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Ballet Talk for Dancers

University of North Carolina School of the Arts/UNCSA

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Hello! My daughter has been accepted into UNCSA's High School Classical Ballet program and will be going into grade 10 next year. I have read almost the entirety of this thread  -- thank you to the contributors -- and I have a couple of questions left over!

I am trying to determine the approximate class size for grade 10 both in academics and for ballet and what a typical day looks like for a grade 10 student.  Do they dance on weekends? 

I am also curious to know how the faculty works/rotates -- as in, does each level have a primary ballet teacher -- or do all the levels share them all equally? 

Are the kids provided with guidance re: nutrition, fitness etc.  

Does the faculty help guide the kids re: summer intensives, post - secondary training etc. goals, 

Is participating in YAGP an expectation of all the kids or just some?  

We would be out of state (out of country!) and I am also wondering if anyone has any thoughts on, knowledge of, the Host Family Program? 

After all of our reading etc. it seems that our daughter would be surrounded by (and inspired by) like-minded, creative, driven students at UNCSA and that while she works on Plan A (her professional dance aspirations) she is receiving a solid education AND having some sense of a 'normal' high school experience  -- Are we crazy off-base?  

Thank you! 

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Congratulations on your student's acceptance into UNCSA's HS Program! We were in your shoes last this time last year with a big decision to make to leave home to finish HS but with a few differences: incoming first year junior and out-of-state, but not out of country. I will try to reply to the questiins that I can. 

First, I can echo the previous responders. UNCSA has been an outstanding decision for our daughter and she absolutely loves it. She is surrounded by fellow young artists who can relate and appreciate, regardless of what department they are in. For example, her roommate is a Visual Arts student and, so, she has many new VA friends made through her, in addition to Ballet student friendships formed. She has also enjoyed meeting Music students and studying with them all in study groups. 

The academics are rich and I can't say enough about Assistant Academic Dean Brock Snyder, who is always patient, knowledgeable and helpful-- trust me, I peppered him with lots of questions coming in halfway thru HS and from out of state, before we got there and since arriving!  There is a full AP course curriculum for those who wish to pursue, and support for SAT/ACT test taking in and off-campus, as well as planning for senior year  and college during junior year. 

I don't know "typical" academic class size in a normal year, but during Covid, in-person academic classes have been limited to 10 or less by grouping students in 3 cohorts at first and now comjng into spring term, 2 cohorts.

Dance classes are daily, no academic classes on Wed (only arts classes), and some Sat dance classes. For example, during fall semester, my DD had a Contemporary Ballet class on Sat afternoon (she is in the Classical Ballet program). She is in Level 4 and has the same teacher for all of her Ballet classes and a different Contemporary Ballet teacher. They were in the studio with the teacher some days and then rotated to other studios with teacher via Zoom to keep groups smaller and always socially-distanced using a marked grid on the floor and strict entry-exit procedures with 100% masking all the time except in own dorm room.  She has regularly scheduled individual conferences/meetings with their Level 4 teacher every two or three weeks. This is a time for feedback and mentoring outside of the studio and really nice to have. She loves her teacher and feels she is improving under her tutelage with excellent training.

Fitness: They take Pilates classes and my student goes to the Fitness Center for oersonal workouts in her own (e.g. treadmill or circuit). 

Faculty coaches for YAGP by request and Prix de Lausanne this year, even! 

I have found both Interim Dean Jared Reddick and Associate Dean Brenda Daniels to be very approachable and responsive. The virtual Coffee Talks with parents have been very comfortable and informative on both the Dance Dept and Academics sides.

I am aware of, but we did not choose to pursue, the Host Family program since DD has been away several summers for intensives and we/she were comfortable with the residential dorm situation; plus, we are just a 4.5-hr drive away in a neighboring state. Residence Hall staff is on top of things from a safety standpoint and social activity programming.  They even called over winter break to check in and make sure homework was being done before spring term started this week! I told my DD she's got 2 moms looking after her! Staff does a great job with programming and I think they are all trying to make sure commuter students feel just as at home and included. 

It is an honor to have a student at UNCSA for HS and she feels the same, trying to make the most of this excellent experience. If your daughter decides to become a Pickle, she will be supported there and surrounded by students and faculty who understand young artists. It is an inspiring campus community to visit and be a part of! Go Pickles! 

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Thank you @ballerinabythebeach ! I appreciate your thoughtful response -- lots to consider! 

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Thanks ballerinabythe beach! A few more questions...

Can you share a general ballet class schedule?  How many hours/week of technique/pointe/variations are provided?  (I realize this year with covid may not be true to most years).

