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Ballet Talk for Dancers

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KayP

Does anyone have any experience with Point Park's classical ballet program?

 

I really like the fact that not only can you double major here (with dance and something else), but you can take classes in jazz, modern, tap, and more.

 

Can anyone provide feedback on the ballet and pedagogy programs?

 

Thanks!

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mini cooper

I have a friend whose older daughter just finished her Sophomore year there. In a general way, I know that she really likes it there. She has had some neat performing opportunities, and the opportunity to work with some great choreographers.

 

I don't know specifics about the academics, etc. I will see if I can get any information from my friend.

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Marenetha

I know that one of the principal dancers at Houston Ballet (formerly at Boston Ballet) studied at The Conservatory of Point Park College for some time. I'm not sure how long he studied there, but Simon Ball is an excellent dancer!

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BW

I know Pierrette seemed to have quite a bit of information, but I'm afraid I can't remember if her daughter ended up attending there for college or not. :D You might try PMing Pierrette. I'm sure she'd be glad to help if she can. :D

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Pierrette

(Pierrette, here.)

 

My daughter has chosen to attend the University of Arizona's dance program in the fall. She spoke very highly of the training she received at Point Park during her two summers there. The ballet component was both top notch as well as highly regarded within the program (something that can't always be said for other college programs where modern might be the main focus or multiple dance styles are offered). However, it's not just that you can take jazz, modern and tap, but that you are required to, along with ballet, for your first two years before focusing on a major.

 

I wish you had an opportunity to attend Point Park's summer program as a way to check the school out. The faculty are fabulous and my daughter has made several lasting friendships with the other students (dance majors can attend the summer for credit). But if you can't, then I strongly recommend that you find a way to talk with actual students in the program. It's true that since Point Park is a university that offers general liberal arts and business and such, one would think that you can "double major" there. However, I would urge you to go beyond what's on paper to see what is really workable around a dance major's schedule. There are straight liberal arts majors at Point Park who complain about registration foul-ups and such which prevent them from graduating on time, so I can only imagine that the hurdles are only greater for busy dance majors who consider taking more academic classes.

 

I believe Point Park is the second-largest dance program in the country after the University of the Arts. The sense I got from students from both programs is that, in large programs, there is a tendency within the department to have favorites. That means that many dance majors may have to find other performance opportunities outside of school in order to satisfy their own need to perform. They exist in abundance in Pittsburgh, however traveling back and forth to them can add to an already busy schedule. On the flip side, you may feel the strong need to venture beyond Point Park, as the university is housed within a set of buildings where it is possible to never step outside all day. Many students liken it to feeling as though they are still in high school.

 

Since my daughter is aiming for a performance career, she was very impressed with Point Park's reputation for launching graduates into admirable positions. The Conservatory of Performing Arts is clearly the flagship college of the university (sort of to the detriment on the academic side), and so the administration lavishes much attention on it. They are currently undertaking a building expansion project that will greatly benefit the dance program. The tuition is actually lower than Marymount Manhattan's (another triple-emphasis program), and far lower than the University of the Arts. Pittsburgh, as a city, also focuses a lot of attention on the arts, so we heard of many accounts of students making signficant contacts outside of school. The dance department brings in amazing guest artists to work with the students and Point Park is often a key stop for auditioners. (Philadelphians are expected to trek up to New York, I suppose.)

 

After attending UArts (a big program in a small school) her freshman year, my daughter decided she'd prefer a smaller program in a big, traditional school. (And, hey, it turns out that Univ. of AZ is cheaper, so who was I to argue?) Her decision to turn down Point Park was actually quite hard. Every program is going to have its pluses and minuses - that are all personal observations, I might add. It is really hard to make a final choice (when you are lucky enough to have choices) when there are so many variables. So I hope you don't take my word on all this, but instead make a thorough investigation, yourself.

 

Good luck!

