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Ballet Talk for Dancers

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I attend Goucher College as a sophomore Dance major concentrating in Performance and Arts administration (through the dance major not business). I love the dance program. It is still a bit sticky about how close to a conservatory program it is. Some of the faculty are very technique focused and would like to be closer to a conservatory program while others take more of a creative and conceptual approach. However, it is not a conservatory program. For me its perfect. I attended Walnut Hill School for the Arts for one year in highschool, and that program was as close to conservatory as you can get in a high school and i didnt enjoy that approach. Goucher allows you to build your own schedule and take the classes that you want, making technique as serious as you want it to be. Many "dancers" are not dance majors. In fact some of the best dancers in the program do not major but are not any less members of the department and have no more or fewer opportunities within the department to perform or choreograph. The faculty are really great about offering opportunities to find careers in the dance world outside of just performance. If anyone has questions feel free to PM me!

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drsan001, do you know anything about the dance science concentration at Goucher?

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DD and I just returned late last night from visiting Goucher. From the outside, it is a nice, picturesque little campus. Inside many of the buildings, however, was a different story. We felt like there hadn't been many updates for quite some years. We were directed to have lunch in Stimson cafeteria as we were told it had the most selection. I felt like I had stepped back into the 70's. The cafeteria wasn't much bigger than the cafeteria at DD's residential school which only has 220 students and the decor was very old and outdated.


We observed the high intermediate ballet class taught by Tim Fox I believe. Only 5 girls came to the class, and of those only 3 actually took the entire class. One girl had twisted her ankle in pointe class and was icing (not sure if that had happened that day or prior) and another had been battling a stomach bug. DD was completely unimpressed with the caliber of the class. She didn't feel like it was to the level she is accustomed to...and is adamant that she wants to attend a college where she feels she has other dancers to look up to and to aspire to be like. We didn't see that at Goucher. To be fair, we were told many of the students that would normally be in this class were gone to perform in the ACDF regionals...so maybe we didn't get to see the best the school has to offer. Nevertheless, DD was not blown away by Mr. Fox's teaching either.


After seeing the ballet class and having lunch there, DD had decided this school is not for her. She attends a very small residential arts HS with only 220 or so students, but it is very lively. The atmosphere at Goucher on this particular day seemed extremely quiet and almost too small feeling.


So, the trip served it's purpose and that was for DD to find out if Goucher is a school she wanted to apply to next year. At least we've been able to cross one off the list now.

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Jo Ann

After reading the dismal review of Goucher above, I feel compelled to share a different opinion of Goucher. I have 2 daughters currently at Goucher, one a dance performance major and the other a philosophy major.


There is no college or university in Maryland that has a high caliber "ballet only" program. Goucher requires that dance performance majors reach the advanced level in both ballet and modern. Since it is not a conservatory program, the serious ballet students (and there are some) often find themselves working 14 hours a day as they try to fit in daily ballet and pointe (it's not required), modern, the other dance-related courses, the frequent late night rehearsals, AND at the same time maintain the high academic standards required of them at this very small liberal arts college.


And as Drsan001 said, Goucher allows any major to participate in dance to what ever level they choose, such that a sufficiently advanced nondance major can audition for and perform in the dance shows. Any student involved in any of the dance related majors listed by drsan001 are required to take ballet and modern; it is my feeling that these students are in the intermediate and lower level classes, as well as nondance majors looking for ballet class.


The look and feel of the campus is very similar to what we saw at Butler (that was in the dead of Winter too which I feel is not the best time to visit any college). Goucher does have brand new huge dance studios. Other renovations are currently ongoing, and the new Athenaeum is a brilliant eco-friendly space that houses the library as well as classrooms and a cafe.


There are at least 3 dining options on campus; but I would have to say that food is not Goucher's best feature!


Goucher's study abroad requirement has several of the advanced students away this semester, and in the Fall, two advanced ballet students (one my DD) will be attending Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan to study advanced level technique from September through January. This international opportunity is amazing for DD.


Last week, the advanced level ballet dancers were at ACDFA at James Madison. Amy Seiwert's piece performed by the Goucher girls received very high adjudication for its strong pointe work, was chosen to be in the Saturday evening Gala, and was also awarded the first alternate spot for the Kennedy Center performance in D.C. this Summer.


For being a small school, there are many dance faculty; everyone has their favorite(s) and their not favorites. Goucher also brings in at least 2 dance residents each semester (both ballet and modern); Susan Jaffe just left a few weeks ago. It would be impossible for me to fully explain the wonderful impact she has had on my DD; but there has been a transformation in both body and mind as a result, and these types of dance revelations are possible and fairly frequent at this tiny liberal arts college.


And I have to add that Goucher has been most generous in terms of scholarships and grants for both of my daughters. This in itself has made the college nearly as affordable as the state universities in Maryland.


Coming from a pubic high school of 2500, my girls were craving a small school college experience. DD came into Goucher as a freshman; the other transferred in from a community college of 20,000 as a junior). My DS is considering Goucher, and I feel it would be a good choice for him IF he decides to continue higher level ballet in college. The intimate feel of Goucher may not be for him.


I want people to know that Goucher can be a good choice for a bunhead looking for a small school college experience with bigger city opportunities close at hand. It is, however, not a conservatory dance program, but probably comes the closest to that in Maryland and the surrounding states.

Edited by dancemaven
Just to add paragraphs to make it a little easier to read. :)

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I just have to contribute a review of Mr. Fox's teaching, even though I have a younger dd who does not attend Goucher. DD felt herself fortunate to have met Mr. Fox in the context of some open classes where he was substituting for a few weeks and where he was teaching to a range of dancers, mostly older advanced ballet students, some being professionals from a local company, who were there for maintenance. To someone meeting Mr. Fox for the first time, I can understand why someone wouldn't guess that he teaches ballet, based on a physical impression of him. Being only 15 at the time, dd's mind was open to different styles of teaching and willing to give someone who didn't fit the mold of what she was used to a chance. After a few classes, she asked to go to classes specifically that he taught. I can attest that dd loved every one of his classes, as he approaches teaching with his heart and soul and is one of those teachers who wants to explain the hows of steps and make sure everyone in the class has a clear understanding, (I was observing, as moms of 15 year olds do, from my post outside the studio. :) ) I am just saying that for this student, he was a very positive, inspiring and supportive influence - just in those few weeks. He also often shared his personal stories of dancing with NYCB and quoted from some of the famous teachers he had during his career to help explain what he was demonstrating. If a student asked for an explanation for something after class, he was more than generous with his time and words to clarify. [ . . . ]



Edited by dancemaven
comments regarding interpretation of others' experiences removed in keeping with BT4D policies

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My DD and I visited Goucher in late November. We attended an information session, met with the head of the dance department, toured the campus, ate in the cafe and cafeteria, and my daughter observed a Biology class and an intermediate level Ballet class. Midway through the day she had already concluded that Goucher was not for her. Besides the fact that it is not any bigger than her high school, she was very unimpressed by the dancers' technique in the class she observed, as well as their class etiquette. DD is an advanced level dancer, but definitely not the best in her studio and she has certainly had her fair share of rejections from auditions and such. That being said she still felt that the majority of the dancers she observed were well below her level, so was concerned about how much she would really develop there.


The head of the dance department, other faculty, and certainly the visiting/guest artists are certainly very impressive. The dance facilities are adequate. The campus is nice, but it did feel kind of empty - just not a lot going on. The student fitness center was a complete ghost town when we were there.


Not all schools are for everyone. Goucher is not my DD's choice, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be a fine choice for others.

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Does anyone have any recent reviews of this program?

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