In July 2003, Houston Ballet Academy was re-named Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy in recognition of the key role Ben Stevenson, former artistic director of the professional company and director of the academy, played for 27 years in shaping and developing the school.
Academy students learn the art of ballet from the professional company’s ballet masters and leading dancers, and also have the opportunity to gain professional experience through appearances in performances such as The Nutcracker and other productions.
Potential students may be identified through the academy's "Chance to Dance" program, an innovative program that seeks out and provides talented, low-income or at-risk children the opportunity to train at the academy through scholarships, dance-wear, and transportation.
Students in Level 1 through Level 3 attend one hour classes two to three days a week. From Level 4 on, the training intensifies and students attend longer classes four to six days per week. Classes in jazz, modern, and character dance as well as music studies are required for upper-level students. Students in Levels 5-8 also receive regular instruction in nutrition and career planning. School is in session from August through May and parents receive evaluations of their child's progress.
Level 1 and 2 students attend classes separated by gender. Boys in Levels 3 and higher continue to receive twice weekly instruction in Men's Technique but also join their female classmates in technique classes.
Students' levels are noted by different color leotards, worn with pink tights and pink ballet slippers. Lower level boys wear form-fitted white T-shirts with black bike-shorts and white socks. Upper level boys wear a white leotard with black footed tights.
Main School Division students participate in the Spring Showcase, a two-day graduation concert held at the Wortham Theater Center each April.
Graduates of the academy have joined leading dance companies throughout the world, including the Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Australian Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, San Francisco Ballet, Colorado Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
All HBII students are required to earn a high school diploma. The intense training schedule generally precludes traditional highschool studies, and the Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson Academy does not provide an academic program for the completion of high school. However, an education coordinator is available to assist students with their completion of high school through the many online and correspondence programs available. In addition, highschool graduates may apply to the for college study and receive as many as 30 hours of college credit upon graduation from UHD after completing HBII.