Taradriver

Friends University

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Does anyone have any info on the ballet program at Friends University in Kansas (USA)? Thanks!

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What would you like to know? I go to the ballet school affiliated with it, so I can probably answer most of your questions.

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Well, as it ballet focused, I am assuming it has multiple levels of ballet and pointe. Does it have a company affiliation? Performance opportunities? And do their students ever move on to professional dance? Do you have the same teachers that teach in the university?

 

Thanks.

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Its really small, like around 25 total majors. There is only one technique class and everyone takes it (its like an hour and a half everyday), then there are classes such as repetoire and pdd that not everyone gets to take. Since its so small you have a better chance of getting a bigger part though and its not as competive as larger programs. As far as I know all of your academic classes have to be over before noon because the whole rest of the day is filled with classes and rehearsals. They perform nutcracker, a fall and spring ballet (they have guest choreographers come in for these such as dominic walsh), and there are usually other oportunites for performances through choreography class. There is no company affiliation because there are no official (paying) companies here. They have had numerous dancers go on to professional careers I know there are some at san diego and NY theatre ballet currently. There are two main teachers (Stan and Sharon Rogers), Stan teaches the majority of the classes. I take classes from Sharon every night and she is an EXCELLENT teacher!

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I am seriously considering auditioning for this college. Is it difficult to get accepted into?

Edited by whiteswan1390

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I can't answer your question, I'm afraid (hopefully someone else will be able to ) but I had a student who attended Friends and she came back looking beautiful. She is now auditioning for companies.

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Is audition required for the school though? I went on their website and found nothing about audition information or acceptance.

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I don't know if an audition is required, but it couldn't hurt. The admissions department will be helpful in setting up the opportunity to take a class (it's once a day at 1pm, M-F) when you make a campus visit.

 

We visited last month. It's a small beautiful campus, wonderful instructors, lovely program.

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I auditioned twice (once my junior year and my senior year for scholarships), I'm pretty sure they don't ever say no to anyone since its a small program (even smaller this year, I'm pretty sure). Its just a class- you don't have to prepare anything. Its flat usually too- the first year I auditioned the director (Stan) hadn't seen me dance before, so after class he had me put on my pointe shoes and stand in like first or something and then do an arabesque (this was like 3 years ago though). I never went to college there.

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BalletPoint87 already gave some good info about this school ... but DD visited there twice and it was a serious consideration even while she ended up choosing a different school. I got to watch her take class there twice so I thought I'd come along and give the perspective of a "prospective" student's mom. :sweating:

 

Gorgeous facilities: Two large beautiful studios, with natural lighting, grand piano, sound system, sprung floors, faculty offices overlooking and adjacent dressing rooms. Really very fine facilities.

 

Wonderful teachers: Stan and Sharon seem to be outstanding instructors, each with their own strengths, a married couple who complement each other very well as a ballet faculty team.

 

Dorms: Freshman housing is the nicest of any school we looked at - 3 bedroom apartments with demi-kitchen (no stove, but sink/fridge/counters), double full baths and the largest closets you will find in student housing.

 

Conservative/Christian environment: Friends no longer has any affiliation with their Quaker roots, but they have evolved into a conservative Christian college. We saw this in the personal views of the faculty, and across the student body, too.

 

Ballet Scholarship: Tuition at Friends is below average to begin with, and they have institutional scholarships for bright bun heads with good SAT scores who can be personable and charming at their admissions interview. THEN, the ballet department has a private endowment for talented kids - if they like you at the "first" audition, they will invite you back for the "Sebits Scholarship." This endowment is new for 08-09 and I suspect the Rogers will use it wisely and effectively to grown their department and strengthen the calibre of dancers they attract.

 

Auditions: Prospective students take a regular class with the enrolled dancers at the daily ballet technique class at 1pm. They have several days set aside for those "visit Friends" days, but I suspect you could go anytime by arranging it with Admissions or the Rogers directly. At the two auditions DD attended with the regular full class of students, there was a range of abilities in the auditionees, including one kid who was clearly struggling. Yet at the end of the audition they were all given verbal assurance from Stan that he would accept any/all of them. Class was on flat shoes.

 

The program: Sharon is very proud of the fact they they offer a BFA in ballet. Kids must take French. The encourage double majors. They do Nutc in December and another event every spring. The ballet department would be a very good fit (my opinion only) for kids who are looking for a developmental program. I spoke at length with two former students (and got an email reply c/o a fellow BalletTalker from a 3rd former student) and they all agreed that the Rogers can really give talented kids what they need to move ahead of the average dancer, and they can turn even 'not so talented' kids into very competent dancers, too. They are small and unknown, but a gem/treasure waiting to be discovered.

 

The leadership in the Fine Arts department is very responsive and truly interested in the kids who attend (actually, pretty interested in the prospective kids, too, if our experience was any example.) I really liked this school. DD did, too: It was her 2nd choice and it was NOT an especially easy decision to make especially in light of their generous scholarships for ballet. Most dancers get some token award and very talented kids can get up to full tuition thanks to the new privately endowed scholarship. If you are in the mid-west and would appreciate a Christian environment at a small liberal arts college, I would definitely go visit and see what you think.

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I'm a ballet major at Friends University. Everything the others have said about the school is very true. It is a very classical and conservatory style program. We have technique everyday and are usually in the studio with other classes and rehearsals from 1:00-approx. 6:00. most students that graduate from here go on to jobs in ballet companies. Several recent graduates dance for San Antonio Ballet. there are also students who have gone on to everything from San Diego Ballet to Sesame St. Live. Kids who come in come in from a lot of different dance backgrounds. some have only danced in a local studio, while some have attended conservatory programs at schools like the Rock in high school before attending here. I love Friends University and Stan and Sharon are some of the best teachers in the country. soooo...ya lol

Edited by gretchenwiswell

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Can anyone speak about the environment there? It was mentioned that Friends has a Christian affiliation. Would a non-christian feel out of place?

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Yes it is a Christian University. Quaker to be exact. However I can promise you that a non-christian would not feel uncomfortable at this school. The school is proud of its Quaker History but does not thrust it on anyone. This is a ballet program. not a religion program. We are here to learn the art of ballet first and foremost. I will tell you that we do have optional prayer before performances, but it is optional. If someone doesn't feel comfortable they do not have to participate. Our program has so many different religious backgrounds in it, you would most certainly not feel out of place.

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I am also a ballet major at Friends University, and I can tell you that everything that Gretchen has said is very true. The dancers and teachers have a real love of ballet and commitment to excellence, but are very friendly, and we quickly become a family (since we practically live in the studios!). Because of the small size of the department, you also receive a lot of personal attention that would be missed in a larger school. Stan and Sharon make a really wonderful team, Stan is very creative and artistic and Sharon is the most amazing technician that I have ever met. Like Gretchen said, there are all kinds of backgrounds and levels in the department, but if you are willing to work and have a passion for dance, Stan and Sharon will push and nurture your dancing until you don't recognize yourself! As far as performance opportunities, we have a Fall Ballet, The Nutcracker (with guest artists from NYCB and Houston Ballet, including Wendy Whelan, Philip Neal, Dominic Walsh, and Melody Herrera), and a Spring Ballet. As this is also a year when upperclassmen are taking the Dance Composition/Choreography course there will also be a showcase of their works that they will create on the other majors.

Overall, it is a wonderful University, with great campus life, and I know that my dancing has been changed dramatically.

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Can any dancers from this school elaborate on career paths ballet students have moved on to after Friends?

Also is it OK to double major?

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