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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Lady Lavender

Washington University in St. Louis

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Lady Lavender

Hello! Does anyone know anything about the dance department at Washington University in St. Louis? I have been unable to visit, but their website illustrates the program to be centered around modern/contemporary dance and not ballet.

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library lady

I visited with my daughter in March. While she absolutely loved the school, she took a ballet class at the intermediate/advanced level and was disappointed. She spent some time with the teacher afterwards who said she would have to start at the advanced level (but that left open the question of where do you go from there?). Can't speak about any of the modern/contemporary classes.

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allegrogirl987

Ballet at high level academic institutions has an interesting conundrum. Many of the students who came in with ballet as their "thing" have very solid backgrounds in the ballet world but the reality is that when these students choose to go to WashU, you HAVE to spend the majority of your time on your academic/career focus or it will be extremely difficult to keep up with the rigor. That's not to say there isn't a high level of ballet (Modern in college is a different story, as we all know) or opportunities- it's just that for most people, priorities tend to change

 

With that being said, many of the dancers in the advanced level came in with strong ballet backgrounds (a product of both the correlation between academic performance and ballet training, and also the fact that to be accepted to many selective institutions you must demonstrate high achievement and passion in an "extracurricular-" even though most of us considered it to be career training at the time). The advanced level has dancers from BAE, NCSA, St. Louis Ballet, and other well-regarded schools. Many attended well-known and/or selective summer programs pre-college- many of us came in recognizing other dancers from past SIs. Mixed in in the advanced level classes are modern dancers as well as upper-classmen who didn't come into college advanced but moved up in level along the way. (Just trying to give you a feel of the makeup of the class). So the experience one might get in the intermediate class is quite different from the advanced class because of the fact that the advanced class is made up of many that came in with pre-professional training. It is quite different from a ballet school where the intermediate level and advanced level are a consecutive progression, if that makes sense.

 

Christine O'Neal is a fabulous instructor who brings a wealth of professional experience to the table. She also brings a very academic perspective to ballet training that has allowed me to grow in a different way since coming to college- she connects things to anatomy and has attended teaching seminars across the world. She is very accommodating to dancers trying to maintain their level of ballet in a non-conservatory setting. Her variations class first semester is also a fabulous perk. With all being said, having the same instructor all the time can be difficult and many dancers who have time supplement classes at COCA.

 

Performance-wise, there is WashU Dance Theatre every December where Christine will audition for a short ballet. There are also residencies that come in for WUDT and otherwise- the instructor will teach for the week and choreograph/rehearse a piece to be performed at WUDT. Past ballet residencies include Jock Soto, Rodney Hamilton, and more.

 

The truth is that it is very hard to maintain the same level of ballet when at an institution as rigorous as WashU but for a non-conservatory, the Dance Department (and Christine for ballet) does a great job of providing opportunities and high level classes for dancers.

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Lady Lavender

Thank you so much! That's exactly what I needed to know!

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purpledancer999

How often are ballet classes offered? Is an audition required?

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cmalltheway

any update on this program?

website shows instead of audition, it is offering a placement class upon admission into the college. :)

Since they do offer tap, anyone might know how involved is their tap? 

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