So You Think You Can Dance – Part III

Ok, so we are nearing the end of summer and your senior year looms large – it’s almost time to start those college applications! Here are a few more things to keep in mind before all the craziness of applying and auditioning for college dance programs begins (if you missed the beginning parts of this blog series, click to read Part I and Part II):

 

- APPLICATIONS: In this age of technology, it is standard to complete your college applications online. In fact, many schools participate in something called the Common Application, which lets you apply to a number of schools at once without having to re-enter all of your information. Juilliard does not participate in the Common Application, but we do have an online application which can be accessed here after September 1. Our application deadline is December 1. I cannot stress enough how important it is to adhere to each school’s application deadline! Keeping track of deadlines, audition dates, and required materials (like SAT scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation) can be daunting – may I suggest that you keep a spreadsheet with the requirements for each school?

- REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME A DANCE MAJOR: All colleges require an application for admission, but not all of them require an audition to be a dance major. Some schools simply allow you to declare your major once you are enrolled, or after your first year. Other schools might admit you to the overall college, but then you need to audition separately for the dance department. At Juilliard, a live audition is required of every applicant in dance before any admissions decisions are made. If you are admitted to Juilliard’s Dance Division, then you are automatically a dance major. Juilliard does not offer any double majors or minors to dance students, and admitted students are generally preparing for professional dance performance and/or choreography careers. You can read more about the dance audition process here.

- AUDITION COMPONENTS: If the schools that you are applying to require an audition, be sure to check the what/where/when far in advance! Some schools will accept auditions via DVD, others require a live audition. Some schools require you to come to their campus to audition, and others hold auditions in several cities. Some schools audition year-round, or let you audition by taking a class with currently enrolled students, and other schools have strict audition time periods. Some auditions consist of a class given by a faculty member, and other auditions require you to come prepared with a solo. It’s important that you are aware of each school’s audition process, so be sure to read up on it far enough in advance so that you can take time to create your best audition DVD or solo. Juilliard’s dance audition process can be found here.

I wish you all the best with your college applications and dance auditions! Let me know if you have any questions about Juilliard’s Dance Division, or the application and audition process. I look forward to hearing from you!

So You Think You Can Dance – Part II

Hello Dancers, I’m back with the next step for your college search!  Now that you’re aware of types of college dance programs and types of degrees (if you’re not aware, click here to read my last blog entry), it’s time to dig a little deeper into other factors that should influence your college decision:

  • LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: If you’ve been a “city kid” all of your life, do you dream of going to college on a beautiful, leafy-green campus? Maybe you are from a small town, and you think you are ready to make the move to a big city. Wherever you want to spend your college years, it’s best if you can visit the campus in person ahead of time to get a feel for it. Try to visit during the school year, when students are on campus and classes are in session. Try to picture yourself living and studying in that environment, investigate what the city has to offer, and think about some practical issues: Will you need a car? Do you have a choice of living on- or off-campus? What are the job opportunities, both on- and off-campus? What are the cultural offerings? Juilliard is located in the heart of New York City, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. We are part of Lincoln Center, which also includes The Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, and the New York Philharmonic, among other wonderful cultural organizations. We have a very small campus – one building plus one residence hall, which all first-time college students are required to live in for the first year. You can explore Juilliard further by taking our online virtual tour.
  • PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: If you want to be a professional dancer, the performance opportunities that you get in college can be the foundation of your career. The on-stage experience that you get in college will increase your level of professionalism after you graduate, and working with guest artists or faculty choreographers can help you make connections that lead to internships, apprenticeships, and even paid company positions. Similarly, if you want to be a dance teacher after you graduate, the opportunities to assist with or teach classes while you are still a student will prove invaluable. Think about what your ultimate professional goals are, and then research what opportunities are available within each college program to help you reach that goal. How many performance opportunities are there per year? Do you get to perform as a first-year student? How often is student choreography showcased? How often are guest teachers/artists/choreographers brought in? Can students gain teaching experience? Are students given opportunities to learn the technical side of the theatre (i.e. lighting, costumes, sound design)? All of these types of opportunities, in addition to what the actual coursework is, are what make up your college education. Make sure that the program you choose offers opportunities outside of simply enrolling in Ballet Technique 101. Juilliard’s dance performance activities are outlined here.
  • FINANCIAL AID: Ok, I know you don’t want to talk about it. The idea of shelling out thousands of dollars for a college education is probably a pretty fuzzy concept for you right now, and you are probably sick of hearing your parents and teachers harp on you about looking for scholarships. But believe me, if you graduate with a boatload of student loan debt, you will wish you had thought more about financial aid and scholarships before you started college! At first, you shouldn’t let the cost of private college tuition or out-of-state tuition deter you from applying for a program that really interests you – you never know how much aid a school will offer. But you should research how and when a school awards its scholarships, and you should also seek outside scholarships that are not tied to any particular school (http://www.fastweb.com/ is a great place to start looking). Juilliard awards its scholarships for dancers a bit differently than most schools: we look primarily at a dancer’s financial need, especially since we admit such a small number of dancers each year (12 men and 12 women). Many other colleges do offer dance scholarships based on talent, and/or merit scholarships based on academic performance, in addition to whatever aid your financial situation entitles you to. You can read more about Juilliard financial aid here.