Also, how many boys in the program for partnering?  

How many levels of technique class exist?  Are they grouped by age?  Does a class remain together for most of the curriculum and through the years or are students moved?  Just trying to get a feel for the consistency of the training.

What's the school's position for summer intensives?  Do they want the students to stay or go to other programs for the summer?  

Do you have any information on last year's graduates?

Thanks again!


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Viviangrace: I think these questions are best answered by contacting the Dance Dept directly as I don't have answers to all. They are the best source of info, of course,and are approachable. Start with the Dance Dept Admissions Counselor. For SI questions, Mr. Ashley Lindsey, Director.

I can share what I do know. I do know my student has Ballet classes each day of the week with Wed devoted to all arts (no academic classes), plus had a Contemporary class on Saturday in the fall. On Mon, Tues, Thus, Fri ballet classes are interspersed with academics each day. Depending on the grade level, all academic classes are held in specific blocks. So, training everyday. Without looking at class schedule, I'm uncertain total number of hours. But, my student says there are plenty and she was accustomed to training/rehearsing 6 days a week, several hours/day, including Pointe, Technique, Variations, and Partnering classes, before attending. Some classes are held in the evening. 

Her level (she is a junior) is one of the upper levels (4-6). There are 6.  Her level includes some college students; it is my understanding college students are in Levels 4-6. Partnering has not been offered this year due to Covid but there would normally be partnering in her level. Men's classes are also held separately and I do not know the total number of men in HS program.  There is a school profile categorized by demographics (gender, in-state vs. out-of-state) and Dept available on the HS webpages.  The Dept has recently renamed all classes so as to be gender-neutral.

I cannot answer questions on summer intensive policy/preferences or info on last year's graduates.  My student was not discouraged from auditioning for other SIs. I just learned that discounts are offered to current students for UNCSA's SI.  Popular colleges by volume of senior applications this year were recently shared with parents: NYU, ASU, UNCSA, Julliard, Indiana, and Marymount Manhattan among others with some acceptances already. The school is supportive in its junior and senior year academic advising of both college track and/or professional track interests.

In the fall, the performance opportunity was limited to Nutcracker (filmed). Normally, there is Winter Dance and Spring Dance; this year only Spring due to extended Winter Break. All students will be performing across two weekends for Spring Dance. It will include excerpts from Don Q.

These responses are for the Classical Ballet program. I'm not familar with Contemporary. I encourage you to contact the school. 

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Viviangrace: 2020 graduates had a bit of a tough time as the COVID lockdown happened right when students were trying to apply for colleges, take auditions for companies etc.  Many students delayed auditions thinking that lockdown would only be for a few weeks and that they would be able to postpone auditions. As the lockdown/quarantining progressed students thought that they would have the SI's to audition at for potential company apprentice/trainee positions.  Effectively the 2020 class had distance learning from March right the way through to graduation in May.  As a result I don't there is any clear information about who went where.  I know of one trainee with Atlanta Ballet II, a couple may have ended up at Princeton, another in Utah but I can't be as confident as previous years.  A few of ended up staying at home taking college classes and ballet classes from home.

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So proud of our school and these students. Go Pickles!

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For those who applied for Fall 2021, how long was the wait between application and results?  

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@Ballyrina Hi there,  it took a little over a month  for us -- we are international, and we had to sort some extra documentation after the initial application was submitted so I am not sure if that would affect our wait. Hope this helps! 

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We are looking for information regarding the UNCSA Preparatory Dance Program.  Has anyone been through the program?  If so, I would welcome any information you would be willing to share regarding your experience with the program (quality of instruction, intensity of the schedule, atmosphere, performance opportunities, etc).  Can the younger dancers in the prep program participate in YAGP or similar ballet competitions?  If so, how are they chosen?  If your dancer attended the program, did they continue to dance with UNCSA after aging out of the prep program?  Thank you!

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Thank you to all who have posted such great information. My DD was accepted and would be a sophomore 2021/22.  We are waiting on a couple more applications before she makes her decision. 

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12 hours ago, MaryVT said:

Thank you to all who have posted such great information. My DD was accepted and would be a sophomore 2021/22.  We are waiting on a couple more applications before she makes her decision. 

Congratulations to her! How long was the wait on her application? We need to start making some decisions soon and we are still waiting. She was accepted last year, but covid made things so unpredictable that she stayed home. 

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Hi! She applied back in November.  I can’t remember how long it took to find out.  We are waiting for some admission decisions from other schools before we commit.  She would be from out of state so we have to figure out finances also.  Good luck to your DD!

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