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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Life after high school

Ed McPherson

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Mel, and "The Men"-


I will be starting my senior year of high school in a few weeks. I have been thinking about what my options are next fall for awhile, and would like to run by you, and everyone, what i have come up with so far. Knowing that none of you, as far as i know, have seen me dance, take what you will from the college's I am thinking of, with the knowldge that I am not yet ready to preform professionaly.


the reason I have posted here is becuase people have always said, "its different for guys," and everything i have ever done in dance has led me to feel the same way. So keep in mind I am a guy


for colleges I am considering


Indiana Univ. Bloomington - Violette Verdy's reputation is awesome, I dont know much about Jaque Sescron (sp)


Univ. Utah - dont know anything about the men's teachers, high drop our rates overall, i dont know about the men specifically


SUNY- Purchase dont know anything about mens teachers, girls have said you either like the program or dont. proximity to NYC is nice, but i doubt there would be much time, or money to use it.


NCSA - seems that they have a good reputation for turning out strong men. I dont know anything about Mr. Han, nor do I know who's teaching Pas de deux classes. The change in admin makes me a little leery.


Butler - again change in staff...


I have friends entering at Purchase, Indiana, and Butler, so word should start to trickle back as the school year gets going.


I also dont feel like I have to go to college now, I want to have a "real" job eventually, I know I will have to go back for that. So, i've started looking at


Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet - Dont know much about the program (besides everyone is in), refered to as ballet boot camp.


Joffrey School in NYC - Had two older male friends go though the program, they really liked it, other than that, i really dont know much, are they partnering with a university now?


It seems to be esayer to get info on colleges than the purely dance programs like CPYB, so if anyone has shopped around before, let me know what you considered in that regard. I guess, i am really just trying to open up a diolouge. PM me if you think its more appropriate, thanks!

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Ed, it's good that you've been devoting so much thought to your career planning, and even better that you're planning how to make the thought into real action.


Given all the choices you've mentioned, I'd go first for Indiana, then Utah, Purchase, Butler, and NCSA, just based on what I know of their collegiate out-placement. They are all good choices, and their track records mostly speak for themselves. It is also easier to get Grants-in-Aid and scholarships for an organized collegiate program.


CPYB is a good program, but I'm concerned that they might be a little too much boot camp for a male dancer of your age. The Joffrey USED to be associated with the New School University, but that program fell through because the university had lowballed its cost-accounting for supporting the program.

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Without seeing you dance, it is hard to make recommendations. One area you did leave out was joining a company based program in the school, as a trainee or an apprentice. If your goal is to dance professionally and you have the facility, then this is an option.


Mel's list is a sound one. I would also advise applying to one or two academic colleges in case of injury or interest change in your senior year. Especially if your grades/ SAT are good. Many dancers I know of were accepted into excellent colleges and deferred (sometimes for tens of years), yet when the time came to return to college, these types of acceptances were well looked upon.

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What are your goals in life? To dance professionally? To get an education? To have fun? To get a job or career? At what level do you think your dance skills are?

As a young male dancer, you should be able to audition immediately, the level of skills you would get in a company would be far greater than anything a university could offer.


If you want a degree in dance, then by all means go to a university dance program.


A dance career is so short, I know many dancers take college credits in the off season in anticipation of their second and third careers. Many colleges are very flexible allowing performers and professionals to take courses at their own pace. Many universities also offer virtual courses for when you are on the road.


I will gladly admit I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. Yes, college did help me find out (i'm a crytpo-geek computer security guy in real life).


I'm friends with a well-known dance teacher in a well-know dance program at a well-known college. Even s/he would recommend you start your dance career (if you do want to perform) ASAP. You can always attend college later in life. I went back to college after a two year leave of absence, and I would not be where i am without my diplomae.



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Have you considered UBA, which has an "apprentice" program for post-high school students? If you're looking for a career, I think that's the way to go :lol:. Otherwise, I've seen v. good things at Indiana and heard good things about Purchase. Goucher College's course catalog (I'm going there this fall :sweating: ) has a lot of really good classes in addition to ballet and modern--dance history, Labanotation, various music and stage tech classes.

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If you have interests in an eventual non-dance career, you're wise to think twice before going to college as a dance major. I would agree with others above --- as a dancer, you'll probably do best with a dance company. And when you want the "real job", you can go to "real college".

