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Ballet Talk for Dancers

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I would like to know some more info on the dance dept at Columbia in Chicago, as I'm seriously considering transfiring there after I finish my AA.

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I think it's mostly modern, judging from the performance series that they sponsor.


By the way, it's Columbia College, not the University of Columbia.

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I edited the title so people wouldn't get confused. :offtopic:

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I taught there briefly many years ago and know some of the faculty. Some of their students take class with me when they are on break. Yes, it is basically a modern dance program, though ballet is offered and required. I can't say that it is a high-level program on the standard of a Juilliard, NCSA, or Tisch (NYU). The school is much stronger in theater, music (jazz especially), media (TV, film, broadcasting, etc.).



One more thought: the founder, Mike Alexandroff, felt very strongly in the concept of 'open admissions'. I do not know if this is still the policy. While that concept may work for some arts such as theater, I cannot endorse this for dance (with very few exceptions). How does one, with minimal training declare oneself to be a dance major at 18-20? This meant that there were (again, I do not know if this is still the case), many low-level technique classes and upon graduating, many students who were still at the 'low intermediate' level :shrug:

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Well, the fact that the school's no "Juliard" dosn't bother me as I'm nowhere near being at that kind of level.

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I know this hasn't been updated in a very long time, but I am currently a dance major at Columbia College Chicago and I absolutely love it.


However, I am a late-starter. This school is perfect for me, and I love the dance program. It is mostly modern based, but we are expected to take equal amounts ballet and modern. I know a lot of people there who are late-starters, but also a lot of my dance major friends there have been dancing their entire lives.


They still have open admissions, but you audition for level placement, and they re-audition every fall semester. There are enough levels that people are neither too challenged or not challenged enough, from my experience. I'm only a freshman but so far I love the Dance Center and the faculty is absolutely amazing. They make us aware of the dance community in Chicago and from what I've seen/met of their graduates, I definitely think this is my perfect school.

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Describe the audition/application process.


You apply to the school itself, and once accepted, you audition into the dance program at freshman/transfer orientation. The audition is for placement only, they accept you into the school based on grades/scores and such, but it's an almost completely open admissions school, so I wouldn't worry about getting in


How many dance majors?


I think there's around 200, but I'm not quite sure


How many dance minors?


I'm not sure. I know there are some, but not a huge amount. I started as a minor and then switched to a major. I only know a few minors.


How many applicants to the dance program annually?




How many Freshman are accepted?


Of those, how many are 1st year post high school Freshman? (separating those from ‘older’ freshman)


How many men in the program?


I have 2-3 men in each of my technique classes. Overall, there seem to be a good number in the department from the people I know and performances I've seen


Must students be accepted to the college or university before applying to the dance program, or vice versa?


Accepted to the college, and then the program.


If admission to the school is not required before applying to the dance program, must ANY paperwork be in process, before auditioning?


Are the entrance requirements for dancers the same as all other applicants to the school?




Does the program seem to have stringent body type requirements?


No, there are people of all shapes/sizes at Columbia.


Are there scholarship/financial aid opportunities specifically for dancers?


There are 2-3 dance center scholarships at Columbia. They're based on participation within the program and essays.




Describe the studio/performance facilities.


The Dance Center is a 3-story building with several studios (I think there's about 3-4 per floor, plus classrooms and the stage is also used as a studio)

The first floor is one academic classroom, the theater/stage, and one studio. There's also bathrooms and the main office.

The basement has one studio, dressing rooms, a lounge, and locker rooms.

The second floor has a few studios, I think that's all on the second floor

The third floor is all the administrative offices (dance advisors, faculty lounge) and a few studios



What is the approximate number of performance opportunities each year?


There were 3-4 student shows last semester, including RPW which is a rep class required to graduate


Who choreographs/directs the above performances?


SPN, Student performance night, is student choreographed with faculty sponsers

Senior Concert is also student choreographed

RPW is faculty and outside choreographers work on the RPW class


What ratio of ballet, modern, jazz or other forms of dance are included in these performances?


Senior Concert, RPW and Choreographic project were mostly modern. Student Performance Night was a mix of ballet, modern, jazz, and hiphop depending on the piece. Mostly modern, but definitely a variety in some shows


How is casting done?


I'm not sure, I haven't auditioned for anything yet.


What is the climate of this program (supportive/friendly or highly competitive)?


