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Ballet Talk for Dancers

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Does anyone know anything about the New Haven Ballet? I'm considering applying to Yale but I need a serious pre-professional program to do in college, and New York is too far, so if I were to go to Yale, I would probably do this school-does anyone have experiance with it?



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  • 10 months later...

I am trying to restrict myself to first hand information of which I have almost none, but the little I do have I am sharing. Please feel free to delete if this is not enough to fit under the guidelines.


Although my younger dancing daughter is a first year college student, and we just went through college apps beginning one year ago, we decided not to apply to Yale based on older daughter's experience five years ago. Yale would not even accept a dance video for consideration in their application materials. I called and spoke about the unfairness of this given their willingness to accept audio casettes from musicians. The admissions officer politely restated their policy and said they could not accept or consider dance videos. We had already begun the application process so we continued, but we regretted not adhearing more closely to our rule of checking to make sure continued training was possible either in or near the university. We didn't know about New Haven Ballet.


I would recommend checking with Yale to see if their policy remains as it was in 2001 as well as a close look at New Haven Ballet school which comes up in an online search. Their previous unwillingness to evaluate a dance video as part of the application suggests this may not be the best choice for serious dancers.


Good luck to this years seniors in your college apps, college/dance decisions, dance auditions, and all your creative compromises.

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Their previous unwillingness to evaluate a dance video as part of the application suggests this may not be the best choice for serious dancers.


I'm not quite understanding this assessment. The colleges with dance programs that I'm most familiar with require in person auditions for their dance department. Is that what Yale was requiring? Or are you saying that they weren't vetting their dance students in any manner, thus, no threshold skill level required for admittance to that department/classes?

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I think she's saying that Yale doesn't care if your applicant is a dancer or not ... or at least, they are not interested in judging (or perhaps, not qualified to judge) achievement in dance.

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As Treefrog suggests, I believe these comments relate to general admission to Yale, not admission to a ballet program there (which I do not believe exists). My understanding is that they will accept a music cassette from an incoming student, to show that they have worked throughout their schooling to gain proficiency in the musical arena, showing their hard work, determination, goal achievement, etc. but will not accept a ballet video to show the same sort of characteristics as they apply to a student's dance training.

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Sorry to cause confusion. I just wanted to mention that Yale expressed neither interest in nor support for dance as a part of the overall evaluation of a prospective incoming student. They are known, however, for their interest in prospective students' extra curricular activities in certain sports or other arts such as theater and music, for example.


Certain other extremely selective college programs with excellent academics (comparable to Yale's) would be a better choice. Not only are there numerous opportunities to take class nearby, there are, in some cases, dance classes and/or a dance department on campus.


Years ago my dds got the advice to go for the best academic college they could be admitted to even if this was not the strongest dance venue. They were advised to then ensure they had access (possibly outside the college) to good enough training to stay pre-pro level. They followed this advice pretty closely and the older dancer applied to Yale even though we eventually realized this was a bad fit even for our hare brained scheme! I was simply trying to share our experience with the bad fit at Yale. After our first experience, younger dd didn't even apply.


I realize this is not the usual advice, but dds were so academically ambitious and had worked so hard to maintain academic excellence along with dance dedication, we sought this compromise. Neither one has a profesional dance job yet, so I can't recommend this until the proof gets in the pudding. Wish us luck!


Schools that don't fall into the magic six or seven schools that have a level of ballet training that will make a dance career more likely, often don't have dance auditions or guidelines for submitting videos. In some cases, such as Yale, they don't even accept dance videos.


I also realize as others have mentioned on another thread some of the best colleges for dance also provide excellent academics, although some would argue the experience is not comparable to the experience at Yale or Harvard or Princeton.


In the end we must find the right fit for the right dancer/academic student. No one size fits all. I was just trying to share an alternate choice for the very competitive academic student who still wants a dance career. Again sorry for the confusion.



I posted at more length about our family's college app strategies (hopefully more clearly) on a thread about making videos for university applications in "Higher Education General Discussion." It is post #15; I am so sorry I don't know how to put in a link to this. Hope this helps...

