet and contemporary dance students who have the talent for a career in dance performance.

tiered structure sees students aged 13 – 17 (Years 9 -12 at secondary school) progressing through the programme as Junior, Intermediate and Senior Associates.

For 2024, Associates travel from throughout the country to the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington for two weekends of tuition a year. In addition, one weekend in Term 1 will be held in Auckland and one weekend in Term 4 will be held in Christchurch. We are expecting the Associates to make a commitment to attending a minimum of three weekends out of the four.

Associates can attend masterclasses in their region hosted by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and once a year Senior Associates join the full-time students for an immersion week. 

The School accepts entry at Junior Associate level (Year 9 Classical and Year 10 Contemporary).

Current Associates do not need to re-audition annually, however they are assessed regularly and continue on the programme by invitation only.

The programme incurs a small administrative fee and students must cover their own travel and accommodation costs in each venue.

For questions or further information about the Associates programme please email Head of Associates Christine Gunn or phone 04 381 9223

At the completion of Scholars Level 6 and having completed Year 11, it is expected that classical major students will audition for full-time training at NZSD. Those majoring in contemporary dance may audition after Year 11 or Year 12 for the full-time training at NZSD.

Those wishing to enter full-time training at NZSD are required to attend the full-time audition.

Levels of the NZSD Scholars and Associates Programmes

School YearAge ScholarsAssociates
Year 610/11 YearsNZSD Scholar Level 1
Year 711/12 YearsNZSD Scholar Level 2
Year 812/13 YearsNZSD Scholar Level 3
Year 913/14 YearsNZSD Scholar Level 4NZSD Junior Associate Classical Major
Year 1014/15 Years NZSD Junior Associate Contemporary Major
Year 1014/15 YearsNZSD Scholar Level 5NZSD Intermediate Associate Classical Major
Year 11 15/16 YearsNZSD Intermediate Associate Contemporary Major
Year 1115/16 YearsNZSD Scholar Level 6NZSD Senior Associate Classical Major
Year 1216/17 YearsNZSD Senior Associate Contemporary Major
View the Young Dancer Programmes brochure here.