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Thanks so much everyone for your input. All the different opinions are great, its really making me look at it from different angles.


mbjerk- I do want to dance professionally, my decision to go to a boarding school for the arts was the first step i took towards making that a reality. And I am confident that i have the facility to perform in a very strong regional company. (barring injury of course). You mentioned a position as a trainee, or apprentice. My hesitation in going that route may be me taking the easy way out, this is how I have justified staying away from a paid trainee or apprenticeship to myself; once you start taking a salary, you are of course working for the company paying your way. In my mind, this now means you are not only responsible for personal growth, but also for living up to the expectations levied upon you bye the people paying you, I don’t know if that is the best place for me while i am training. I feel that I have two to four years of training left. I realize that there are unpaid positions where I would be less under the "control" of money; it seems as if I should look into those, could you suggest some to start with?


You mention deferment of college acceptance. I am very interested in a "real job," after dance. Dance is the best way I have found to express myself and it is my true passion, but there are important aspects of life that the intensity of going to school, and dancing five hours a day deny me. I want to explore these aspets, I dont know if a full lifetime in dance could give me that freedom. I did well on the SAT's, 1350, and ACT, 27, these scores should get me into fine colleges. I am planning to go back to college after dance (32-37 years old if i had to put a number on it today) to earn a degree in business; I had no idea though that deferment of 10+ years was accepted by colleges.


Please excuse me if I repeat myself here…


MJ- your points are well taken! I believe that I will enter the world of business after dance, I was an active member of the Future Business Leaders of America at my old high school, and have other such activities on my resume. You said


“you should be able to audition immediately, the level of skills you would get in a company would be far greater than anything a university could offer”


but I don’t know if I agree. Wouldn’t a companies first priority be its company members with trainees and apprintice’s lower down, whereas a University’s first and, theoretically, only priority is its students, if that is true the challenge then is to find a university with training equal to that of a company… you mentioned college on the side, I read an interesting fact a while back, dancers who took college classes were asked if they felt taking one community college class while they danced improved their dancing, 97% said yes…




I haven’t really considered UBA, I’ll check it out! I have to admit I know very little about the way the Kirov works, besides what I assume are stereotypes I have heard from other people. Did you go through their program?




You said


“you're wise to think twice before going to college as a dance major”


Will you elaborate, its not often someone can make putting college off seem like the right choice, hehehehe the dream of every young adult!



Thanks again guys! I await your responses with anxious fingers.

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And don't forget, Ed, after you hit 25, you become a "non-traditional student" and become 14K gold to university admissions departments. :)

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I did not mean a 10+ plus year deferment, but that when you do apply, universities like that you were accepted into a Columbia. It adds stature.


I disagree with the trainee statements. Why not let them pay you while you train. If the company did not think you had what it takes, then it would not offer you the position. Similarly, if the company does not take you into the company, then you are free to leave. There is no substitute for this kind of experience. If you are concerned over class work, there are extra classes in the school to take as well as working outside the daily hours with a teacher or coach.

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Ed, you certainly have a good head on your shoulders. Almost every University will accept up to two years worth of credits from an accredited college, even community colleges. If you plan on getting an undergraduate business degree, you can take all the prequisite courses (english, lit, Economics, Finance, accounting, Marketing etc) anywhere.

All colleges will insist you take their core curriculum at their college, basically your last two years. You may need permission from the Dean if you are "accepted with a deferment." You have excellent scores and would be a dream student for any university. After two years of college or a dance program, take the SAT again, and I bet your score will go up a few points too.


My Alma Mater, Fordham U., offers a lot of classes for performers on Mondays at the Lincoln Center campus. Lincoln Center and Broadway are typically "dark" on Mondays. I am told there are independant scholarships for performers after their carreers also. The Undergrad business school does not offer classes at Lincoln Center alas.


If you do attend a college dance program for a year or two and go on to perform, assume most of the dance credits will not transfer. The AACSB (acrediting board for business schools) only allows so many Humanities/arts credits. If you plan on concentrating (business students don't have Majors) in accounting, start squeezing in accounting classes as soon as possible. Accounting students need all four years due to massive prequisites.


Study/work hard, and make us proud,



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Yes, I was in UBA's apprentice program for one year. If you are age 18 or over, you won't be able to live at the school, but they will help you find a place to live. It was the finest training I have ever received, except of course the few hours I've spent with Ms. Leigh and mbjerk B). The school is very strict and everyone works very hard, but the results are IMO wonderful. Everyone there is very dedicated. I can give more detail if you like, either on this thread or in a pm.

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UBA is the Universal Ballet Academy, formerly known as the Kirov Academy in Washington, DC.

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  • 7 months later...

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