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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Applications: Describing Ballet Involvement

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I would check to see if any of the colleges you are applying to accept a resumé? A few on my children's lists did request one, and it was a great way to go into more detail than the Common App allows.


DD wasn't aiming at BFA dance major programs, but she did pick some highly selective places to apply to. Her aim was therefore to demonstrate her activities went deep, but also (fairly) broad/interesting. So while dance topped her list, she did want to use that section of the CA to show that she was more than 'just' a bunhead to admissions committees who might not know the finer points of ballet training, even though her top 'activities' were dance related (have you taught classes, volunteered to dance for the under served or in the community etc.?). Honestly, the bulk of dd's life has been spent in a studio, but she was still able to come up with some 'activities' that look good on paper.


She relied upon her arts supplement and resumé to fill in some of the details. Some colleges will only allow a YouTube video for the dance arts supplement, while others permitted a link to a webpage she created that listed accomplishments, resumé (be sure to remove any contact details if posting online) and video samples. One college allowed us to submit a letter of recommendation from an arts mentor as part of the arts supplement, over and above the limit they impose for other types of recommendations. This letter contained many of the buzz words she needed - leadership qualities, maturity, dedication etc. that admissions likes to see. She also used any supplemental writing sections required by individual colleges to illustrate and educate the admissions office on what the life of a dedicated ballet student entails (e.g. "How do spend your summers" was one questions she had to answer in a paragraph or two etc.). However, again, she didn't just talk about doing non-stop dancing in her summers - she did mention other things she did even if she only had a week or two for recreation, be it reading, boating, hiking, cycling, connecting with nature or whatever.


So rather than just plan to prepare for the CA, I'd suggest looking at the individual college requirements and processes to see if you can get all the details in that you need to show your dedication to dance. And if you are looking at colleges that don't require an audition, if you can still take a class there it might also help. Even though your abilities as a dancer may not sway the academic admissions office entirely, it can help at some colleges (the dance department will be able to tell you more about how much so in each individual college).

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For those of your kids who provided a video supplement for a non-dance major, what did you include in the video?  DD is a high school senior with extensive dance training, but not applying as a dance major. I'm thinking that the kinds of videos one would make for an SI audition (barre and center work and then a variation) is not appropriate, and dd is struggling already with deadlines and fitting in time to do essays, etc with regular school work and dance commitments, so even trying to film a variation that she would be thrilled with seems daunting at this point. She's trying to apply early action to some very competitive schools, so I strongly believe that a video would help non-ballet admissions people understand, but also not wanting to add so much pressure. Can she just submit like 30 seconds of center work that she films after class or something? What have other non-dance majors done?

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My DD is in the same situation.  She pulled out a short (1.5-2 minutes) variation she did for a performance last year and has spent a couple of hours (in short increments) in the studio running through it.  We plan to just video it on our phone and submit it via slideroom (which seems to be the method of choice for the schools she is looking at).  We are trying to decide whether to also include a couple of 1.5 years old YAGP variation videos. 

I'm not sure 30 seconds of center work would count as an arts supplement. I understand how daunting it might feel - DD is also in essay hell - but I think it would be better if she submitted a variation.  Because she isn't applying as a dance major, it doesn't need to be pristine, just something that shows her non-academic side.

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Maybe your studio has something from Nutcracker or another performance that they could give you so you don't have to film something new? My daughter used her solo in Nutcracker from last year and a video from a competition, uploaded to YouTube and provided the link to the schools. It saved a lot of time.

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