Edited by 2dds
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Guest JustTheFacts

I would agree that Yale doesn't "get" ballet. They do not offer a dance major or pre-pro type serious training. Clearly, getting accepted is very competitive at Yale, and you would think that a dancer who is otherwise qualified with grades and honor/AP classes and SAT scores might "have a leg up" (or a "hook" as they call it) showing years and years of serious training, weeks of summer SI training each year, and still able to keep up grades and test scores etc. A violinist who has the number of hous a ballet dancer has, and who has performed at the level a dancer has, can submit a tape showing the level they have attained. It is taken seriously as an EC. A gymnast who trained with the hours that a ballet dancer has trained, who has competed at state and national level, but who might night quite be at the level of an olympian has this taken into consideration at Yale when applying, in terms of showing passion in an area or field. Ballet might as well be tap dancing or square dancing. It is not considered as giving a student any advantage. And they put no stock in the hours given to ballet.


Even Harvard has a student company, and appears to "get" ballet in terms of its commitment, and the type of student it attracts. But not Yale. Our family has no personal experience with New Haven Ballet, or the ease at which classes could be taken there, etc.

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There are Yale students who take open classes at New Haven Ballet. It is a short walk from most Yale buildings. It is the ballet school nearest Yale and students can buy 10 class cards so they can go as their schedule permits. Open classes are offered each night and on Saturday.

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Here is a link with information about New Haven Ballet from a 2002 article when Phillip Otto was the Director. We admired him (and his lovely family) a couple years earlier as a favorite teacher at the Rock SI. I think when we met him he was still at PNB year round.




This confirms dancedrivers point about the convenience and accessibility of the open classes. It also confirms the suggestion that there is not much support in terms of class or performance for Yale ballet students on campus.

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As the parent of a Yale undergraduate student, I can confirm that Yale does not have an undergraduate "performance" major or minor in either dance or music. It is a fine university, but if you want to be able to receive credit for your dancing, it is not the place for you. Although it does offer undergraduate Music courses, these are theoretical courses, not performance oriented. My daughter originally went to Yale for music but she has found that there are many courses in other fields that she wanted to pursue. She still is an active musician, but most of it is on her own time and not through Yale courses.


My Yale daughter thought that people might want to consider Princeton, Stanford, Harvard and Columbia for dance before they considered Yale. Stanford University in California offers a dance minor; Harvard does not offer dance for credit but it recently received a lot of funding for a dance center. Columbia/Barnard not only offer dance as courses but are located in New York where there are many dance classes. Of course, the academic work load at any of these schools will affect your ability to dance all day.


All the best to those of you who are applying to colleges this year.

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New Haven Ballet school won't meet your desires for ballet training. I highly recommend Yale in so many ways. But Harvard would be a better choice if you want to engage in professional dance training while in school; they have a better program "in house", as well as quality professional training available across the street. But please consider your education and objectives before going to either school; I recently expressed my thoughts on this issue more fully in another thread.


I essentially minored in music at Yale. All the music theory and composition was fascinating, and it really opend my ears, so to speak. We leared about Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and 20th Century music. It helped me appreciate music by understanding its root structure. But in another way, I learned more about music appreciation dancing in a ballet company, listening to a few select pieces again and again, than I did in music theory & musicology class. Places like Oberlin are WAY better, of course, if you want to be a performing musician; although Cole Porter and Hindimeth were both associated with Yale. The Yale School of Music is a graduate-level performance-oriented program, but it has little effect on life as an undergraduate, other than providing graduate students as teachers for extra-curricular lessons. The things I said about professional dance training and a liberal arts education apply to professional music training as well.


Ballet might as well be tap dancing or square dancing [at Yale]. It is not considered as giving a student any advantage. And they put no stock in the hours given to ballet.


I highly doubt this statement is anything but heresay (and also shows an unfortunate disrespect for the amazing art of tap dancing). Yale's admission process is extraordinarily opaque, they generally do NOT make public any particular lifestyle, activity or attribute that does or does not hurt admission prospects --- not even to the Alumni School Committee, which is the volunteer group of alums who conduct and write up interviews for the admission process.


