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University of North Carolina School of the Arts/UNCSA

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allegra028

Desiderata— Congrats on your dd's acceptance to UNCSA!  My dd just learned that she also has been accepted.  It is a dream come true for her.  She will be a ninth grader next year.  And we also live out-of-state.  I would love to get to know you and other families who will be new to UNCSA next year.

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Desiderata

Allegra028 thank you so much, and congratulations to DD too!  My DD is so excited and really wants to go, but we are quite nervous about sending her away so young.  We are heading out to tour the school and for her to do a shadow day in a few weeks, and will be able to see the Spring Dance while we're there.  I hope to have a better sense after that whether we'll be comfortable making the commitment.  Have you been able to do an in-person visit at the school yet?

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allegra028

Hi, Desiderata—  Yes, we visited the school last spring and again this school year for her audition. Our DD loved it!  And my husband and I were very impressed with the faculty and staff and the overall experience that is offered.  We are going to miss having our DD home with us so very much, but we feel good about her attending UNCSA.

Edited by allegra028

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dhddandme

Hello everyone

My DD got accepted into the UNCSA HS Ballet program. We waited for the audition result for a month, and it was worth waiting for! She will be an incoming 12th grade so she has only 1 year. We are super excited and anxious for August to come.

I know there was an open house/campus tour day earlier this month, but we could not attend. Since we have been to the campus many times for the annual Festival of Dance in February and auditions for many companies/schools' SI programs held there, we are pretty much familiar with the school facilities, its surrounding area, Stevens Center, etc., have met many members of the faculty, except we have never seen the dormitory, and never met any academic teachers or staff.  We are considering contacting the school and see if we can set up a date to visit there, but we are not sure if we could do so before June, after the school year is over. 

I'm wondering if anyone knows anything about how the dorm roommates will be assigned to one another? Is each room for 2 or 4 students? Also, could anyone share her knowledge on what the cafeteria food choices are like, and the atmosphere/environment for studying/doing homework in and around the dorm is like? 

 

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allegra028

Hi dhddandme— Congratulations!  My daughter will be an incoming high school freshman ballet major.  We did the campus tour a year ago.  It is my understanding that there are two students per dorm room and roommate assignments are made in July.  The "My SA" section of the UNCSA website has a lot of helpful information for incoming high school students, including details about dorms and food options.  

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t.s..r

Hi, dhddandme! Congratulations! I was also accepted to the UNCSA dance program for my senior year in high school. I am not yet sure if I want to attend, but I did visit their campus for two days earlier this month. I shadowed a student and was able to take ballet classes!

Each room is for 2 students with stackable or un-stackable bunkbeds. Roommates are automatically randomly assigned unless both students request to be roomed with each other. I was also able to shadow academic classes and meet the academic director, Brock Snyder. I would definitely suggest trying to set up a campus visit. You can shadow a current student and really get a true feel for what it would be like to attend. 

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rc5678

Does attendance in HS guarantee acceptance into the college program?

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dhddandme

Hello everyone, Thank you so much for the heads up,  first hand information and good suggestions, as always.

Allegra028, Congratulations to your son! Since you gave me some heads up,  I visited the My SA site and have been collecting good amount of useful information there. Now they have been sending out a bunch information as scheduled so we are getting a good grasp of what's coming up, including how the roommates are going to be arranged. We are feeling good about sending ours to UNCSA, also. Currently I'm getting more and more curious about the parents group activities. 

t.s..r, Congrats to you too! So you will be another dancer joining for the first time as a senior. I hope my DD and you will make good friends! I'm not sure if my DD has a chance to shadow academic classes at this point, but she has contacted the school and asked some questions about the academic classes she was hoping to take (she found out she couldn't unfortunately).  But it was a good start to personally contact the academic staff and had some exchanges. 

My DD and we parents are looking forward to meeting you all soon.

 

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bbyblmrs

rc5678 There are no guarantees that a student will be granted a place into the college program.  However,  there have been a number of students that have continued onto college.

