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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Advice on what college program to pick?


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can anyone give me insight to these programs:

University of Arizona

SUNY Purchase

University of Utah (ballet)


I have been accepted to all three schools I auditioned for (yay!) and now am stuck choosing what school to go to. Everyone of my dance teachers have told me to go to a different one saying it’s the best of the three, so naturally it didn't really help to ask them :/


I again, have heard mixed reviews about all three schools, from reading on the web, and family friends who have had students there, and am left very unsure as to which program is best.


How good are these schools, and how hard are they to get into? Like should I be really happy and surprised I was accepted to all of them? how would you rank them?


I am not looking for a program that is strictly ballet, however having good ballet classes and training is very important to me, I really love contemporary ballet and contemporary. I have been dancing for only 4.5 years now (but I train 20+ hours a week in ballet/contemporary/etc. and have been told I have a “good facility” (?) , so I have drastically improved over the years… and am not a “dolly dinkle” ballet once a week dancer)

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There never is a "best" in general. I cringe at things like rankings. Ultimately you have to decide what is best for you given your preferences and situation. You have to weigh some practical things too, things like the cost (tuition + living expenses + transportation)and how you feel about being close or far from home. I'm assuming that you have visited each campus and have a sense of what it's like live and study at each place. Ultimately you have to use your intuition. It's good to talk with others, but it's you who is going, not them. Which place just seems to talk to you? Pick that one.

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Alfhieballet, you have great choices there, but as Gary said, there is no best, and you have to make your own decisions. We do not do comparisons of schools or programs here. We present the information, but everyone has to make their own decisions based on what you determine to be best for you, not for someone else. :)

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My son is an engineering student at UA and loves the campus and spirit. It has an old college feel with lots of brick and trees. Engineering specifically is a challenging program and harder to get into. We have several friends who are dance majors. One current sophomore male, attended the University of Utah last year and transferred to UA Dance for this year. The UA Dance department has performances coming up in March and April if you are able to travel. They would be a great opportunity to see their current students and be on campus when regular classes are going on.


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I hope it's ok for me to post here. I just sent a non-DD (Theater major) off to college in September and one of the things that helped her make decisions between college choices was visiting the campuses, attending classes with students and envisioning herself among the student body. Getting a "feel" for the students helped DD make her decision. Alfhieballet You mentioned talking with friends that have kids attending, but have you actually talked with the students? Specifically with students that share your academic and dancing interests?


I think I was posting the same time as ballet valet and would echo thoughts. If you can visit and see performances, that may help your decision making. My actor daughter had the opportunity to see the Senior Showcase for graduating theater majors and that helped her decide.

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I also think it is important to weigh in for yourself, what you would like to do with your dance degree. While I know things change and perspective's change, you should go into the final choice of your college based on who you best feel can get you where you want to go. So, going back to the college websites and seeing what current grads are doing with their schooling can help you determine which fits the profile of what you'd like your ending result to be. I believe both Point Park and U of A have the ability to switch dance emphasis part way through, so also important to see if the entering grads end up with jobs in the specific dance genre you're interested in now. Again, knowing that your idea of the where may change along the way also.

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We here at BT4D can't tell you which program is "better" because that is really different for each individual depending on where they've been, where they wish to go, their personality, their resources, their wants, likes, dislikes, style of study, social needs, etc. (Getting the picture? :) )


You have found our Forums on the individual programs along with our members' perspectives on their first-hand experiences with the programs. The posters on this thread have given you ideas and mechanisms by which to exercise your evaluation skills and how to go about determining what might be important to YOU.


Having sent two daughters off to college, including one as a dance major, I will not only echo, but emphasize, the recommendation that you actually take the time to visit the programs and the campuses. There is an awful lot that you will discern just by doing that. I cannot tell you how many times just walking on campus was enough to remove a potential college from the list of each of my daughters. Do not pooh-pooh those gut reactions. That place will be your home for the next four years.


You said you have auditioned for each of the programs and been accepted. Did you audition on campus? Did you participate in the tours--both for the dance departments and for the university in general? What were your reactions? Did you talk to any of the students? Were the students friendly when they saw tour groups passing? Did you ask lots of questions of your student tour guide? Did you attend the information sessions? Did you ask questions? Did you have questions that were answered when others asked? Did you talk to any of the presenters? How did you feel about your visit? These are all things that we cannot possible know and all of that information that you collected or experiences goes into your evaluation.


No need to answer those questions for us. Those are just to get you thinking and evaluating for yourself. Best wishes!!!

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Thank you so much for your answers!


I know and realize that ultimately you can't say which program is better or best, but I am wondering if anyone knows which has more alumni in professional companies?


