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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ivy League Schools with Ballet-Focused Programs


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What I find missing from this discussion is the question of aim. What is the aim of the education one seeks? How does dance fit within that aim, whatever it might be? How one answers those questions goes a long way to informing judgments about schools.


The ivies and prestigious liberal arts schools provide first rate educations to those who apply themselves. Well, there is also the question of just getting in and being able to pay the bills, no trivial matter (I just wish I were rich enough to be able to pay the bills),


If I had professional aspirations and wanted to go to college (an option I would delay if I did have those aspirations), I don’t think an Ivy League school would be high on my list of schools.


If I wanted an education gained primarily through dance experience (which would include much more than just ballet by the way), I might consider an ivy or prestigious liberal arts school, but probably would be drawn to schools with more generally recognized dance programs.


If I wanted an education in the arts in general, with dance as an art form, an ivy or prestigious liberal arts school would be great, again assuming I could get in and pay the bills. If my recollection is correct, Lincoln Kirstein and Erik Hawkins were Harvard grads. They were pretty big in the dance world. I’m sure there were others that I don’t happen to know.

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  • Dance_Scholar_London


  • Mel Johnson


  • Marenetha


  • molly123


I'm really not looking for professional training - if I end up going to college, it probably won't be USF or Indiana or any of the other really great dance colleges. If I go to college, it will be for academics - I'd just really like it if there were some sort of very close good ballet school.


(Though then again, my best academic bang-for-bucks would probably be Ivy, schools like Swarthmore/Tufts, and then state schools, in no particular order; in what provide the most opportunities and quality staff. So I'm not neccessarily discounting a public college!)


I know that Mateo and Boston Ballet are near Harvard, but (pardon me, I don't know much about either's schedule) aren't they like most company schools, where they can offer open classes, but not much in the way of hefty scheduling?


I mean, I don't intend to spend 20 hours a week dancing whenever I finally get to the grand old age of applying, but it'd be nice to keep technique up - probably take about 12-14 hours a week, I think. Similar to what I have now, I guess - haha, I want to go *away* to college to have a similar dance schedule to right now? But I digress.


Maybe I'm biased by basing my idea of company schools off of Houston Ballet, which has a very good adult program - for beginners, or for professionals. I don't really see it as being very good for someone who already has any sort of familiarity with pointework and classical variations and whatnot. Doesn't offer pointe classes and whatnot - primarily because it'd be a huge hassle to deal with adults and this issue, I agree. :wacko:


Basically, I'd like to find a school where, if I have the time (and I really do hope so! I would hate to end up going to college, and then dropping dancing entirely) I can continue to at least keep my technique on a high level, but if everything gets too much and I discover an intense interest in Mesoamerican Archaeology, I can still take class somewhere convenient, albeit less often.

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Would it be possible for you to try to find out the information from your friend about dance classes around Brown? It is one school I am interested in (I'm currently a Junior) and I loved the choreography class, but I would definitely like to have some ballet. The dance professor I talked to said that there was a very good studio within walking distance, but didn't give a name. Perhaps this is the studio your friend went to?




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Sure Dolphingirl, no worries! I'll email her right now!


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Guest Chedva

Marenetha, have you looked into Columbia/Barnard? Both have their own dance program, but of course since they're in New York, you'll have a plethora of choices for continuing classes at whatever level you choose.

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I went to Swarthmore a few years back. It certainly is a great "bang for the buck". Their financial aid is better than most, and once you are on campus, everything is free. If there is student interest in something not currently offered, funding can be obtained. One semester we brought in an outside teacher for an advanced ballet/pointe class every week, who also choreographed a pointe number for the end-of-semester concert. At one point I received a grant to attend a ballet summer intensive.


There regularly were 2 intermediate and 2 beginner classes in ballet technique each week. The ballet faculty was from the Rock School. The pianist we had was excellent. Swarthmore did have more offerings in modern than ballet, with opportunities for ethnic dance as well. There were academic classes in dance as well as technique and choreography classes.


It was the best choice for me since I had been studying ballet fairly intensively throughout high school, but did not want a career in the arts.


In town there was also a nice but small ballet studio where I sometimes took extra classes.



