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Ballet Talk for Dancers

University of California~Santa Barbara

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Looking for any information from current or past attendees at UCSB. It appears that ballet, modern and jazz get an equal focus. Performance opportunities?

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  • 2 weeks later...

DD audtioned for UCSB on Sunday. After registration, we were treated to a demonstration featuring their current dance dept. Started with a piece en pointe using dancers from freshmen through seniors. Another pointe piece followed using only freshmen. There were several modern pieces performed too. It was a nice touch getting to see many of the current dancers perform. The faculty was very personable. Audition consisted of a 1.5 hour ballet class followed by two modern combinations. DD came away feeling that ballet is definitely the focus of this program and that she would get a lot stronger in modern. Sounded like there are a lot of performance opportunities both at the college and in the city of SB. Plus, the setting is absolutely gorgeous...hard to beat looking out the window on a sunny day and seeing pine trees and the pacific!


Anyone else there that would like to chime in about this program?

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One of my dd's best buds, K, is currently a freshman dance major at UCSB. K is a serious ballet dancer and says it is not a ballet focused program, but a "balanced" program. She is happy with the quality of instruction.

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Would you mind asking your DD's friend about her schedule? My notes aren't very good. I know the faculty talked about frequency of classes, but I'm missing that info. Is "K" in the freshman company? Wondering if she has a ballet technique class daily and how often her pointe classes are? It's interesting that there is not more buzz about this program as it seems to be a very decent one.

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K says the program is heavily modern, ballet takes a back seat. She likes her ballet teachers but does not like the modern emphasis. Her response to my query, given with her permission:


"Yes if she isn't interested in modern i wouldn't recommend UCSB. You

have to take modern classes and most of the dance pieces perfomed in

shows are mainly modern, even though before coming here i wasn't under

the impression that it was mostly modern. you have options of what

technique classes you can take:

5 ballet and 5 modern

5 ballet and 3 modern

5 modern and 3 ballet

I am in the freshman group, and we meet 3 times a week. Freshmen

don't get to take pointe classes, but some of the dances in freshman

group are on pointe so you can still do some pointe work.

*being a dance major is a lot of work and consumes most of your time,

so you might want to warn her that she'll be dancing more than she's

probably expecting.

* freshmen also can auditon and perform in the showcases"


Hope this helps. TD.

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Wow, this is interesting! Ok, so it felt like ballet had more of an emphasis at the audition and in the performance that we were treated to. The first piece we saw was made up of dancers from freshmen-seniors and was en pointe. There was only one freshman in this piece. The next piece was all freshman and was also en pointe. I'd say there were 8-10 dancers in the second piece. Why oh why would they not let freshmen take pointe? I know I didn't hear that asked or mentioned because it would have definitely caught my attention!


K says she is in the freshmen group and meets 3x a week. Is this in addition to the choice of classes (5 ballet, 5 modern, etc....)? Did K come from a background where she was doing a lot of pointe work before college? Serious ballet dancer? I know there were people from all walks of the dance world at this audition. I heard one parent remarking that her daughter was now required to dance at least 4 hours a WEEK and that it was cutting into her other interests...So obviously, not everyone at these auditions is a serious ballet student. My DD even commented that the college auditions she's been to so far are nothing like Summer SI auditions where at least everyone appears to be focused on ballet.


She does not dislike modern, she just likes ballet so much more! She does completely understand the need for being trained in modern in order to land a job later. Funny thing is I really enjoy watching her perform in pieces other than ballet.


TD: Thanks for all your help, greatly appreciated!

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Well, that was K's point, that it seemed there was more ballet until she got there. Yes, Freshman group meets 3 times a week IN ADDITION to tech class. K is a very serious ballet dancer and is quite good, has been en pointe for years, many name SI's, studied 6 days a week at a local ballet school. She was accepted to UC Irvine's dance program as well.


I think the lack of pointe class for freshmen may be a serious drawback but that's only my opinion as a ballet mom. Performing en pointe and not having pointe class seems a bit dodgy. The "conventional wisdom" about the Cali schools is that UCI is more ballet oriented.

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Based upon DD's college dance experience, our discussions with the program directors she was interested in, and comparing notes with other freshmen dance majors at other schools, I would offer this:


The lack of dedicated pointe classes for freshmen could be:


1. a 'flag' that the program is not as ballet-oriented as one might want;

2. a result of the difficulty in scheduling a pointe class in addition to the necessary technique, etc. required classes AND the academic classes required of a freshman; or

3. a belief--or born of necessity view--that a dedicated pointe class, while desirable, is not absolutely necessary because the dancers are at a level that they should be self-disciplined enough to put themselves on pointe in class/rehearsals, etc.


If the actual make-up of the particular classes is a deal-breaker, I would certainly be very specific in asking those questions. We did when DD was visiting programs and I always found the Directors to be very forthright and candid. We also asked the academic person the same questions regarding dancers and how they could expect to be viewed at the traditional 'dance crunch times'.

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  • 2 months later...

Taradriver and dancemaven, Thank you both for your posts and insight. I had DD read this thread. She was also able to talk to a current student that confirmed exactly what you'd said TD about your DD's friend getting there and feeling like the program is not like she expected as far as the ballet emphasis. So, she has ruled this program out. It was a hard decision for her because she really liked the campus and setting (who wouldn't!) but ultimately figured out that this school and dance program would not be the right fit for her. What a process this is!

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  • 3 years later...

Hmm I hope it's not inappropriate for me to ask this question in this thread.


I am not a dance major, however, I would really like to take the ballet classes offered at UCSB. They are open to non-majors, but I am curious if anyone attending could give me an idea of what the class is like. I am at an intermediate level based on CSUN and CCC standards of dance at a university level. But I would only be taking lower division classes. Ballet I, maybe Jazz I if they offer it in the future.


To summarize my question, is it a suitable environment for non-dance majors? As in...graded on effort (and comprehension), attendance, and some amount of written work rather than by execution and skill?

I am dying to take more dance classes and this seems perfect, but I don't want to risk my GPA. I am a little intimidated so any answers would be great.

Edited by Badgertoes
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  • 1 year later...

Does anyone know anything about the level of the ballet classes at UCSB for non-majors? I know there are four levels offered...

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  • 1 month later...

Does anyone have any recent experience with the dance audition and dance major at UCSB? Any information that you can provide would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

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  • 6 years later...
  • 7 months later...

DD is a freshman UCSB in the dance BFA (pursuing a double major in an unrelated subject). Due to the pandemic, she is not getting a "normal" dance experience this year, although dance majors have been prioritized and are some of the very few students receiving in-person classes. In addition to in-person, they take some classes on Zoom. Currently this adds up to six in-person and two Zoom classes each week. There doesn't seem to be any effort to attempt performances or rehearsals at this time. It is hard to assess the program due to these atypical circumstances, but if anyone has questions we'd be happy to try and answer them.

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