Very supportive. They expect us to work, but the teachers are very easy to talk to and work with you and help you define your goals and what you need to accomplish in a given semester. We have midterm evaluations where you meet with your technique teachers and go over your progress and if they feel you are where you should be. Then you meet with your advisor and look over your evaluations with them


Is there an elite upper division touring/performing company within the department?


Are there choreography projects available for students?


Most of the performances are student projects


What opportunities are there to see dance performances or teachers from outside the school on a regular basis?


The Dance Center has a full season of outside companies come perform. This past semester I saw Siobhan Davies' company, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, and Peter Carpenter's Company. When companies come in, they sometimes teach some of the upper level technique classes


Also, since we're in Chicago there's always opportunities to see things off-campus. I went to see The Seldoms perform, and Lucky Plush Productions


What nutrition/health counseling is available?


What medical facilities/physical therapy is available?


Describe the culture at this program (warm, cold, competitive, nurturing, professional, etc.)


It seems to prep for the outside world very well from what I've seen of upperclassmen and graduates. There is a small sense of competition but mostly you compete with yourself to progress. Everyone is very big on networking and collaboration with others in your classes and getting to know your teachers and their work


Is there anything unique or that might be helpful regarding the audition process or the audition itself?


I was terrified going into it, because we auditioned on the stage and not in a studio. the people teaching the audition class were pretty intimidating, but now I have one of them as a teacher and she is the sweetest person and an amazing teacher. As for helpful, I would say just don't stress out because there's no mirrors and watch for the details in combinations.



List ballet faculty members.


How often does each teacher actually teach class?


How many hours of ballet classes per week are required?


2 sections of ballet at least are recommended, which would be 6 hours per week


How many ballet classes a week are offered?


How many technique classes are required of those in other forms of dance (such as modern)?


Modern is a main focus of the program, we are expected to take at least 2 sections of modern as well as ballet.


What style of dance is the focus of this program (modern, ballet, other)?




What dance requirements are there other than technique classes?


Styles and Forms technique (tap, jazz, hiphop, african, etc)

Several Dance Academics, I don't know all of them yet, but I know a few required classes are Experiential Anatomy, Western Dance History, Cross Cultural Perspectives on Dance


What degrees are offered within the Dance program?


BA in Dance

BFA in teaching or choreography



Is there a separate Dance department? If not, from what department are the dance classes offered?


yes, it's a separate dance department


Is Pilates certification available through your program for dance majors?


No, but pilates classes are offered and encouraged.






How rigorous are the academics in dance-related, non-technique classes?


I haven't taken any yet


How rigorous are the academic courses?



What is the ratio of academic requirements to studio hours?


Are double majors allowed for a dance major? If so, is it practical to double-major?


Double majors are allowed but not highly recommended. It would probably take longer to graduate with a double major, and when I discussed a possible double major with my advisor, she said if I were to double major, a BFA would be next to impossible. They just started offering the double major this year.


Can a student double major in one program in the dance department and another from a different department?




Is there a dance minor? If yes, please complete these questions:


Are minors allowed to take major classes? Yes, minors and majors can take the same classes. In most cases, they're required to.


What is the ratio of first time or beginning dancers in the minor classes? Beginning students take Dance Fundamentals, which is the level before ballet and modern 1.


Are the minor classes significant enough that a minor can still dance after college?


Definitely. It's a fairly intensive minor. Which is one of the reasons I switched to a major.


Are non-majors allowed to take technique classes? Some classes yes, others no.


As a practical matter, can non-majors get into technique classes (or are they filled with dance majors by the time non-majors can register)? I think they fill up fairly quickly, and majors and minors would have priority.






Is career counseling/job placement assistance offered?


If yes, at what year does that counseling start?


What does the counseling include?


How often do company director's visit the school for viewings?


How common is it for students to leave the school to join companies prior to graduation?


Do any dancers from this program go on to professional performing careers? Teaching careers?


I know one graduate who now dances with two modern companies in Chicago. I don't know many others because I'm still a freshman


Who are recent guest artists or companies who have been in residence at the school?


For students graduating from this program who do not go on to dance professionally, what kind of jobs/careers do they go into?

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So it's still modern based even though for the BA in Teaching you have a choice to pursue 6 credit hours of ballet III and 4 modern II or vice versa? The teaching classes will be more towards modern?

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I would assume so but I'm not positive. I can ask some of my teaching track friends about the teaching courses. I do know that one of my friends that just graduated with her teaching B.F.A is doing very well for herself and has multiple teaching jobs all of which she adores.

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