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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How to assess likely success in choosing College Auditions


BalletBonusMom

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BalletBonusMom

Hi all, our DD did not pass the screening for IU. Realistically, will she be competitive at other schools like Purchase, Butler, Utah, UCI, etc?  Some of these would involve very expensive travel for us.  She loves ballet and is serious about it but it’s a hard field and she started late, and I want to be practical. Thanks for any import.  

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Unfortunately, no one can really answer this question for you.  Each program is different and is looking for different things in a dancer.   When DD went through this she was accepted to some programs and didn't make it through the screening of other programs and everything in between.  So, it is possible to get accepted to great schools but completely rejected by others.  My best advice though, is to have a few reach schools, fit schools, and safety schools just like regular college searches/applications.   I would also encourage you to read the separate threads for each college.  That might give you an idea of the audition, the chances of acceptance, and if your DD would like the program.  You can also look through some of the other threads in the Higher Education forum to get answers to some more general questions that aren't specific to one college.  Finally, you could check to see if your DD can do a video instead of live audition or if the college has an audition tour to cut back on travel expenses. 

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That'sMyPointe

HI Bonus Ballet Mom - I have to second what Amie has to say.  I know of two dancers (graduated HS in 2018) who were rejected at IU and accepted at the other dance program in IN (don't know if we are allowed to list the school on this thread..). That same year another dancer I know was accepted at IU and rejected at that same other dance program in IN .  Currently DD is through to the live auditions at IU and has been accepted to one of the schools you listed and will audition at another you listed.  A fourth that you did not list, which she considered a very easy audition with perhaps only 5 truly advanced dancers in her group, weightlisted her - she had not applied to the school at time of audition (and decided not to after the visit) which, perhaps, hurt her chances or they just did not like what they saw.  

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dancemaven

BalletBonusMom,

There is no way to really tell unless she auditions.  To hedge bets on which schools she may have the best chance at, look at their websites, photos, check performance videos, etc to see how her skill level may match up.  Read the various dedicated threads to see what you can glean from the information provided.  Note how small or large the dance department is.  The small, the more selective it may be.  IU is a particularly small and very selective ballet department. 

It will definitely take some researching and effort.  Review the College Admissions threads we have.  Those will give you an idea about the various paths the students took to admissions and some insight into the level of their pre-college training.

 

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BalletBonusMom

Thank you everyone.  I appreciate your feedback! 

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threegirlpileup

We are in the middle of auditions/college applications and I would just add that it seems like many programs are not just looking for the "best" students, they are often looking for fit for their program, which means different things for different schools.  Not to mention that a zillion things can affect how a particular audition goes on a particular day. I know dancers that got into a program my dd did not get into--and then she got into programs they did not get into.  It's really what's so harrowing about this process!!  Best of luck to you and your dd.

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workmail

I agree with Amie - choose one or two that are reaches and make the trip. Maybe also make one trip to the best easily drivable program and it will not be a burden to the family. There could just be a good audition day, right place and right time acceptance. I applaud IU for utilizing a pre-screening video so that families are not burdened by an audition trip. 

Apply to a couple colleges that have great dance programs and don't even require an audition. Apply to a couple that have auditions but are safeties. That provides a visit and feel for the place and can make her very excited about attending. 

As you named Purchase, Butler, UCI and Utah, it seems like you are looking all over the country and 4 such long trips will be expensive and not worth it. She would spend her entire senior year on the road. 

If you believe she was a contender for IU based on sending a pre-screening she can probably get into one of the others. We sent a video to IU and DD was NOT accepted to IU found another excellent ballet program. 

For example, mine got into University of South Carolina through a similar audition tape she sent to IU (has a good ballet program) although she had already decided on another program by the time they sent their acceptance. IUs video was all on pointe and South Carolina some of the video is on flat. 

 

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BalletBonusMom - You may want to consider in making your audition decisions that Purchase is more of a modern dance program.  If your DD is serious about ballet, then making an expensive trip to audition at Purchase may not be a worthwhile investment.

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dancingjet

You’ve gotten excellent feedback here. I agree with others that it’s just so hard to know what a dancer’s chances are at any particular school until they audition. And even then, an off day could result in a waitlist or rejection! I would encourage your dancer to take advantage of regional auditions if that’s an option, or videos if need be. I’d also suggest finding some programs that don’t require auditions at all so that if she wants to keep dancing she can. 

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I agree. My dancer did not get audition at IU but has made it through to auditions  at USC and accepted at other programs so I think you just never know what a particular school is looking for. Many of the colleges do auditions across the United States so you may be able to find an audition closer to home. Good Luck.

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  • 9 months later...
famchronicles

Hello,

We have spent enormous time perusing the college threads and still had a question. I understand a number of universities have strong ballet departments from reading over the threads: Butler, Indiana, U of A, SMU(?), University of Utah, University of Oklahoma, and Texas Christian University. I may have omitted a few or have them incorrectly so feel free to update me.  I am not trying to "compare" schools and have not included Ivy League or NY/California schools because it seems those are somewhat unique topics and research.

What our question revolves around is the question of fit and/or safety schools. Can anyone provide suggestions of additional universities with solid ballet departments that would fall into these categories? I have looked around on the threads and have found Belhaven, Friends, and University of South Carolina also have good ballet programs though this list surely does not begin to include all colleges with such offerings. Surely, there are other colleges out there offering reputable ballet training in a university environment with whom students have had positive undergraduate experiences and perhaps be positioned for future training. 

Please let me know your thoughts.

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InTheWings

I am also having trouble identifying which colleges or universities have classical ballet programs that are strong enough to prepare a student for a professional classical ballet career.  It seems the majority of schools offer ballet but are modern-focused.

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threegirlpileup

A few thoughts:

You might also look at programs that are a hybrid between a traineeship and a BFA.  One such program I know of is Richmond Ballet/Virginia Commonwealth University.  I believe there are others.  Point Park is another school that comes to mind that offers a ballet major/concentration.  

It’s nearly impossible to figure out what might be safety/fit schools when there’s an audition involved.  Personally, I think it’s one of the hardest things about the process.  Your daughter’s teachers can offer some good advice but ultimately you won’t know until she gets out there and starts auditioning.   
 

In terms of evaluating whether or not the program will prepare students for a professional career, some things I would look at/ask about are:

-curriculum: what is the schedule of technique classes? What other dance classes are required?  How much time will the student really be spending dancing?

-performance opportunities 

-what are graduates doing now?

-observing classes and performances can be very instructive if that’s possible 

 

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balletgem

I would recommend looking for schools that specifically offer a BFA or equivalent degree in Ballet Performance not just Dance. These schools often have strong technique classes,  offer "company" experience within the University and have some alliance with the local company. I also look at bios of company and second company dancers to see where they have come from. More and more you are seeing college graduates in these positions. 

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famchronicles

InTheWings, I agree with you and have similar findings. Thank you threegirlpileup and and balletgem. I have found some universities that were listed as having ballet programs have shifted into other areas such as aerialist at University of Georgia who used to have a BFA in dance but does not any longer.

Looking forward to hearing from others on their perspective as far as other colleges with ballet programs.

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