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Non Dance Majors/Prepro ballet training off campus


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Would it be possible to attend college (non-dance major) while still pursing pre-pro level training at a nearby, but off campus studio? Does anyone know of a dancer who has done this?

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  • vagansmom


  • lillianna


  • Treefrog


  • thedriver


That was my daughter's plan when she was looking at colleges. She applied to schools with strong science majors, her area of interest, and that were near good ballet studios who would allow dancers that age to continue their training. She found a few that fit her needs. She figured that she could take a daily ballet class, even if only intermediate level, at the college but get the bulk of her training in a serious studio.


The only school I can recall that didn't meet her ballet needs (but she applied to anyway) was Kenyon College. She had fallen in love with the school but it's really in the middle of nowhere and their ballet program isn't very good. It was in her list of choices in case she decided by acceptance time not to continue pursuing a career in dance. Muhlenberg was one really good choice, Carnegie Mellon was another. Both have proximity to decent ballet schools.


One important factor, if you're going that route, is to be sure that the college will allow freshmen to have cars on campus. Some of them have hard-and-fast rules about this and make no exceptions. Others have the rules but they will bend if it's for an important reason. Also, some campuses are in an area where the student can park their car just off campus and it's still a reasonable walk into the college grounds. In most campuses, unless it's a big city with a very good bus/subway system, your ballet student will be on the kind of schedule where s/he will need to dash on and off campus very quickly.


Finally, I think it's a hard but not impossible route to take - going full-time to college and to ballet school. I do think, though, that it takes a student who is already used to doing this. If the dancer has had a competitive high school experience, then more than likely, that student has had 4 great years of practice towards college/ballet at the same time. My kiddo had that kind of high school experience. She went to a private academic boarding school (she was a day student there) who accepts no more than 10% of their applicants at any given year. They accept fewer day student applications. So she was already prepared for a juggling schedule. The only danger is burnout after having endured 4 years of an intensive combo of academics and ballet. Doing it for another 2-4 years might be too much for some kids.

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I have a freshman in college who takes a full-time schedule in the morings at a local university, and takes 2-3 classes, plus rehearsals, each afternoon with our pre-professional (generally high school aged) students. I do know that this schedule works well for her...


However, the larger the college, the more options for scheduling classes around ballet training. The university this student attends has many many commuter students who often work full-time in addition to their college courses. She does not work, but I would consider her ballet training an equilvalent situation to those who do.


It is definately possible.

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Guest beachgirl

vagansmom, can you share which colleges may be suitable for a non dance major, but appropriate for an advanced danceer. You seem to be very knowledgeable, and I am new here.

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Check out the dancer bios on the Atlanta Ballet website. It sounds as if they have a number of dancers who attend college seriously and are professional dancers with Atlanta. It could be a solution to some of you, attending the Atlanta ballet school and attending one of the colleges mentioned.

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cmtaka, vagansmom, BalletIsLife, beachgirl, and lillianna – Thank you for sharing your DKs experiences. :clapping: I value the wisdom and advice. My DD is just entering the 10th grade but we plan to start college visits (journalism major?) next spring. . Although it has been tough juggling college prep courses with a full dance schedule, her academics have remained very strong. She has also, had very positive feedback at her SIs this summer, so only time will tell :green: ……but I like to be prepared.

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With high grades and journalism as a possible major, check out Northwestern U. in Evansville, IL right near Chicago. Journalism is a strong major. They have a dance dept. but unless you're a dance major (or minor - I don't remember anymore which option NW has), you have to pay separately for the dance classes. Actually that's another question to ask: With a non-dance major, are the ballet classes free?


But there is an Evansville pre-professional school, I believe. Or at least there was when my daughter was looking.


Beachgirl, I wish I knew more, but actually I don't know many programs, only the handful my daughter looked at. She had a very specific agenda. The school had to be on the east coast, have a neuroscience major as well as ballet and other dance classes AND be near a decent ballet school who would accept college-aged students. It also had to be small, or have small colleges within the university. And, because of her very busy schedule, we looked at a small handful that her college advisor (at her high school) thought would be a good fit for her. So those are the only schools I know anything about. :cool2:


But I'd be happy to share any info I have. Keep in mind it's now 3 year old information though. She was interested in Northwestern, Duke, Carnegie Mellon, Muhlenberg, Skidmore, Kenyon, and Wesleyan.


Money was an important factor. She had to receive a large financial aid package. And, I can't emphasize this enough: if anyone else is also worried about the expense of college and has a child with very strong academics, AP, and 1400+SAT scores (or whatever that converts to in the new system), then do look at what's known as the "second tier" schools.


They jump at the chance to take these kids. Muhlenberg, Kenyon, and then Carnegie Mellon (off the wait list) offered my daughter nearly full packages, most of the money in 4 year scholarships and grants. They want strong, well-disciplined kids and they go out of their way to woo them when they find them.