Alright, so now that I’ve added to your summer homework assignment, I’ll give you some time to further your college search taking the above criteria into consideration.  I’ll be back soon with some thoughts about application and audition processes!

So You Think You Can Dance – Part I

So you think you want to be a dance major in college. Great! What’s the first step? RESEARCH! Spend some time on the internet looking for college dance programs that meet what you are looking for. Then, go visit as many of the schools that you plan to apply for as you possibly can. What you invest in researching prospective schools will be well worth it, especially if it prevents you from having to transfer to another school because you are unhappy with the school or program you originally chose.

Before you begin your search, be aware of the following:

- TYPES OF PROGRAMS: Every college dance program has a different focus. Some focus on ballet only, some let you choose from a few different areas of concentration (ballet, modern, jazz, etc.), some offer a teaching track, or a choreography track, or even a technology track (i.e. dance on film). There are a ton of great programs out there, and it’s up to you to do your homework to find out which one(s) have what you want! Juilliard’s program has a dual focus on ballet and modern dance, and all students must study both forms. Juilliard also offers opportunities to hone your choreography skills. So if you are looking for a performance-based program in ballet and modern dance, and you might be interested in choreography as well, then you might want to consider applying to Juilliard! However, if you are only interested in hip-hop, or if you want to become a dance teacher right after college, or if you have never taken ballet before, then you will want to look at other programs. You can read more about Juilliard’s Dance Division here.

- TYPES OF DEGREES: Generally speaking, a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in dance consists of about 50% dance course work and 50% academic credits in math, science, liberal arts, etc. over 4 years. A Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree will skew more towards dance coursework, and a BFA earned at a conservatory will be even more dance-heavy. Some schools offer a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree because their dance courses are offered through the kinesiology or physical education departments, or because they have a strong focus on new technology in dance. BA and BS degrees generally allow more flexibility for double majors or minors, whereas BFA degrees are more focused and make it more difficult to complete coursework towards another major or minor. Every school is different in what it requires to earn the degree, so be sure to look for the dance major curriculum on the school’s Web site. For the record, Juilliard offers a BFA and the curriculum can be found here.

It’s also worth mentioning that some schools offer dance courses, but not an actual degree in dance. Dance as a major is relatively new (at least as compared to something like an English major), and many schools list their dance courses under other departmental headings – such as theater, kinesiology, physical education, or even music. You may have to dig a little to discover whether a school actually offers a dance major, and if so, under which department it falls.

Ok, I’ll be back in a few weeks with some more “food for thought” with regards to audition processes and other factors to consider during your search for your perfect college program. You’ve got a whole summer ahead of you; get busy researching!

Next Steps at Juilliard

BThe Office of Admissions and the Dance Division teamed up to offer a new, FREE program this fall: Next Steps at Juilliard. Aimed at New York City high school juniors with prior dance experience, the goal of the program was to introduce the student dancers to Juilliard faculty and students through ballet and modern dance technique classes, and to offer informational sessions on dancing in college – everything from finding the right college program to application & audition processes to college student life!

Since this was the first time we have offered something like this, we were not sure what to expect – and we also didn’t know what the dancers expected of us! We decided to offer the program as a two-day experience on consecutive Saturdays, and to offer the program twice this year. I received 28 applications from 7 different schools for the November program, and a new group of students from a variety of schools will participate when we do this again in January. It was great to have so many fresh, young dancers in the building, eager to learn from our faculty and students. Some of them already knew that they wanted to major in dance when they signed up for this program, and some were still exploring the possibilities. We had different faculty teach on each Saturday, so that the dancers got to experience a variety of teaching styles and techniques. We had different Juilliard students demonstrate for the ballet and modern classes, so that the participants could see firsthand what type of student studies here. We discussed the application and audition process for Juilliard programs, but also talked generally about looking at college dance programs and things that high school juniors can do now to prepare for their college decisions.

The feedback we have received so far has been positive – the only negative thing participants said was that the program was too short! I think it’s easy for dancers, no matter where they study, to get caught in the “big fish, small pond” scenario. I hope that this program allowed the dancers to see what students at other schools are up to, what training is like outside of their own school, and some of the possibilities that are out there in the dance world. It’s important to experience and explore, and I hope that this program helped these young dancers on their own road to a future in dance.

If you are a New York City high school junior interested in learning more about this program, please contact me at (212) 799-5000 x506.

Is Juilliard Dance Right for Me?

I am excited to say that I will be traveling a lot more this year as Dance Admissions Coordinator, and I hope to meet many of you on the road! In addition to attending NACAC college fairs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Interlochen, Minneapolis, New York, and Washington, DC, I will be visiting high school and studio dance programs in and around those cities, as well as in Baltimore and Idyllwild. So I will have many chances to answer your questions in person (although I am always happy to receive your phone calls and e-mails!).

For a complete schedule of Admissions events, both on- and off-campus, click here.

One of the most common (and difficult to answer!) questions I get from prospective students at college fairs is “What are you looking for in a dancer?” Although this may seem like a cop-out instead of a straight answer, I would like to suggest that perhaps dancers should be asking themselves “What are my strengths as a dancer?” and “What do I want out of a college program?” The combined answer to those two questions should drive your college search, as opposed to asking what programs want from you.

If your answer to the first question above is something like “I’m a strong ballet dancer, but I also love modern” or “I consider myself a modern dancer, but I’ve trained a lot in ballet as well” or “I’m a great performer and I can back it up with my strong technique” then Juilliard might be the right program for you.

If your answer to the second question is along the lines of “I want to be prepared for a performance career in a modern dance or contemporary ballet company” or “I want to make a lot of professional connections to the contemporary dance world while I’m in school” or “I want to explore choreography, but also train at a technically advanced level” then Juilliard might be the right program for you.

What Juilliard offers to dancers is the opportunity to train equally in ballet and modern dance, to develop their voices as performing artists, to experience the creation process of both professional and student choreographers, to participate in a company-like process of casting and learning repertory, and to prepare for professional dance careers (generally in the modern or contemporary ballet worlds). If this sounds like what you are looking for in a college program, then Juilliard might be the right program for you!

A few notes on what might make Juilliard NOT the right program for you:

- If you want to minor in dance, or double major in dance and another subject. The Dance Division here has a very intense curriculum and schedule, so you are not able to double major or minor in anything else.

- If you are ONLY interested in classical ballet. Although dancers take ballet class every day at Juilliard, pointe work is optional for women. The amount of pointe work in the program for those who choose to pursue it is not enough to be competitive with dancers who are apprenticing with classical ballet companies. We have had a few graduates go on to dance with classical ballet companies; however, these dancers had equal training in modern dance during their time at Juilliard.

- If your prior dance training does not include any ballet. While our dancers come from a variety of backgrounds and have a range of professional goals, one commonality is that they all have some prior ballet training. We do not teach beginning ballet at The Juilliard School, so applicants need to have enough experience to make it through the ballet class at the beginning of the audition. We do appreciate the additional training and talents that dancers may have in other dance forms, but the program at Juilliard requires prior ballet training.

If you have any questions, or are still unsure whether Juilliard is the right program for you, please feel free to call or e-mail me (or visit the Juilliard table at a college fair!). I can be reached at (212) 799-5000 x506 or danceadmissions (at) Juilliard.edu. I look forward to receiving your application!

College Decisions & the National High School Dance Festival

I just returned from the National High School Dance Festival, which was held at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. About 1500 dancers from across the USA, Canada, Australia, and Bermuda attended, along with 500 teachers, chaperones, and recruiters. The festival lasted for four days and included scholarship auditions, master classes, performances, and a college-fair-style room filled with schools and festivals promoting their various dance programs.

Coming off of Juilliard’s intensive audition process, I have to say that I wasn’t sure about attending another day-long audition process with about 800 dancers vying for scholarships from colleges and summer programs. But it was actually great to see a different audition process, with a huge group of dancers performing the same combinations. Certain dancers really stood out, and it was interesting to see who rose to the challenge and who blended into the background. As a former dancer, it was really eye-opening to be on the other side of the audition process and to feel what it is that adjudicators are looking for. I was also happy to see the familiar faces of several dancers who had auditioned for us prior to the festival.

We also found some new talent at NHSDF, and were excited to offer two half-scholarships to our Summer Dance Intensive to dancers who had not auditioned for us earlier. It was really great to see the whole cycle of dance admissions in a large-scale perspective: we met young dancers who are ready for a summer program but college is a few years off; dancers who are ready to graduate from high school and embark on their college dance career; and the teachers who train these dancers from the earliest stages and then pass them along to college programs like Juilliard.

It was also interesting to be in the room with other colleges and summer programs. In a sense, it’s an audition for us too, and there was definitely a sense of competition in the air! Schools would post callback lists with dancer audition numbers, hoping that those dancers would stop by their table and be wooed by the glossy brochures. It became clear to me that it is really important that dancers find the program that is truly the right fit for them, as opposed to getting wrapped up in the name of a school or choosing a program simply because their best friend is attending as well. My alma mater, the University of Minnesota, was in attendance. They have an excellent dance program, but it is vastly different from Juilliard’s – so students who are seriously considering one of our programs probably would not be happy with the other. There was a representative from Towson University at the table next to me, who was teaching master classes in addition to speaking with prospective students. They offer a certification for teaching dance in grades K-12 in addition to a BFA, so their program is a great option for dancers who are really interested in a teaching career – again, a vastly different program from Juilliard’s!

All in all, it was a valuable learning experience for me and I hope a great tool for the young dancers who attended. I wish I had attended as a high school student; I think it would have given me a better perspective on myself as a dancer and the options available to me as a college student. I encourage any prospective dance student to visit colleges, take tours and master classes, and really explore your options fully before making a decision!

Surprises at Juilliard

Hi, my name is Katie and I’m the Dance Admissions Coordinator for The Juilliard School.I’m new here (I started at the end of August 2007), so this is my first application and audition season.From what I can tell so far, it’s going to be a pretty interesting ride!

I’d like to share with you a few of the things that surprised me about Juilliard when I started working here:

  1. The friendly, accessible people who work and study within this intimate community.Juilliard is small – only about 1,000 people, so it’s easy to start recognizing names and faces.I think there is a lot of intimidation associated with the Juilliard name, and that comes from simply being unfamiliar with the school.As soon as you take a tour, observe a dance class, or speak with an Admissions staff member, you realize that Juilliard is a place with real people who don’t just care about dance, drama, or music – they truly care about one another.
  2. The financial aid situation.When I was applying to colleges, cost was one of the top factors influencing my decision.I didn’t even consider applying to private colleges or conservatories, based on the fact that tuition was so high.Juilliard’s tuition is of course higher than a state school, but since the number of students we accept is a lot smaller, we can work more closely with each accepted student to make it financially possible for them to attend.Juilliard recognizes that any student we accept will be high-merit due to the intensive audition process, so scholarships are usually based on financial need.It’s even possible for undergrad applicants to request an application fee waiver.No student who feels ready for conservatory training should let the cost of tuition prevent them from applying!
  3. The audition process.Yes, it’s intense.But the faculty truly want to make applicants feel comfortable so that they can perform at their best.We don’t want to miss out on someone’s great talent, simply because they were too nervous or scared.The faculty is rooting for you!
  4. The amount of bad information, urban legends, and just plain silliness that circulates about Juilliard.When we were researching the best way to start this blog, we looked on the internet for other blogs or personal accounts that had to do with Juilliard.It was astounding to me how easy it is to find incorrect information or, um, interesting “stories” about the Juilliard experience.The truth is, you can find the best information on our website, and if you have a question you can’t find the answer to, we have an entire office devoted to helping you!We are at our desks waiting for your phone calls and emails (and applications!), so please utilize the Office of Admissions if you have a question or concern: (212) 799-5000 x223 or admissions@juilliard.edu.We also have current Juilliard students lead our tours and participate in each division’s Spotlight events, so there are plenty of opportunities to speak with real students about their experiences (as opposed to taking an anonymous blogger’s word!).
  5. The level of intelligence in an arts conservatory.Since Juilliard doesn’t require the SATs or a minimum GPA to gain admittance, it’s easy to assume that students don’t exactly “make the grade.”The truth is, Juilliard has students who are not only brilliant artists, but also amazing writers, philosophers, thinkers, and doers.I’ve read a number of the current students’ application essays, and some of them are truly inspiring.I’ve attended a rehearsal of works choreographed by students, and they are extraordinarily smart creators.Students have written grants to get projects funded, including arts outreach trips to Africa and South America.These are amazing people who are blessed equally in gifts of artistry and intelligence.

I hope you will come back to read more of our blog entries and “get to know” us.I think it will help make Juilliard feel more accessible to you, which is exactly what we want.We’re excited to meet you!