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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Southern Methodist University

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This is a tremendous help. Thank you so much. It sounds like a wonderful program and I am encouraged by your comments about diversity.

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Can anyone comment on what the best style would be for the solo? My daughter is auditioning this November and has a contemporary solo, but wasn't sure if this was good enough for a jazz solo or did they want a more traditional jazz. She is considering learning a jazz solo instead of the contemporary one.

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I have not looked at this site for a long time but felt that I should check in and see if I can be of help to any dance parents who are going through the challenges of finding a college. I read the comments posted by" jennc", and completely agree with her observations. My daughter is now a Junior in the program and based on the comments, probably a good friend of her daughters :)


My daughter decided not to join a sorority. Although the girls were very sweet to her and really encouraged her, she felt that it would be difficult to concentrate on her double major, attend rehearsals and also be a vital part of a sorority. I think that she has missed out on some of the social opportunities of the sorority but also saved thousands of dollars that it would cost to join. I know that she has many wonderful friends in and outside of the dance department, including some who are in sororities. The dancers as well as the students in the Meadows school in general come from diverse backgrounds, be it socioeconomic or otherwise. There seems to be a wonderful acceptance within the school.


I can't say whether it is best to have a Jazz solo or another genre but my guess is that dancers should prepare the best solo that they can perform. There are very gifted Jazz dancers, Modern dancers and Ballet dancers in the program but they are not necessarily all as strong in every style of dance.


My daughter loves the program and feels that she has been able to work with wonderful teachers. As jennc commented, not all dancers get to perform so your DD needs to be prepared for this. A good thing to find out is if your DD needs to be among the top dancers and get leads (in which case you find a program where she is one of the best) or does she prefer to be in a very challenging environment even though having been best in her dance school may not get her a part in a performance. At SMU there are no guarantees and there are very talented dancers to compete with as well as new ones coming in every year. As far as male dancers I don't know how many they have off the top of my head but they have plenty of them and most are very good. Being a dance major at SMU requires a lot of work including late night and weekend rehearsals on top of a very demanding academic environment.


A new video of SMU dance majors, has just come out which I suggest you take a look at http://mcs.smu.edu/media/content/your-guide-dance-department-dance-major

You can also access it from the SMU Meadows web-site.

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My son is auditioning for SMU today. He took a Modern class at the College Dance Fair and loved the teacher. That upped SMU on his list of schools. We live in Houston, so my whole family is rooting for an acceptance.

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I'm auditioning tomorrow. For those of you who already auditioned about how long is it if you make it to the solo performance and interview?

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This is kind of off topic but I would appreciate feedback. Online and in conversations I keep hearing how SMU is full of really wealthy people, and the greek life is big. I know someone who left the university because of these issues, and not being able to fit in as the reason. Can someone please address this I know the dance department is phenomenal just wondering about the other part? Thank you

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SMU is a private school with high tuition. So my guess is, there are a lot of wealthy families that send their kids there as well as a lot of wealthy alumni. Why is this a problem. The arts department is well funded because of the wealth of families, right? The ballet world needs wealthy people who love the art. There is an active greek life. As many colleges have. I'm not quite understanding the problem with that. If you want to be involved with greek life, its there for you. If you do not, then don't! I'm not sure anyone in the ballet program would really have time for greek life anyway.

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Our DD was admitted to the dance program at SMU and we live in the area. My strong impression is that Meadows School of the Arts has its own culture that is distinctive. We know several dance majors who pledged sororities. SMU is generous with need-based and merit aid, so not all students there are from wealthy families, though many are. Our DD chose another college but we were both impressed by dance at SMU.

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Lady Elle, some campuses are more 'Greek' than others. If a campus is strongly 'Greek', then most social life revolves around the Greek activities. Greek life can be expensive. So, depending on personalities and finances, yes, it can make a difference.

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Lady Elle, Please see my previous reply on this topic from last September. My DD is not in a sorority but has as much of a social life as is possible with very busy class and rehearsal schedule. If your child wants to be a part of the Greek Life, look for the details online as it is very expensive at SMU. The dancers become very close to each other as well as to other students at Meadows so it is possible to have a very busy social life without being in a sorority.

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As the school year winds down, I hope someone will share where the Grads or Early Leavers of SMU Dance are going for the next phase of their lives.

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Any updates? I don't hear much about this program but it seems to be a nice one with great solid ballet training and performance opportunities. My dd is very interested so I'd love to hear from some graduates or parents of students. Is anybody out there?

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I would also like to know more about it too and about how difficult/competitive it is for ballet? Are the auditions like summer intensives, how many, etc. Thanks!

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  • 1 year later...

DS auditioned at SMU on Saturday.  I thought I'd report on the experience for those that might be auditioning later this cycle.

There were 36ish dancers auditioning.  3 boys.  Registration started at 9:00 when they took the dancers back.  Parents stayed in the lobby where Ms. Delaney spoke to us.  She described the program as a triple threat program: ballet, modern, and jazz.  The modern is Graham.  There are two main stage performances each year plus a couple of brown bag performances where students can submit their own choreography to perform.  There are a number of guest artists that spend time with the dancers including Desmond Richardson right now.  Most dancers either double major, or minor in something outside of dance.  There is flexibility to do so because many of the non-technique classes in the dance major will double count as university curriculum requirements.  

Dancers will hear from the dance department two weeks after the audition.  She acknowledged that not every dancer has a good day on audition day. If a dancer is not accepted, he/she is welcome to re-audition later in the cycle. 

They want to have a class of 20-22 students in each class, for a total of 88 students in their undergraduate major.

I found out from DS that after they take dancers back, they take a picture of each dancer in their dance clothes and number on.  Then, they warm up.  Barre work, then center work for ballet, then a modern combination, then a jazz combination.  The audition class started around 9:45-10:00, and dancers were dismissed around 12:15.  Dancers (and parents) then wait until the adjudicators evaluate each dancer.  This took over an hour.  (make sure you bring something to eat during this waiting period)  Then, Ms. Delaney called out the numbers for the dancers that they wanted to see solos and interviews for.  She called back about 14-15 dancers.  Prior to dismissal, she also told dancers that they will be asked two questions during a short interview.  The questions were something like, "why do you dance, and what do you think dance brings to the community".  I might be butchering the interview prompts, because I can't remember the specific words that were used.  Dancers all had a chance to think about these questions during the waiting period.  Then, each dancer was called in by numerical (which was alphabetical) order.  He said that there was a long line of teachers adjudicating the solos, maybe 10 teachers.  He responded to the interview questions and then performed his solo.  My DS brought his smart phone with him, and was able to plug into their sound system.  Other dancers brought a CD.  There was a mix of dance styles for solos.  Some girls performed on pointe (I'm assuming Kitri and Esmeralda since I saw a fan and a tambourine), but other dancers performed in jazz shoes or barefoot.  It did not appear to favor one type of dance style.  My DS's last name starts with an S, so we were later in line, with a few more after him.  We were able to leave around 2:45pm.

This was DS's second college audition this year, and he came away with a very positive feeling about the program, and his interaction with the teachers.

I should also add that we went back on Monday and was able to watch a portion of a class.  We watched Ballet 2 (of 4 levels) with Ms. Peck teaching.  DS was impressed by the caliber of teaching.  He thought that Ms. Peck was being very particular and gave very specific corrections.  The combinations were challenging. 

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