National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts

Rating: 4.84 stars   37 reviews

Issues:

Location: 1556 Wisconsin Ave Nw Washington DC 20007 USA

Mission: The founders of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts realized the need in 1975 for a quality program in the Washington area, which would allow students to train for careers in the performing arts.  Prior to the establishment of the Conservatory students wishing to train as actors were compelled to move to either New York or California to attend Conservatories in those states.  The performing arts in the Washington area have enjoyed enormous growth over the past ten years, increasing the demand for professionally trained actors.  The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts remains the only full-time, accredited acting program in the area.  Prospective students must demonstrate their readiness for training through a formal admissions process including both interview and audition.  Student Actors admitted to the Conservatory Program spend four consecutive semesters training twenty hours per week in voice, speech, acting, stage movement, stage combat, theatre history and rehearsal labs.  Students who have demonstrated professionalism and promise move on after the Conservatory Program to be members of Actor’s Repertory Theatre (ART) and spend an additional two semesters as members of the ensemble perfecting their craft in a professional company atmosphere, and appear in three full productions which are open to the public and invited members of the Washington theatre and performing arts community.
Results: We have graduated 700 students, and our actors are on stages and screens in LA, NY, DC, Chicago, and all over the country.
Target demographics: All ages and races who are looking to start a career or 2nd career as a professional actor.
Direct beneficiaries per year: 30 students
Programs: We offer two programs of study. A 4 semester Diploma in acting, and a 2 semester Advanced repertory company.
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I knew when I finished an undergraduate degree in English Lit, that I wanted to pursue a career as an actor. After several years of bouncing around between community and lower level professional theater, I realized I needed more training. Looking at the cost of most Conservatory training (often between 20&30K/year), serious training did not seem financially viable. The other option was to take financially affordable classes that would run once or twice a week, and would take several years to complete anything like a comprehensive curriculum. Neither option appealed.
At a Actors Expo in VA, I met some students from NCDA, and talked about their experiences. The school was a perfect balance of time commitment (16-18 hours of class a week; four 15 week semesters completed in 17 months) and cost. The four semesters I attended at NCDA cost about what a single semester at a Performing MFA Conservatory program would cost.
The program is completely focused on preparing performers for the professional world. In my two and half years since leaving NCDA, I have performed at the Kennedy Center, Signature Theater (winner 2009 Regional Tony), & Studio Theater. I have taken over as Executive/Artistic Director of the Baltimore Improv Group, and I'm starting rehearsals to play Hamlet.
I would never have received these opportunities had it not been for the skills I learned and support I received while at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts.
There are schools with bigger names, bigger reps, and bigger price tags; but if you want to be a professional actor, this is the place for you.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Everyday I use skills learned at NCDA

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Make the school better known.

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Rating: 4 stars  

My name is Tanera Hutz and I graduated from NCDA'S ART program in 2006. I have had many wonderful opportunities to perform in Washington, DC's professional theatre community since then. These opportunities were made possible by the education I received at this school. I now live in Seattle, Washington where there is a very lively theatre scene....even though I'm starting over, sort of speak, I have the confidence to jump right on in do to my experience as a professional actor and the training I recieved at NCDA....check this place out and let your adventure begin......

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My ability to work steady since 2006.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Screen students a little better...especially prior to them progressing to each semester.....if they need more time in a semester to master the skills taught holding them back will only make them a better actor.

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Rating: 5 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

