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National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Performing Arts Schools, Theater

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.

Community Stories

49 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Zakary Noah Zafer S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts is a place where true growth can happen. If you are willing and able to put in the work, you will grow as an actor and as a person. My experiences at NCDA have helped to sharpen my acting skills to the point where I can really experience a moment as the character. It isn't just remembering lines and maybe feeling some feelings - no, it's very specific moments of truth that I'm now able to exist in thanks to the teaching at NCDA. I am able to bring moments to life. It's hard work, but I have the tools now to help me get there. Through the hard work they put me through, I also grew as a man, and NCDA provides support as a sort of family in its own right. Overall... I can't recommend this conservatory highly enough. If you are willing and able, you will get results. Period. I continue to stay in touch with the faculty and have gotten work through them. I look forward to my future continuing to reap the benefits of attending NCDA and making the connections I made.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was a little nervous about going to an acting program at a school that solely focuses on how to make a career as an actor, but when I say that this school teaches you about the business they teach you everything. The small classes help me learn about my personal strengths and weaknesses while also feeling encouragement from team members and faculty to push my limits and reach my goals. This school also prepares you for the business side of acting by teaching you about your brand and how you fit into the market. I would also get very stressed out before auditions but after the school taught me a semester I never felt nerves at an audition again. The faculty is comprised of all professionals who are active in the theater scene in DC so you truly feel like the knowledge they give is up to date and for your best interest. The connections I have made at the conservatory are few that will last a lifetime. If you're serious about theater and film and would like a breath of fresh air than another school in new york this is definitely the place to be.

Client Served

Rating: 5

NCDA was everything and more than I had hoped for. It truly transformed my understanding and practice of acting, and I can't imagine attempting to perform now without the crucial technique the conservatory offers. Along with extensive training, the school also gave me the tools to successfully step into the world of acting. The teachers are not only knowledgeable and skilled, but they truly care for their students. To this day I feel welcomed and comfortable every time I visit. I'm deeply grateful for my time there.

Sofia P.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My experience at NCDA was truly amazing!!. When I looked into NCDA, I had absolutely no acting background, just a dream of becoming a professional actress. I clearly remember being very afraid to attend the open house, thinking that it was silly for me to try this out at 28 years old. When I arrived at the open house, they made me feel at home, it felt right from day one. During my time at NCDA, I grew so much as a person and learned so many different things like acting techniques, script analysis, the business side of acting, camera techniques and my favorite was being part of so many wonderful plays. I also got to know myself better and learned about new talents I had no idea I possessed! They kept it very interesting and challenging, and I loved the challenges because that's when I grew the most. I'm very glad I finished the program because now I am living my dream. I am a professional actress, I have not stopped working since graduation. I just finished making my first movie and a lot of my success I owe it to NCDA. Not only do they give you all the tools you need to be succesful, but they support you in every possible way even after graduation! They have booked me for several films after graduating and also helped me land an industrial with a big corporation in the area! To top it off, they have allowed me to use their venue when needed :). It's a never-ending relationship with them, they are like family!

Sofia Pellegrino

Elenilson A.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was at a lost before continuing my acting studies at NCDA. I knew I needed more training and did not know where to go for it. After my audition at NCDA, I knew this was the right place. The teachers challenged my ensemble to take risks. We were taught how to tell stories truthfully and fearlessly. At NCDA, a student gets the most out of the program only if they apply themselves and always bring their 110% to the classroom. Best advice for a new student at NCDA: Leave the outside world at the door and come in to play hard.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Attending NCDA was the best decision I could have made. I'm a graduate of both the two-year acting program and the third year advanced ensemble. The time that I spent here helped me grow as an artist in addition to giving me the tools and confidence to start my acting career. The combination of intensive technical training, audition coaching and business education truly prepares you for a career in the acting industry. I was cast in my first professional role right before graduating thanks to the fantastic training and networking that NCDA provides.

The faculty are incredibly passionate about their work and go out of their way to help their students succeed. When you attend NCDA, you become a part of a family. As soon as I walked through doors, I knew that NCDA was the place for me. The faculty and administration welcome new students with open arms and continue to support alumni long after they graduate. I always know that I can stop by the school if I need rehearsal space, help with a monologue or just some moral support. I'm proud to call NCDA my Alma Mater and second home.

Matt B.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts was the best decision I have ever made towards furthering my aims at enhancing my training and establishing contacts in the professional working acting world. The dedication to their students and their program cannot be overstated. Their staff of professional working actors, directors, and other people conversant in the field is simply top-notch and genuinely enjoyable to work with and learn from. I cannot recommend this school too highly.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a graduate of the 3 year program at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Washington, DC. I have a collection of certificates and diplomas, but my Certificate in Advanced Acting from NCDA is the one that means the most to me. The faculty, all working actors and directors , give their all to the students. I could not have had a more fruitful and enjoyable experience.

Cambria U.

