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Videos for university application


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I have a very academic daughter who is a gifted dancer. Choosing between college and a career is very hard. For this reason, we want to link her academic ability with her ability as a dancer for college applications. We are told a professional career would be a possibility. With this in mind, we are choosing colleges very carefully and looking for those with reputable dance departments as well as academic excellence. Some of these schools ask for a supplemental artistic video of her dancing. We have performance video and can do supplemental video as well. This needs to be done quickly and professionally. Any advice as to what they are looking for and how to present it best would be greatly appreciated. This will be sent to the ballet dept for review at each of these colleges. Please reply asap, I really do need your help.

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Good news! What they are asking for does not have to be professionally done. You can do the performance footage, then tag on some studio work: Some barre, some center combinations, maybe a little variation tacked on at the end. You can shoot them yourself, only keeping the idea that the dancer must remain entirely in focus and in frame throughout. Have the student's teacher there to supervise.

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Thanks so much for the quick response! It's very easy to get caught up in the frenzy of wanting to do the college thing just right. I've often heard moms talking about giving their dd's "the edge" in terms of ballet auditions and competitions and I was worried it might transfer over to the college admissions process and everyone else would submit some ultra-professional video! So thanks for the reality check. Has anyone ever submitted one?

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We lucked out in terms of preparing ours. But Mel is right, it needs to be a nice and tidy package but not necessarily a professional video. Unless you find a dance videographer you'll pull more hairs out than leave in with what you really want from your video. Just do your own.


Now for our lucked out part, does your DK go to the local high school? And if so, do they have a TV station in the school? If so, ask how new the equipment is. If it is fairly new, then it is most likely computer based. We asked the production teacher if his top student's could take it on as a project and be paid. The student got extra credit, a resume builder, a little date money and it took him all of 2 hours top to bottom with me sitting beside him to upload all the footage, squish it together digitally, add pre and post screens and page turners between each movement and give me a DVD and Video master and all the copies I wanted (from the dvds and videos I provided). Our TV station within our school has won national awards so it was pretty close to professional.

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Wow, that is really grreat to know, Momof3! What a super idea. :)

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And if your local high school doesn't have the video equipment, check out a local junior college or 4 year college with a Radio/TV/Film major. Students in these majors may be very willing to assist and you could end up with a very nice result.


DD is preparing her college application material now, including DVD's/videos. We are fortunate in that one of my sons has his degree in Film/Video and the computer toys that go with it. You think Ballet is expensive??? We were SO glad when he graduated and actually got a job . . . :thumbsup:

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I can only second Taradriver's post. College students will be more than happy to get some experience. Make sure that you tell them exactly what you require for the video. Otherwise you end up with a very artistic version and special effects. Also, ask for a student who might have some dance experience - this will help to find the right approach to dance on film.

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I almost feel like anexpert in this area. Due to injury and surgery, my DD had to audition for all her colleges by video. We began the tape with an intro (name, age, years of study, where and with whom she studies, and what they would be seeing on the tape/DVD). We began with some class footage (barre, center, a variation), followed by excerpts from past performances and her solo piece. We used a videographer to help edit all the pieces together. For the excerpts in which she was not a soloist, we had an "arrow" pointing her out to the viewers. Our video turned out well and got her accepted to all but 1 of her schools. Since I did all the taping, I was worried about the quality of the footage, but I must say we were pleased with everything. It's a bit jumpy/shakey in parts and background noise crops up every now and then, but it was done with love and a lot of hard work. Good luck!!!

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Remember that committees may not (i.e. probably will not) look at your video all the way through. For this, I would suggest:


1. Put the things you must want them to see first.


2. Use a DVD, not video tape. Make the DVD with easy-to-select tracks. They might not look at each track all the way through, but they're more like to look at the beginning of each track. Put what you REALLY want them to see in the first 10 seconds of each track.

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I would caution against using DVD's unless you are check them on several different players to make sure they play on all. That rarely happens but it still does. If you're using professional people, no problem but if you aim for the school setting choosing a video might be the better bet. Our DVD worked fine at every place we tried it EXCEPT the studio to show her own teacher the finished product.

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Dd is only a sophomore but I copied and pasted all of this info to put in my file for future use. Thank you to all of you experienced dancers and parents. I just might be ready for all of this in two years!

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I guess it is the time of year....the college application process has begun! My daughter is right in the middle of putting her DVD together,as well. My approach to all of this is that the Universities that are primarily academic, but have higher level dance departments, won't be looking for professional material. If the dancer is good, the skill will show itself regardless of the medium. I also think these universities value the student's own fingerprints on the application. I knew my dd understands what is important to showcase in dance more than I do , so she and a college friend spent hours this summer going through dvd's created by our studio after performances and made their own DVD. The trick, however, is that each school has a little different set of instructions on the length of the DVD and the packaging information. All that I help my daughter with is organization and serving as a consultant. I have sat through many college talks and that seems to be the advice, weather it be essays, or showcasing work.

