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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Good Question when looking at Dance Colleges


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After a few semesters, my dd is "done" with USF's BFA Dance program, as in leaving without a degree. Lots of reasons why, but here we are $30,000 wiser and no degree in hand, so here are the HARD QUESTIONS to ASK OF ANY COLLEGE ADVISER:


(1) how many hours per week in dance classes with my son/daughter be attending in the first, second, and third years?

When do you add pointe work (yes, some colleges introduce pointe in the third year. Not kidding).

(2) What is the level of expertise (both academic and professional) of the faculty (both corporately and individually)?

(3) How many dancers in each class? What is the teacher :: student ratio?

(4) What are the requirements at each level for advancement? Is this clearly stated in the syllabus and will be dancer be coached to meet and exceed these expectations to increase his/her chances of advancement?

(5) Will my dancer have a personal "coach" i.e. a faculty member to whom he/she can turn for advice? (not just an academic adviser)

(6) How many credits may my dancer transfer in from community college? Will my dancer earn credit for summer intensives (recognizing life experience is a standard practice in many colleges--why wouldn't the College of the Arts recognize this extra effort exerted by your dancer (not to mention the expense)?

(7) How many dancers START your program versus how many FINISH and graduate? What is your RETENTION RATE?

(8) How many graduates enter professional careers and into what companies? Show me your "brag sheet" on your website? Whom have you as a faculty produced as a dancer in whom you take pride? Was the time that dancer spent here at your college program what really prepared him/her for their career?

(9) What courses do you provide on (a) injury prevention and care; (B) nutrition © general fitness & cross training (d) resume writing, portfolio creation, and creating and posting audition videos, (e) researching ballet companies, directors, choreographers so that my dancer will leave here with the greatest likelihood of success in finding his/her place in the dance world?

(10) Will your faculty assist my dancer by fairly evaluating his/her skills and strengths and guide him toward the companies or organizations in which he/she might find employment? Will you equip my dancer to become someone in whom your department can take pride?

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Best of luck to your daughter in her future endeavors.


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  • 4 weeks later...

I am going to print out this list. My DD is 16 and going into her junior year and this is just the type of thing I need to know. Thank you!

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Something else that you might want to consider is pursuing a double major/minor outside of Dance. This takes a little more research in terms of school selection but provides another avenue for employment if your dancer decides later that a company position/life is no longer their dream. In my dd's graduating Ballet BFA program, I believe there were two Chemistry majors, a Physics major, a Nutrition major and an Economics major. Plus, many also held minors in other subjects not related to dance. The key is that they had to begin their Freshman year with this in mind and work diligently over summers and for a semester or two after their initial BFA graduation.


Best thing we did when looking at colleges, was to create a binder of all dance programs she was interested and filled it with information from internet related to typical class schedule by semester, classes and total hours required, teacher backgrounds/experience, number of graduates that obtained dance employment after graduation, other dance opportunities within the college/university and the community, other potential majors offered by the college/university that might be of interest with their requirements, breakdown of costs/scholarships/residency opportunities and a list of questions similar to tutumomma77 for each school. DD then called or visited the program and kept all notes in the binder. Net result is the advisers tell you what you want to hear or how they would like their school to be perceived so it was good to have a lot of information together so that we could sort between the fact and fiction while talking to the advisor. It was a lot of work, but helped her when it came down to make a decision based on facts.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Very useful information as we are starting on this journey with our DS.

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You might consider attending The College Dance Fair over Labor Day weekend at Boca Ballet Theatre in Boca Raton, FL.



Quite a few college dance programs are there for the weekend, giving the students and families the opportunity to ask questions, take classes and attend informal discussions on each program. There is a discount in effect until July 30.


I attend every year and am always amazed to learn many new things about college dance programs.

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That's a question only your DD and your family can answer after evaluating the program, visiting, researching, and comparing/contrasting various program in terms of what your DD hopes to achieve from her college years, past training, future goals, finances, personalities, wants, wishes, needs, available choices, etc, etc.


There is no one answer that fits everyone. Please do check out the dedicated thread for the program in our College/University Forum as part of your research. :thumbsup:

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Petunia Marie


As Dancemaven said, selecting a college dance program is very personal and programs are very different, which is why we are so happy to have BT4D. My DD will be a senior ( BFA) at USF this year, and I have shared many of the insights etc on that dedicated thread. There are definitely some excellent questions listed at the top of this thread, but we found each program was very different , so it just depends on your DD's goals and what you want from a program. Best of luck to your DD..

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And the experience may be different to some extent for each student. DD is at a college where students audition for dance opportunities each year, and while their are expanded opportunities for juniors and seniors, there is no guarantee that a student will participate in even the main performing opportunities. Some students are chosen for many performances others for very few. While each student may dance at a performance each semester , others will have many shows and numbers that they are chosen for. Not knowing where the student may fall within a certain colleges skill level can make it difficult to judge what may happen in their time at school over the four years. It is best to gain an understanding how competitive the chance to perform will be over the four years.

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