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Ballet Talk for Dancers

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  • 8 months later...
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. :(

 

This poster's screen name seems to be gone. My daughter is interested in a double major with psychology being the 2nd major. Her dance concentration would most likely be ballet. If anyone has any information they can share, please PM me or post to this thread. Thank you so much.

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Proud Mom,

 

My daughter is a freshman at Point Park as an MT major and Dance Minor. The dance Dept seems to be very receptive to each individual dancers needs. My daughter is very happy there and when I visited last year I was amazed at the beautiful studios and performance space.

 

I think the difference in a double major would be a BA in dance rather then a BFA which requires alot more dance. The performance opportunites would be the same, there are no restrictions to who can audition with the exception of first year MT students.

 

Feel free to pm me.

 

 

hushinfazen

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hushinfazen

Good to hear she is happy. We are setting up a bunch of college visits for DDs spring break and PP is on the list. DD has a friend who is a dance major there and liking it. Glad to hear you D is happy also.

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Oh hi Calamitous!

 

Let me know the details of your visit and my dd might be able to answer any questions regarding MT/Dance since I know your DD has that same interest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hushinfazen

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  • 3 months later...

Anyone with information on where this year's graduating class is going after leaving Point Park, please share. If this placement is within a company, please also share at what level: corp, trainee, teaching, switch to contemporary,etc.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am also interested in Point Park's BA in Dance Pedagogy with a ballet emphasis. Anyone with first-hand info on this school's program?

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  • 2 months later...

Two of my family members have gone to PPU. Both are dancers, although neither was in the dance program. PPU has changed over the years, so if you are considering going there, look at what the program is doing now, rather than what it did 10 years ago. In the last 4 years, PPU has not presented any classical ballet performances. So if you want to study classical ballet, you might be disappointed in the performance opportunities at PPU. As for the classes, take a look at them and decide for yourself. Some will love them, others won't. My relatives ended up taking open classes at PBT, because they felt those were more rigorous than the open classes at PPU. They also felt that the PPU conservatory ballet classes were not disciplined enough for their taste. PPU has turned out beautiful ballet dancers, but its ballet program is not to everyone's taste, so be careful when deciding. Try to have a look at some of their performances. Again, if you are a classical ballet dancer, you might not be interested in their style of dance.

 

If you very much want to get into the program, audition early. As early as you possibly can.

 

As for the academics...PPU is a quirky place. As others have noted, it is not selective academically. Having said that,it is also true that it has some excellent academic programs, ones that cannot be found at other universities. But, again, look carefully. This is not the place to study history,or math, or a science, or languages. Scheduling can definitely be a problem. Their class schedule is not a conventional one. The Honors program had a lot of potential, but has been gutted recently. Don't count on its being outstanding in any way in the next year; it is not clear what its future will be.

 

My own feeling after giving this subject a lot of thought, is that conservatory dance programs like the ones at PPU are problematical. If you want a dance career, then go to a trainee program or a grad program attached to a company, & just audition as much as possible. College only delays your career, and you get the worst of both worlds. You can't really dance as much as you need to for professional training and also get a really good college education. On the other hand, if you want to dance while you are in college, and also have dance opportunities, a conservatory program may not be the best choice for you. Those who run conservatory programs often do so as if they were companies. They are not, and don't give participants the advantages of a company, but do expose students to a lot of stress and "politics". On the other hand, a college or university which has an open, non-conservatory dance program, generally offers a good academic program as well as dance training and dance opportunities for all their dancers.

 

I've known students who absolutely loved everything about PPU and its dance program. I've also known students who have left it traumatized by the way they were treated. As in any other place, both good and bad things can happen. As for its dance pedagogy program, I don't really know anything about it now. Years ago it was absolutely excellent. The two caveats I would issue about it is to make sure its ballet classes and its ballet performance opportunities are what you would expect, and to take a close look at its academic program. If you are going to a university rather than to a company trainee program, then presumably you care about academics. Look carefully to see if PPU offers what you might expect.

