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Ballet Talk for Dancers

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Does anyone have any information on their program? Their faculty and guest faculty seem accomplished, but I haven't heard much about this program. They claim it is a conservatory based program. I was just curious...

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  • 11 months later...

I am a recent graduate of Towson University. Although I was not a dance major, I could not let my passion for dance keep me away from the department! I got to know the faculty (particularly the ballet faculty) well and was able to take classes and perform. I have many friends who have graduated or are about to graduate from this program so anyone with any questions can feel free to ask. Here's an attempt to give a general overview though:


The program includes two tracks for majors, dance performance and dance education. The dance education major obviously requires more credits since it incorporates the teaching aspect of dance. All majors are required to take ballet and modern technique classes. There are three levels for each discipline and depending upon your performance and improvement in each level, the professor will decide whether or not to move you up to the next level.


The department does offer classes for non-majors in ballet and modern and tap and jazz electives, which any Towson student can take. Majors are required to take choreography classes (Dance Composition), music classes, and a two-part anatomy class specific to the department ("Sci-Bi"): it is a class where students learn about the different bones and muscles pertaining to dance and how they work and how to avoid injury.


The company (an audition is required) performs a show at the end of each semester. There are two classes, Ballet Rep and Modern Rep, that are performance classes and perform in these company shows (no audition is required for these classes). Other performance opportunities include the Dance Majors Performance Project (DMPP) in which the whole show is compiled of pieces of student rehearsed/student choreography, and the Senior Seminar show. Senior Seminar is a class for senior majors who spend the entire year fundraising, choreographing, rehearsing, and putting together a "final" concert.


I hope this answered your questions. If you have more, please ask!

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  • 1 year later...
Any updated info on Towson??


I'm a current dance major.




Describe the audition/application process.

Dance majors apply and are accepted to the University and apply separately to the Dance Department. There is an audition, and if accepted you are a pre-dance major for your Freshman year. If you complete the First-Year required dance classes with a 3.0 GPA or above, you become a full dance major.


How many dance majors?

There are probably about 80 dance majors currently. 40 freshmen or so come each Fall and by the time that class becomes seniors, about 15-25 remain in my experience.


How many dance minors?

Towson University does not offer a dance minor.


How many applicants to the dance program annually?

I'm not sure...


How many Freshman are accepted?

About 60 each year I would guess. 40 usually come in each Fall.


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

The gross majority are straight out of high school. There have been a couple returning professionals.


How many men in the program?

Currently I would guess about 10 men or less.


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

Yes, admission to the university is separate and required before being accepted to the department. I believe you can audition for the major as long as you have applied to the university if you do not know the results yes. There are several essay questions on the dance department application.


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?

Once you are admitted to the university you can declare any major they offer. Declaration of the dance major is not approved by the University until you have applied, passed an audition (you cannot audition more than twice), and fulfilled the Freshman Year requirements.


Does the program seem to have stringent body type requirements?

No, they do not at all. The faculty in my experience has promoted healthy nutrition and dancing for a lifetime - taking care of yourself as best you can to sustain a passion of dance for as long as possible without burning out or needing surgery at age 25


Are there scholarship/financial aid opportunities specifically for dancers?

Yes, there dance scholarships, academic scholarships, and financial aid available at this school.




Describe the studio/performance facilities.

The Department is housed in the Center For the Arts which is a beautiful, new building with a Cafe on the second floor. The first floor has four studios (three marley, one wood floor) and a studio theatre with full lighting equipment, wings, a scrim, and raised seating. End-of-semester Dance Company performances are held in Stephens Hall, which houses a fully equipped performance theater, seating about 700.


What is the approximate number of performance opportunities each year?

Each semester students can audition for the Dance Company or sign up for Ballet or Modern repertory classes which perform in the large show at the end of the semester. You can also perform in student pieces from Composition III-V and Senior Seminar classes, Inertia (draft show for student choreography), or Dance Majors Performance Project (revised student choreography)


Who choreographs/directs the above performances?

The Dance Company is directed by a faculty member with extensive performing experience in professional companies. Many times they pull in guest choreograhers. I've worked with Troy Powell twice (Associate Director of Ailey II) and Tim Veach (AD of Columbus Dance Theatre). Bill T. Jones's company has come, among others.


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

There are usually more modern than ballet pieces. Typically no jazz. It seems that each Fall the Dance Company performs an excerpt from a classical ballet, while Spring is more modern or contemporary-oriented. I've performed in La Bayadere and Swan Lake, Act II....they are doing Giselle, act II next year.


How is casting done?

There is an audition for Company the first week of each semester and results of admission are posted immediately after. I have seen Company postings go up that say specific casting for pieces and even roles, but have also seen just a list of Company Members, and roles and who will be in what piece are posted later. Sometimes the first rehearsal for a certain piece is another audition, and further cuts are made. For guest choreographers, they usually hold their own audition once they arrive and before rehearsals for their residency start.


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

Extremely supportive/friendly/family like. many many many become roommates. We are all supportive of each other and push each other to work harder. I would describe the majors as highly motivated.


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

Dance Company is the highest group of performers. Repertory classes require no audition.


