Texas Academy of Ballet in the Media
Dance Teacher Magazine, April 2007
“The Texas Academy of Ballet, located just outside Austin in Pflugerville, Texas, opened for business in January. Founded by Carolyn Bognar, a former dancer and registered teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance, the school offers a comprehensive dance program with an emphasis on classical ballet.
After a successful performing career in Germany and Israel, Bognar founded and directed the Ballett und Tanzakademie in Marburg, Germany for 16 years and then taught at various dance schools in San Francisco. With the belief that a comprehensive arts education is essential for preprofessional dancers, Bognar will offer her students an RAD-based ballet curriculum with additional classes in music, tap and jazz. In addition, she plans to bring in renowned guest artists for workshops in modern and other styles. Students will have the opportunity to participate in annual RAD examinations and take part in two major annual performances.”
— Janelle Abbott
Dance Magazine, April 2008
TEXAS ACADEMY OF BALLET
One year in business 100+ students
PROUD MOMENT: As a teacher you have proud moments every day. I had a school in Germany for 16 years. Henning Rubsam, was one of my students at age 15. He has his own company now (SENSEDANCE based in New York City). That was a great thing to happen.
When I started, I had only one student with dance background and thirty 3-year-olds. I'd never taught 3-year-olds before! By the time I left, I had one student accepted to The Rock School summer intensive on full scholarship and another accepted at the American Ballet Theatre summer intensive.
When I left Germany I said I'd never have another dance studio because it's a lot of work. But when we moved to Texas I couldn't find a job freelancing, so I put all my retirement money into a new school. It's been one of the best things I ever did.
CREATIVE SOLUTION: We didn't have any older students. I threw caution to the wind and set up a summer intensive of my own last summer. Henning came and taught for me. We ended up with 13 10 and 11-year-olds as on-going students out of that. Henning is returning for our summer intensive this year in August.
CURRENT CHALLENGE: I'm a Royal Academy of Dance teacher. That's the training I had growing up. When I got to Texas, I wanted to enroll students for the RAD examinations, but they didn't have training. For the last year that's been part of the education. I tell them: "If you want to get anywhere in dance and you love it, you need to come several times a week."
We're doing our first exam this month--we'll see what happens. One of the requirements is that you have live accompaniment. Austin is rich in musicians, so I found a pianist. There's a well-known RAD examiner in Dallas and he's offered to give three workshops on weekends before the exams. The children are getting more and more confident every day in what they're doing. There is also a monetary commitment required of students. We have many on scholarship and if they can't afford it, we pay for them.
NATIONAL DANCE WEEK: We're doing Peter Pan for our spring show. That week we'll take it around to grammar schools in the area. Our jazz teacher will give free workshops for three Saturdays leading up to and during NDW.
— Studio Director Roundtable. (Interview)
Community Impact Newspaper, Jan. 2009
“Although Carolyn Bognar’s dance school, Texas Academy of Ballet, has only been open for two years, she has been involved in ballet for [almost] 60 years. Bognar began taking ballet classes in California when she was 4 years old and later, as an adult, she danced professionally for 12 years in Europe and in Israel. After retiring from dancing, Bognar founded the Dance Academy of Marburg in Germany, which she operated for 16 years until moving back to California where she taught ballet at various ballet schools in the Bay area. Bognar and her husband, Janos, decided to move to Pflugerville in 2007, and one of her students, Christina Garza, and her family soon followed. ‘Austin has a good reputation of being supportive of the arts, and there’s just a lot going on — it may not be ballet — but music-wise and everything,’ Bognar said. ‘When Sally (Christina’s mother) found out I was going, they moved down two blocks away from us.’ As the office administrator, Sally Garza runs the office, but she is also a talented seamstress and makes many of the students’ costumes for performances. Bognar teaches most of the classes, which are catered to children ages 3 and older. ‘We are a good team, each of us doing what we do best,’ Bognar said. ‘You know, most people aren’t looking to open a ballet studio when they’re 62. Most of my friends think I’m nuts, but it’s what I love to do and it’s what I wanted to do.’ Bognar teaches a style of ballet called the Royal Academy of Dance, or RAD, based in England. ‘That’s what I grew up on, so that’s what I teach, which means that it’s possible for us to do exams once a year,’ she said. ‘The children who want to can do exams where an examiner comes in from England and conducts the whole thing, and then they get certificates.’ RAD teachers must be certified by the academy’s headquarters in England. Bognar said she had to pass 18 exams when she was growing up in California to become a certified RAD instructor. As a member of the RAD for 45 years holding the title Associate of the RAD, or ARAD, Bognar is considered a life member of the academy. In addition to requiring dance teachers to be certified, another difference of RAD compared to the other methods is the exams students can take each spring to measure their level of achievement against an international standard. RAD emphasizes the fundamentals of ballet, but some folk and modern dance techniques are also incorporated into the teaching, which Bognar said gives children an idea of what else is going on in the world of dance. ‘[The RAD method of ballet] is mainly a very safe method for children to learn,’ Bognar said. ‘There’s a great stress on not harming their bodies and not forcing anything too soon.’ Bognar encourages children to come to the studio as often as they can during the week, but she said students who are only able to attend class once a week are welcome, too. ‘The exams are also set up for a child who takes once a week,’ Bognar said. ‘It’s just a matter of testing and having them have a goal that they realize so they feel good about themselves.’ Bognar said while some businesses may be struggling, hers is doing OK. ‘I think parents support the arts even in hard times,’ she said. The Friends of the Texas Academy of Ballet is a nonprofit organization formed to support the Texas Academy of Ballet and create a nonprofit performance company, the Bluebonnet Ballet Dance Company. ... The Friends of the Texas Academy of Ballet will support the following: children who cannot afford regular dance classes or the summer intensive program fees; students participating in international competitions with expensive enrollment fees; and funding for productions, such as the spring show in May and the annual ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ show in December.”
— Amy Stansbury