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DanceDork

I am a sophomore dance major at Point Park with a double concentration in jazz and classical ballet. Like Pierrette's daughter I have done the summer intensive program for the past two years and am almost done with this summer's intensive. I took dance classes there during the school year my junior and senior year of high school. So I have been at Point Park for awhile.

 

The faculty is excellent. The ballet teachers rotate every semester so you get the opportunity to work with most of them by the time you graduate. Each teacher has a different style of teaching and focuses on different aspects of technique. I learned so much in just one semester.

 

As far as being required to take 2 years of tap, jazz, modern, etc. is concerned... As a ballet major, you are required to take 1 semester each of jazz and modern and 1 semester each of 2 "elective" dance classes. For the electives, you choose 2 of 4 (tap, folk, character, dunham technique). You also need 2 semesters each of pointe (or male technique for men) and pas de deux. And you must take 8 semesters of ballet. This is in addition to general college courses (which you can test out of) and dance academics. I should also mention that these are the requirements for BA degree. The BFA program requires more dance classes.

 

There are a lot of performance opportunities not just within the school but throughout the city. The school itself ususally puts on 3 dance shows a semester. Casting in these shows is somewhat political, but you find that to an extent everywhere.

 

Overall I love the program at Point Park, but its not for everybody. I would recommend trying to make a visit to the school to take a class or two and talk to the faculty as well as other students.

 

If you have any other questions I would be glad to help. Good luck with the college search!

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Guest sunbird033

I will be a Freshman at Point Park this fall, with a ballet concentration. Everything I have heard and read about the program sounds very impressive-- especially the long list of professional alumni. I am so glad to hear praise from a student there as well! I looked at many other colleges, but Point Park appealed to me because of the intensity of the program as well as the requirements in other areas of dance outside of your own concentration. In the dance world right now it is impossible to only dance classical ballet, everyone needs to be versatile. I think Point Park will teach that versatility as well as emphasize ballet.

 

I will certainly update you all with my experience there!

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kg

thank you sunbird033 and DanceDork for your info on Point Park. DD has researched the program and is interested, but we have yet to visit. Please do keep us posted as your year progresses.

 

Do either of you know what percentage of dance students receive scholarship?

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DanceDork

Most dance majors receive some sort of award money. Generally, if you do not receive a scholarship, you are offered an apprenticeship which is also awarded based on talent, but is a sort of work study program through the conservatory. I'm not sure of the exact percentages though.

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kg

Thanks DanceDork, any info/insight is always helpful when trying to evaluate all the different programs.

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dadof2dancers

I'd like to direct this question to Ms. Leigh, Major Mel & other moderators as well as current & former Point Park Dance majors.

My wife & I are trying to direct our DD towards Colleges that have the best Ballet focused education.

Is Point Park known for high caliber Ballet or Modern education or both?

We are trying to advise & we obviously want to be fully informed before we

make suggestions.

She loves Pittsburgh having spent 2 summers @ PBT's ISP.

Thanks :)

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BW

Here's that thread about Point Park. :)

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M26

Great school, I have a friend who just got back from their summer intensive (age 17) and I dance with someone who graduated from there!

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Guest aide03

This response is for dad of 2 dancers -

 

I'm going to be entering my junior year (in just a few days, yikes!) as a dance major concentrating in modern and jazz with a psychology major at Point Park. I feel personally that Point Park is best known for it's jazz program, however, our graduates of the ballet program do quite well as well, partially (IMHO) because they are versatile, which seems to be proving more and more valuable in today's ballet companies (as opposed to the "bunhead" type).

 

Basically you focus on what you want to and dance as much as you want to, which I love love LOVE. It's totally possible to make your experience very intense and have four classes a day with rehearsals after dinner.

 

In response to the question regarding double majoring, many many students do it successfully in four years. In fact, many students here graduate in three or three and a half years. However, then you may only get to take, say, two classes a day if you choose to have a second major.

 

If you have any other questions let me know. To the other posters who are Point Park students, show yourselves! lol... who are you? I'll give you a hint about me - JLB might as well be my MOM. :yucky:

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charlotte1755

What about the academics - are they good?

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