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College-Sponsored SI's


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Some colleges with ballet programs offer their own summer intensives, taught by their faculty (Butler, TCU). I'd guess there are probably more. Aside from getting to know the campus and some of the dance faculty, would attending these collegiate SI's be of value when the student later auditions for the university? I am not talking about trying to get an "in" because they know you, but rather finding out what a particular program likes in their dancers. Does anybody have any experience with this? Thanks.

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My daughter's experience is with Point Park University's International Summer Dance program. (They offer separate majors in ballet, modern, jazz and dance pedagogy.) Based on her experience, I'd say that there was value in attending a college-based program in terms of every aspect imaginable, including getting an "in" with the faculty. Of course, as you indicate, there is the primary value in simply having the opportunity to check out the program. At Point Park, the dance majors are able to take the summer program for credit, so there is the chance to interact with them. This also let her see that college-level dancing could offer a challenge (if you find the right program) as well as another viable route towards pursuing a professional performing career.


My daughter was able to pick both the students' and faculty members' brains about what other programs they thought were good, which is how my daughter was led to also apply to the University of Arizona. That has turned out to the best advice she has gotten, as she fell in love with the place when we first visited it. (She'll be transferring there in the fall.)


As far as "finding out what a particular program likes in their dancers," my sense is that (except for Juilliard) college dance programs are not like companies in this way. As far as I can tell, they simply select the best dancers who apply and wind up with those who choose to attend. So it's more a matter of what a particular dancer likes for a program (quality of teachers, areas of their experience, geographical setting, facilities, quality of the other students, etc.).


Because of this, getting known by the faculty during a summer program is not so much an "in" as it is a long "audition" that leaves an established impression with the faculty. This means that single mess-ups during the "real" college audition will get overlooked because the faculty will understand that it's a single mess-up, while they can't know that with dancers they haven't met before. On the other hand, if a summer student leaves a poor impression, then of course there is no advantage in terms of being accepted into the program.


My daughter was accepted to five college dance programs that have varying department "cultures." She's about to leave one program because she feels that she doesn't fit in there. This is why it seems to me that it's mostly a matter of student self-selection, not faculty selection, when it comes to matters beyond ability and skill.

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My 17 year old daughter has studied at Butler since she was 4. They have outstanding faculty and have been rated in the tops for dance college programs for years. The training is excellent and very strong on technique. My daughter has always gotten into every program she has auditioned for SDP at Boston and this year at Ballet Austin. Butler itself, is a wonderful school and has a nice campus. Let me know if you have any specific questions.

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I suppose this topic has now veered off-topic, so feel free to split it off.


My first question is to the point about college ratings. Balletmomstar, do you know anything more about who does this rating that you speak of? The only "ratings" of college dance programs that I've run across are in the book, "The Performing Arts Major's College Guide," by Carole J. Everett, and my own personal opinion is that the selections under each category (Most Highly Recommended Programs, Recommended Programs, and Other Noteworthy Programs) is either out-dated or biased towards some factor that I am unaware of. I have no doubt that Butler is way up there, especially for ballet, but is there actually some objective organization that conducts these ratings?


Your implied reference to some kind of year-round outreach program through Butler's dance department intrigued me (meaning, I didn't think you were talking about Butler's SI), so I looked it up. I must say, I'm very envious to see such an extensive dance program for the community being offered through a university. Our "Recommended" dance program, on the other hand, is one of those with skimpy facilities stuck on the back of a phys. ed. building, can hardly advertise most of their performances since there's barely room for family members to attend, and there's absolutely no parking, so it can't be used as an audition site for outside programs. The fabulous teaching that goes on there is almost exclusively reserved for the dance majors. As a result, this town, on the whole, is woefully ignorant about dance.


Would you know whether attending the Jordon College Academy of Dance gives their students an "in" with being accepted to Butler's dance program?

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Dear Pierrette,


Jordan Academy of Dance began many many years ago as an outreach program by Butler. (Actually, the school can trace its history back very far--but I've forgotten it all). Currently, (and for quite some time) it operates as an independent "department" or entity, but under the umbrella of Butler (administrative details are for the administrators). Butler and Jordan do have faculty exchanges and do have an interconnection. At least one of Butler's faculty teaches one or more of the advanced level ballet classes at Jordan and, at least one, if not more of Jordan's teachers teach classes for the college kids.


The Butler dance department and Jordan have additional symbiotic connections. For example, the pedagogy students do their student teaching at Jordan; Jordan's current AD serves as the stage manager for many of the Butler Ballet performances; Jordan Dance Ensemble spring performance is held in Butler's intimate new studio/theatre; many of the children's cast members for Butler's "Nutcracker" are Jordan students. When the University is on break, often some of the college dancers come down to Jordan to take class. Some of Jordan's advance students have the opportunity to take "early admission" classes at Butler with the freshman dancers, if room permits.


However, although being a student at Jordan does not "guarantee" a dancer admission to Butler's dance department, the training received at Jordan definitely prepares a dancer to be of the quality that Butler requires. Therefore, yes, somewhere between "many" and "most" of the Jordan dancers that audition for Butler do get accepted. Thus, perhaps one way of looking at it is that Jordan dancers have an "in" at Butler. But it is far more accurate to realize that it is the training the dancer received and absorbed at Jordan that qualifies that dancer for the Butler acceptance----and not just the mere fact that the dancer took class at Jordan and therefore, is automatically accepted. These same dancers typically get admitted into the other dance programs for which they audition, so it is not just Butler's altruism. In my observations, it is the rare Jordan dancer that auditions for several dance programs and receives an admission offer to Butler only.