Client Served

Rating: 5

NCDA is as wonderful a place as there can be to learn the craft of acting. It’s a family that welcomes you with open arms and encourages you to be open and unafraid on the stage or on camera. Teachers are friends who take pride in and are personally invested in the success and progress of their students.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a graduate of NCDA from 1996. (including the 3rd year performance program) I had an absolutely wonderful experience there. The program really prepared me for life as an actor as well as a comprehensive overview of the theater in general. This is a gem right in the heart of Georgetown for those who are serious about a career in the performing arts.

Client Served

Rating: 5

From a student's perspective--great training from an excellent faculty. From a theater goer's perspective--an opportunity to enjoy innovative theater while supporting actors-in-training. From a local artist's perspective--a widely respected organization with opportunities to collaborate and network. Good people doing quality stuff for theater in DC.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I graduated from the advanced acting program at NCDA four years ago. My experience as a student was positive, and I've also had a positive experience as an alum. The faculty continues to take an interest in the students even after they graduate, and that's been immensely valuable to me.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts is a terrific gem of an acting school located in Georgetown. Great faculty!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a recent graduate of both the basic and advanced programs at NCDA. Their training was professional, comprehensive, tough, but nurturing at the same time. Since I've graduated, I've used their services for monologue development and other advice (all free of charge). I'm now in a professional production and am using every bit of the training I received at NCDA. It has enabled me to prepare for auditions as well as develop a character far beyond what I was able to do before I attended this program. Naturally, any program is only as good as what you're willing to put into it, but if you are serious about becoming an actor, this group will help you get there.

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

A nurturing environment and the freedom to take chances make the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts' actor training the most effective I have ever experienced. The work is challenging and incredibly gratifying. Opportunities to find employment and learn about the business of acting make this school truly unique. NCDA will provide the skills to anyone who is serious about become a working actor and continue to support you is so many ways even after graduation. My heartfelt thanks to the staff for the incredible hours they put in to make this school a success.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Folks at NCDA as they would like to be called treat you a family that will never cast you out. I feel I have joined a family that only continue to grow with an outstanding group of people

1 Melissa59

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have seen numerous productions at the conservatory as well as their new film projects which can be viewed on their website. I'm constantly impressed by the quality of Thier productions and always have a very enjoyable experience. They offer a memorable and singular experience as the only theater venue in Georgetown. But the best Thing about the conservatory is the community they have created around the school. While interacting with students and staff it becomes apparent that they love acting and they love acting at the conservatory. Even as an outside observer I feel my knowledge and appreciation for the ancient art form of acting has grown through my conversations and interactions with the staff and students . I look forward to many more years of enjoying the shows an productions from the conservatory and can only hope to be in a position one day where I can further show my support through donating and volunteering.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a graduate of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. The administrators and faculty consistently showed that they were willing to go the extra mile to help students succeed. Their knowledge and expertise, as well as their commitment to excellent teaching, and small classes, all contributed to a terrific, hands-on, practical education that has readied me for an acting career.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I began training at the Conservatory exactly twelve years ago. Ten years later, I am a successful working actor, primarily in the theatre. I owe everything to the Conservatory. Without the training, guidance, and support of the faculty, administration, and fellow student body, I wouldn't be where I am today. I apply the training I received at the Conservatory to my work as an actor daily, and I've expounded upon that training. As a result, I'm not only an alumnus, but a member of the faculty as well. I always encourage people who are looking to begin their training to first consider the Conservatory. It has not only helped me grow (and continue to grow) in my craft, but it's helped me to grow in life. I thank the Conservatory wholeheartedly for that. ~Frank Britton

1

Board Member

Rating: 4

I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful organization. NCDA is offering great programming for its students and has changed their program to reflect the changing needs of Actor Training.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts is a great resource for education and support for the arts. It serves as a incubator for aspiring actors but also provides shows and resources for people to experience theatre and other art for free. It is amazing how much they are able to accomplish and do for people with such limited resources. They find instructors who not only are working professionals, but also usually are the top in their areas of expertise. The curriculum is varied and ever-evolving to adapt to the needs of the field. They help students during their time at school and beyond as they start their careers. Unlike most schools, the personalized attention is unparallelled. They truly want people to succeed and foster a competitive edge in their students to allow them to thrive in a highly demanding field.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The school is a home away from home and the staff and students are my family members. One is treated with the utmost respect and cared for dearly. In this school, I have been privleaged to work with professionals who really know the craft and will to anything in their power to make sure one succeeds in the aggressive and competative world of acting. They will introduce you to their connects so that you stand a fighting chance in the world of acting. The most important advantage of this school is that they are accredited and for great reason too. The school is a powerful tool needed for this field and they will work with you very well because they understand everybody has a busy life. If I can do it, so can you.

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

The Conservatory is a great way to break into the acting world of Washington, DC. The instructors are all working actors, with a variety of talents and expertise.