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I'd like to add one other observation. In years past PPU has put on a sort of mish mash en pointe/modern version of Cinderella. I actually rather like the choreography, but it is not a classical ballet by any means. Three years ago, it was put on for the second consecutive year. Doug Benz, a modern teacher and the choreographer of the ballet, bragged in a newspaper interview that most of the cast was the same as that of the year before. I think he was trying to say that this Cinderella would be very professional, because it had a seasoned cast, rather like in a company. And perhaps that was correct. Certainy the dancers were quite competent. On the other hand, what does it say for available performance opportunities if the same people get the same parts two years running in the only major ballet production of the year?

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My daughter attended Point Park's SI the year before last and they performed act 2 of Giselle. I understand that you are talking about the University program, but just thought I would mention it, and also that many students take the summer program for credit.

 

edited to include: Students who are not dance majors but who are taking dance classes are not taking the same dance classes as dance majors are. This may be why your relatives did not feel challenged.

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Not sure what happens as a Dance Major but my DD will be a sophmore Musical Theater Major and does take the dance major ballet classes. While she was not able to accept (MT policy of no Freshman performing) she was cast as a Raymonda soloist in their dance production last year. She speaks highly of the ballet classes and is able to maximize her continued technique training. Would she have attended as a Dance Major? hmm... I don't know.

 

baletomane make a valid point regarding academics at PP. If one is seeking academics as the reason for attending they might be better suited finding another academic institution. The age old debate of college first or seeking a professional ballet career first continues on, and we all have mixed opinions on this dotted with personal stories or hearsay. When it comes to Musical Theater the opposite is true, University training is extremely valued prior to a professional career and PP is well regarded as a MT/Dance conservatory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

hushinfazen

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This past year they performed Raymonda Variations. It was done very well. My daughter is a dance major and finds the ballet training to be good. She also feels that the level of training in other dance disciplines excellent. She/we have also noticed that the dance department talks a lot about the many performance opportunities available, but it really doesn't deliver because many of the same dancers are chosen over and over again. Or for instance, let's say there are 5 different pieces being performed, there could be quite a number of dancers that are cast in 3 of those pieces!!! when there is a whole dance department full of people that could dance those roles. It is a school that is supposed to be training dancers for a professional PERFORMING career and as such should guarantee that each dance major performs at least once throughout the year -- unfortunately it doesn't work that way.

 

My daughter was lucky and did have more than one performancing opportunity, but she has friends that didn't perform anything all year. Some of those students have not returned and some are giving it one more year. My daughter is back this year and is hoping to be fortunate enough to get cast again not only in a ballet piece but hopefully in contemporary or jazz pieces. However her strong suit is ballet and there are many more performance pieces that fall into the jazz, contemporary, modern genre. She is good in those areas also, but there are others there that are great and those are the students that repeatedly get cast so it's hard to "break into" being cast in something new. She did contemplate transferring somewhere that had stronger academics and have dance as a minor or find dance instruction elsewhere .... but she really loves the intensity of the training at PPU and knew she would miss that elsewhere. Kind of in limbo.

 

Overall I would still give PPU a thumbs up on the caliber of ALL dance training and their performances are very professional. But the atmosphere is political, teachers and dance department certainly develop favorites and a dancer has to be emotionally and physically strong to survive. I/we know that this kind of favoritism exists within dance companies, but this is a school and as such should provide more equal opportunities for their students. (who are paying to be there).

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Since a question has been raised about a specific posters post: A reminder that on our college forums we do allow a little leeway in the first hand experience rule. One can also be in the area and see performances giving a glimpse of the program. Or a dancer may audition for the ballet and modern programs, enter the modern program and their experience is valid. As well, in general, dancers will visit several colleges before choosing one their experience does in fact cover schools where they are in attendance if they are dance knowledgeable just as if a parent/dancer visits a college and gains first hand experience by what they uncovered in their visit. Let's allow for that leeway unless it gets out of control.

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