Boston Ballet Dancers Earn Degrees Through Innovative Northeastern Partnership

For more than ten years, an innovative partnership between Northeastern University and the Boston Ballet has allowed the company’s professional dancers to discover their second act though degree-granting programs that accommodate busy schedules. Dancers have the opportunity to pursue a variety of degree pathways while receiving tuition assistance thanks to a philanthropic gift from the late Henri Termeer, H’11, and Jack Meyer.

Dancers know a thing or two about precision and persistence—and these elite athletes are remarkable experts in balance. While their vocation demands relentless discipline, dancers must apply the same focus to their educational pursuits as they do onstage, whether completing a co-op or executing a plié.

Since 2013, the Northeastern University-Boston Ballet Education Program has enabled full-time dancers to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees amid grueling schedules crowded with training, rehearsals, and performances. In planning for careers beyond their final curtain call, the dancers graduate ready to take their next steps.

“When I heard about the program, I was like, ‘I’m doing this,’” recalls Kathleen Breen Combes, CPS’16, a former Boston Ballet principal dancer. Northeastern’s program was flexible enough to work around her taxing days and offered opportunities to learn about topics she’d had a nascent interest in, such as collective bargaining. After retiring from the ballet, Breen Combes—who was the first graduate of the initiative—became director of Festival Ballet Providence in Rhode Island.

The first-of its-kind partnership enrolls nearly 20 student dancers each year. Scholarship funds cover the greater part of tuition and costs, and most undergraduates earn their degrees in roughly six years. In blending the arts with academia, the program is making a lifelong impact on dancers committed to their craft.

“I gained resources that helped me convey ideas on stage,” says former Boston Ballet dancer Boyko Dossev, CPS’16, now assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma School of Dance. “I didn’t know much about the field of organizational communication when I started, but quickly fell in love with it,” he shares. “The teachers were accomplished, inspiring professionals who taught us not just theory but also how to apply what we were learning to the real world.”

This article was originally written by Christine Burgermaster
and published here

“I gained resources that helped me convey ideas on stage.”

Boyko Dossev, CPS’16, former Boston Ballet dancer and assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma School of Dance