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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Southern Methodist University

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The Brown Bag series is student choreography so whatever students want to explore is what is performed. There have been jazz pieces, modern pieces, ballet pieces, tap pieces(which isn't offered in the department), hula's, and afro-carribean pieces. Its a very eclectic mix. In the faculty choreographed shows ie our Hope Show, there is an equivalent number of ballet, modern and jazz. In the last year and a half, we've performed Balanchine's Serenade, Valse Fantasie, and Raymonda Variations as well as Martha Graham works and other modern choreographers. This november our hope show will include Paquita, a new work by a contemporary jazz choreographer, and a work by Allison Chase- one of the founders of Pilobolus. You can't come expecting to only do ballet(modern and jazz are required), but don't think you won't get some of the best ballet training in a university. Graduates from the past two years are dancing with Colorado Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet 2, Ballet Austin, Georgia Ballet, Dayton Ballet and those are only the ones I know of since I've been there.

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Bubblegirl, are you referring to the undergraduate or graduate program? And the Brown Bag series - is it choreography from undergrads or from grads? Thanks

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Guest megarina

I really enjoyed my time at SMU. The audition process is extremely selective, and if this is someone’s first choice, I’d highly recommend the earliest audition (October, I think) and then doing the early admission thing. However, this doesn’t necessarily secure a spot. Another very talented student from my studio who had been doing SI’s from SAB to ABT to Joffrey and NSCA from the time she was 12 didn’t get in, which was pretty surprising.


A great thing about the school, is while it is pretty expensive, they do have tons of grants, etc. that students don’t have to pay back. I think when all was said and done, I paid $5k per year. They really try to accommodate their dancers as they know talent is crucial to the program.


Dance_Scholar_London, The Brown Bag series (at least while I was there) is for undergraduate students. The Grad students have a separate, more formal concert in the spring.

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This question fits in the category of worrying too early about everything but that is exactly what DD does. She is 13, brother goes to SMU and she wants to go there as a dance major. She is in an excellent pre-professional program and is progressing nicely. She did YAGP last year at 12 and did well. She just did her first lead role in a ballet at her SI and consistently gets good feedback from her teachers, directors and choreographers. Her concern is that almost 100% of her training is classical ballet. As she gets older, she will get more jazz and a small amount of contemporary dance training/choreography. She is concerned that she will not have enough jazz training or modern training to do well at the audition or to be successful at SMU. Any words of advice???

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Brown Bag is mostly choreography from undergrad students, but there is always at least one or two grad students who have choreography in the show. Graduate students also have their own "thesis" concert in april of their second year. The grad program is choreography based so they are always doing smaller, less-formal projects.


For swan chat: I would say 35-50% of the students come from a heavily ballet based background and the rest trained more equally in all styles. As long as you can adapt to the directives given at an audition, you're fine.

Edited by Bubblegirl864
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swanchat - I know of a dancer that went to SMU with nothing but classical ballet training. I had the chance to meet her and talk with her at length during Mustang Corral (Freshman orientation) when I worked there. When I asked her about her background, she said she had never done any jazz or modern; she studied at Dallas Metropolitan Ballet for about 10+ years, though. She was accepted with a very nice scholarship. That said, she was also told to be mindful that she would be expected to take modern and show progress very early on!

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  • 2 weeks later...

HELP! This year's audition info mentions a solo, if requested. I take it that if you don't get asked to do a solo, they are not very interested???? Also, is it better to audition in Dallas early?


DD is making big noise about SMU lately.

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Hi Taradancer!!! Great question?? "Also, is it better to audition in Dallas early?" When DD went on the tour circut last year to SMU I asked that question and was told no, it does not matter where or when. That is was talent and talent alone....They would always make room! Good luck!



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I'm a new transfer student at SMU and I'm very pleased with the Dance Dept! The ballet faculty are wonderful and the modern and jazz classes are really great. I would definitely recommend it to any serious aspiring dancers (whether they are ballet or modern). The upper level dancers are quite beautiful and the emphasis on Graham modern is very useful for ballet (strength of center). SMU is also wonderful abpout scholarship and financial aid.

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Taradriver ... they do a cut right there (in person) after the main audition. Those that do not get cut, get to perform the solo. Those that get cut, are asked to leave and that's that -- no opportunity to perform the solo. Also, making the cut and doing the solo is not a guarantee that you've been accepted into the program. It's just the next step.


So ... auditioners must be prepared to find out if they are not accepted right then and there in person.

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If anyone from out of town needs help when coming to audition in Dallas, PM me. I live not too far away and can be of help, especially now that DD is gone :party: .

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BalletNutter- Harsh! But that's how it is in the real audition world. I guess if one auditions early enough, it could save the time, trouble and additional expense of applying to the university, if one is unlucky & doesn't make the cut.

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Guest BackRowJoe
BalletNutter- Harsh! But that's how it is in the real audition world. I guess if one auditions early enough, it could save the time, trouble and additional expense of applying to the university, if one is unlucky & doesn't make the cut.


I'm pretty certain that you have to apply to the university in order to audition. My dd went through that process last year.

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