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Pinkytoes

 

My apologies in advance for the length of this post. My DD attended UNCSA this past year as a senior ballet high school student. We have been following this thread and debated whether we should share her experience. We concluded that we can offer experience and perspective that may help others. And that is what BTFD is supposed to be all about. My DD chose to attend UNCSA for her senior year for several reasons: UNCSA’s training reputation, the opportunity to “perform often,” the wear and tear of balancing the demands of a reputable public HS and a studio pre-pro program that did not interface with each other, the daily commute to the studio pre-pro in a major city, an announced change in the home pre-pro studio management mid-year during this school year, and a desire to experience on a trial basis the conservatory environment that my DD was considering as one of several post-HS options. We had to remind our DD often about HER goals as the year proceeded. 

 

Like Mdballetmom, my DD found the academic program to be excellent. And this was a worry; DD had a strong record that she wanted to maintain for college applications. Associate Dean Brock Snyder was really wonderful during the process of coordinating the pieces of the application with DD’s prior HS; he and DD's academic teachers were supportive figures all year. DD received multiple academic scholarship offers from college programs, which she had worried might not be the case veering off on this nontraditional pathway. My DD took 3 academic classes (2 AP) to allow for application preparation, adjustment to being away at school for the first time, what she anticipated to be a more intense dance schedule, and to reduce overall stress. At UNCSA, as compared with her local high school, DD was challenged to speak her opinions and thoughts in class in front of her peers to a greater extent - which was a growth experience for her.  She had no 8 am academic class since she had no 4th academic class. Often she filled this hour working with the trainer at the health center because she arrived at UNCSA with a minor injury. 

 

Residential life was an unexpected challenge. Certainly the HS dorm building complex is older and that comes with a host of things that can be readily imagined. My DD loved the open mic (The Who) nights and Ms. Terri seemed to be a centerpiece in managing the connector desk. My DD made full use of the gorgeous UNCSA library. Towards the end of the year my DD did get tired of the dining hall offerings; there were more meals in The Pickle Jar. My DD was randomly assigned to a room with an incoming Senior VA student on 3rd floor Moore. DD is deferring and non-confrontational by nature. This posture was a successful one in five prìor dorm experiences for SI’s. Not so at UNCSA, where she found herself eventually directed to participate in mediation in late September with residential life staff and her roommate. To my DD, the mediation seemed skewed to the roommate with the staff member remarking - in the mediation - that she had a similar personality to the roommate and could therefore understand her better. A tension-filled month followed this "mediation" before my DD moved to another shared room on Sanford 1st. This second roommate was a sophomore dancer who did not return for second semester. So, the roommate experience was an unexpected bust. Our other significant issue with residential life was the lack of a proactive plan when large numbers of the dorm residents went down with a GI virus during fall exams, just as the mainstage Nutcracker was in final rehearsal at Stevens. Purell, masks and gloves were handed out. But while it was clear that there was a significant issue on a Friday, there did not seem to be an effort to separate the sick from the well, to add extra staff, to provide weekend Health Center access if only to provide" placebo-like" support, etc. It was a long week or so. Our DD was fortunate to be rescued for a couple of days by her host family and – as out of staters – we definitely recommend following up on getting matched with a local family through this residential life program.

 

Another big picture piece: location. Winston-Salem grew on us with each visit. By the end of the year, we could function there easily. My husband and I made many more trips to NC than we had envisioned. In our view, the UNCSA programming is ideal for families within 2 or 3 hours’ driving distance. Here are just two examples as to why we might say this: for fall break weekend the kids had to leave the dorm and then parent's weekend was right behind it. Winter and Spring repertory dance shows were on Wednesdays - two daytime shows. In the case of Winter rep, dorms closed two days later for Spring Break. 

