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Ballet Talk for Dancers

University of California, Irvine

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Thanks dancinggirl! That was all very helpful. I am surprised at the lone audition date. I thought UCI was very popular among the UC's for dance. Could you tell me which UC's are best known for their dance programs? DD is looking for a mainly contemporary program with strong modern and ballet. She really likes CalArts but that is pricey however I may let her audition anyway.


I may bend your ear next year for a hotel recommendation if that is ok!

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Its easier with contemporary :-)


My DD is classical so that created additional problems.


UC Santa Barbara is modern. My DD didn't like it because it felt like beach resort and her take on it was that she would just relax and not try hard enough because of surroundings (at least she is aware of what she needs to succeed). They have audition (January and February) and there were aprox 80 people on that audition. Format similar to UCI but not as crazy. BAllet part (90 minutes all dancers together) I was able to watch, door were open. It was a regular ballet class. Modern part they closed doors. Per DD they had 3 variations, 15 minutes to learn and then perform in group of 5. Panel of judges looked over them. Results came out 2 weeks after the audition with instructions in which class you should enroll. College acceptance is not here yet, but at least she knows how she did in dance program


SJSU is really modern and Jazz and program is strong. They have two in house companies and lots and lots performing opportunities. Dance major and BFA kids are small group and they take care of them separately from the whole system. If mine is modern I would really push for SJSU. Audition was more like placement class, results came out 10 days after audition, acceptance to school followed shortly


CSU Long Beach has also a great program. Studios are amazing!!!! No one has anything close to what they have. Audition was small, ballet and then modern. Parents were able to watch the whole thing. She got email in less then an hour after audition, but some kids didn't get it for more then 10 days. College acceptance came late in february.


UCI has ballet (6 levels) and modern and jazz (I think 5 levels). They are the strongest for BFA in CA. We are still waiting for acceptance and hoping that it will be positive one


Don't know anything about UC Davis


UC Berkley is modern.


She really didn't want to go to UCLA so we never even investigated the program.


UC San Diego - she was not impressed what she saw, so she didn't even apply. I do not think that they even have audition.


UCI gave us few hotel names that are really close by, but we stayed with family friends. I had fun weekend while my daughter was in studio.

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We stayed at the Fairmont Newport Beach when we visited campus in November. Got a great rate and the hotel has a shuttle that picked us up at the airport and shuttled us back and forth from UCI, as well as Balboa Island and shopping. Hotel is only 3 miles from campus and worked out really well since we didn't have a car.


For the audition we stayed at Marriott Irvine (Fairmont rate wasn't as good in January). It was also nice but I don't believe had the shuttle options. We had a car for that trip. Also very close to UCI.

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  • 2 weeks later...
DegasDancer or Cordelia, are you still out there?

My daughter was just accepted into the Dance major at UCI and we have similar questions to those you asked in 2009 when you were researching colleges. She is now in a similar dilemma of choosing the best fit for next fall. Would you be willing to update how your UCI experience has turned out?

Here are a few questions that we have:


Are you happy with your decision in choosing UCI? Would you make the same decision knowing what you do today about the program?


Are you happy with your dance classes and instructors? Challenged and improving? Is the program ballet oriented enough for a classically trained dancer?


Did you end up in the “dancers” dorm your first year? Would you recommend it?


In the middle of finals right now. Done studying, so will use my break to try and answer your questions.

1. Yes I am mostly happy with my decision. You probably already know about the financial problems the UC system is having. The Arts department has been hit hardwith cuts. As soon as I started in 2009 the pointe classes were cut. Each quarter they talk about them coming back but it hasn't happened yet. Ballet was 5 days a week and it was cut to 4. We do wear out pointe shoes in regular technique classes.


2 On the plus side I find the classes challenging and the teachers in the ballet classes are fantastic. I won't go into each one, but you can check out their bios on the UCI website. There are a lot of classically trained dancers here. There are also people that aren't.


3. I lived in Mesa my first year in the performing arts dorm. It is VERY close to the dance studios which was great. It's pretty far from academic classes on the other side of campus. Not everyone in that dorm is a dancer, artist, drama person, etc. My roommate was undecided. You'll be fine in any of the dorms in Mesa. You can look at a map when giving your 3 choices and choose the ones that are closest to the studios.


Yes, the audition day is just one day in January each year and it is a very long day! My year there were over 300 people auditioning and we did everything in groups of 5. Long, long day!


There are 4 different performances each year. Auditions for each one. It seems like a lot of people either don't audition or aren't chosen. I know a couple of dancers that have not been in anything yet. I miss being a part of full length ballets. Most of the performances are either grad student choreographers, outside choreographers (great shows!) and teacher choreography. They have all been good in their own way, but I miss all that goes into the full length ballets.


I love living in Irvine. Don't get to go a lot, but I love being near the beach.


I hope that helps.

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Good luck on your finals!


Thank you so much for your input. DD accepted UCI offer, she will be on open day (again) to see one more time what is she getting into. She is really excited and hopefully she will happy at UCI

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Thanks! We know how busy you must be and really appreciate your time to help out dancers considering UCI.


Disappointing about pointe classes. There seem to be a couple of ballet instructor positions being recruited on the UCI website. Do you know if they are new positions, or if a current instructor is leaving? The ballet instructors are a big reason why DD is serious about UCI. Hopefully new recruiting means a return to pointe?? Do you think ballet is being cut more than modern/jazz, i.e. emphasis changing, or budget is just affecting everything? DD is really serious about ballet and concerned about 4 days/week, and getting there and finding out that the emphasis isn't what she expected.


