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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Southern Methodist University


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We have a friend (male) who is a freshman at SMU on full scholarship in ballet this year. He was an apprentice during his junior and senior years of highschool with the pro company here. He would have had no trouble moving into a company contract position this year, but opted instead for college. He really likes SMU and is happy with the program. He does miss the intensity of the company culture and he would like for the ballet program to be more exclusively focused on classical ballet, but he is pleased with the instruction he is receiving at SMU. He is a multi-talented fellow, with a wonderful voice and acting skills, so the Meadows School offers him many opportunities that more narrow ballet programs could not offer.

 

As to the exclusive culture at SMU, I think it is a fact of life. Dallas is a status-sensitive town. When we lived there, the joke was that Dallasites really knew how to "wear their wealth" and if they didn't do that, they sure knew how to "drive it". (Needless to say, designer fashions and expensive cars are part and parcel of the Dallas experience for many.) SMU sits in the middle of the most affluent area in Dallas and many of the Highland Park kids do stay home and attend SMU. However, this elitist atmosphere is going to be prevalent, to a greater or lesser degree at any expensive and exclusive college. For what it is worth, our friend who is currently attending and my ex-husband (who attended many light years ago) were both from middle-class families, attending on merit scholarships and both enjoyed college life at SMU a great deal.

 

TCU does have a more laid-back feel to it (just as Ft. Worth does in comparison to Dallas). :)

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Alexandra Robbins wrote a book called "Pledged" about sorority life, especially down South. She initially started her research at SMU until she was tossed out for writing about things the sororities would rather keep secret. She described SMU exactly as balletbooster did in terms of wealth, only worse. She eventually went undercover elsewhere, posing as a student, and followed 4 girls throughout the year. Every stereotype you can think of about sororities was shown to be accurate according to Ms. Robbins.

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Just to clarify, my post was not intended to be a comment on the Greek system at SMU or elsewhere, but rather about the culture of SMU and other schools where wealth and privilege abound.

 

While I am well aware of the many negative stereotypes surrounding sororities, I'm actually a product of the Greek system at a university that boasts one of the largest and best run Greek systems in the country. I served as both Panhellenic rush chairman and also Panhellenic president at my school. I attended numerous national leadership and training programs as a result of that office and have served as a chapter advisor and on the corporation boards for several different chapters in several states and at several well-known universities. To be fair to the Greek system, there is much that is good about the sorority experience in the US. The national leadership of all Panhellenic-affiliated sororities works VERY hard to discourage the negative stereotypes and encourage academics, community service, positive and challenging roles for women, leadership training, etc. in their respective sororities.

 

Well-run collegiate sorority systems utilize very complex quota systems to make sure that there are enough openings available for every young woman who goes through the rush process. The rush staff works often 24 hours a day during rush to counsel girls through the rush process and enforce very stringent rushing rules imposed on the sororities. A close friend of mine serves as a national officer of our sorority and I am continually impressed to hear about the extent these women go to (all volunteers) to ensure that every chapter throughout the country is adhering to very high ethical standards. When they don't and the national office is aware of it, there are swift and very punitive repercussions.

 

I fully understand what Georgia is saying in her post. But, I do think that it is important to separate the culture of a college from the decision about whether or not to go through sorority rush. The strength and the culture of the Greek system on a college campus will vary widely from school to school. From the perspective of several we know who have attended each of these schools, I can say that being a part of the Greek system is absolutely NOT a pre-requisite for enjoying the college experience at SMU, Indiana U. or TCU, although all have strong Greek systems.

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I actually don't have any personal opionion or first hand knowledge on sororities. If you read Alexandra Robbin's book, it's not a flattering picture. She seems intent on verifying every negative stereotype there is about sororities in general, southern ones specifically, including racism.

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We, too, know a male ballet dancer who is a freshman at SMU. He is from Florida and not the "Great Southwest" so I am sure we are speaking of different fellows. However they MUST know each other if they are both freshman. DD's friend and she still talk on the phone and email. He is also there on a full or nearly a full scholarship. He is not wealthy and very religious. I was not surprised to see him go to SMU--Southern Methodist University. I had no idea it was so...........preppy. He is happy. He was a young freshman who was not company ready nor completely interested in dancing professionally when he left for Texas. I believe he is now. He was barely 17 when he arrived, and I believe was a bit homesick for awhile. But is happy with the ballet. And plans to remain at least another year. I am sure if anyone has specific questions about SMU I can relay them on and get an answer to post.

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Yes, I know of Ms. Robbins book. While all sterotypes contain an element of truth, presenting only those stereotypes, without the balance of the other side of the story, is simply innaccurate and unfair. :) By the same token, following four girls through their sorority experience, on one or even four campuses, cannot begin to paint an accurate picture about this organization whose members are represented on over 620 college and university campuses in the United States and Canada and in over 4,600 alumnae associations, making up over 3.6 million sorority women in the world. Here is a link to the National Panhellenic Conference's website for more information.

 

As for racism, sororities that are members of the National Panhellenic Conference have made major strides in becoming more culturally diverse over the last 40 years. I just visited the national websites for the largest 10 national sororities and found women of color pictured on all but 2 of their websites. Not exactly scientific research, but it does indicate that there is more to be told than what may be presented in Ms. Robbin's book.

