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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Southern Methodist University


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Marseas Mom Good luck with your DD's audition. Thank you also for the feedback on DD's friend. There is so little information to be found regarding most ballet programs that its hard to make a fully informed decision. Scholarships will be a deciding factor for us as the tuition at SMU is very high. The web site indicates that scholarship decisions are not made until mid March. It is DD's first choice but she is still waiting for decisions at other programs. SMU did not ask her to come in for interview but as I recall, we did send a lot of materials including letters of recommendation. DD is also looking at a minor or double major so the conservatory programs were not a choice for her.

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I would like to post an update in hope of helping other parents and dancers in their college selection. DD and I have spent more than two years researching and studying the details of colleges offering a dance program. It has been an extremely time consuming and at times confusing endeavor. After much careful consideration which included visits to all of the selected colleges, endless internet searches, conversations with other students and with faculty members, and viewing a major performance in order to see the dancers "in action", DD has decided to attend SMU. Her goal was to find a university that would offer an excellent classical ballet program/Dance major along with excellent academics and the option to double major. She wanted a medium to large university and a ballet program that would prepare her for a professional dance career. Other important aspects were a diverse dance faculty with strong professional backgrounds, teachers who cared about the growth and development of the individual dancer in a healthy environment, nice facilities with spacious and well appointed dance studios, the opportunity to work with distinguished guest artists both as master teachers and choreographers and good performance venues. We were able to narrow our selection to three universities all of which met the criteria. Difficult as it was to make a choice, SMU met all of these requirements and felt like the right place for her. I would definitely recommend SMU to any serious dancer who is also prepared to study dance in a challenging academic environment. SMU calls these dancers "smartists". I am so glad to finally be at the point of DD knowing where she will attend college, it has been a long journey. My best wishes to all of those moms that are just starting out, I hope that this helps a bit. :)

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Congrats on making a choice! And your comments are so valuable to those of us a year or two behind you. There does not seem to be a guide to ballet colleges on the market. With out posts such as yours, we would all be in the dark!

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Congratulations on finding a program that is a good fit for your daughter. All the best to her, and you, in this next phase of her education.

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Congratulations to you and your daughter on the decision to attend SMU! DD and I were also very impressed with this school, and agree with everything you said. DD's very good friend is a freshman this year, and keeps us posted on her various shows via facebook. I wish you and your DD the very best of luck as you move into the next phase of DD's journey....

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Firstlast, this is a thread dedicated to SMU, so we ask that all posts be only about SMU.

 

There are two other ways to find the answers to your question: check the dedicated threads of the other programs in this Forum and/or see the thread dedicated to College Decisions for 2012: http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=52938

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Question for hpydncmomx2 - thanks so much for the great info on SMU and describing your decision process. My daughter is only a sophomore but we are starting to strategize and your criteria are close to ours, although my DD is more contemporart/modern with a strong ballet foundation.

 

As far as SMU goes, any specific steps you would recommend to putting together a successful application? Would you recommend any specific type of summer intensive to attend or anything else to build her dance resume and application? You mentioned there were 3 schools that met your criteria ... what were the other two? Thanks for sharing!

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If I may, be sure to not neglect the academic side of preparation as well. SMU is very selective. It was my DD's first choice--she was accepted artistically, but she did not make the academic cut even though she's in the top 15% of her graduating class.

 

SMU is a great school. DD will attend a much smaller program with similar features (dance and strong academics), but she would have loved to go to Dallas!

