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Ballet Talk for Dancers

College pointe work


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I apologize if this is already on the board, but I had a question about pointe work in college.  My dd just began her freshman year as a dance performance major in a program with a reputation for strong classical ballet training.  Pointe class is scheduled twice a week.  So far that is the only time she has been on pointe.  I thought that they would have center on pointe during technique class.  This hasn't happened yet.

I am looking for advice on how much pointe is being done in college programs and if it is appropriate for her to ask to do center on pointe. 

Perhaps I am being premature with my concerns, but my dd isn't happy with the program so far.  I expected the transition to be easier because she has always loved going away for summer intensives.

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I think you will find that every college program is different. As with ballet companies and schools, there are varying levels of expectations and education within each.

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As vrsfanatic says, every college program is going to be different. It sounds like your daughter has some good questions to address with the upper class students and/or professors.  Questions along the lines of:  will the amount of pointework stay as it is now, or will it ramp up over the semester?  What is the expectation regarding wearing pointe shoes for technique class?  If the level of pointework will stay as it is now, what is the reasoning behind it?  Asking questions like this might help her develop a rapport with the professors or might help her find a mentor in the upper levels.  It's too bad that she's not happy with the program so far - it's early in the year - hopefully over time she will come to enjoy it and feel like she's getting what she needs.

As far as information about other college programs, my DD's BFA Ballet program pointe classes meet three days per week.  The degree actually only requires four semesters of pointe class.  There is, however, an unspoken expectation that students will take pointe class each semester they are in the program, unless there are extenuating circumstances.  Additionally, partnering is offered the other two days per week - usually only juniors and seniors in that class, with an occasional sophomore.  Some students take portions of technique in pointe shoes - I get the impression that the professors don't really care one way or the other.  Not sure if that happens in the lower levels though.

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Good reminder for those of us who have seniors who are just starting to audition for college programs.  We need to remember to ask about the amount of pointe and pas per week!


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Our dd is currently a college freshman BFA Dance major.  Her pointe class is three days per week, but her ballet class allows students to wear pointe shoes during certain times if they want.  

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Thanks for the responses!  Seems like she'll have to talk to someone about doing center on pointe during technique class.  I know she doesn't want to be the one to ask...but I'm afraid she won't be getting enough pointe otherwise.  It's much less than she did last year.  And of course her goal is to improve!

I have to admit I was expecting her to have an easier adjustment.  Although she was at the same studio for years, she has been away at intensives the last four summers. 

It makes me sad to hear her say that she doesn't even enjoy dancing right now. 

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I hope you don't mind me asking, but what program is she in?

I'm applying to colleges this fall and I've been really concerned that I would have the same issues - trouble adjusting, fewer pointe classes, and just overall a "step down" from the level I'm currently training at. Would love to avoid this, obviously, and was wondering if you have any advice :)

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Usually you can navigate the university's website to find the required course list and what is an expected schedule per semester. 

As a college student, your daughter needs to get over the "afraid to ask" stage. 😉  Her professors expect her to be able to speak up and advocate for herself.  She can very easily go to visit during their office hours and begin to establish a rapport with them.  Fleshing out the philosophy of the schedule will help her understand and evaluate whether she chose the right program and either adapt or decide whether a transfer may be in order. 

Upperclassmen are also good sources for information, understanding the program philosophy and trajectory, etc.  It is time for her to step up and get curious and involved in the program.  She has a whole freshman cohort in the same unfamiliar boat, so no need to feel alone. 


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Since it is early in the year, may I ask if rehearsals for any upcoming performances have begun?  Both of the university programs I attended had pointe class scheduled twice a week, but we were often rehearsing en pointe for productions.  As you progressed from freshmen though the upperclass levels, you were also offered the opportunity, with permission of the instructor, to take variations and/or pas de deux classes which were also en pointe.  Do have your daughter ask her advisor about how pointe progresses at her program.  I know that when I was at Butler University's program(this was in the 1980s-90s), noone wore pointe shoes in regular class, but while at the University of Iowa in the 1990s, it was optional and several of us wore them either at the barre on non-pointe class days or just for center. 

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I work in a cognate performing arts field in the UK. We're not doing conservatoire-style training, although a fair proportion of our graduates go into the industry. 

Our practice is that in the first term, we take our students right back to the basics. This is sometimes frustrating for more experienced trained students, but we do it so that we can be sure of a firm foundation in the way we teach (sometimes we have to undo previous training!); to ensure that all students, from various training backgrounds, have a common set of experiences, language of the art form, and a shared understanding of our programme.

Once in the second term, and in the second & final years of our degree, students have a lot more choice, and those with the more specialised training can choose to develop that.

I just offer this view from the 'inside' of a university performing arts programme, as an example of the pedagogical thinking your DD's university programme may also share.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you to everyone who shared advice and experience. 

In answer to tangerine twists's question - my dd doesn't have any upcoming performances - unfortunately!

It's been about 4 weeks since my original post.  I shared the BT4D feedback with my daughter.  She has yet to talk to any faculty.  There will be a teacher change in October for one of the classes so perhaps things will change then.  If not my dd will ask in October (or that's what she's saying now!)

Honestly I tried for several weeks not to ask my daughter about dance.  I didn't want to add any stress and figured she would start to adjust.  She spent a lot of time last week texting me about her old studio's nutcracker audition.  Eventually she said that it was all she could do not to cry in class.   She said she isn't happy dancing anymore.  She's not sure if it is dance in general or dance in this program.

Perhaps all of this belongs under a different topic.  Most of our communication has been via text.  It's been difficult to talk on the phone because connections are so bad.  I was able to talk yesterday and said she has several options.  I said she could finish the year at the school as a dance major, stay and change major for the second term, come home in December and train in a pre-pro school and figure out her next step (from home)!

I thought last year's process was stressful - but it's difficult having my dd so far from home knowing that she is unhappy doing what she loved so much!


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You're right, it's tough when they're not happy and they're far from home. Here's hoping that a new instructor will "click" with her and provide a new perspective. And that she'll find her love of dance again, whether it's at that program or elsewhere. 

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balletenthusiast, just wanted to offer some hugs to you. I'm sorry your daughter isn't happy. Having them far away is hard enough as it is, but to have them unhappy on top of it all is really tough. I hope she'll keep talking to you and processing her thoughts with you.

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