 

I think we have veered well off the course from the intent of this thread. :wink: So, I'm going to suggest that we return the discussion to its original intent.

 

nlkflint, I'm sure that the young men we know at SMU must know one another!

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I just wanted to clarify something re SMU (returning briefly to the sorority discussion). My understanding is that the 4 girls documented in the story

were NOT from SMU but that the author originally attempted to get a story

at SMU. She presumably moved on to a different college because the sorority or sororities she was contacting were unwilling to share their secrets with her.

 

I just don't want to leave a false impression about SMU, if in fact, my information

is correct.

 

Returning somewhat to the original thread, I am glad to hear those two guys both really like the ballet program and I plan to pass that news on to my daughter. Maybe it will help her make up her mind!

 

(Oops..editing my post to add I see "Georgia" already noted the above comment

re the 4 girls being somewhere else. However, her comments have inspired

me to check out that book......)

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Yes, I know of Ms. Robbins book.  While all sterotypes contain an element of truth, presenting only those stereotypes, without the balance of the other side of the story, is simply innaccurate and unfair.  .

 

As for racism........

I think we have veered well off the course from the intent of this thread.  :unsure:  So, I'm going to suggest that we return the discussion to its original intent.

I know you want to move beyond this issue but since my DD is a minority I would like to ask balletbooster, BluebirdMom, TaraDriver, Georgia, and any others with knowledge about the racial atmosphere at TCU , SMU, or Indiana U. If you feel uncomfortable discussing this issue or if you think it is inappropriate for BT please PM your reply. Thank You

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the driver,

I can't really speak to the racial atmosphere at these schools. I did go look at the demographics they show for this year:

 

TCU

 

SMU

 

Indiana

 

According to their published statistics, the percentage of minority students is highest at SMU. I noticed on the SMU web page that they listed a Black Film Collection on their home page. They also have a department of multicultural affairs. Indiana offers multicultural open houses for jr. and seniors in high school. TCU has a Chancellor's Council on Diversity, which appears to host a number of programs.

 

Before looking at the statistics, I would have assumed that Indiana might be the most inclusive of the three schools, due to their geographic location. But, that doesn't appear to be the case, based upon the published demographics.

Just goes to show how dangerous assumptions can be when considering such a complex matter! :unsure:

 

It does appear that all three schools have established multicultural programs. I would suggest giving them a call and talking about the social climate at each school. Please share with us what you find out and best of luck to you and your daughter in making a tough decision regarding some really great schools!

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I'm going to be a freshman dance major at SMU next year. It was the only program I auditioned for because I knew I had been accepted by the end of december. The stereotypes that you sometimes hear about in regards to SMU didn't really bother me as much as I though it would, but my high school falls very much into the same stereotypes and I just ignore as best I can. I'm going on an academic scholarship and a dance scholarship.

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Congratulations BubbleGril894 on your years of hard work, you must be a wonderful student and a gifted dancer. I’m sure your parents are extremely proud. Best of luck! :thumbsup:

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  • 7 months later...

I thought I would make a post similar to the Summer Intensive Forum to help people with info on University auditions

 

I attended a Regional Audition (not the Dallas one) and there was a short ballet barre. Then we had two contemporary jazz combinations across the floor. Afterwards, we saw a video on the Meadows School of Arts meant to inform everyone of the school. Then, all of the kids who went to the high school that the audition was at went to change because they had all of their solos on video tape. Those who did not go to the school stayed afterwards and had a short "interview" which consisted of why we chose SMU and our 90 second solo.

 

Hope this helps anyone thinking of SMU.

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That is really helpful to me, iceydevil! Thanks! A question though- from the solos you saw/heard about, did it seem like the majority were classical or modern? Also, how long was the class portion? it seems rather short. And was anything on pointe?

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My daughter did a regional audition for SMU and now is a student there.

 

While the audition was not nearly as thorough as most she attended from

a ballet point of view, the majority of the dancers at hers did classical ballet solos, and many of them on pointe.

 

Her advice would be to attend the Dallas audition, PARTICULARLY if you are

a ballet dancer as you will get a much better opportunity to show your abilities.

The auditions are videotaped so that the teachers at SMU can view them but

the ballet portion is indeed quite short at the regional auditions. Hers was conducted by the resident jazz teacher (who is excellent by the way).

While it was easy to do the regional audition in terms of logistics, and she was accepted, she would have, in retrospect, spent the time and money to actually go to Dallas to experience the ballet teachers first hand.

 

As a student there, she feels that the student body is split in terms of "talent"--

slightly more than half are more talented in modern and/or jazz.

That being said though, she is pleasantly surprised by the quality of the

ballet training and the performance opportunities. She is really a ballet

girl and while she has come to appreciate how modern training can help

her ballet be better, ballet is still her first love. She is a double major and

enjoys being able to dance for credit but is very serious about her more

traditionally "academic" major. SMU has turned out to be a good choice for her interests.

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SMU just called me today and informed that they'd be moving their Chicago audition from Jan. 22 to February 26...this is quite unfortunate. I won't be able to audition any more, because thats the date of my school's musical, and that cannot be missed. It wasn't my first choice though, but it is still to bad that I can't audition. It definitly gives me fewer options.

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