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Interlochen


Ed McPherson

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Interlochen seems like such an amazing school!! My goal has been to get in there for about a month now and after reading this, I am sure I made a good decision in making this my priority. I got their brochure in the mail, get their e-mail updates and check their website often. I still, however, have two questions that I can't seem to find the answer too.

 

1- I noted that when speaking of academics it was stated that most take AP courses. Naturally, I assumed that this meant everyone in the school was very smart. So am I correct by thinking that when you audition that they look at your GPA? I know that if they do, a 4.0 is preferable, but what is the lowest they'll take? I don't have bad grades or anything, but I get more B's than A's. No C's though, so I think that would help. Also, would they be more willing to give scholarships to students with better grades?

 

2- This has probably been answered in bold black letters somewhere but I honestly can't figure it out. (Maybe this is why I get more B's than A's.) Anyways, do you have to attend the SI to go to the year round program? Are you more likely to get a scholarship for the year round program if you go to the SI? And if you don't have to go to the SI, are their separate auditions for just the year round program? (I know that their SI audition is in February, but I couldn't figure out if that was for the year round program too.)

 

OK, so that was more than two question but they mostly fit into two categories. As you can probably guess, I'm going to need a scholarship to attend the school and I'm trying to do as much as I can to get one. I've already saved up $1,000 for it, but the program is so extremely expensive that that barely makes a dent in it. :sweating:

 

Thanks so much for the help!

 

EDIT- After re-reading the post before me just to make sure I hadn't missed anything I noticed that balletbaby14 says you audition for the year round program at the SI audition. So does that mean you have to go to the SI to go to the Year Round? I'm still confused. =/

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Here is the Dance Auditions page from Interlochen Arts Academy website.

 

It states that the auditions are for either/both the Arts Academy and the SI. I would imagine that the registration sheet will have a place for you to indicate which program(s) you are interested in.

 

I'm pretty sure you do not have to attend the SI in order to go to the school year program. In the FAQ section, it states that although recommended that a student visit before enrolling in the school, it is not a requirement.

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Hi Molly!

 

1) Yes, when you audition they look at your GPA. The goal of this isn't to have a school of super-smart people, but just to make sure that you'll be able to keep up with the fast pace of the academics. Scholarships are based on academic and artistic performance and potential.

2) No, you don't have to go to the SI in order to audition for the school. Personally, I did and I would recommend it. It gives you a good idea of how the teachers work (although the programs are a lot different.) I'm not sure if attending the SI has any effect on scholarships.

 

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! I attended the SI 4 times, the school for 2 years, and worked at the SI one summer.

Best of luck to you! Merde!

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  • 3 months later...

Merit scholarships generally go to returning students - an essay is required and things like GPA/attendance/behavior are all looked at. They are extremely difficult to get, but the financial aid process - albeit a bit tedious is easy and the financial aid department is very accessible and easy to talk to. Their goal is to make sure that any student accepted has the financial means to attend. There is also an easy appeal process if you don't get the amount that your family can work with.

 

Scholarships may be given away during the auditions, but I couldn't answer that question because DD auditioned via video that was 18 months old due to her injury. As I keep saying - the staff and faculty are very easy to get in touch with and are all very approachable. You could simply call and ask although the current audition tour is over.

 

DD received a generous financial aid - need based package last year and was just given the same package for next year, although it is still extremely difficult for us to make payments as we also have a daughter attending a private college on partial scholarship plus and I am on disability and have a limited income. We could have asked for more and friends have encouraged us to ask for more, but instead we are working on paying down our debts (and decided we both need to go on diets thus less junk food in the house) and not accumulating additional debt so that the payments may become easier, although still not necessarily 'easy' to deal with.

 

If anyone has questions about the program, because I really do recommend it both for dancers who are interesting in classical companies and contemporary/modern companies after graduation - or if you just want to keep dancing and get an amazing academic education - feel free to PM me or as a mod for my email address.

