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Ballet Talk for Dancers

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I was at the Saturday audition! It went pretty well. I loved the city and the campus seemed nice though very small. The audition started at 10 after registration and signing in at 9. It was about an hour and 15 mins of ballet (barre and center), a little pointe, 45 mins of modern, and about 30 minutes of jazz. Afterwards there were tours given by students. There were 24 in the audition and 5 boys. There were about 6 or more instructers in the audition room at all times. Everyone seemed very nice and willing to answer any questions. They said we should find out in a few weeks!

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  • KayP


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One of DD's teachers also teaches at Point Park and was involved in this mess. He explained to DD and her classmates yesterday that there was a list posted on a bulletin board requesting dancers meet with a department head. The dancers were on that list because something was going on with their progress at the university which might prevent them from finding employment in their field upon graduation. Some had attendance issues, grades, commitment & some had gained weight. This particular teacher (who was directly involved) is a very caring and dedicated man & former professional ballet dancer whom I have never known to judge dancers harshly (or at all for that matter) regarding body issues. I really think this is mostly a case of media hype. I think the university w2as really just looking out for the best interests of it's students. Probably would have been best, however, if the list was not posted publicly.

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ceecee explained this very well. IMO this is a case of awful journalism. The list was posted in the spring of 2008-an entire year and a half ago! In addition, as mentioned, some students where told they needed to watch their weight, others were told they needed to show up to class. Either way the faculty were taking an interest in the student's progress. I think the biggest issue was that it was posted publicly, but since this one time, there has never been another list posted--if a student has an issue they are spoken to privately. I just think it's so unfortunate that this made the front page of the paper and the news-its such bad publicity for both the school and the dance world. Grr. Please don't let this deter you from Point Park, it really is a great program.

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Before we jump off into an anti or pro thread. Let's consider several things:


-there was acknowledgement of a list that included weight issues even if that was not the sole reason for the list.

-a public list as a way to speak to students who are in class daily is a bad way to handle things and has hopefully been rectified.

-Point Park is not alone in colleges who address this issue for those students wanting to perform after college as well as in college.

-The true issue is really not the list, but what the college did (or did not do) to help students for whom weight has become a problem. We've all heard of places that use the "by any means necessary" approach. And we've also heard of places that offer nutritional, personal training and other healthy approaches to getting back to a healthy body for performing.

-every dancer must have their "not this far" limit to what they will do to try and dance professionally and this should be instilled in the dancer prior to leaving home.


I would venture to guess that if this was a year and a half ago, that the ramifications of a dancer who had health issues as a result of this list/talk may be how it was leaked. That is not a good or bad assessment and I have no factual basis to that, it's just a hunch. It just goes to how important it is to treat people humanely in all situations and how to treat issues with dancing and the dancing body with kid gloves. Some dancer come armed with a "I won't go this far" attitude and others come with a "I'll do anything to dance" attitude. Being fit as a dancer is important, however, there are positive ways to handle that issue and negative ones.


KayP is correct, do not let this deter you from an education at Point Park. However, do arm yourself with knowledge, sound thinking and practices and limits to what you will do to please anyone to dance.

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Do all dancers auditioning do the same audition classes no matter what concentration they chose? For example, if you chose a ballet concentration-would the whole ballet section be on pointe while the jazz and modern dancers do it on flat?

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A little off topic.....


I have talked to several Ballet Talk members about Point Park Musical Theater and Dance Depts. Here is a link to the Pittsburgh Playhouse where all MT/Theater shows play and also the big Dance Dept shows. If You go to the current show "Carousel" you will see comments from the Director Jack Allison regarding the collaboration between the MT/Dance depts. The young lady who plays the daughter Louise (had a fierce dance solo in the second act) is a current Dance major with a MT minor




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I have read through this thread and want to thank everyone who has contributed. I don't have a concern about the academics, nor do I worry too much about the small campus (because I am familiar with Pittsburgh and DD loves the city), and I am willing to overlook the possible "fat list", but I am very concerned about the reports of favoritism and inability to perform for many of the students. I would love to hear more personal experiences about this and, if you are not comfortable posting, or it might violate any rules of posting, am able to receive IMs. :yes:

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sfshaza, feel free to PM me about anything. As a senior, I've finally got this school figured out and definitely think this school can be an absolutely amazing training ground IF you know how to navigate it.

