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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Scholarship Classes


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Kathleen Sinclair

This is another area in RDA that is very region-specific. But most of the scholarships awarded at the festivals from professional outside schools/companies come with parameters that are set by that school/company, not RDA or the region.


In the Pacific region, we have outside scholarships and also scholarships to RDA's summer program, the National Choreography Intensive. Again the outside scholarships come with instructions on who and what is awarded; many if not most send a representative to the Pacific festival to choose a dancer. If a suitable candidate cannot be found the scholarship is not awarded. RDA sets the requirements for the scholarships to the RDA NCI.


The Pacific does NOT give regional cash scholarship awards but I do know that some of the other regions do. Again, it would be up to that region to decide the who and what of each award. I do encourage parents that have concerns to bring them to their artistic director. Their director should be able to address any questions or concerns and if not, be able to bring the concern to the region.

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I find it, um, interesting that some directors dictate who may or may not attend a scholarship audition. I can't believe that a junior or senior interested in auditioning for a particular college would be denied the opportunity by their director. Are the directors afraid it will look bad for their company if the dancer doesn't get a scholarship? Denying dancers the very opportunities that RDA is supposed to provide seems to go against the whole idea of the festival.

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We were not told anything about what schools would be giving scholarships. I had no idea there were colleges in attendance. I thought you could go to the class only if the summer intensive you were already planning to attend was offering a scholarship. I guess not though because one of our students received a scholarship for a summer intensive for next summer. None of the dancers from our pre pro division were invited to attend.


It's all quite a mystery.

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This year our ADs passed out a list of all the scholarships being offered and the colleges attending to every kid attending the festival and asked them to let them know if they were interested in attending the scholarship class (I do believe there is a limit to the number of students each school sends to the scholarship class). The college auditions is only for sophomores and juniors and those kids wear numbers the entire festival so the college recruiters can see them in any class they are attending (my DD is a senior so she wasn't eligible for this, which she wouldn't have done anyway since her plans for next year are already set). In addition - the scholarship form has you indicate if you are looking for 2015 or 2016 for summer scholarships. Our ADs just really asked the dancers to be very considerate of their choices on the form if they decided to take the scholarship class - I do think it reflects badly upon them if one of their student is offered a scholarship and then turns it down. For this reason most dancers from DD studio decided against taking the class because most have already committed to a summer program and they didn't want to be committed for 2016 already.


And this is for SERBA. Not sure how the other regions handle their classes since they all handle their scholarship classes in the manner that works best for their particular region.

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mamsokol, that seems like a very considered, civilized, and considerate way to approach the scholarship classes. :)

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I have a feeling our administration just makes the call on behalf of the students. So they look at the list of scholarships and based on what they think they know of the dancers' plans, they then only invite those who they think will benefit from the class. Lots of assumptions in that statement. Possibly a correct approach because, in our situation, DDs are committed for this summer to a school that I'm sure was not in attendance, they aren't interested in going directly to a 4 year college after HS graduation, and there is no way they would commit now for next summer. So I suppose the assumption that my DDs would not benefit from attending the scholarship class was correct but it would be nice not to be so in the dark about it.


Alas, communication is not a strength at our school and although I'm curious enough about it to participate in an anonymous conversation on BT4D, it's not super high on my priority list to try to engage the school in a conversation about it. I do believe one of the benefits for my DDs attending festival for the first time was seeing how other schools interact with each other and the kind of relationships directors / teachers / students share. Hearing how others approach things like the scholarship class is equally interesting as a comparison to DDs experiences.


One thing that I just picked up on in mamasokol's last statement is that dancers can get numbers to wear to be evaluated during classes by colleges in attendance. I've never heard of this before either. Although my DDs wouldn't be interested, I can think of several others at the school who did not attend festival but might have been interested if they had known about that aspect of the program.

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From what I know....being that I've attended SERBA since prior to 2008 (with the exception of NOT traveling to the Nationals - one that was in Pittsburgh before my daughter was old enough to dance on stage, and the one in Montreal where my older DD did dance on stage) I have seen the scholarship class vary. There was a time that only 5 people were allowed to take the class from each company, to 8 dancers, and now as many as the AD sees fit, as I understand it. It has always been dictated by our AD as it should be I believe. I have seen many dancers get scholarships in the past, only to turn them down. Now there is strict wording on the scholarships awarded that says 'if you do not accept the scholarship you have been awarded, you are not allowed to apply for it next year'. It also states the only way you cannot accept and be considered in good standing is if you accept another scholarship offered from SERBA that is at the same time. They frown upon auditioning for something if you already have a commitment somewhere else. The new thing they have started - last year for us I think - was the scholarships for the NEXT year. Since our SERBA is always way after summer tour auditions, I think it's great they have opened that up. It was not in place when my older DD auditioned. I also think it is excellent that they have those rules in place so that those who are seriously going to attend can get that benefit. It has not always been so specific and organized, but I am thankful they have evolved to be this way. I do think though that the scholarships should not be available to someone who has previously been a professional dancer, although I would be very happy if there was a special category for those - say why not have an audition where companies come and watch you if you are in that category, or at least college age? Maybe that is an idea for RDA to consider moving forward.

As far as the college recruiting goes at SERBA, if you signed up for it (and my younger DD did) you wore the number to class so that the recruiters could watch you. They attended the performances and also tried to watch the candidates (albeit harder in a piece where they barely know them....). Still, DD introduced herself to both recruiters where she was interested in the school, and they came to her classes and watched for a bit - I know this because I saw them myself come in the rooms. There were about 6 schools in attendance at SERBA, and while they were not all schools she would consider, we did find 2 that fit her preferences and she is interested in. She is only a sophomore, so I did not expect them to pursue her actively - yet we have already heard from 1 to keep in touch. And we know much more about the schools than I would have ever hoped to learn on my own, including when to visit. I do think it's a very positive experience if your dancer is considering college, and a great place to get information!

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In the Pacific region the college auditions are NOT limited to sophomores and juniors. Each college specifies who they will audition, but almost all of them this year said they are accepting juniors, seniors and transfer students. The only one who limited who could audition was U of A, which accepted juniors only. I presume because they have already filled their Fall 2015 Dance department slots.

Our directors does not dictate who can or can't audition, but these auditions are not on the top of her priority list and we have to be persistent to get the information out of her. The seasoned RDA Moms know to start asking about audition info early in the year.

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  • 1 year later...

For this year's RDA Scholarship class, do your first, second, and third choices make a difference on whether you get the scholarship? My mom was filling out the scholarship form of my choices, however she didn't consult me when it came to choosing your 1st choice, 2nd choice, etc. I'm worried that it will affect my chance of getting a particular scholarship, because for example I would have chosen a company that is 10 minutes away from me as my first choice, and a program like ABT as my third or fourth choice.

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Kathleen Sinclair

The choices come into play if you are the top ranked candidate of multiple offers. Example you are ranked #1 by the judges for the 10min school and ABT; If you chose the 10min school as your #1 choice, you would be awarded the 10min school scholarship and the ABT offer would go to the #2 ranked dancer if it was their first choice.

Sometimes if programs don't overlap you could be award 2 scholarships if you are ranked #1 by multiple programs. But this doesn't happen very often.

I hope that answers your question...and good luck!

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