 

President Obama just sent a letter addressed to the students on March 4th! :thumbsup:

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  • 5 months later...

We are just starting to explore different residential performing arts high schools for our DD. It is very important for her to attend one that has both a strong dance program and an intellectually challenging academic program--preferably integrated (vs. attending a local high school or online high school). Given those important requirements, our search has been narrowed down to just a handful of schools. For those of you that have attended or explored Interlochen, here are a few questions:

 

What has Cameron Basden's impact been on the dance program (I believe she joined in 2009)? I would imagine it has only strengthened the program, but would love to hear any specifics on any changes under her direction.

 

How selective is admission to the dance program? Any insights to actual stats, such as percentage of applicants accepted?

 

Any comparisons to North Carolina School for the Arts (not looking for pros and cons, but more objective comparisons--such as class size, selectivity, dance style, etc.) Moderators--please advise if I need to move this post or restate the question. Again, I am not looking for opinions on which program might be better, etc.

 

Thanks!

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  • 2 months later...

I'm really not sure I can answer any of your questions. My DD's first year at Interlochen was last year - same as Cameron's so we don't know what the program was like before hand, except that some of the girls told DD that they're getting a lot more ballet. I know too, that Cameron is trying to build the program and attract more dancers. The program is strong in both classical ballet and in modern/contemporary dance.

 

The A/B levels have 12-15 students in a class, and the 1,2,3 levels have roughly 8 -10 students per class. I don't think DD told me how many dancers are in the department this year compared to last - so those are a rough estimate on last year's levels. I think there are 7 boys this year compared to 5 last year.

 

I can tell you about our experience so far and I would encourage your DD to apply.

 

The dance program and academic program are both rigourous. DD doesn't get out of class until 6:30 PM and sometimes has to go back after supper for more rehearsals. All academics are in the morning and the dancers all have the same lunch from 12:30-1:30 and then dance until 6:30. The biggest challenge this year has been a change in the time the academic day starts, which means the dancers only have 30 minutes to get out of the studio and get to Stone cafeteria for their supper, but they seem to be managing it ok.

 

I'm not sure how selective they are right now because as I said, Cameron is trying to build up the dance department and the audition schedule for this year is crazy busy. I'm sure there are some that don't get accepted, but I have no idea how many, and selection is based on academics as well as your art major.

 

I can tell you that Interlochen knows what they're doing and they've set up an environment where the kids are nurtured and are held accountable for their actions. Last year, when DD turned 16, I sent a box full of birthday goodies to her hall counselor, including streamers and balloons and 3 boxes of brownie mix (DD doesn't like cake) and her counselor set up a surprise party for her - she even put her present on her bed while she was in class. The school provides transportation to appointments with advance notice, but DD had an emergency orthodontic appt and with one phone call - a counselor was driving her. I feel very safe having her there and I know she's getting a great academic and dance education and that she's being well taken care of. T

 

They even turn OFF the internet at night to make sure no one is up surfing the web, and they they monitor how much time the students spend online - I imagine this is helpful if the student is having trouble in classes and spending too much time on the net and not enough studying. They do have a firewall set up so that certain website cannot be accessed. DD tried ordering a pair of boots online, but because the website said something about the boots being good for 'club wear' and the models looked a little risque, the site was blocked and I had to order them for her.

 

The teachers hold tutorials every week with different subjects being on different days. The teachers set up in the cafeteria or library for two hours and the students can show up to go over the day's lecture/assignment, or get help if they're struggling. Teachers even offer to tutor one-on-one on Mondays - their day off. The foreign language teachers set up tables at lunch time. For example my daughter is taking French and if she attends French table, then they only speak French at lunch and she gets extra credit points for doing so.