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I have seen Harvard University's dance company perform. They were o.k. but it didn't look like any of them really had the option of dancing professionally.

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Back to the Princeton University theme - here's an interesting article for you :wub: :


In today's NY Tmes by Anna Kisselgoff Reaching for Original Intentions in a Prokofiev Ballet

Among legendary ballets more talked about than seen, the 1927 premiere of "Le Pas d'Acier" in Paris by Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes occupies a special and enigmatic place.


A staging that tries to go back to what was intended, rather than what 1927 audiences actually saw, is being presented by Princeton University at the university's Berlind Theater tonight through Saturday. The production, under the direction of Simon Morrison, assistant professor of music and a Prokofiev expert, promises to continue the debate about what "Le Pas d'Acier" (literally "The Steel Step") really meant...


Instead, the Princeton staging, performed by student dancers, is an attempt to produce the staging that was never realized...


Just thought you might enjoy reading about Princeton University's ballet students performing. :huepfen:

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FYI, a high school graduate, now in her first year at Barnard recently came back to take classes on her winter and spring breaks. It sounds as though the two of you have similar perspectives on dance and I was really surprised by the progress she's made. She's had no difficulty finding classes, balancing ballet and academic pursuits and is extremely happy there.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Don't forget, though, that Harvard, Brown, and Columbia all had associated women's colleges (Radcliffe, Pembroke, and Barnard, respectively).  Women seldom had the same privileges as men until at least the 1970's, but these institutions did have strong traditions of educating women.  As for the other Ivies, I know that Princeton didn't go co-ed until the early or mid-70's, and I think Dartmouth was about the same time.


Cornell, however, has been co-ed since the dawn of time. They also have a Dance department!

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It sounds as if you’d be happiest at a good academic school where you would have the option of taking good ballet classes. Any of the schools in New York City would work for that, and don’t forget the University of Pennsylvania, which also is historically co-ed. While the school may not have a ballet major, there are studios within walking distance where you could find a high level ballet and pointe class to take on a daily basis.


This is the dancer dilemma—unlike other arts areas such theatre, a decision must be made while still in high school whether to become a professional dancer. While there are some dancers with college degrees who have gotten into companies, for most the decision must be made whether to attend college or not.

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My daughter struggled with this very issue over a year ago.


She's a top student (99% GPA) who trained at the top level of our large city's Ballet Company as a pre-professional.


She MAY have been able to find work in a smaller regional ballet company but made the tough decision to pursue academics. However, she LOVES ballet and wanted to go to a college where she could get top quality training, even if it wasn't at the 20+ hours a week she was used to. The only Ivy she felt could provide this was Columbia with its Barnard affiliation. She visited both, applied to Columbia but was not accepted. She didn't want to attend an all-womens college, so that was the end of that option.


She is on a campus where she is double majoring in pre-med (bio) and dance, but at 19 hours and 17 hours respectively each semester, she's finding it tough to keep up on both fronts. And this is with the ballet right on campus. She could take at a studio walking distance in the evenings, but with rehearsals etc, it makes any outside studios difficult to squeeze in at best.


She was delighted to be able to perform in "Serenade" this semester. While she'd really like to take more ballet classes, this is the best she can squeeze in. Per another poster's comments, it is hard to keep taking ballet for credit if you're not a dance major. She is dropping to a minor though and will still be able to keep up daily ballet/pointe classes and have it count.


I empathize with this situation. She was accepted to several schools where nearby ballet was POSSIBLE. However, she came to realize that with the kind of academic schedule she'd be pursuing, that having it as convenient as possible, and tied into the school was about the only way for her to have the best of both worlds. Or at least PART of both worlds.


I would be very interested in others' information. It may be too late to help her, but perhaps others can benefit from knowing what's available. This kind of information isn't easy to come by.

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BluebirdMom, I sympathize with the decision your DD had to make and admire her fortitude in pursing an academically challenging college program while still finding the time to dance. My DD will be facing this same dilemma in the next few years. I hope she will also be equally successful.

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Does anybody know more about the dance programme at Yale?

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My older daughter is a student at Yale College. While she is a music major (flute) and Yale has a very strong music department, I am of the impression that dance is not a strong area. For example, I do not believe that you could take an advanced ballet class every day at Yale.

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