My end goal is do dance in a company and am going to college in order to get more training and basically my mom won't let me go into a PD program and is forcing me to to go to college. So I want to go to the program that would give the the resources to be able to actually become a professional dancer


That information is what I am unable to find- how many professional dancer the program produces and it's "renowned-ness" That is important to me because I feel if I attend a program that doesn't ever have professional dancers out of would not be worth going to.


Each of the programs are very different and they all have their advantages and disadvantages almost equally for me attending them, so that is why I'm choosing to look at the chances of dancing professionally afterwards rather than which one is best for me


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How about contacting someone in the admissions dept. of each school to ask them your question about professional dancers? Their job is not only to cull through applications and decide who to accept, but it is equally about enticing the students they've accepted to actually choose their school. They should have that statistical information available; if not, they can point you in the direction of someone who knows.

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The programs are the ones that keep track of their alumnae and placement in companies. It is a very tricky thing to get a handle on. They typically will give you a long list of companies that their dancers have work with, but it is never clear when or who. That is, it could be dancers from long ago, or a handful of dancers who received offers or who changed companies during their careers.


However, another way is to Google the dance program and see what comes up. Often you will get hits on various dancers' resumes or bios on company sites. And you must always keep in mind: The program is only as good as its dancers. So. . . each dancer comes to those programs with quite a foundation and the college program is only a 'finishing' school and in a university setting that is as much about the intellectual approach (in keeping with a university's mission of 'higher education') or more--than the technique building.


Edited to add: vagansmom and I were posting at the same time. :)

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Wow, Alfhieballet, you got accepted to some top-notch programs! All three are highly selective, with excellent students and superb training. Each program is different, with slightly different emphasis, but each one is eminently capable of launching you to a professional career.


Since my daughter was part of four different college dance programs, including three years at University of Arizona, may I say that I've come to the conclusion that college dance programs cannot be measured on the basis of successful alumni? I laid out some of the major factors that are at play with landing dance work following a BFA in this post: Expensive of college vs. salary.


At this stage of your decision process, you're rarely hearing what those dance companies that are hiring actually pay. All the grads of these three programs could be perfect for the second companies, apprenticeships, and smaller companies where you'd need to get your start, but what if you can't afford to support yourself in those jobs? Is that the fault of the programs?


I suggest you carefully evaluate what kind of dancer you are and compare it to the performance options that would be available TO YOU at each school, for each year - as your best tool for launching your career after graduating will be your audition reel. Your goal in the next four years will be to collect lots of great dance footage. For example, are you also strong in other styles that would enable you to increase your chances of getting cast? Can first-year students audition for "main stage" shows? How many shows are performed each year? Do the faculty tend to cast their favorities in multiple pieces per show, or is casting more equitable? These are the questions you need to be asking.


The world of professional dance is a business where you'll need to market yourself. No school is going to act as a placement agency.

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No school is going to act as a placement agency.


And that is exactly right!

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Yikes Pierrette! According to your calculations my daughter shouldn't be dancing professionally and supporting herself right now! Glad I didn't see that post when she was auditioning last year or choosing a college program three years before that!

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Sgmca, I believe you misunderstood my post on the other thread, and I know I didn't make myself fully clear in my post, above. The thesis of the post on the other thread is a program's (so-called) success rate in turning out professional dancers, which is also what is being asked about over here. As with all educational research that attempts to measure whole-school success rates, you need to control for socio-economic factors. But with college dance programs, there's no accurate way that either the faculty and staff or the outside public could make apples-to-apples comparisons because all the variables are so unmeasurable or unknowable and the cohort groups are so small. Thus the concept of "success rate" is statistically meaningless.


The only thing a prospective college dancer can do is weigh what they, themselves, bring to the equation, and balance it with what the school can offer to come up with their own, individualized, success predictor. Thus, a male dancer from Western Michigan University may have money from his parents to head to NYC after graduation and work his way into a prestigious company, while a female Butler grad from Tennessee with student loan debt may not have the money to mount a decent audition tour. Do you see how this affects a program's "success rate"?


In my own daughter's case, she weighed three triple-emphasis schools and chose the one that happens to be the furthest away. It also doesn't provide a summer dance program. So those were significant economic factors to consider. At the time, we could afford to pay for her summer intensives between her college years and fly her back and forth from Michigan, Arizona and San Francisco.


Her last semester, a cruise line held an audition on campus and put her on their hire list. But my daughter really wanted to go to New York in the fall and audition for contemporary ballet companies. Right before her graduation, my husband died and my daughter had to be totally on her own. Donations covered her summer intensive, and $5000 from my father got her to New York, where she was accepted into a small contemporary ballet company. But the company didn't pay a living wage, so my daughter did that for a few months and then accepted the cruise contract. She's been working for commercial dance contracts ever since. Does this reflect on UofA's ability to turn out professional contemporary dancers? No, it doesn't.


Does that clarify things more?

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