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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Southern Methodist University


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Thank you.

Still waiting for an answer--rushing home to check the mail each day. She received a letter 2 weeks after the audition explaining that they are waiting on admittance from the university before making final decisions.

SMU is the top choice!! She loves everything about the place.

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A big thanks to hpydncmomx2 for the very informative posts! We visited relatives in Dallas in November and were able to attend the SMU Fall dance concert. The following Monday we did a campus tour and info session, and then a brief info session at Meadows. Unfortunately she could not observe any dance classes because they cancelled them all the Monday following the concert to give the dancers a rest! We did however speak to one of the students at length who was working in the office and that was very informative. My DD was super impressed with the quality of the dance we saw in the performance, and with everything she saw and heard about SMU. The Meadows representative highly recommended that even though she is a HS Junior that she attend one of the admission audition sessions THIS year so that they can get an early look at her, and she at them. We are going to San Francisco in a couple of weekends for that and she is really excited!

 

If anyone has anything to add, tips or advice for the upcoming audition please feel free to reply/post!

 

Thanks!

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  • 6 months later...

Does anyone have information on faculty for next year? Have there been any changes?

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  • 3 months later...

Our DD will be auditioning for the SMU dance program on October 18. She will also attend the activities the day before (tours, observations of classes). Does anyone on this board have recent information about the dance department (this year's faculty) or any tips for the audition process? DD has scoured the webpages, registered for the audition, and understands how it will work and that she may need to perform a short solo and to do an interview. If any one has any additional tips or information, we would be most grateful.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today our DD auditioned for the SMU dance program. She was one of 37 auditioning (only one male). Registration began at 9 AM. Dancers and parents were walked back to the registration area, then dancers remained and Ms. Delaney (head of the Dance Division) and many first year students escorted parents back to the lobby where she presented the curriculum and answered questions. I was very impressed with her and with her description of the program. At 10 AM she went back to observe the dancers. From 10 - noon, the dancers took a group audition class, starting with an hour long ballet class and then some modern and jazz combinations. At just a little before noon, parents were invited to rejoin the dancers outside the studio while we waited to find who would be invited to do their prepared solos. Not being invited to do a solo meant "no, thank you" though Ms. Delaney was careful to say that there are three remaining Dallas auditions and that trying again was permitted. They have a policy of not giving feedback on auditions so they keep the playing field level for subsequent auditions. We waited probably 20-30 minutes to hear who would be invited to do their solos. Our DD was one of 7 - 10 invited to do a solo and she feels like she showed them her very best. She said the audition class was good but not necessarily that challenging. She was disappointed that both jazz instructors were busy with other things so the jazz portion of the audition was taught by a student. DD views these auditions as a chance to sample the teaching styles of the faculty. On the plus side, she likes that this is a true triple track program (high level training in ballet, jazz, and modern), and was excited to learn that Michael Selya teaches ballet at SMU (for periods of time alternating with Adam Hoaglund). She also likes that it is possible to double major in many other fields (but not all). A new development is that the undergraduate curriculum at SMU changed recently so that five of the required dance courses also count for the university distribution requirements, which makes double majoring more possible than it has ever been. From the discussion with Ms. Delaney, I got the sense that dancers at SMU dance about 3 hours a day, with ballet on flat MWF, pointe on TTh, modern on MWF, jazz on TTH, and then some partnering also on Friday. Those selected to be in productions also have rehearsals in the evenings. There are no regular Saturday or Sunday classes.

 

Dancers and parents considering doing this audition should be aware that there is some immediate, negative feedback given to the majority who audition. I know this is how it works in the real world, but parents headed to SMU might want to think ahead about how their DK's might respond to this and how they can help them cope in the best way. I thought Ms. Delaney was very gracious and kind in how she conducted the audition.

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MaryKTX, thank you for the informative post! Did they happen to mention which double majors are possible? If not, did they tell you where you could find that information? What did you think of their dance facilities? Did they happen to mention how many men they currently have in the program? We had planned to do a general tour/visit on Friday, but unfortunately we had a unavoidable conflict. Hopefully we will be able to reschedule later this year.

 

Congratulations to your DD!! It sounds like she had a great dance day!

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Mackie, thank you. For double majoring, I got the strong sense that it was much more possible for majors that could flex about the dance course schedule, and not for majors with heavy requirements for courses that must be taken in a particular sequence (for example, engineering, and probably some of the sciences). A parent friend who was also there with his DD asked the first year students if they were double majoring in and if so in what field, and most said other majors such as advertising, marketing, and non-performance majors within the Meadows School of the Arts (arts management, arts communication), though there was some mention of double majors in history, anthropology, and human rights. Neither DD nor I thought to ask how many men are in the program, but there seemed to be about 10 in the first year class. As for facilities, the Meadows building is very nice and the lobby is beautiful, but DD reported that the three studios have no windows and are poorly lit (though she is likely spoiled by her home studio where the main studio she dances in is large with a wall of windows). Our DD did the day of tours and observations yesterday and thought it was well worth her time (we live in the area and I could not escape work so I dropped her off and picked her up later). She said about 13 dancers and families were there yesterday (all but two with parents), and she especially enjoyed the chance to observe the ballet and modern classes. I think SMU is definitely worth a visit and I hope it is possible for you all to visit later if you are still interested. Best wishes to all doing college auditions this year.

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Today our DD received a letter in the mail telling her that she has been accepted into SMU Division of Dance (and encouraging her to apply to the university, which she has already done, and saying all scholarship information will be available in March). What she was most excited about was that a current senior in the program sent her a nice note with a very cool pair of SMU Meadows socks, which to me shows that the people running this program understand 17-yo girls very well!