We also loved the beautiful area surrounding UCI. Is the "college experience" all that you hoped for? DD is hoping for a dance program where she can continue high level ballet training, but is also really looking forward to experiencing college life. She's worried about UCI's reputation as a commuter school, and how that affects the overall experience. If not for the strong ballet program, it wouldn't have been her first choice UC. It's such a hard decision, so trying to get as much information as possible to help her figure out what's best for her.


You have been so helpful - thanks very much (sorry for so many questions).

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Ranked by whom? and based upon what critieria? I know of no 'official' ranking for the various ballet major/dance major college programs. I've never seen anything like a US News & World Report ranking like they do for colleges in general or the Newsweek High School rankings.


Everyone has their own concept of the rankings--depending on what critieria is important to them.


If anyone has ever seen a printed 'ranking' with stated criteria, please do direct us to it. :blushing:


I toured 4 colleges with major dance programs last month with DD, we found it very amusing that every single one said that they were #2 or equal to Julliard. Go figure. I guess it comes down to whatever is the best fit for each student/dancer.


We are originally from Newport Beach, so this summer DD will be looking at UCI, great program and close to family win-win :sweating:

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There seem to be a couple of ballet instructor positions being recruited on the UCI website. Do you know if they are new positions, or if a current instructor is leaving?


We were at the audition this January and they explained open positions as move forward. They got extra money approved and they are hiring new teachers for some new subjects. If i remember correct they had 4 positions open. One was for theory of dance, history and similar stuff. One was to bring pilates/kinesiology back. They were talking about pointe class also


The ballet instructors are a big reason why DD is serious about UCI. Hopefully new recruiting means a return to pointe?? Do you think ballet is being cut more than modern/jazz, i.e. emphasis changing, or budget is just affecting everything? DD is really serious about ballet and concerned about 4 days/week, and getting there and finding out that the emphasis isn't what she expected.


What we learned from several dancers at UCI is that they also go off the campus and take classes at Maple Conservatory. They have special rate for UCI students. I googled the school and there is even a bus not far from campus that takes them close to studio and back

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Interesting, Dancer830, that you would find that type of competition among the dance programs. I must say, we did not have the same experience last year at the schools where DD auditioned. In fact, no one even mentioned Juilliard to us. Perhaps that is because DD only auditioned at schools that focused primarily on ballet, and we were cautioned that Juilliard is primarily modern. My DD auditioned at Butler, CCM, University of Oklahoma, UMKC and the Dominican/LINES program. No one even mentioned rankings to us. I wonder if the economy is causing problems such that the program directors are feeling competition? I doubt dance enrollments are going down, and they need more students. Perhaps the ratio of admitted students to those that accept is decreasing at the ballet programs. Curious.

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Thanks DancingGirl,

I didn't remember them talking about the instructor positions at the audition - that day was quite a blur! Good to hear both about the additional instructors as well as Maple Conservatory. Are you going to one of the Discover Days - they seem to be on weekdays, where the Celebrate UCI day is on a Saturday. We can't find much information on either, except for the dates. I would think the weekdays would be more beneficial for a final look at the program.


tutu - just as fyi, I don't recall anyone affiliated with the UCI program bringing up the Juilliard comparison - either at the audition or during our initial visit, but in talking to a high school counselor about considering UCI, he replied "good program, it's considered the Juilliard of the West" - more in generic terms about the whole Claire Trevor School of the Arts, not the dance program. So who knows where information originates. I googled "Juilliard of the West", and on the first 2 pages of search results, Cal Arts, USC, Colorado Springs Conservatory, Colburn School of the Performing Arts, Cornish College of the Arts, American Conservatory Theater, and Univ. of Arizona all came up (no UCI though). :grinning:

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Hi Tutu2you.


Love that name! :grinning: We toured Butler, Univ. Arizona, Univ. Utah and Indiana Univ., DD will audition in the fall. I too was surprised that they gave us that comparison and like you DD is primarily a classical ballet dancer that "tolerates" modern ONLY if necessary. My husband and I toured Julliard a number of years ago and the modern, plus the lack of academics, didn't feel right to us.


I understand that UCI is also somewhat contemporary with a good dose of ballet, is this true or is it the other way around? Yes, Maple Conservatory is just around the corner and Mr. Maple is WONDERFUL!! We spend a great deal of time in that area with family and DD loves his classes, he is sooo inspiring and makes a difficult class fun. Mr. Maple is on staff at Chapman University, teaching the Advanced Ballet-that might be worth looking into as well-it is just up the freeway.

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I forgot to ask in my last post about UCI's auditon process (maybe I missed it when reading). Do all dancers stay for the entire day of auditioning or are cuts made as the day progresses? Thank you :grinning:

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Charles Maple was the adjudicator several years back for my DD's RDA festival pieces. He came highly recommended.

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Audition day is 7:00-5:00 with time off for lunch. All dancers stay for entire audition. Then you wait for university acceptance. DDs came end of February, but admission is rolling starting in early Feb thru end of March. You know how well you did in dance by acceptance to major vs alternate major. They advised to put Arts Undeclared as alternate, as it may be less competitive academically if you didn't get into first choice.

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