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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Questions to ask department heads of college ballet programs


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I'm not sure if this is the appropriate place to post this question so please move if it is not.  My DD is a junior in high school and attends a local pre pro classical ballet school.  Her goal is to dance professionally for a ballet company.  While she will most likely audition for trainee positions next year as a senior, realistically we think the better route for her is to attend a college with a ballet performance concentration.  We've done research and have several schools on the list.  Most importantly is the trajectory of the grads after college, strong classical ballet technique, and partnership/alliance with a local regional professional company.  Our list includes:  OU, IU, Butler, UNCSA, Mercyhurst, Virginia Commonwealth, Univ of Utah, Univ of Cincinnati CCM, UNC Charlotte, Belmont, Univ of St. Francis, Rider U, and Univ of NC Charlotte My DD and I are starting our first virtual meetings with the dance department of the schools and I wanted to see about compiling good questions to ask the department heads and current students.  What are some things you wish you had known going into any of these programs? Some questions we've come up with are:

1. How many hours a day are you dancing, excluding rehearsals?

2. Performance opportunities

3. Number of dancers that audition

4. Acceptance rate for the department

5.   Freshman class size (ballet)

6.  Are technique classes assigned by level or do all grade levels take the same level technique class?  Is there a placement class?

7. How large is the department?

I'd love to hear what others have to say.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated!





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What physical therapy services are available for students?  Are they free to dance students?

How many students who start the program graduate?

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We've asked (in addition to the good questions above):

- is there a particular style of ballet that is taught (Vaganova, Balanchine, varies with different teachers so they are exposed to different styles)?

- what year are they allowed to audition for performances/companies / is everyone who auditions cast in the performance / is casting based purely on technique (or seniority)?

- my ballet dancer wanted to know if full length ballets are performed every year / or at a minimum a performance which included ballet variations

- does school encourage auditioning for outside companies / and is it possible to get credit applied towards graduation for taking part in a trainee program

- maybe also look into background of current faculty and see who has been invited to guest teach

- how have they handled technique classes with Covid? in person, hybrid, all zoom? setting up studios outside, smaller classes?

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So many good questions!  I would add...

How do they help students transition to employment?-Do they help with videos, resume/cv, etc, Do companies come to the school to audition dancers? Is there a senior year class or capstone project?

Do they bring in outside choreographers for students to work with?  Who are some past examples?

Attendance policy - what if they are injured? what if they have auditions esp senior year? even illness (have things changed with Covid?)

What are some of the other classes that they have to take for the dance major? (nutrition, anatomy, production, choreography, technology, pedagogy, history, etc)

Maybe ask to talk to current students to get their point of view about the program?- what they like, what they don't like, what are the challenges, etc.  It is nice to hear from both freshmen and seniors.



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Another good question is how casting works. Some programs prioritize upperclassmen or don’t allow freshman to perform certain parts or in certain productions.

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