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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Auditioning for college program and/or post grad training


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As a mom this is my second time supporting a DD with the college application process...but I find looking for a dance program far more overwhelming!


My DD just finished a wonderful summer intensive experience and she's trying to get ready for senior year! She wants to pursue classical ballet through a college program or other post grad training (pre-pro school). She has been accepted to "company" schools in the past but chose to finish her training at her home studio so she definitely needs more intense training before she is "company ready".


It does seem that there aren't many colleges that offer strong classical ballet with lots of pointe work - but we are still researching. I am wondering how many schools dancers are auditioning for? Between college auditions and summer program auditions - I imagine it will be a hectic senior year! My older DD applied to ten colleges...and I'm not sure we could even come up with that many for ballet. Any thoughts on what might be typical?


This board has been so helpful for summer intensives and I'm hoping someone can offer advice! Thanks!

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For me, at least, it was definitely much less than the number of colleges I would have applied to for purely academic reasons. This was simply due to cost factors since auditioning for ballet programs requires you to fly out and audition in person, so you have flight/hotel/transport costs rather than just sending in an application.


I started with a huge number of universities and then whittled them down over a few months for various reasons (too contemporary, classes I wasn't interested in, undesired location, curriculum similar to another program with lower tuition costs, size of the program, which would accept the most AP credits, etc).


I ended up auditioning for just three programs, one of which was in-state, and two I had to fly to. I was fortunate to be invited to all the schools I auditioned for but with only three options I certainly didn't have much in the way of "safety net" schools, so choosing to have backup programs can certainly increase the number of schools you audition for.

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DD ended up only completing the application process at one university (after visiting campuses and auditioning for two programs total). She didn't like the location of the second one, and decided that her chosen program was "the one" and that she could definitely see herself there for four years. She refused to audition for any other programs after that. Fortunately, it appears to be working out for her, but it's not a route I would recommend. As a parent that had also already been through a non-dance college application process, it made me nervous. . . what about the whole reach, match, and safety thing? Even though this was academically a "safety" school, and she had already passed the ballet program audition, until those final documents, acceptances, and financial aid packages are in hand, there was always the nagging feeling that something could throw a kink into things and she didn't really have a Plan B (or if she did, she wasn't sharing).


My recommendation is to do the fall auditions so you have some ideas of acceptances fairly early into the search. Best of luck to your DD!

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DD cast a wide net with college applications, including several colleges that did not have dance programs. Her plan was to defer college if a ballet opportunity came up senior year or during the summer that was too good to pass up. The application process, as you know, starts early senior year and since so much can happen, she felt that she needed to leave all doors open as long as possible. Similar to glissade_jete and millvillemurphs' posts, once DD sat down with the list of colleges that had ballet programs, she narrowed it down quite a bit and only auditioned for two, both out of state. She was fortunate to be accepted and offered scholarships to both programs. Since DD was not set on attending college right away, this approach was OK for her, but I think it would be risky to narrow it down this much if a dancer was set on attending a college for dance (from an admissions standpoint as well as from a financial perspective, since comparing scholarship offers at the end can be important!). I would suggest auditioning for several more, if the budget allows, and considering applying to colleges that might have opportunities to dance, even if not as a dance major, to give additional choices once the admissions process is over. Good luck!

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We also have a specific forum for members researching just this sort of thing in the Education section of the board:

Colleges/Universities with Ballet Programs or Dance Programs Offering Ballet Classes




It's organised by the name of the college/university in alphabetical order, and posts include first-hand feedback of dancers' experiences. Have a lovely browse!

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Advice from the trenches: Do not let the availability of a ballet program limit your college search. If you have decided to pursue college, pursue it with a wider net. There are not a lot of ballet jobs post college. It is simply the truth at this point in time. DD loved ballet with all her heart. She decided on a college that does not have a ballet program because it was a fit for her and our family. She still dances ballet on the side, but couldn't be more fulfilled in many, many other aspects of her life right now. She doesn't regret a life spent in pursue of the ballet dream, i.e. YAGP, SAB year-round, summers everywhere across the US. But, if you are 18/19 and considering college, consider it based on what it offers outside the ballet program. If you are not sure about college and are getting some primo ballet opportunities, defer college for a year. DD was offered a hefty scholarship from IU and Ballet Program; declined because she didn't see herself auditioning again for companies and ballet opportunities in four years. She is soooo happy with her decision and is doing some incredible things in this world! She also states that she has never ever been in a more supportive environment in her life! There's so much out there! Don't limit yourself. Good luck!

