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Ballet Talk for Dancers

University of South Carolina

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  • kiwiwdancer


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luvmyballerina. . I worked on a college campus and scheduling issues like that are common place for all majors. They eat at odd hours, carry snacks, and press on. .. The trick is to not let yourself get hungry so that you are diving for sweets and salty foods when famished.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Luvmiballerina- If you email Rona Walstra (Administrative Director) and tell her the problem, she will be able to help you. There is a chain of emails sent off to get you clearance to register for classes and she is the first step. Be aware she will ask personal information needed to complete the form to register your daughter for overlapping classes, so you can also call her if you feel uncomfortable emailing her.

We eat between classes. I’m partial to apples, nuts, and carrots for my snacks. USC likes their dancers healthy :)

My apologies for the severely delayed response. I went from finals into a wedding into summer classes, so it has been a bit crazy! Most of our men just graduated unfortunately. However, we have the largest incoming freshman class of men that we have ever had. So large in fact, that the University has given clearance for men’s classes and partnering classes. If we are ever short on boys, we borrow from the local companies in the area for our performances. This is a great experience for the female dancers and a great learning experience for the men at USC who get to dance next to them.But hopefully from this point on, we don't need to do that :)

Hope this helps!

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  • 1 month later...

My DD is a Junior, and is very interested in USC for the dance major. I think that she will end up adding a secondary major as well...Education or Pre Law seem to be the two things she is batting around.


But mostly she just wants to dance. She would like to do a trainee program, but her father and I both would rather that she get her education first, and then she can try to audition, but at that pointe she would need to support her self because our second DD will be in college. DD is in the top level of a very good pre pro program, and she has a reputation as a very hard worker, but she is not the best, and she does not have good ballet feet. So I think the contemporary program at USC looks very interesting for her because there is still a lot of ballet in the program.


Any additional information would be appreciated. I'm also looking for information as to other dance opportunities in this program, is there any jazz, musical theater, or other training that might make you a more commercial dancer?

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  • 4 months later...
  • 8 months later...

Best of luck trythis to you and your DD. It is an overwhelming process, but one that meant a lot to our family in time spent and lessons learned. It was a year of extreme value.

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  • 1 month later...

Rona Walstra is not there any longer.


The audition consisted of an hour long presentation and Q&A led by the Director Susan Anderson, and also via skype the Dance Edu director, Stephanie Milling, plus a current student came to speak. Then there was a short break, and the ballet audition which was scheduled to last 1 1/2 hours but ran much longer. Followed by the contemporary audition which was also scheduled to last 1 1/2 hours but had to be shortened because the ballet audition ran over.


There was some talk of scholarships. If a department scholarship is given, the university will allow a tuition reduction which makes the tuition almost the same as in-state. They said they try to offer the out of state students a scholarship when ever they can. And they said that boys get the best scholarship opportunities. There were only a couple of boys at the audition.


The impression we got was different than we had gotten in our previous visit when DD did a campus tour and observed a class. This time, the dance department show was that evening. And so I think the stress level of the director must have been quite high. Think of all the things that have to go on during show week, and add to that holding an audition for your incoming freshman class! The reason they do this is so that the auditioning freshman can attend the department show, and see what kind of work they would be doing.


I felt that the Director was direct and honest...but maybe a bit too direct. I think that she knows these auditioning students are also applying at Butler and Indiana and she wanted to promote USC as being as good as those programs. But she came off a bit harsh. She presented the program as a very intense program. This actually unnerved my DD who is hoping to double major. The presentation made her feel that a double major would be really really difficult; and conflicts with the dance department be looked at in a very negative way. The last two years of DD's pre pro training have had some conflicts with school, and the pressure to miss school for ballet was pretty high. DD is looking for a supportive environment. Success to my DD means improving in her technique, dancing and performing, and maintaining good grades in all her classes and graduating. I didn't get the impression that the dance department would be very supportive of curriculum needs that have to be fulfilled elsewhere.