 

DD will attend a college conservatory dance program elsewhere in the fall. She pursued all paths to find her best option and the decisions were hard at the end. She was offered an unpaid traineeship at a regional ballet company, and "graduate program" at a company school, in addition to acceptance at liberal arts colleges with decent ballet departments, and conservatory programs within university settings. She did receive acceptance to stay on at UNCSA for the BFA. The irony was that she heard from UNCSA last and only after I, as the parent, made an in-person inquiry about the status of DD's application with both admissions and the dance department. The hold-up appeared to be a lack of awareness that she was a current student and therefore the audition was waived. It was hard to understand how this was happening in March in such a small place. And, from a business angle, as the months passed - and my DD was receiving acceptance and scholarships elsewhere after having come in the door with UNCSA near the top of her list - her interest in staying on at UNCSA gradually fell off.

 

My DD was placed in level 4 with three other new senior HS ballet students and a bunch of college freshmen. Most of the HS seniors were in levels 5 and 6 above them. Two of the four senior high school students in level 4 were cast in the mainstage Nutcracker. They had a very different year as compared with my DD, who was placed in the fall repertory class with most of her level 4 classmates. My DD had actually NOT expected to be cast in Nutcracker. The only student we knew personally who had come in as a HS senior in a recent year was also not in the mainstage Nutcracker. Placement in repertory meant that DD was assigned to a weekly class in which she learned Nutcracker Flowers choreography from a past UNCSA production. The repertory class was challenged with Swan Lake Act 2 and Le Corsaire in winter and spring respectively.

 

We had heard when we toured about how UNCSA brings in choreographers for Intensive Arts in December. My DD  learned some original Twyla Tharp inspired choreography for the fall repertory concert during this time. Intensive Arts was a positive experience as long as my DD looked past the other dancers who were heading to the bus to rehearse and perform at Stevens in The Nutcracker during these same two weeks. My DD’s peer who had attended UNCSA in a prior year as a senior had been dancing with the mainstage group by Spring Dance. However, my DD remained in repertory for the entire year. Winter Dance was cast with a post on the board on the first day back for second semester - from the pool of dancers who had participated in the mainstage Nutcracker. A few dancers were chosen for Spring Dance from the repertory class. My DD was not one of them. However, after attending all of the mainstage group rehearsals, most of former repertory group dancers ultimately performed the mainstage Raymonda choreography in the Spring repertory concert, not at the Stevens Center Spring Dance concert.  

 

As the year wore on, the divided structure of the ballet department - with the repertory class and mainstage group – seemed to take a toll. It had a ripple effect upon the overall experience outside the studio. The repertory ballet dancers did not rehearse/dance on evenings and weekends like their mainstage production peers. If they could find an available studio, repertory class students could work independently but otherwise they did not dance at all. My DD ate some meals with the mainstage ballet dancers, saw them around the dorm and had academic classes with them. But that was the extent of her contact. My DD worked on friendships with several college students but they had a different daily schedule with considerably less academic work. Restrictions on high school students visiting college housing, and vice versa, added to the difficulty of growing these relationships. My DD had connected with one contemporary college student when they both attended the mainstage Nutcracker multiple nights together in December. But it was hard to get to see this lovely girl. The repertory students did not seem to grow into a “group.” Instead, the Level 4 students seemed to wilt as the year passed per my DD, with many questioning themselves, looking at other options for the next year, or generally growing a bit bitter by Spring Break. Level 4 took no group photo as a class at the end of the year, unlike the Level 5 and 6. The feeling was just not there. My DD struggled with loneliness during second semester in her dorm single which was intended to be a triple. She felt very lucky to be invited to go to UNCSA’s Prom with an open group of music underclassmen. She also came home to go to her local HS prom, which provided some reassurance that she had not totally “lost it” socially. 

 

My DD grew quite discouraged about her own potential as a dancer as the year passed even though, outside UNCSA, there was positive interest. Certainly, in coming to UNCSA, this reality check was something that we wanted to have if that was appropriate. My DD had not been exposed to ABT Curriculum prior to coming to UNCSA. There were dancers at UNCSA with nicer feet, more ideal bodies in other ways, and stronger technique. However, in terms of options at the end, my DD was looking at the same schools and opportunities as at least some of the other dancers in the mainstage group. I can now report (after having waited to write this post to gain perspective) that my DD has already had an affirming summer dance experience living in a dorm room with 3 other dancers, where she fairly quickly made a very nice friend. She is doing a lot of work on her mindset this summer as she prepares for her next conservatory experience, which she will surely enter with a more nuanced perspective.