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Congratulations to your DD, MaryKTX!! The socks and note from a senior are a lovely personal touch!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Last night DD and I attended the SMU Fall Dance Concert. We live in the area and have enjoyed a few of these over the years, but this was our first to attend since DD was accepted to the program. We were both extremley impressed. There were four pieces, including Dark Elegies, which was gorgeous. The program was diverse: one very contemporary piece, one ballet solo choreographed by John Selya who teaches at SMU for half the year, Dark Elegies,and then an amazing jazz piece. The whole program was outstanding and the dancers onstage were really talented.

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My DD auditioned this past weekend at SMU. There were 60+ dancers, apparently the biggest audition they have had. Before the audition started, while the dancers were stretching, the Director of the program Ms. Delaney, spoke to the parents and answered questions. She is quite impressive! She left to conduct the audition and about 8-10 freshman students mingled amongst the parents, answering questions, offering information, etc... Many of them have very impressive backgrounds and were accepted at dance programs like Fordham and NYU. There are 80 dancers in the program this year, 11 of which are men. 75% of the students are double majoring.

 

They started with ballet barre and center, and then did modern and jazz. Then they had a break for about an hour while the panel deliberated and decided who they wanted to call back. There were only about 12-15 called back, fortunately DD was one of them. There were 2 boys total in the 60 auditioning and only 1 was called back. DD said he was quite good, and his mom told me he went to the Juilliard intensive last summer. They were called in the room in numerical order for a brief interview and then to perform their solo. The dancers were told they would hear something in about 2 weeks. Fingers crossed!

 

We had the opportunity to attend the Fall Concert as well. Very interesting variety of pieces. We saw the fall performance last year too and this one was different. Last year they did a classical bailey piece, and this year it was very contemporary. All in all it seems to be a very well run high quality dance program.

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  • 1 month later...

My daughter is currently a sophomore at SMU's Meadows School of the Arts, double majoring in dance performance and applied physiology/sports management. I well remember how difficult it was to find some of the information we wanted on many of the university dance programs, and how difficult the decision was for my daughter once all the audition results were in. If anyone has specific questions I can answer from my perspective as a parent of a very serious dancer, I'd be happy to do so. My daughter is pleased with the program, has had the opportunity to perform in major works by visiting choreographers, and was helped to attend the New York intensive of Paul Taylor Dance through a partial scholarship given by the dance department.

 

One of the biggest draws for her was the fact that SMU offers challenging jazz, modern and ballet instruction; with none getting short shrift. The program is very competitive, with students auditioning for visiting choreographers and faculty, and no one guaranteed a chance to perform. This was one aspect of the program we weren't made aware of, and hasn't been an issue for my daughter, although she has friends who haven't been selected for any of the major works. (Boys are often double cast.) There is a student choreographed show each fall and spring, and while it is also cast through audition, most of the students who wish to perform are able to do so. When students are in rehearsals for shows, they are often in the studio 4 hours a night. This is on top of their dance classes and academic courses, so students must manage their time well if they plan to double major.

 

The faculty evaluates the students through in-class examination, and a meeting with each student is held each semester to address areas of strength and weakness. A year and a half in, I've been impressed by the maturity my daughter is now bringing to her performance. She chose to attend SMU mostly because of the dance program, but she has found that she loves the university itself, especially the one-on-one interaction she has had with tenured professors in her academic classes. As parents, we are happy to see her have a full college experience while still pursuing her passion.

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jennc - thank you so much for this informative post. Our DD was accepted to SMU dance at the September audition and is very attracted to many aspects of the dance program. She is a serious ballet dancer who also loves jazz and modern so she is strongly attracted to the triple track emphasis. She is worried about what she perceives to the social environment at SMU (heavy emphasis on Greek life, what she perceives to be a conservative, mostly affluent student body - we are local so she thinks she has lots of information but her impressions are likely based on a few girls from her studio who dance at SMU). She loves dance with all of her heart but has struggled with injuries so is wrestling with whether she wants to dance in college, and she also loves school and violin so she has applied to a wide variety of colleges and universities. I shared your post with her and it was very helpful. I have one specific question. I have heard that first year students in dance at SMU are not allowed to perform in anything but the Brown Bag performances. Is this still the case? Not performing in one of the four years in college seems sad, but I am sure the program has good reasons. Thanks again.

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MaryKTX;

 

Freshman are not allowed to perform in the fall production, called the Hope Show. They are allowed to be in Brown Bag, and there often is another performance that they are invited to do. For example, my daughter's freshman year she performed in the opening of the Dallas Performance Hall with the other freshman. There was something similar this year, though I've forgotten what it was since it only pertained to freshman. Freshman are able to audition for and perform in the two big shows, Sharp Show and the Spring Dance Concert, which occur during their second semester. The faculty believes that freshman need to get acclimated to university life without having the rigors of demanding rehearsals on top. My daughter wasn't a fan of that to begin with, but she was selected for the spring show during the second semester of her freshman year, and she more fully understood why the rule is in place.

 

I understand your daughter's hesitation about the social climate…my husband had similar concerns. My daughter does participate in a sorority, but it's the exception in the dance program rather than the rule. It's hard to do both, as the time demands of each are broad and do overlap from time to time. As for conservative and affluent, there is truth to that, although again, the dancers, and the arts community more generally, tend to be more liberal and many are on need-based scholarship. My daughter is very liberal, very socially conscious, and was concerned that she might not fit in at SMU. It hasn't been an issue at all. And by the way, my daughter "drives" a pink Tommy Bahama bike we bought at Wal-Mart…. Hope this helps :)

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