Previous Stories
1

Advisor

Rating: 5

I am a faculty member of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, as well as a local actor and playwright. I think NCDA does an excellent job of recruiting faculty members, senior faculty members and guest artists (directors, playwrights, etc.) who provide their students with a wide range of expertise and experience in the field of theater. By employing such a diverse group of talented instructors, the Conservatory enables its students to build a robust, practical toolkit of acting techniques and experiences as they pursue their career dreams. By only employing instructors who are actively involved in the local theater scene, the Conservatory helps its students prepare themselves for the realities of acting as a career, and start to forge a professional network for themselves that they can build upon after graduation. The fact that the Conservatory is accredited – a professional hallmark which it rigidly enforces and protects – enables many students to obtain the financial aid they would not otherwise have access to as they pursue their education. NCDA is the only accredited acting studio in the Greater Washington Metro Area. I have had the pleasure of performing onstage with former NCDA students who have gone on to rewarding careers in the theater; and, speaking personally, my being on the faculty roster at NCDA has opened numerous doors to other professional teaching opportunities, including serving as an instructor at the Actors’ Center, the Writer’s Center, Imagination Stage and the Educational Theater Company, among others.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I have found the graduates from the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts (NCDA) to be extremely professional and very well trained. When I come across an NCDA graduate at and audition, I always give them special consideration.

2 gmichaelharris

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was a student at NCDA in 2007-08. When I arrived I had over a decade of stumbling around between community theater and low level professional. I wanted to make the jump to being a serious professional, but had little idea how to do it, and limited training. In the three and half years since graduation, I have earned my Equity card, performed in several nationally prominent theaters in D.C., become the Artistic and Executive Director of the Baltimore Improv Group, and returned to NCDA as a member of the faculty. For years my development as an artist was hampered by the need to pay the bills for my family. Now I am able to make a living and care for my loved ones using jobs that are all theater related. NCDA is the reason that my life has changed in this way, and I could not be more thankful.

1 Marni C.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

An excellent training ground for those in the DC area who want a certificate program in acting - the faculty is terrific, all professionals in their own right who are making a living in this field in the DC area.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Nat'l Conservatory is an arts-championing educational institution that welcomes students immediately into a FAMILY. The network created here is something that is so hard for actors of any age to find, in any market. Here, students train with professionals *currently in the field* -- people who can tell them what the greater artistic community is like right here & now, but also people who could potentially get them work after graduation. The man who just taught you script analysis? He runs a bold experimental theatre company. The man who just introduced you to Commedia? He operates a children's theatre doing original work. The woman working with you on monologues just finished a national tour, and is currently writing a show with her husband (also on staff), set to be produced by a local company. This is a place where students are given tools to become thoughtful actors, serving this and other communities through storytelling, while being able to raise a family or keep steady employment. This is the first institution I have encountered where students were ALWAYS welcome back, be it for advice or coaching or support. NCDA gives so many people the confidence, skills and courage to keep the arts alive & flourishing.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I completed both of the programs at NCDA and it was one of the best things I have ever done. I learned about not only the craft of acting, but the business as well and I believe that I now have the tools to succeed. The people at NCDA are some of the most dedicated I have ever met and I would never have learned this much anywhere else.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

A place of enlightment and discovery. The National Conservatory of dramatic Arts or (NCDA) is more than a building where acting classes are held, it serves as a preperation gateway for a career field that is extremely competitive. Within 3 months of intensive learning, from styles ranging from classical to contemporary studies, my experience has compelled me to become the best actor I can be and more. I recommend anyone who wants down-to-earth, humanized, and GENIUNE training to appear in front of these doors ASAP. Well, what are you waiting for?

1 Joshua D.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts gave me everything I need to pursue an acting career. At the Conservatory, I developed and practiced skills and techniques, learned about the business of acting and how to market myself, all from an extremely qualified faculty that genuinely cared about me and my education. The Conservatory provides an incredibly welcoming atmosphere and support network that continues beyond graduation. The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts has made my dream of an acting career possible.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Great training! Far exceeded expectations and the amount and information taught truly puts us ahead of a four year degree program in theatre. Unbelievable amount of time saved. Unbelievable amount of learning gained. Greatest acting secret in DC!

1 Jill N.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was enrolled in the Conservatory during 2007-2008. I found it to be a professionally run, intensive, useful program that hit on all the fundamentals needed to pursue a career in acting. The audition and business classes were particularly helpful and something that was neglected at the university where I previously studied. The staff and faculty were very helpful and available, and have remained so for me since graduating. It is very much a family atmosphere, with wonderfully small classes and lots of individual attention. The camaraderie, bonding, and network during and after my time there have been really important in launching my post-Conservatory acting career.

2 James R.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a DC Filmmaker, it's refreshing to have a place to turn time and time again for experienced, professional actors who treat their craft with the determination it requires for success. The students want to work, and we're constantly looking for actors. It's a win-win.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of being associated with this school for well over ten years. In that time, I have been so impressed with the dedication exhibited by those who run this school. They are committed to improving their programs and always show a willingness to expand, try things and risk new ideas. Two examples of many would be the new play component of the ART program as well as film. In both of these cases, the school has reached beyond its comfort zone in an effort to better serve the students who attend the school.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts has a staff of incredibly talented professionals who not only understand the craft of acting, but also the craft of teaching. Through the 2-year acting program, students are guided through their own personal discoveries and allowed the freedom to explore and express themselves in a safe, nurturing environment. Wonderful program!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.