 

If a student isn't doing well in an academic class, they let the dance faculty know about it and they conference with the student. The students have sponsor groups - small groups of students assigned to faculty members. The sponsor groups do fun things together...have pizza parties at the staff member's home on campus, go to the pumpkin patch, yoga classes, picnics at the lake, etc. There are clubs on campus including an explorer group that focuses on community service. For Halloween the students trick-or-treat at the homes of the faculty and staff who live on campus, and then they held a dance for them. They have a "Homegoing Dance" and "MORP" and a holiday dinner....everyone gets dressed up and the cafeteria is spruced up, and the students are served dinner by the staff who wear bowties!

 

My one and only complaint is that I wish more SI programs held auditions at the school - I'm hoping with Cameron there, that more will start to put Interlochen on the schedule. It's difficult for the dancers to get to Detroit or Chicago for auditions because many are held on Saturdays and Interlochen's week runs Tuesday - Saturday. So, attending an audition on Saturday means an unexcused absence. The dance faculty, however, DOES go out of its way to help with videos. They tape, edit, and format the videos and then give the DVDs to the kids to mail. David, in the mail room does a great job of helping students ship things and figuring out the fastest or most economical way to do so. He even helped me with a stack of cards and letters all of DD's friends sent to her. I mailed it to DD, but David intercepted it and gave it to her hall counselor so she could be surprised.

 

If there's anything else I can help you with, please ask. I'll make a point of checking back here to see if you've replied.

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DanceInHerSleep--Thank you so much for the great post; it confirms much of what I have heard and read about the program. I did get the impression that Ms. Basden has been brought in to really strengthen the program (which may have been solid, but less well known). DD is a sophomore now, and is at a solid pre pro program now. She would just like to be in a more immersive and integrated program (academics and arts). There aren't too many that fit that criteria. We have an audition and visit scheduled, and so far the admissions counsellor has been most repsonsive and helpful. She has a full day planned for us, including a one on one meeting with Ms. Basden and DD. DD also loves The Joffrey, has attended their Academy of Dance summer SI in Chicago, and will be doing a performance with some of their trainees in January. So she is familiar with some of Ms. Basden's former colleagues at the Joffrey and likes the connection there. Interesting point about auditions for SIs, but if the program grows it will hopefully work to address this issue. It's nice to know that they are helpful in putting together audition videos.

 

I take it from your post that your DD feels challenged and nurtured, in both dance and acdemics--and liked it enough to return for another year.

 

One last question--any insight to how generous they are with scholarships? In your experience and in discussions with other parents, did they work to make it possible for your DD or other DKs to attend? (Obviously, not looking for specifics--but generally, how willing they were to make it affordable.)

 

Thanks again! Glad to hear your DD has had such a great experience there.

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  • 1 year later...

Anyone else out there looking at Interlochen for this coming academic year? Anyone going to the open house this weekend?

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Thank you very much DancesInHerSleep! I have many, many questions and probably even more by the time we return from the OPen House this weekend. I assume we will not be able to meet your daughter, or any of the dance faculty or students as they are all apparently on tour (I found this out AFTER I'd registered for the Prospective Student Open House and bought out non-refundable tickets) We are both disappointed that we won't get to see the dance part of the Interlochen experience, although I think we'll have plenty to do and see.

I'd love to know, if your DD is willing and able to share, what this year's graduates are planning to do after graduation. Are they mostly going on to college? or companies? How many hours do they spend in academic classes vs. dance? Is the curriculum a strong ballet curriculum, have they felt competitive as they go out and audition for SI's or companies? I know the addition on Ms. Basden must have effected the program in a positive way. My DD is just finishing the 8th grade, so she will be a 9th grader in the fall. It seems quite early for someone to live away from home. My DD seems utterly unconcerned, but I'm finding it a little hard on me! How did you (and your DD) cope? Gosh, I've already posited too many questions! Sorry. I hope I haven't overwhelmed you!

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You're right - the dance department is on tour right now! If it makes you feel any better, they weren't happy with the timing either (especially the seniors) because they will all miss MORP (PROM).

