I thought I knew…but I had no idea.

By: Nathan Makolandra, First Year Dancer

My entire life I’ve always wanted to go to Juilliard. I thought, and have been proven right, that it is the best school in the country for dance. As I got older, I began hearing somewhat scary tales about what Juilliard stood for and its likes and dislikes. However, as my freshman year at The Juilliard School draws to an end, there are so many things I’ve learned about this school that I never even knew possible.

For example, I grew up as a competition baby, you know the type…Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical, and Hip-Hop were my favorite things. I loved the rhinestones and the cheering and the crazy stage moms (you know what I’m talking about) as much as anyone. However, I’d always believed that Juilliard was a strictly BALLET ONLY school that admitted the best Ballerinas from across the country-and with one ballet class a week for the last six years of my home studio training, I didn’t think I had a prayer. Boy was I wrong. Yes there are fierce Ballerinas apart of each and every class, but there are plenty of competition dancers kick-ball-changing down these halls.

Another surprise was the daily schedule of a freshman at Juilliard. We have one ballet class every day (twice a week we have men’s or pointe class) as well as modern or partnering too. What’s really cool is that we have an Elements of Performing class that teaches you to be the best artist possible, as well as Ballroom with an incredible ballroom instructor. And if that isn’t cool enough, we get composition twice a week (for all you choreography babies like me), the ever-necessary Alexander technique, and even a six-week study with the world-renowned Irene Dowd. And that’s all just freshman year.

Now you may be wondering, as I did, about academics. We have Humanities (basically college English) twice a week and L&M (music for dancers) also twice a week. I should tell you that if you’re looking for a broad academic selection (i.e. Science, Math, or Social Studies) let me put it to you this way: this is a conservatory. If you want math and all of that…this might not be the right place for you.

Something else that I was completely shocked and amazed by was the opportunity for educational outreach and outreach trips. The school has loads of organizations that can help you to find the best way to get involved with outreach if you’re interested. I strongly recommend looking into it. Look at me: I am going to be participating in PEPS this summer! This program has eight freshman dancers that perform at local NYC high schools. Did I mention you get paid????? Do you like to travel? