CriticalDance Forum

Late starter with professional aspirations
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Author:  glissade [ Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Late starter with professional aspirations

Hi everyone,

I am a 17 year old female dance student. I have been taking ballet classes with a local private studio for the past four years, and I recently began taking modern classes at the university in my town. I have definitely progressed a lot in this time (especially over the last semester, when I upped my dance classes to about 15 hours per week). However, I am really nowhere near a professional level at this point. Last summer I went to the Joffrey Texas Elite Ecole summer intensive, but I definitely felt that I was on the lower end in terms of technique. I am unable to attend any intensives this summer (other than one week at my academy, plus a few classes a week during June and August) due to financial constraints.

I have decided that I definitely want a professional dance career of some type--I would love to dance with a ballet-based company, but I understand that it would probably be easier to break into the modern world. I have one more year of high school left, during which I will try to maintain a rigorous schedule of technique classes, but after that, I am unsure as to what training options I should pursue. I would like to audition for some BFA programs such as Tisch at NYU, but I am afraid that my technique may not, at the time of the audition, be up to par with what they are looking for. Does anyone have advice for me as to possible options? In terms of college/university programs, my academics will allow me to go almost anywhere, but I really want strong technique training, not just "academic" dance. Thanks!

Author:  LMCtech [ Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:57 am ]
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A college dance program is probably the way to go for you. You have not had enough training to start auditioning for companies, ballet or modern. Most modern companies look seriously at college grads. Most ballet companies do not.

Audition for the BFA programs. You might be pleasantly surprised by an acceptance. Also consider attending a college that has a BA program that does not require an audition, like Rutgers University, where I went. There were several students who started out in the BA program, but were then able to transfer into the BFA program once they had gained in technique and experience.

A career is always a possibility. Don't give up hope...ever.

Author:  glissade [ Wed Jun 25, 2008 3:05 pm ]
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Thanks for the encouragement! I have also been looking at BA programs with strong technique offerings such as Barnard and the Five College Dance Department. Hopefully, even if I can't get into a BFA program right out of high school, I will still be able to find good training. I can always explore the possibility of transferring.

On another note, does anyone know whether certain BFA programs might be more forgiving of limited training? I know that I can get a glowing recommendation as to my work ethic from my main ballet teacher, if that helps at all.

Author:  LMCtech [ Thu Jun 26, 2008 1:11 pm ]
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I went to Rutgers University and they were very accomodating of late starters. I can't real speak about any other program. I loved my time at Rutgers and felt I got good training there. My husband started dancing there at 20 and dances in San Francisco now in pick-up modern companies. He isn't paying the rent with his dancing but he stays busy with it, continues his training, and is happy with his progress and performance opportunities.

Author:  Dean Speer [ Fri Jun 27, 2008 5:15 pm ]
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I'm happy to want to pursue your passion -- that's great! I have a couple of recommendations: One is to "talk-turkey" with whatever summer/year-long ballet training programs you may be interested in. Just because you cannot afford it/them, doesn't mean you cannot go. Most have some kind of financial aid available to students, particularly if they are "interested" in you and your potential.

One college-level place that I highly recommend is the University of Utah, which provides professional training and a high level of academics. I've had several former students attend and each have had really good experiences. Bené Arnold is the Interim Chair of the ballet department and one of the best teachers anywhere.

Continue to take every class you can get your hands on. Also, be sure to read about ballet and dance history, biographies, and see as much live and on-film dance as you can. The more you know, the better prepared you will be. Best wishes for happy dancing!

Author:  glissade [ Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:06 pm ]
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U of Utah certainly looks great, but the audition requirements seem a bit daunting (I usually like to check the video audition guidelines just to get a feel for what they're looking for.) Honestly, I can't see myself getting in unless they strongly consider motivation, work ethic, and how much I've actually managed to do with limited opportunities.

Based on other forums that I've looked at, Indiana, Butler, Southern Methodist University, SUNY Purchase, U of Oklahoma, and of course U of Utah seem to have the best ballet-based university programs. Does anyone know about the relative difficulty of admissions at these places? Are some easier to get into than others? For well-rounded BFA programs, I've also considered NYU Tisch and Ailey/Fordham, and I've toyed with the idea of Cornish College of the Arts, although I would prefer something attached to a university.

I have the feeling that, despite all this rambling of mine, I may very well end up at a BA program. Darn ageism in dance. It's so hard to play catch-up--I feel like I've already missed the train at a point when all my non-dance friends are just beginning to think about careers. Ah, well. Must not be discouraged, because if I don't believe in myself, no one else will.

Author:  glissade [ Tue Jul 08, 2008 12:01 am ]
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Oh, and on another note--how do people deal with auditions all over the country? Sure, some of these schools offer regional auditions, but they're all at different times, and an audition in San Francisco might as well be in NYC for all the good it does me in middle-of-nowhere, Idaho. :cry: Plane tickets are expensive! Well, there's my rant. Isolation is such a bummer. Thank you, SUNY Purchase, for offering an audition in Portland, which is at least within an 8-hour drive! :wink:

Author:  LMCtech [ Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:03 pm ]
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Find out if they accept video auditions. A good video can take you a long way.

Author:  glissade [ Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:23 pm ]
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Well, I did some research, and I feel a bit better. As best I can tell, most of them don't take video auditions from domestic students. The University of Utah does, so I will be sure to apply there. I might even be able to audition in person, since they are within a day's drive. SUNY Purchase, Ailey/Fordham, and Cornish College of the Arts all offer auditions within driving distance, as well. Now I just have to convince my parents that I need to spend my winter running around to all these auditions (so far I've only gone to the few SI auditions that are within 2 hours).

Author:  RaHir [ Tue Jul 08, 2008 2:39 pm ]
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And you mentioned the five college system and such up above- great! Don't forget about those smaller liberal-arts colleges. Many offer lower student-to-teacher ratios, strong faculty, and a lab-like environment.

I went to Connecticut College, and I was floored by the faculty we had, both permanent and visiting. Guest artists would take the train in from NYC and teach, and there was never a dull moment. I met several classmates whose first dance class was freshman year, yet ended up majoring in dance and then performing their own work and others in NYC, so don't give up!

Author:  Gina Ness [ Wed Jul 09, 2008 2:23 am ]
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Here is the link to New World School of the Arts at Miami Dade College in Florida. My good friend, former SFB principal dancer Tina Santos-Wahl, is on the faculty there. She taught at Harid Conservatory for years before joining the NWSA program. I believe it is a very good school and theater/dance department... ... lcome.html

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