DD was very intrigued by the Dance Education major. This major allows you to graduate certified to teach dance in K-12 in South Carolina. A very interesting prospect because as a school teacher you get benefits and retirement; these are things that are hard to come by if you freelance to teach as several different studios. The director of the program said they have about 100% job placement. There are so many jobs teaching dance in the public schools that any of her students what wanted a job in a school were placed. Some went into arts administration instead, some went on to graduate school instead. But the prospect of a job, and benefits seems very interesting. She spoke about the trend toward STEAM in public schools which stands for "Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math." And she was very excited about the conference she was attending in Chicago. That is why she was not there in person. She said she has seen so many new ideas using technology for dance notation. Her enthusiasm for teaching was obvious.


The dance show we saw consisted of three pieces. Balanchine's "Walpurgisnacht" (former SAB dancer Stacey Calvert is on faculty there, so they can get permission from the trust to use Balanchine's choreography, and do so often), Paul Taylor's "Company B" and an original piece by Thaddius Davis, the contemporary teacher at USC. The show was beautiful, great dancing. The program does not have many men, some were borrowed from Columbia City Ballet.


The audition was two weeks ago. We have not heard. I sometimes wonder if DD's cold shoulder to the program is a bit of a self defense mechanism. As in if she doesn't get in she can tell herself "well I didn't really want to go there anyway."

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djeowmom...So, So true about the overwhelming process, but it is a big decisiomn


trythis, DD auditioned U of SC last winter, got acceptance and scholarship. But DD's heart was set on another program and everything you described was what we learned at the audition as well. Had the same feelings about director being "too direct". I guess the feeling I got is that she wasn't very encouraging or particularly confident in her students/graduates, saying the best job a grad can get is with a small regional dance company, as if that was something bad! And that freshman rarely get to perform , we liked programs that gave equal opportunities to all ages. At least being a frosh shouldn't preclude one from performing if they are capable and ready.


At the time the program wasn't a BFA degree and when I asked the director about it she did say she wished it were. When I asked current students about the BA vs BFA they wished it was a BFA degree as well. I am not sure if the department is now offering a BFA.


My DD auditioned at 6 programs, I thought it was a lot at the time (well it was a lot of $$) , but it really got us both to see how unique each and every program is , from academics to performance opportunities, to dance class schedule to degree requirements or possibilities of double major/ minor. I'm not sure how many programs you and DD have to compare at this point, but your DD will definitely get a better feel of what is right for her after seeing the different programs.By the 6th program we had very good idea of which program suited DD and which didn't


I thought the Q&A talks with parents/dancers were very different at each program. Listen carefully to what they say and what they don't say. i could really tell the schools that had money for their program and support from the University. The schools that didn't said things like " We would like to perform in the big theater that the theater program gets to use, but we don't have the money for that." At U of SC, my daughter felt the way the dance building was way, way far away from everything and actually operates under their own time schedule..for example academic classes begin at 1 but the dance classes end at 1:05, as an example (I am not sure of the exact time frames)... to DD seemed like the program isn't valued or important to the University as a whole.On the other hand at 3 other programs there were dance banners all around , even one had a football player and a dancer on banners throughout the University. It was just the impression that it gave us. I would say the schools that impressed us ran a very professional Q&A and were very hopeful that performance majors will get a contract .Not all programs conveyed that to us.


Also, a tip...while my DD was in auditions I made a point to talk to the current students that were waiting for class or actually helping with the audition logistics. i asked them questions like "What do you like best about the program?" "What do you like least?" "What are performances like?" "Who is your favorite teacher and why?" "Do you double major or minor and if so is it difficult.""How many pointe classes do you take, do you wish there were more?" If you just ask a couple questions you can get a feel for how they feel about the program.


The students at all schools were more than happy to answer my informal questions. I really got a sense of what a program is like from their answers and they all volunteered more information than I actually asked, they were all wonderful and honest.

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Congratulations on her acceptance with a scholarship! Any monetary assistance is wonderful. In case you aren't aware of the Academic Common Market, students from GA can receive in-state tuition rates for dance at USC, as well as U of OK. :clapping: Best wishes to your dd in her pursuits!

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  • 4 months later...

I see that USC dancers perform a lot of Balanchine works. Does it seem to be a largely Balanchine-based program (ie strong Balanchine style in classes)?

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Yes, it is very strongly Balanchine based! My DD's experience was that the students with strong Russian training were looked down upon by the teachers.

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