By contrast, anecdotally, the same cannot be said for acceptance to Indiana University's dance department. In the eight years or so we've been aware of

attempts to gain admittance to that dance department, pretty much no one from Indiana seems to receive an offer. So, go figure!


Some colleges with ballet programs offer their own summer intensives, taught by their faculty (Butler, TCU).


I'm not quite sure what classes/programs are being referred to by Taradriver.


I believe Butler does have summer school session of classes for its dance students. However, I am not sure whether non-Butler students are permitted to take those classes. It never crossed my mind to consider Butler's summer sessions an "SI" in the sense that we consider it for the pre-college age kids.


Jordan, however, does have both "regular" summer evening classes (although

abit differently grouped than during the school year) and its summer "workshop/SI". The workshop has been newly structured this summer in keeping with the more common SI formula/schedule.

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But it is far more accurate to realize that it is the training the dancer received and absorbed at Jordan that qualifies that dancer for the Butler acceptance----and not just the mere fact that the dancer took class at Jordan and therefore, is automatically accepted. These same dancers typically get admitted into the other dance programs for which they audition, so it is not just Butler's altruism. In my observations, it is the rare Jordan dancer that auditions for several dance programs and receives an admission offer to Butler only.
Yes, exactly. This is what I meant when I answered Taradriver by saying that college dance programs "select the best dancers who apply." And the basis of "best" seems to be almost exclusively ballet technique and the ability to take corrections. In other words, even modern-focused programs don't expect a high level of prior modern training and my daughter didn't encounter a preference for one style of ballet over another. So I was never talking about altruism, but if there is a cap on the entering class and it's between an excellent dancer whom they know and one they don't, then "ins" make a difference.


As for Indiana U, we see the same thing happening with Michigan students who apply to the University of Michigan's nationally renown Musical Theater program. Although our State Legislator wants to see our state schools give priority to in-state students, the programs that require auditions offer a good excuse for seeing past the in-state tuition-paying Michiganders to the more preferable out-of-state tuition-payers.


As for Jordan Academy's history, it presents an interesting chicken and egg question. Did a critical mass of community support encourage the University to embrace such an outreach effort, or was the University altruistic on their own and took on the mission of offering dance education to the community? I bet the fact that Butler is private plays a role in its altruism. Attracting students from the surrounding community doesn't hurt their bottom line.


Does anyone know anything more about "ratings" for college dance programs?

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I am sorry if my remarks were misleading. I meant to say that Butler and IU are usually on the top five list in terms of schools recommended.( reading here on this forum) I have never seen any list, like US News and World Reports puts out on business schools, for dance. That said, I believe that it would be beneficial for a student to attend Jordan's SI not thinking about getting into Butler, but to gain the expereince of outstanding training. from a very good staff.

Also I know of two Jordan students who in the last two years were accepted to the IU dance program. IU is just very competitive in terms of their admissions to their dance program and do not take as many students as some other schools.

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I don't mean to quibble (or be contrary) and I may certainly be mistaken, but it was my understanding based upon conversations with the dancers, parents, and Jordan staff that those two dancers are taking "non-major" dance courses at IU. That is not the same as being accepted into the dance department as a "dance major" via the audition process.


I would, however, dearly love to know that my understanding is mistaken. One more potentially viable option for DD. :wub:

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  • 2 weeks later...

dancemaven- some colleges offer summer programs for high school age dancers. Check out the websites for Butler & TCU, they both have summer programs with dorm housing. I think Goucher also has a program, to name only a few. Of all of the schools offering a ballet major, my internet research has revealed that many offer some sort of summer program. Some are ballet based, others offer all kinds of dance.


I can see the point of having the faculty get to know what kind of student you are. It certainly gives them more of a basis on which to judge applicants, over and above just a single audition. I guess that attending a college-based summer program may take precendence over the "usual" SI's during that summer before senior year, if a dk is college bound.


Speaking of auditions, does one apply for college admission FIRST or audition FIRST then apply? I ask because some of the audition dates are in September and seniors don't usually apply that early. Auditioning looks to be a very expensive process; I am starting a special savings account now, as dd enters her junior year. I know there is heavy competition for admission and that applying to many schools may be necessary.

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For most schools, you can audition without having applied to the university yet. I do suggest checking before hand with the university, because some larger state schools give out the majority of academic scholarships before november 1st. Also, if you have a clear top choice it would make sense to audition and apply early. I was able to know before Christmas that I was accepted academically and dance wise into my top choice

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Congrats, bubblegirl! :party::speechless::(:wink:


Thanks for the valuable info. I'd hate to spend all that money on applications, only to find that dd may not have been accepted to the dance major. I know that some schools have certain audition sessions set aside for scholarship consideration, some do not.


If you feel comfortable telling the board (the world) where you're going, I'd love to know!

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Speaking of auditions, does one apply for college admission FIRST or audition FIRST then apply?
Deadlines for the academic portion of the application process can vary, but BEFORE a student can even audition, there is always an application for the audition as well, involving a form, dance resume and photo, and possibly essays. With twice as much paperwork to do compared with normal college applications, you may as well aim to get it done very early in the senior year before rehearsals and regular school work get crazy.


And junior year is not too soon to be visiting these colleges, observing classes and seeing student performances.

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Thanks, Pierrette! I've already seen some of those audition requirements - yeesh! This is going to require a master plan and I will advise dd accordingly.

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