Finding the National Conservatory Of Dramatic Arts was an important turning point in my life. I started acting as a child but stopped at a certain point due to various life events. In 2001, I took a month long course at RADA in London. The course gave me a glimse at what going to a full time conservatory might be like. The first time I wandered into the conservatory, it had a very good feel - it felt strangely like him. When I went for an interview, I met Nan Ficca. Talking to Nan made me think that my dream might be possible for the first time in years. My ears pricked up when she said that NCDA was modeled after conservatories in Europe. A few years earlier, I had tried to renew my love of acting by enrolling in a summer course at the The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In that month, I experienced a comprehensive approach that included working on multiple disciplines - such acting, voice, movement, text work etc. on a daily basis. This seemed to me a much more time efficient way to study acting than taking a once a week class. When I was in London, I realized that a conservatory was the right learning environment for me - I just didn't know there was one right there in my own home town! I could write pages and pages about the hundred of little moments at the conservatory when I broke to a new understanding, did something new, or accomplished something that I did not think I could. What really sets The Conservatory apart from other acting institutions that I have experienced is that it gave me the safety net to grow. No one outside of students and faculty views student projects until fourth semester...I think this is so key because it allows students to "try and fail,". Another thing that sets this school apart of say, a college acting program is the amount that you actually act!!! The conservatory won't force you to take tech classes. The only non-acting stuff that is required are classes about business and auditions that will actually help you get a job - as an ACTOR! In addition to classes - if you put in the work, you will get meaty roles - over and over, so that you can grow from them. Another great thing about the conservatory is its ART program. In this program, students are cast and directed by high caliber professional directors. This really takes students to the next level, not only artistically, but also in terms of how to conduct themselves in a professional theatre environment with a director and stage manager. After graduating from the diploma and advanced programs at The National Conservatory, I have been paid as an actor! I worked at The International Spy Museum's "Operation Spy". I have narrated stories to kids and helped them act them out. I even got into a fight with a very mean puppet in one women show during the 2008 Fringe festival. I would not have gotten any of these and other gigs without my conservatory training. (And if I had, I wouldn't have known what I was doing!) Sadly, I have left Washington to be near family in Chicago. Since moving here, I have been invited to join the acting ensemble of "Evergreen Theatre Ensemble", and performed with them during the past year. I will never forget my experience at the Conservatory - it truly was a Godsend for me. I wish I could do it again - oh, wait - I can! The Conservatory lets alumni audit classes for free, forever. (As if I wasn't home sick already...sigh) I am so thankful to my acting home and family there. I will cherish it as long as I live. The End. Jennifer Mayberry, Chicago, IL ...I cannot say enough that for me NCDA was literally a Godsend...I had lost my dream for years...briefly rekindling it in London, and then finding I could pursue it in the town I grew up in...I don't know what would have become of me if I had not found it. Trying to be

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Please see lengthy description above - but I have gotten jobs, had fun, and learned more than I could ever say.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

make the city let us park without moving our cars!

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Following my long lost dream of becoming an actor.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Professional, supportive,talented, and kind.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Help many others...but I hope the core would not change.

Ways to make it better...

I had found out about the conservatory when I was 17, instead of when I was old as sin.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

money and space

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-9-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

12 people found this review helpful

Being a graduate of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts is something that I am truly proud of. With everything from basics of acting to business of acting, I have a solid foundation to build upon for the rest of my life!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the network that I have been introduced to, and my opportunities with teaching.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the family that develops, and the on-going encouraged involvement!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

talented, inspiring and nurturing.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

relocate or build a state of the art space, attract actors from all over the world, and expand it's cirriculum even more!

Ways to make it better...

they had a decent parking situation.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

financial challenges.

One thing I'd also say is that...

I would recommend the Conservatory to anyone who was thinking of attending a theatre school.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

10 people found this review helpful

I was student in both the certificate program and the advanced program. What a great learning experience, followed by a supportive Alumni experience.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

an excellent education and broad professional network.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

If I had the money I'd grow the budget.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the ongoing relationship -- it doesn't end when you graduate.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Passionate! Skilled.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Set the standard, across the world, for professional training. Offer scholarships. Move to a state-of-the-art space. Produce theater at the highest level of professionalism and art.

Ways to make it better...

The organizaition and it's staff is always striving to improve. I was a student in 2005. If I go back now (which I can do as an alum) I know I will experience an ever improving standard of education. As time marches on NCDA only raises teh bar.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

None to big that talent, passion and elbow grease can't overcome. The school is ina great location but the facility has its challenges, one of them is parking.

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-12-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

10 people found this review helpful

This accredited acting conservatory (the only one in the Washington Metropolitan area) has a success rate of over 90% in placing their student actors in professional acting jobs within their 1st year of graduating!!!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the first year of graduating

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

The National Conservatory was the best educational choice I ever made. It boasts an excellent program of linear study, nurturing and supportive faculty and staff, and an incredibly loyal and helpful student body and alumni group. Not only was I able to finish my degree in a hyper-intensive course of study that pushed me and helped me achieve my potential, but I found true success in the field, friends for life, and memories that I will pass on to my grandchildren. The Conservatory also constantly updates and expands it's curriculum, and I have been back on more than one occasion to take seminars and classes that did not exist when I was a student FOR FREE. Thanks NCDA!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My career as an actor, director, playwright, and educator.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Help them find better financial ground so that admissions could become more selective. Build them a larger stage to produce plays for the public.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The constant application of what I learned while at NCDA, and the amazing friendships I developed with teachers, staff and students.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Administrative, educational, and all kind.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Build a new, bigger, better location and become a magnet for training the best performers in the country. Expand the film program and buy state of the art equipment for students to train with. Hire famous guests to speak at the school!

Ways to make it better...

The space had better parking, and more up to date theatrical equipment.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Financial, and the changing nature of the business.

One thing I'd also say is that...

The Conservatory breeds wonderful, caring, practical, and professional actors. And changes the lives of all who walk through the door.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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