Of course all this is moot now (where's the "ai yai yai!" smilie when you need it?) since she decided to waitlist the first year, then the second year (risking her scholarship monies) and then give up college for now while she dances professionally. She'll eventually go back and I have faith that she'll be offered similar packages at that point. Most of her professional dancing friends with equal or greater academics have had that experience and done well when they returned to full-time school.

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Thanks again vagansmom- and yes Northwestern/Medill School of Journalism in Evanston is very high on DD’s list. I admit we don’t know much about NW’s dance program. I assumed it was mostly modern. Until this summer DD was not very interested in pursing modern, but now :cool2: ….she loves the Horton style or at least the modern style taught by Sonia Dawkins.

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And remember: She's just a subway ride away from LOTS of ballet and modern possibilities: Lou Conte Studios and Ruth Page are both really good all-around studios. I know that open classes are readily available at Lou Conte, not sure if you have to pay a tuition for Ruth Page, but check out their websites. There's also Joffrey of course but I don't know about their student program or how easy it would be to take calsses there as a college student.


And she could always try Irish :wub: . Top-notch schools there. :wink:

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Dickinson College is near CPYB and offers ballet classes at the CPYB studios at times. CPYB is very intensive for their full time students but also offers adult classes.

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Northwestern's Director of Dance, Joseph Mills, used to teach at my undergraduate institution, and taught me modern. - The dance dept. there was very heavily modern focused, and I probably stood out like a sore thumb. That said, he was a very nice, thorough teacher!

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As of 3 years ago, NW was still modern-laden. :) But there were ballet classes, enough to use as warm-up classes and time to work on individual weaknesses in a slow manner before heading off campus for real ballet classes.


I remember that when we visited the campus, it was really hard to find the studios. I also remember that there was a ballet teacher sitting at a desk there, not the head of program but a youngish woman. She ignored us completely when we arrived; we had to ask her if she could show us the studio space. She did so in a disinterested way, no chitchat, no "where are you from?" etc., and answered our questions perfunctorily. So right off, that told my daughter (and me) volumes. Or at least we thought it did. But maybe the woman was having a bad day. :shrug:


But because my daughter was only looking for college classes that would be more like warmup classes (and it sounds like Thedriver's daughter is thinking of it in the same way), that was acceptable. Chicago is big, the subway system good, and there were enough other possibilities for real training.


I've posted this before but anyone who's looking at colleges to, say, major in an academic subject and minor in dance ought to look carefully at where the dance dept. is situated. That will speak volumes about how the school views dance. :wink: As my daughter was fond of saying three years ago, "Find the athletic building, then find the dance studio somewhere inside it way, way down the hall. Or find the tiny building somewhere out of the way behind it. That's the dance studio." She was right most of the time. :blink:

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Guest sehoy13

I hope this is not too off-topic.


We went the online route for our DS. Last year, he took a full-load through our community college system while he was away at Nutmeg. Granted, this was not my first choice for him, but it worked with his schedule. Sometimes I do feel as if he is missing too much in his intellectual development. Many of the posts I've read here are reassuring, and I know he would be able to transfer to a bigger school at any time.


We also thought it would be an easy way for him to get some college credit without the increased stress of attending both a univeristy and a conservatory. I now think that might have been arrogant of me. In addition to tons of reading, he had daily assignments, essays, mandatory chats, mandatory postings, proctored exams, and weekly deadlines. In other words, this wasn't a Mickey Mouse freshman year.


I do want him to be in a classroom with an academic who is passionate about a given subject. But then, I have to admit he has that kind of interaction with his ballet instructors.


Has anyone else considered this option? I'm interested to hear pros and cons. I'll be happy to share mine if anyone wants to talk about it more.

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Sehoy13, Does Nutmeg still have an association with Briarwood College? That might work. Also, UConn has a branch in Torrington. He might be able to take some courses there. I've done so myself whenever something's really interested me. He may be able to arrange a schedule he likes even if it's only as a part-time student.


Will he be at Nutmeg this upcoming year?

Also, is he there this summer? If so, will you be heading to CT to see him dance? Maybe we can meet. I'll be at the Dansereye performance.


Email me at jmaca50@yahoo.com

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Guest sehoy13

vagansmom, I have been a fan of yours for some time. I've probably read everything you have posted regarding all things Nutmeg.


Nutmeg does have great relationships with both Briarwood College and UConn. We looked into the UConn option, but couldn't swing the out-of-state tuition. There's the nonmatriculated option, but for some reason it didn't work for him. (And I can't remember why exactly right now.)


He is at Nutmeg this summer and is returning for the coming year. He might modify his plans this year, perhaps only taking one or two academic classes instead of a full load. A part-time job is a possibility. We still have a couple of weeks before we have to commit to decide whether or not he will be a full-time college student or not. (ARGH...)


I won't be able to come to CT in August, and I am so disappointed. I am envious of you getting to see Dansereye. I know it's going to be a great show.

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