 

DD received corrections in classes at UNCSA and made visible progress in technique and strength even as she faltered mentally. She is not one to give up easily. My DD was surprised at how little she saw Dean Jaffe: orientation, graduation parent reception, graduation and DD’s jury class. Dean Jaffe (and most of the faculty) also attended the repertory concerts in which my DD performed. We do understand that principals especially, but also other mainstage dancers, had more exposure and opportunity to work with Dean Jaffe in the past and during this year as well. Mentoring by the faculty seemed, to my DD, to be focused on the principals. MyDD was enamored with her primary teacher during the fall semester. She felt that, while dance staff certainly had various personalities and sometimes different preferences, each was excellent in his/her own way. 

 

My daughter’s take away was that it would be better to arrive at UNCSA no later than junior year in order to really be able to participate in and take full advantage of this conservatory program. That said, my DD does not regret her decision to spend her senior year at UNCSA. And she feels she earned her status as an alumnus of this well-known ballet program.

 

 

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Desiderata

Wow Pinkytoes, this is one of the most thoughtful and insightful posts I've seen on BTFD. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your daughter's and family's experience.  My DD has been accepted to UNCSA's ballet program as a freshman and is currently planning to attend as an out-of-state student (but living with family in WS, not in the dorms).  We are excited about the program, but have been nervous both about her leaving home at such a young age and whether she's choosing the best place to continue her dance training. It seems that the UNCSA dance experience can be very different based on whether the student is deemed principal material or not.  I'm sure that's the case in most pre-pro programs, but this will be DD's first real foray into that world. I will be reflecting on your comments and hope you will forgive me if I come back with questions in the future!  And I will definitely plan to share our experiences with the program here as time goes on - I'm always so grateful to posters like you who donate their time and effort to educate those following in their footsteps!

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workmail

Pinkytoes, congratulations on your daughter being accepted to UNCSA as a senior. That is very selective. You shared some of the nonglamorous and difficult aspects of being in a top residential program. She will always carry that on her resume and be proud. I would hope she has no regrets to say she did a year at UNCSA! Congratulations also on the "apprentice" and trainee acceptances as well as other college acceptances and the option to stay on for her BFA at UNCSA. It's smart to cast that wide net and also fortunate to have multiple options. 

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Pinkytoes

...we hesitated... not written with the desire to malign this program. Drafted and revised as a word doc.

Just, honestly, her experience this last year. 

We participated somewhat actively on this board back when we joined but as it got crazier in HS, we did not contribute to threads that we perhaps could have. I say we - this is true of both DD and I. The board is really only helpful, though, when we all take these risks and share. 

And yes, workmail, she is proud to say she spent a year at UNCSA. She was so excited to be accepted and going off. And that energy carried her pretty far, probably even through to the end. 

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macameli

Thank you, Pinkytoes for your candid review.  Do you happen to know how many seniors decide to continue to study ballet in college versus move into a company/trainee/apprentice route or even attend college without necessarily continuing with dance?  Curious about how she felt going in with an injury. Did she feel pressured about missing classes or not taking classes full out??

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Pinkytoes

We do not have statistics on the number of seniors choosing the two major pathways: college or company training. There seemed to be a mix, possibly leaning more towards college. 

My DD had sat out a June week of SI last summer in the hopes that a couple of weeks off early on would nip things in the bud. She sat out two days of class in the winter at UNCSA when she had a GI virus but never missed class or consistently reduced her intensity in class at UNCSA due to her injury. She was able to work through it by seeing the PT at the SI she attended and then working with a trainer at UNCSA from the first week. She also maintained icing, PT exercises, etc fairly strictly for much of the year. She did wonder initially if the fact that she was working with the trainer factored into Nutcracker casting when she saw the other two seniors in her level cast - even though, as I said previously, this was not something she had expected would happen to her as a new senior going in (even without an injury). But as the year progressed it seemed less likely in her mind that her work with the trainer was even really noted by dance faculty. 

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