 

I'll have to talk to DD about plans the graduating seniors have made. I know some of their decisions, but others, like DD, haven't finalized their plans.She's actually looking at a few options she hadn't previously considered and one requires an audition in July....kind of late, I know! :)

 

To the best of my knowledge they're all going to college or conservatory programs and majoring in dance. One of the 2010 graduates, Johnny McMillan, is a member of Hubbard Street 2. He started out as an apprentice. Some of last year's graduates are at SUNY Purchase, BoCo, New World, Fordham/Ailey BFA, Dominican/Lines BFA, and Cornish.

 

The dancers are said to have the most vigorous schedules - per the academic counselors. Whereas all the other majors can spread out their academics and art related classes throughout the day, the dancers are required to have all of their academics in the morning - periods 1 through 4. There are three lunch periods, but the dancers all eat together during 1st lunch - period 5. Most of them eat on the run, grabbing their food and heading to the dance building to change and warm up before class begins. They dance from 1:00-6:00. The rest of the school is finished is finished no later than 4:00 except for the theater majors who go until 5:00. This doesn't include rehearsals. The dancers often hurry to the Stone cafeteria to grab supper and head back over to the dance building to start rehearsing and can continue right up until sign in at 10:00. Because the dancers have to fit all of their academics into periods 1-4, they're given priority over class choices.

 

Somehow, they seem to make it work. DD was able to complete most of her academic requirements (she took some online courses) and was able to have two free periods last semester and three free periods this semester. We found this to be essential because of preparation for college....essays, auditions, etc.

 

The dance curriculum is definitely based on a strong ballet foundation. They have technique and pointe every day....not always a pointe class, but variations, partnering, etc. They also have modern or a contemporary class every day which is usually taught by guest instructors who also set choreography on the kids.

 

As far as being prepared, freshman year was the hardest for us. DD was at Virginia School of the Arts and then CPYB. While she loved VSA, the school was in a downward spiral and we could see it coming. CPYB was simply a huge mistake! We had initially chosen VSA because we liked the fact that DD could still have a so-called 'normal' high school life because the students all attended EC Glass HS. Choosing Interlochen went against everything we said we previously wanted for DD, but the more we investigated it the more we fell in love with it - and we didn't have the luxury to plan a visit either!

 

DD started going away to SIs when she was 12, so we knew she could handle herself - getting up on her own, doing her own laundry, etc. I almost backed out of letting her go away for high school because I would be missing things like her first date, prom, etc., but realized I was being selfish. I miss her terribly, but she's having an amazing time. She loves the school, the people, the atmosphere, the teachers, etc. The school has very strict rules which are strictly enforced....rules governing when students of the opposite sex can be in rooms and under what conditions etc. Policies for drug and alcohol use, even when consumed off campus. They've been known to require urine analysis upon arrival on campus after a break if they have reason to believe a student has been using. Everyone must have lights out by a certain time; the internet gets 'turned off' at lights out and is monitored.

 

The first year at Interlochen was DD's hardest because of the work load. The academics are very rigorous and she carried a full load. She often still had homework to finish after lights out, and would sit in her closet with the light on and tuck a towel at the bottom of the door so light wouldn't spill out, thus revealing her hiding space.

 

The faculty and staff do an excellent job of keeping parents informed of what's going on. There's a parents Yahoo group, and there are portals that you can access to see your DD's grades, attendance, etc.

 

Interlochen has been an absolutely amazing experience for DD. When we first arrived on campus I was in awe. You can hear someone practicing the Cello, while a group of students at the gazebo are practicing a song for opening convocation, two more are standing by a tree running lines with each other, etc. The school's motto, "Art Lives Here" is SO VERY TRUE! The dancers always perform to live orchestra music!

 

I realized that football games, homecoming dances, etc. just weren't part of DD's grand scheme of things and she hasn't missed them a single bit. We wish we'd had her enrolled at Interlochen from her freshman year.