However, all that said, this is my first dancer to walk through this process. If any veteran feels like we're off course, please let us know. We value experience :)

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Usually the dance departments which want videos tell you exactly what they want on the video. You mentioned an academic school so I'm not sure if your dd is looking to major in dance. Remember to ask if the school wants to look at a video- as some don't.

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I guess I could be called a veteran of the college application process as DD is a freshman this year. Our experience seems to be quite different in that she did not prepare a DVD. I don't recall any of her schools requesting one which is good as she would have been hard pressed to have any material to put on one! None of the ballet schools or SI's she attended allowed recording of performances. Two of her SI's let you buy tapes but not all of the pieces would be recorded due to the Balanchine Trust rules. I was always told "no" when I asked if we could buy a copy of what they recorded, so you all are very fortunate!


She did have to have a resume and head shot and be accepted to the school before being accepted to the dance dept. but I suppose that could also be different with each school. I know it is important to pay attention to deadline dates as they can really sneak up on you. Good luck with your college applications and auditions!

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Another parent of a first year college student who had/has high academic ambitions as well. Last year was a difficult process of applying to many (probably too many!) schools, but ultimately with a successful result. This was a repeat of the process some years ago for older dk.


I have a few tips to share:


Our first tip was one from a dance teacher several years ago advising us to look primarily for academics in the selection of a college and then make sure that there is an appropriate place to train nearby. This may not include specifically colleges famous for their dance departments, but colleges near good training. Of course this involves also getting into a ballet year round training program and then lots of juggling and dedication. Of course if you are maintaining excellent academics and pre-pro training, you already know the drill.


My additional piece of advice is to investigate the academic leave of absence policy. This is different from the deferrments often available after acceptance. Usually deferments are for one or two years. Leave policies vary from school to school and are sometimes done on a case by case basis. Some are very liberal extending 5-10 years or even indefinately. In this case, students who have established residency (through attendance for a certain time--one quarter to one academic year usually) can take a leave of absence and dance for a time without having to worry about applying to college after an extended career. They simply need to be readmitted.


For example, if you are able to get into Houston Ballet year round and Rice University, you can truly maximize academics and training. Ditto Stanford and classes at a local Palo Alto studio with teachers who danced with ABT and the Royal Ballet supplemented with the classes at Stanford itself. I think Carnegie Mellon and CPYB might also be a possibility, but I did not personally pursue this one.Another possibility would be Barnard and any one of the excellent NYC training programs. Ditto Georgetown or George Washington U and the excellent training available in the greater Washington, DC area. The Rock School and Swarthmoore or the University of Pennsylvania. The University of California at Berkeley has an indefinate leave of absence after establishing a matriculated school status and there is a wide variety of excellent training in Berkeley and the greater San Francisco Bay area. We looked at good places to train and then worked backwards to locate the best academic college we could find near the excellent training when we picked colleges to consider. Unorthodox, but this combination requires thinking outside the box. This is difficult to plan, but worth the effort if you can pull it off.


Since the jury is still out on what ultimate success my dks will have with this strategy, (one is still job hunting after graduation and another has not gotten through that first college year yet) I can neither give guarantees nor details of success, but I do know these are at least some of the possibilities I checked into for my dancers.


What we found when sending video tape is that it is best to check ahead of time to see if these will be accepted and how the academic school wants them formatted. For example, Stanford has a different deadline for arts materials (almost a month earlier than their regular application date--we missed this). Several years ago Yale would not accept dance videos at all. I believe Rice has a similar policy.



The quality of the video need not be professional as many others have stated (we had the same problem with not having footage of performances--no taping allowed). Summer programs often give guidelines for video applications that are useful to construct the college videos, and these can be supplemented by a variation at the end of the studio barre and center footage. Most important is being able to identify the dancer and see clearly the level of their training. Keep the video short. Ours were 10-15 minutes and labled as such. Colleges that are not necessarily known for their dance departments but for their academics and selectivity often appreciate what it takes to pursue pre-pro ballet and the dance video can boost a students overall application. For example, students from SAB and SFB training programs have been accepted into recent Harvard freshman classes. Harvard advanced level classes could be supplemented by Jose Mateo's training, Boston Ballet classes or several other studios. Although the Harvard department is purely extracuriccular they have had great opportunities such as master classes from Suzanne Farrell, Mikko Nissennin, and Damien Woetzel among others (please excuse spelling). This year Heather Watts will be setting Serenade and teaching a weekly class.


Good luck.

Edited by 2dds
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