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  • 2 months later...

I am attending Point Park in the fall as a ballet major. I plan on transferring to University of Utah though. Point Park was my last choice of a school but its whatever. All this information was very helpful to me though

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I have read through this thread and want to thank everyone who has contributed. I don't have a concern about the academics, nor do I worry too much about the small campus (because I am familiar with Pittsburgh and DD loves the city), and I am willing to overlook the possible "fat list", but I am very concerned about the reports of favoritism and inability to perform for many of the students. I would love to hear more personal experiences about this and, if you are not comfortable posting, or it might violate any rules of posting, am able to receive IMs. :wub:


Anywhere you go, theres going to be favortism!!

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I agree, there's favoritism in all programs, just as there are dance majors who struggle to get cast in shows and often get passed over entirely. The goal, then, is to find a program where the dancer is likely to wind up at the higher end of the totem pole. This is where campus visits to observe classes and see performances are invaluable.

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  • 6 months later...

A couple if things to clarify about information read about Point Park. I know that the ballet faculty is very strong. With the former ballet mistress of PBT and 3 former principal dancers who have retired from performing with PBT. Other faculty have danced with Ballet West, Cincinnati Ballet, Houston Ballet and one recent addition of a faculty member who danced with both San Francisco Ballet and the New York City Ballet. Over the past few years the connections that these pros have, have helped graduates with ballet concentrations to get places with Nashville, Ballet West, Missouri Contemporary, Texas Ballet Theater, Dayton Ballet and Ballet Theater of Maryland. Also several alumni are dancing with the local contemporary ballet company Bodiography. These are just ballet companies many dancers come in as ballet concentration and through exposure end up with jobs in places like river north in chicago or ballet jazz de montreal. Most ballet companies want dancers who are strong on modern works and contemporary companies demand excellent ballet technique. There are five dance concerts with mostly mixed rep. Performed each season. Dancers audition for the choreographers or person setting the piece just like a professional audition and the choreographers pick what dancers they want to use with limitations set on how many pieces a dancer can be cast in for each semester. The chair of the department is one of the most caring professionals ever and strives to help every student, but choreographers get to cast their choices. With the new dance complex more and more performing is being added with freshmen, sophomore showcases as well as a concert for student choreography. There are regularly several ballet/pointe pieces performed on each rep but the other concentrations such as jazz and modern are also represented. Recent pieces have included the Arpino piece Light Rain set by a person from the Joffrey and some Balanchine, since 2 faculty members can set Balanchine's pieces. Freshmen are eligible to compete in the YAGP for another performing opportunity and placed in the top 12 last year.


Students have the support of taking several classes to deal with any body image etc.including nutrition and personal Pilates sessions. It is upsetting to see old comments about dress code, some modern and jazz faculty allow deviations but ballet is strict, strict strict. Also know that they have five new studios very big and with 2 to 3 more to be completed soon. also the theater department is fund raising for new theater complex to be built. The University now owns most buildings around campus and seem to be adding new facilities rapidly. I teach an academic course and know academics are varied in difficulty and serious students usually use the honors sections. Parents may want to known that some kids find they like living in then local neighborhood called Oakland and the university runs shuttles from this neighborhood.


I know that some people think college is no place for dance but I myself was not ready at 17, despite great technical training, the 2 years I spent in a good college program made me a professional and I went on to perform with great companies for 12 years and have now been teaching for 15years. I was also able to transfer my college credits 10 years later and finish a degree in less than a year and a half in a totally different field.


Rather a long post but I am very close to some full time faculty and wanted to clarify.

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