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Ballet Talk for Dancers

University of California, Irvine

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I came across this program when I was searching for postdoc opportunities in dance in the UC system - and I met a faculty member from UCSD at a conference in England. Academic dance world = very small world ;)

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recently learned some new and interesting information about the Ballet program at UCI that might be interesting.


UCI has an exchange program with the Conservatoire National de Paris, and the UCI etude ensemble was the first american company to be invited to perform at the Danse de Mai festival in Paris. Other schools that do this exchange program include The Royal Ballet School of London and the National School of the Arts in South Korea.



Graduates of the program are currently in:


Joffrey Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, William Forsythe Company, Frankfurt Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Los Angeles Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Company, Zurich Ballet and MANY more.


The Director of the ballet program (David Allan) was a soloist with NBC, and another faculty member was with William Forsythe as well as the Joffrey Ballet. They have a phenomenal list of guest teachers including ABT, SFB and NYCB dancers and Ballet Masters.


This new information came as quite a shock, so I thought I should share. Overall, UCI certainly seems like an unbelievable opportunity for college age dancers.

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  • 6 months later...

One of the faculty members Molly Lynch is also in charge of National Choreographers Initiative over the summer...where 15 professional dancers and 4 working choreographers from across the country come for a 3 week intesive. The choreographers choose the dancers they want to work with and at the end of the three weeks, there is a showing of the new works at UCI's Barclay Theater. I went this summer and was very impressed. The UCI Ballet majors are not directly involved in this program, but since Molly Lynch runs it, I'm sure they have access. It seems like a very good thing to have access to.


By the way, some of the dancers in the NCI program were from Los Angeles Ballet, Richmond Ballet, and some others which I can check up on if anyone is interested.

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  • 2 months later...

DD is currently a freshman in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the Universiy of California--Irvine. We found UCI to be one of very few universities with an exceptional dance department, and a philosophical emphasis on the interdisciplinary nature of today's art practice. (She is double majoring in Dance and Studio Art, with a Digital Art minor).


The Claire Trevor School of the Arts has about 1,000 undergraduate majors in four departments: Dance, Drama, Music, and Studio Art. It has its own landscaped campus centered on a plaza designed by Maya Lin, with a bridge to the main campus. There are six on-campus theaters, a number of well-equipped dance studios--I'm not sure how many--a costume design and construction studio, a stage production shop, digital arts labs, and a full motion capture studio.


There are approximately 200 undergraduate dance majors; about 10% are males, and about 15% are double majors. (Most of the second majors are outside Trevor School of the Arts). There is no dance minor, but technique classes through intermediate level (level 2) are open to non-majors with permission. The Dance Department is respected, and the classes are popular. (The new Recreation Center also offers a variety of non-credit dance classes as well as pilates, yoga, etc.)


Students must audition for acceptance into the dance program (end of January) before they are admitted to the university. (UC has an early application deadline, and they need to apply to the University in November.) Prospective students audition in all three major disciplines: ballet (pointe is included, but not required), modern, and jazz. They must demonstrate technical accomplishment at least at intermediate level in one or more of the major disciplines, and students must demonstrate creative promise to succeed in the major. The auditions are professional, fast-paced and challenging. Improv. is included. All students--new and continuing--audition for placement every fall.


All students enter the B.A. program. They can declare the performance B.F.A. after the first year. The choreography B.F.A. requires a separate application after completing a one-year choreography sequence.


In addition to Dance techniques and performances, the degree requirements include Injury Prevention, Music for Dancers, Choreography, Dance History, Laban Studies, Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Criticism of Dance. Students must demonstrate intermediate technical accomplishment or higher in all three major disciplines, and advanced proficiency in either ballet or modern. They must also complete a technique course in at least one other dance form (tap, Spanish dance, ballroom dance, or a world dance form such as Indian (Bharata Natyam and Kathak), Tango, African, and Sri Lankan dance).


UCI offers conservatory technical training in ballet (5 levels), modern (4 levels), and jazz (4 levels). As a first-term freshman, taking intermediate ballet techique (level 2 of 5), DD's professors were Jodie Gates (former Joffrey principal and ballet mistress, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Ballet Frankfurt), Molly Lynch (Director for the National Choreographers Initiative), and Israel 'El' Gabriel (former Bat d'Or ballet master).


Each year the department presents four fully mounted, on-stage dance concerts, and the Claire Trevor School of the Arts produces an opera or musical theatre work, providing additional performance opportunities for dance students, and there are a variety of performance ensembles such as the UCI Etude Ensemble, directed by Prof. Donald McKayle ("One of America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures," 5 Tony nominations and an Emmy nomination). The UCI/Conservatoire de Paris International Exchange Program is another high profile opportunity that brings the students and faculty of both institutions together for performance in Irvine and in Paris.