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Sort of along the same lines as napnap's suggestion, DD decided not to go for BFA dance programs, but instead, looked at colleges that held great interest for her and had good dancing opportunities attached. In the end, she has deferred college for two years to dance with a regional company as a trainee. However, she researched these colleges over the summer, contacted their ballet faculty in the early fall, and visited them over the Thanksgiving week to take a class with them. In her junior year she connected with two BFA programs - one big, well known one as well as a smaller one. She spent a week in February doing an audition tour with 4 companies (in a blizzard pretty much the entire week!), with about 2 additional flights out to take company class in additional cities. Oh, and one of the faculty at the college she took class at arranged for her to take a company class at the end of winter break in January. Because she knew her priority was getting a company affiliated position, she chose to direct her time and our budget towards those types of auditions. I honestly don't think we could have done more than this, even if money was no object. Senior year at traditional high school is a challenge in itself, and time is definitely a consideration for the student.


Yes, it is definitely much harder for the DK! Like you, my older non-DK applied to 10, but my dd applied to far fewer. She did look at the BFA programs (and visited one in person) there but didn't feel they appealed to her. She ended up getting about 4 college acceptances, but she ended up not applying to others on her list due to receiving an early acceptance from her top choice. I think she probably had about 8 on her list in total. As far as I can remember, her friends who were going the BFA college route probably attended about 2 or 3 auditions, but that's an impression rather than a cold fact. I realize this doesn't help much since you are looking at BFA programs right now. However, perhaps it helps give an idea of timing. As I said, I felt that this was the absolute limit that my dd could accomplish that year, given her time, our budget and location (the latter two variables may present different options for you).

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My DD is a senior looking at a BFA in ballet. She is planning on auditioning for 3 schools in the fall and submitting applications to two other universities with the possibility of auditioning in Feb. if the fall auditions don't work out. That is about all that the budget can handle as well as the schedule of dance and traditional high school. She is also applying to an in-state college without dance as a backup. I was originally planning to have her auction for 5 off the bat, but a lot of audition dates were on the same weekend forcing her to narrow down the possibilities. In the end I think it was a good idea. Travelling is crazy expensive, no matter how thrifty you are. Not to mention time off from school when you have 4 AP classes going on. Fingers crossed for a successful fall audition season.

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Thank you so much to everyone who has replied!


It is certainly an exciting and confusing time. DD has definitely decided to pursue dance whether it be through college program or additional training (company or pre pro). We will explore both options and see where it takes her!


I was a little surprised by the responses (and relieved) as it seems like most dancers were looking at about two or three college auditions!


I do appreciate everyone's advice!

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  • 8 months later...

balletenthusiast, do you have any updates to share, now that your DD is presumably through all of her auditions and college applications? 

My DD has one school she is really interested in for ballet, and two she might be interested in. We'll have to fly to all of those auditions. We're planning on going to as many fall auditions as possible, to try and get some results sooner than later, in case the results are not good. At this point, DD can't imagine quitting ballet altogether, and finding schools with good ballet programs (aside from the well-known, more selective programs) has been difficult. Every time we think we may have found a decent to good program, we discover something about it that makes it look more like a no-go. In her heart of hearts, DD is hoping to be a trainee somewhere and defer college for a year, to see what happens. But the chances of that are slim, as she and I both know, and so we're trying to figure out a college option that will allow her to keep dancing at the level she enjoys while taking some other classes, too.

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dancingjet, check out Friends University as an alternative to highly selective programs.  They have significant scholarship money.  University is really small, so that was an issue for my DD.  I don't regret DD auditioning and checking it out though. 

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dancingjet,  I am so glad we are all done with the audition and college selection process.  It was a very stressful process. Couple suggestions I can give, based upon "our" criteria for programs.  My DD is classically ballet trained, with taking modern too.  She has done the SIs the past few years at Orlando, Ballet Austin and Ballet West. We started our college process only looking at academically challenging and nationally known universities that also have decent dance programs.  She wanted ballet originally, but funny enough, has now chosen a modern program. We did what you mentioned, mostly fall auditions for her priority schools,t hen had planned on doing the January to spring auditions at the 2,d tier schools, if needed. fortunately, she was accepted at a couple in the fall, one being a top choice, so she didn't do the rest of the auditions.  We flew around the country int he fall and did about 5 auditions. Hardest part, was that some of the schools, you still had the wait for the academic acceptance on top of the dance audition!  I learned so much about the whole process though and only thing I would change is to prepare more the summer before.  If you have any specific questions, please message me.  Good luck with all your auditions!

Also, I was so impressed with the scholarship offers she received from some places, so large from dance and academics.


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ddegaray, DD's concern with Friends is that she is not Christian. Otherwise, they do seem to have a sweet, small, good caliber program.

diana13, thank you! I appreciate your tips and sharing your experiences. Congrats to your DD on finding a program that feels like the right fit for her. :)

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Friends University is overly Christian.  That was also an issue for my DD. But it was a solid fallback plan for DD.  She will be going to Butler in the fall.


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I'm not sure how you can be "overly" Christian. The school promotes the fact that they are a Christian school on their website and illustrates why it is so important for students to consider all aspects of a school.  For some, the Christian environment would be a perfect fit where they could openly practice their faith without judgment while pursuing their passion for ballet. DDegaray, best of luck to your DD at Butler which is a great program!

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