My guess is that a student who seems to want a professional school would likely not be admitted to Yale because that is not what Yale offers its students. They DO want students with vision and dedication, and dancing certainly falls in this category; however, they also want students who can articulate well, so explaining one's passion in the application essays and interview is critical.


As for videotapes... I will investigate why they don't accept videotapes. But I must tell you, my AD doesn't watch videotapes either; he just doesn't have the time. And what would dance videotapes tell the average interviewer or admission committee member, who can't tell plie from arabesque, other than "this student loves to dance?" At least music is more widely understood in our society.

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One of my friends, a dancer, sent a DVD with her application. She is now a 3rd year student at Yale. But she is a history major who performs in some of the Yale shows. It might be easier to enclose a DVD since the admissions officer will likely be near a computer and could view a DVD without difficulty. Put your best first in case they only look at the first 20 seconds. Admissions people are pretty busy but it seems unlikely that any school would have an official policy of not looking at a relevant part of a student's application.

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I am a bit hesitant to continue posting since I do not have first hand experience with a student of my own enrolled at Yale. I only posted because I did have first hand experience with the application process several years ago. Our experience in 2001 of being told directly by admissions officers that they would not accept a tape was disconcerting, although we still applied (and were accepted). Based on this previous experience my younger daughter did not apply in 2006 as we agree with several other posters that another Ivy or Ivy-ish school seemed a better choice.


I make no assumptions about why Yale declined to review videos, I suspect it might simply be because no one felt qualified enough to do so and justify the additional time investment. The admissions process at these highly selective schools is monumentally time consuming (and, I agree, extremely opaque). My frustration was not in comparison to company directors, rather it was in comparison to other comparable college admissions officers. There is so much variation; it helps to be informed ahead of time and avoid assimptions.


Like Latecat, I found it hard to believe that Yale would not welcome a tape from a dancer as part of the overall evaluation of an applicant, but I assure you, this was the case some years ago. I made the follow up phone call myself. I also believe the current third year student did submit a dvd as Latecat tells us, but who knows if and how it was considered. I am happy this applicant was accepted, but still would encourage families to double check on the policy before submission. My additional frustration was based on the willingness to accept audio tapes, but I strongly suspect this was because there are individuals at Yale who can evaluate the level of training demonstrated in the audio tapes. This simply seems, on the applicants' end, probably not the best place for dancers to demonstrate the level of their training and dedication.


As citibob has stated, Harvard is a much better bet for dancers with these kinds of college aspirations. This year they have an amazing array of opportunities for serious dancers including the chance to work with Heather Watts, Damian Woetzel, and Katie Tracey of New York City Ballet as well as to perform the choreography of several prestigious modern companies: Limón, Battleworks, Graham, Twyla Tharp, and Mark Morris, as well as opportunities to learn and perform ballroom and Fosse style. In addition, as citibob reminds us, there is always the excellent professional company "across the street." :innocent: We haven't even mentioned Boston Ballet open class and school. What I know personally of the application process suggests Barnard/Columbia, Princeton, Swarthmore, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and a few other schools offer more viable options for dancers who want to continue to train hard in an academically highly selective college.


I have exhausted my firsthand knowlege of the Yale scene and hopefully I have cleared up whatever confusion I may have caused in an apparently flawed attempt to share and spread my somewhat limited first hand information. This will be my last post on this thread. Once again—wishing everyone the best with the application process this year.

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Though Yale doesn't accept videotapes, I would hesitate to say that dance achievement is worthless in their eyes.


I was accepted to the Yale class of 2011 Early Action (I found out the night before performing my first Sugar Plum in Nutcracker - talk about nerve wracking!) and received a very sweet personal note from the admissions committee telling me that my "accomplishments in the dance studio impressed [them] all". The committee may not be qualified to judge technical achievement, but there is ample space on the Common Application, the Yale supplement, and during the personal interview to wax poetic about the nature, rigor, and time committment of your dance training if you so choose -- and it will be appreciated.


I know that I and many other pre-pro dancers my age dance upwards of 20 hours a week. Combine such a time commitment with a demanding college-prep curriculum, competitive test scores, and the inevitable community service opportunities that ballet schools often provide, and you certainly won't be at the bottom of the pile.

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