The School takes seriously its commitment to place graduates, and UCI Dance graduates have an excellent record of placement in the many fields of dance. Some have become professional dancers in ballet companies (including the San Francisco, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart Ballets); in modern dance companies (including the Bella Lewitzky, Lar Lubovitch, and Bat-Dor Companies); and in major musicals (including Jerome Robbins' Broadway, and the original cast of Chorus Line); as well as in films, television, and theatre. Others have entered the professions of dance education, dance anthropology, medicine, law, and psychology.

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Thank you for the information on the department. I will be traveling to Irvine in a few weeks to see their faculty concert and I'm looking forward to it. I would love to hear more about the department if you ever have time.

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paradox, welcome to Ballet Talk and thank you for sharing your daughter's experiences and knowlege about the school. We hope you will make yourself at home and become an active member of our community!

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  • 2 months later...

I had the chance to attend a concert at UCI last month. This was my first chance to visit the campus and watch some classes. I was impressed with some of the faculty I spoke to and I enjoyed a viewing of some student works in progress. This school seems like a nice place for students who want to remain on the west coast.

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  • 8 months later...

The UCI Dance Dept. has added a new professor of dance medicine to the faculty, who will be teaching dance health, dance kinesiology, and other scientific and medical aspects of dance. Jeff Russell has extensive experience in sports medicine, orthopaedics, and dance medicine (among other qualifications he serves on the IADMS research committee and is a certified athletic trainer and graduate sport rehabilitator). His Ph.D. (D. Phil.) research in Dance Medicine and Science at the University of Wolverhampton, UK focused on the ankle and foot in classical ballet, and he will be working in cooperation with the Sports Medicine Department at the UCI Medical School to develop a comprehensive dance health care and dance science research program.


The Trevor School of the Arts is now offering a BFA program in Musical Theatre with additional performance opportunities for dancers, including a New York satellite program.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I recently spoke with a graduate of my ballet school who currently attends UCI, and in her freshman year she only had one performance opportunity. Is this typical?

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  • 1 month later...

Does anyone know if there is some sort of dance tour? Only a general one is mentioned that I can find.

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Is this what you meant by "dance tour?"


Conservatoire National de Paris

Since Fall 2001, advanced ballet students from the Dance Department of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts have had an educational experience available to no other dance students in the country. UCI students and faculty have traveled to Paris to take classes, perform, and choreograph at the Conservatoire National de Paris. As part of this international exchange, students and faculty from the Conservatoire have visited UCI to teach, study and perform at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.

...from this link
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Sorry, I meant more like when visiting the school. I'd like to see some classes and the studios and such.

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  • 1 month later...

Paradox, Is your DD still dancing at UCI? You appear to be the only person on BT4D with a child at UCI that is willing/able to post about her experience. You last wrote in Jan. o8. Would you be willing to update how things are going at UCI? I was going to PM you with some questions, but you do not have enough posts yet. I believe you have to have at least 30 to be able to receive PMs.

Here are a few questions that we have:


1. Was your DD happy with the amount of performance time she had as a freshman? Did she audition for the different opportunities available to her? I understand that dance majors can audition for dance parts in musicals and other productions, along with the auditions for work with different choreographers.

2. Happy with her dance classes? Challenged and improving? Is having non dance majors in class an issue of any kind? Currently, what level can non dancers take in ballet?

3. Would she recommend the dorm/halls that are closest to the dance dept.? I understand there is a hall that is considered the dancer's hall. Do you have any thoughts on that hall? We see plusses and minuses to staying with dancers 24/7.

4. Does she or any others take additional classes at any of the nearby studios? We are specifically looking at Saturdays and have checked out Maple Conservatory and Anaheim Ballet.


Thank you for any insight that you can give! Big decisions to make here, UCI is up at the top of DDs list with several other universities and May 1st is getting closer! Yikes.


Coppelia Doll: Admitted students are given the opportunity on several specific days to come and watch classes. I have no idea if they would allow this for someone thinking about auditioning and applying. You could definitely contact the dance dept. and ask!

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I actually toured the school earlier this week. My mom contacted someone in the dance department, I think the administration and was able to get me a private tour with a dance major. I didn't get to see a lot of classes that were in session, which was what I really wanted to see, but I got a good sense of the campus.

I also went on a general campus tour, which was a complete waste of time. The campus is a circle, so you really can't get lost.

It did seem like more of a modern program from the dance major, but I think he was also more modern based. And they are trying to get more funding for their modern.

The only thing I didn't like are how the studios are situated. But it doesn't matter too much. Just me being picky...

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Don't know if this helps, but the Maple Conservatory is about 6 miles away from UCI (about a 10-15 min car drive). I know many UCI students (dance and non-dance majors) take open class there - Charles Maple, Chris Martin and Tanya Durbin are favorites - and they give dance majors a nice discount on their open class rate.

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