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We returned late last night from Michigan. The Interlochen visit went very well. I, too, was impressed by the caliber of the administrative, counseling and teaching staff. The Open House was well thought out and answered many questions, but none as thoroughly as you, DancesInHerSleep! Thank you VERY much for taking the time and effort to answer so many questions. I hope your daughter's tour went well and I am sorry that the dancers missed MORP. That sounded, um, unique! It was a definite disappointment not to be able to meet the dancers themselves, have DD take a class, meet more of the faculty (although we did get to meet their guest teacher who stayed behind to teach the class for non-dance majors ad to help with choreography for West Side Story...He was incredibly nice and very personable and again, we were impressed.)

Your words ring very true to me, about aching for my DD to have the opportunity to have a "normal" high school experience, complete with football games etc. We live very near to VSA and that was my DD's goal for years, until it closed. 14 does seem so young to go away for school, and yes, Interlochen IS far! But DD does not actually seem to value that normal high school experience. My older daughter is a freshman this year and loves all the frantic activity of normal high school life, I assumed DD would enjoy it too...and then I saw Interlochen. I saw DD at Interlochen, met the kids, ate meals with them, watched rehearsal etc and realized that THIS daughter is a very different person with entirely different goals. (Everyone reading this is probably saying, "Duh," but with four children, we do have a tendency to group everyone together. I think my reticence goes hand in hand with the fact that not only a far-away boarding school for the arts scares me, but also the very realization that DD wants to pursue dance as a career. It just feels like such a precarious future for a beloved child. ...But, if it is the only future that DD wants, I really can't change that without changing who she is; and that of course is impossible.

Visiting Interlochen was so important because it allowed me to see who would be watching over her, if it couldn't be me. I sat in on academic classes too and was most impressed. The weather was dreary: cold and rainy. The campus was amazing. I have never seen so many venues in one place! The dance building with views of the lake from very window, was amazing.

DD was over the moon. She was ready for me to just blow her a kiss and drive away. I need to see the place, and feel like it was a place I could entrust my chid to, and I did come away with that feeling. The missing piece was seeing what dance training would be like, who her peers would be. I really wish they had paired the prospective students up with a current student for a 1/2 day "shadow" type experience, while parents met with counselors, financial aid, etc. Dancers can be pretty intense people (doesn't everyone on these boards know it) and I am still wondering how being surrounded by that 24/7 effects a kid. The other students we spoke with described the dancers as a "close knit" group. Given the schedule you describe, it sounds like they may not have any choice. Two girls we ate breakfast with (musicians) struck up a nice conversation, then when one asked what DD's major would be, the other said,"She's gotta be a dancer--just look at how she stands!" It was super-observant, but made me wonder if there were any tensions between the artistic disciplines? I'm interested to hear how dancers from Interlochen manage when stacked up against peers from other arts schools, both as high schoolers and as college students or company members. At this point DD had no interest in college (much to her schoolteacher mother's horror) She only wants to dance. Any light your DD and her classmates can shed on this would be so gratefully appreciated! Thank you again for all your thoughts.

Edited by nomilam
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  • 2 weeks later...

Dancesinhersleep- I'm still too new here to be able to send you a message. (And so sorry about the LONG one previous!) I thought you might like to know that we have decided to enroll our daughter at Interlochen for the 2012-2013 school year. Thanks again for your advice and reflections.

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Congratulations! Interlochen is an amazing experience. I'm sorry I haven't been able to respond - my father-in-law died the day after you posted last - and it was very unexpected. Needless to say, I've been quite busy. Interlochen faculty and staff could not have been more supportive of my DD during this difficult time.

 

If you would like to talk to me off the board, perhaps one of the mods would pass on my email address to you. It's not one I use regularly, but once you have it I can give you a better one - one I check more regularly (and gets less SPAM).

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