Are there choreography projects available for students?

We are required to take Composition classes for five semesters and create a fully staged piece for the Senior Seminar class.


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

Several faculty members have their own dance companies in the Baltimore area. Towson is just outside Baltimore where there is a good artistic community. Ailey II is coming to perform AT TU this September! TU is only an hour-drive from DC with a great dance scene as well.


What nutrition/health counseling is available?

That would be more in the realm of the University on the whole. There is a full counseling department for nutrition and health within the Dowell Health Center.


What medical facilities/physical therapy is available?

One faculty member is certified in the Alexander Technique and is everyone's go-to for injury counseling. Many faculty members have connections to physical therapists, orthopedists, neuromuscular therapists, and massage therapists.


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

Warm, nurturing, professional


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

Be prepared for an audition consisting of a ballet class, modern class, and improvisation. Interviews for scholarship candidates.



List ballet faculty members.

Susan Mann, Runqiao Du, Catherine Horta-Hayden, Sandra Perez, Dana Martin, Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell


How often does each teacher actually teach class?

You register for one teacher's ballet class which is held three times weekly.


How many hours of ballet classes per week are required?

You are required to take ballet through your sophomore year. 6 Hours weekly are required. (2 hour class 3 times a week)


How many ballet classes a week are offered?

Required 3, can add-on Pointe, Ballet Repertory, or enroll in more than one technique class to take more


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

Modern is required through your sophomore year. 3 times a week.


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

Modern and Ballet are equally focused. Many dancers come from contemporary circuits, pre-professional ballet schools and performing arts high schools.


What dance requirements are there other than technique classes?

A certain number of dance electives (pointe, Aerial, Jazz, Musical Theatre etc), performance credits (Company, Repertory class), and participation in student choreography. There is a dance history sequence with three courses, and courses in Composition, Dance Design and Production, graduation preparation, audition preparation, resume writing and portfolio making


What degrees are offered within the Dance program?

BFA in Dance Performance and BFA in Dance Education with MD State K-12 certification


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

Yes, the Dance Department is within the College of Fine Arts and Communication


Is Pilates certification available through your program for dance majors?

No but there are several local Pilates and Yoga studios which offer teacher training and certification with connections to faculty members. One faculty member just opened her own Aerial Yoga studio which combines Aerial Dance and Yoga.




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

Most dance lecture classes require written assignments and research papers of some sort. Expect group projects. Three-course dance history sequence, Dance Design and Production, Music for Dancers, Acting are required


How rigorous are the academic courses?

Across the University the rigor of the academic courses depend on the department and particular course.


What is the ratio of academic requirements to studio hours?

I'd say majority studio hours....about 6 hours a day. It's up to you whether you take more or less dance studio classes.


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

Yes, I am doing this. Depending on the second major you will probably need to stay in college for another semester or year or take summer/winter classes to fulfill Gen.Ed.s Some degree programs at TU are impractical to double major with dance.


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 non-majors allowed to take technique classes?

Yes, there is a ballet and modern technique class for non-majors. Non-majors with prior training can audition into major's technique classes. Non-majors can sign up for any dance elective class (Aerial, Jazz)


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)?

Just make sure you speak to the actual professor about getting you into the class, not the chair of the department. You will have much better success.





Is career counseling/job placement assistance offered?

Career counseling is offered throughout your time working towards your BFA.


If yes, at what year does that counseling start?

Freshman year. At the end of each semester and sometimes at mid-term you have a one-on-one meeting with your technique teacher about progress and can discuss anything about your future you want.


What does the counseling include?

There is an official jury during your sophomore year where you prepare footage of your dancing since admission and state your progress and goals. You have a discussion about these things and receive advice from the full-time faculty members.


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

I've seen one in the two years I've been there


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

Not uncommon. Recent graduates are company members at Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Oakland Ballet, Broadway shows, local collaborative companies.


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

Yes, absolutely!


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

Troy Powell from Ailey II and Tim Veach, the AD of Columbus Dance Theatre have come for choreographic residencies. Bill T. Jones' company has come in the past and more before my time there. Alicia Graf (DTH) has taught master classes.


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

Arts administration, choreography, dance photography or writing, or jobs in fields from their second majors. Many become occupational therapists, physical therapists, exercise instructors, and arts advocates.

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  • 1 year later...

Any knowledge/opinions on amount and quality of pointe training at Towson? Saw their most recent performance and that seemed to be their weakest area. My daughter is seriously considering this school (loved the warmth of the faculty)

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  • 10 months later...

I know this thread is a little old but does anyone happen to know how difficult it is to get into this program or know anything about the audition?

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  • 5 years later...

threegirlpileup, are you also on College confidential? If so, there are some great threads about Towson (and so many more!) there - if not it is a free forum and you can find lots of colleges that offer dance and Information about the processes there. go to majors and then look under "Dance Major". 

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  • 1 month later...

NavigatingMom- could you share your email (and erase it after I send you something)?  I’d like to send you a personal message but I’m new enough that I’m not allowed to send you a message. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am just seeing this! Will email. Sorry for the delay 😐   I saved your email so feel free to erase it!

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