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Thank you all for your comments and congratulations. To answer the question that pmcolorado asked, I have to say that I sensed an emphasis on being well rounded. While I had the impression that other programs were very focused on finding resumes with "name brand" schools of ballet, I can't say that this was the impression at SMU. JLNH is correct in stating that academics are very important. The application procedure was very detailed and I would suggest that you download an application from the web-site if they are available so that you see what questions will come up. I also suggest that you keep a list of master teachers, summer programs, roles and performances as well as academic honors and distinctions as this will allow you to quickly access them when you need them. On the academic side, she should be selecting challenging courses in high school and finding opportunities for meaningful community service and leadership. I don't know if there was a specific thing that impressed the panel at SMU or at other colleges about DD but in addition to being a very strong dancer in various styles of dance also had the credentials required at selective academic schools. DD did not attend a "name brand" ballet school or summer program but has had excellent dance training while attending a traditional high school. She also chose summer intensives that would challenge her and allow her to grow as a dancer over the well known and prestigious programs. She wants to be a professional dancer but we tried to keep the focus in becoming a complete person, being healthy and being a good role model. I don't think that I can mention the other schools here but I will try to set aside some time to post more info. on the College Decision 2012 area when I have a little free time, maybe in June once graduations are over! I hope this helps, good luck.

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The only drawback we saw to SMU was that they did not offer my DD scholarships of any greater value than did other private universities of equal stature that cost less money. It turned out to be cost-prohibitive for us, but then my DD was injured and missed her audition so we never investigated dance merit scholarships. Congratulations to your DD and I hope she enjoys her time at SMU.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you so much hpydncmomx2- I appreciate you taking the time to answer. Downloading the application is a great idea - we have done that for at least one other school already and have planned her summer and next year based on some items from that application. Thank you, and best of luck to your dancer!

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  • 3 months later...

I wanted to post a follow up for those who are auditioning this year or in the future. Per my previous posting, DD was accepted and is now attending the Meadows school at SMU. It would take me hours to bring you up to date on our experience at SMU so I will summarize. This program is superb! If you are or have a talented hard working dancer who is also a scholar, you should definitely consider SMU. From the first minute at orientation we had a clear message that this school is very serious about its academics and proud of its dance program. In the 20+ years of having daughters in dance, I have never been in an environment where being a dancer is so highly respected by non-dancers. SMU loves its dancers and people in Dallas in general, love SMU's dancers. The program is very intense and demanding even from DD's standards of having had 20+ hours a week of dance after school but she loves the opportunities that she is being offered, the dance teachers and the academic teachers. To learn about the program and the school's philosophy be sure to check the Meadows School web-site on a regular basis. Right now there is a video of the Dean of the school welcoming first year students; listening to this will give you a good picture of the expectations and what they have to offer. They have some new dance faculty members who are no yet listed on the faculty page, one of them is Adam Hougland. Unfortunately, they do not have much available for you to see online and you need to look carefully to find details. I could not be more pleased and feel that all of the work that us DM's have to do in helping to find the right college was worth it. Scholarships are available but remember that you need to have a combination of the academics and the talent. My DD chose to do very few performances in her Jr. and Sr. years of HS and concentrate instead on the quality of training, academics and even squeezed in a few non dance related school activities. Over the two years, we wondered if this was a mistake and if maybe we should have sent her to a pre-pro school to concentrate in dance. In hind sight I find that this was the best and healthiest for her as she has become a mature and "together" person. Good luck to you all.

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  • 1 month later...

DD attended the Dallas audition this weekend. We went to the observation day on Friday where we got to observe Ballet I, Modern I/II with a guest artist, and a rehearsal. There was also a Q&A about admissions, financial aid, and the program.

At the audition on Saturday, parents were invited for coffee and bagels with current students. The students were amazing-answered all the questions and helped the time pass.

The dancers did ballet, modern, and jazz during the audition, then were dismissed while the teachers talked for about 30 minutes. Maybe 8-10 numbers were called to stay to perform a solo. They also were told 2 questions to answer when they entered the room. Results should be mailed in 2 weeks!

The experience was wonderful. The Dance Department is so helpful. Every time I hear about SMU, it makes me want to go there!!

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  • 1 month later...

Good luck to your DD "hippiechicken", hopefully by now you have heard back; we received our letter last year around mid-December. My DD LOVES it at SMU. There is very good camaraderie amongst the dancers and a great deal of respect for the teachers.

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