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Ballet Talk for Dancers


Ed McPherson

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I have a bit of an issue that is very much related to Molly's-

Since the end of this school year, it's been my huge dream and goal to get into interlochen.  Im not doing Ballet, but instead singer-songwriting.  I was working so hard for this that, since i didn't have an instrument to accompany me, I bought a ukulele with my own money and started learning independently.

My issue, though, is how they look at your GPA.  One of the main reasons i'd want to go to Interlochen is because, at my old school, I had no passion and interest in any of the courses - none of them felt, you know, good enough for what i wanted.

I'm capable of getting good grades, i'm Two grades ahead in math, and one grade ahead in English.  I had three classes that i kept lacking in, though.  Even though I was smart and got good grades on tests, I rarely completed homework, and instead of my HW, i'd be writing music or books.  Sadly, these classes were very important core classes.  Math, Science, and, well, Band (not really as important, but still!).  I'm talking, an E in math, BARELY a C- in science, and a C in Band.  It's bad.

Im scared that I've done all this work for nothing, and Interlochen will look at my grades and scoff.  I don't have enough time to fix these grades before audition time.  Yes, I can get good grades for september and october before I submit my audition in November, but still.  And what makes this all worse, is I won't even go if I don't get a scholarship or financial aid.  And with my grades, I doubt i'll get close!

Can anyone help?  I don't know what to do!!!  :crying: :crying: :crying:

Edited by Vitie
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Vitie - 

I encourage you to contact the admissions office.  I suspect that they will tell you to apply, and that they look at each student holistically.  They take into consideration both your academic scores and your potential as an artist.  They look very seriously at your passion for your art form.  This advice is for both singer-songwriters as well as dancers.  

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Ballet Dragon,

Thankyou for the advice, I've sent in the email to the admissions office.  I'm super antsy looking for a response, though.  After emailing it, just about every 5 seconds i'd go on my email looking for a response :lol: 

Thank you!

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  • 1 year later...

Hello! I have a 14 yo DS who loves ballet and is interested in Interlochen at some point (not sure when we'd be ready to send him to boarding school, likely not next year as a freshman). The online reviews are all over the place so I would love to hear more from parents who have actually sent kids there to dance. I read all of the prior review on this board which were incredibly helpful. Are there any more recent students who could comment? Have no idea if DS would even be accepted, but would like to learn more before he gets his hopes up!

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Hello Llamaland - My DS started at Interlochen as a sophomore dance major, and just graduated.  It was the best decision we ever made.  I would be happy to answer any of your questions.

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That would be phenomenal! Could I post my email for you briefly? I post so rarely that I'm not able to message yet. Also happy to post on this site. Just likely many questions since this is so new to us (both the ballet world - DS found it all on his own - and Interlochen).


Edited by LlamaLand
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I emailed you, LlamaLand.  If you have general questions, in the spirit of paying it forward to other BT4D members, I am happy to respond to questions here.  Otherwise, you are welcome to email me offline.

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I have some questions!Does Interlochen offer merit scholarships (dance and/or academic) or just need-based financial aid? Is attending their summer program a good preview of the year-round school? Is your son pursuing a professional dance career or going to college, Ballet Dragon?

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Thank you Ballet dragon! My initial questions would be likely be around ballet experience they’re looking for. DS only found ballet when he turned 11 - and dropped soccer like a stone to pursue ballet. He absolutely loves it, and has done a 5 week SI last summer, but he definitely got a late start. Knowing absolutely nothing about ballet (I coach soccer and basketball) I just know that his teachers say he’s doing very well, and he improved dramatically at the SI. 

And overall, how did the boy dancers feel about their training at Interlochen? Did many students not return after a year or leave early? Or were most boys happy with the dance training (and academics)?

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Fouronlychildren - 

Interlochen provides need-based financial aid.  But, don't let the tuition/room/board price give you sticker shock.  It's a lot of money, but their endowment is quite impressive and the financial aid offers are generous.  

My DS did not attend the summer camp.  He only attended the year-around academy.  There is a lot of differences between the two, though.  The dance instruction is more intense during the year-around, the academic classes are rigorous, and students (of course) have to contend with the winter weather blues.  That said, there are always a number of students who get sold on Interlochen during the summer camp, and stay for the year-around.

My son graduated May 2018.  He is attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  He selected it because it is a ballet-based BFA dance performance program with ballet, jazz, and modern (triple threat) emphasis with the opportunity to double major in something academic.  SMU is known for accommodating double majors with its dancers.  This is unlike most of the schools we visited that allowed minors only, or a very restricted set of double majors.  

Of the 12 senior dancers that graduated this past year, three went to trainee programs and 9 went to college as dance majors.

I should add (since we already discussed tuition and financial aid) that college scholarships for Interlochen dance majors were VERY generous, for my son and for all of his friends.

LlamaLand - 

The mens' dance program is truly phenomenal.  There are about 10 mens in the program (total of about 42ish).  So there is really good critical mass of men for mens' class and partnering.  There are also two male ballet teachers and a male modern teacher who are amazing role models for the boy dancers.  Prior to attending Interlochen, my son had reached the end of available training in our home town and had few if any male dance colleagues around his age to train with.  He had attended several summer intensives and was seeking a year around program with a strong mens program. 

I think that there was one boy during my son's sophomore year that left.  But, my understanding is that he wanted to be closer to home.  To my knowledge, no other boy has left.  And attrition is very small.  Most students that start at Interlochen will graduate.  The program is pretty small and the dancers are divided into three levels.  So, there is really good attention and corrections in technique class.  The performances are professional level - you can find some of them on the Interlochen website.  Look for archived webcasts.  There is an impressive number of guest artists who provide master classes and set copywritten choreography on the students.  My son has performed in Agnes De Mille's Rodeo, Paul Taylor's Company B, and Jose Limon's A Choreographic Offering. 

Academics are very strong.  Most of the classes are taught at the honors level, with a socratic method.  So, there is a lot of interaction between students and teachers and small class sizes.  While my son was looking for a good dance program, I was seeking a program with a rigorous brick and mortar academic program that would make him competitive for the college of his choice.  We found it at Interlochen.

Llamaland - Don't let your son's late start make you hesitate.  Boys catch up very quickly with good training.  I encourage you to reach out to the dance director, Joseph Morrissey.  Then, a visit is absolutely essential to determine if Interlochen is a good fit for him (and for you).  For my son, it was like the sun, the stars, and moon all aligned when we visited.  "These are my peeps" was the sentiment that he, and others who attend, will say.  

Please ask more questions.  I'm happy to share anything that can help you think about Interlochen as an opportunity.

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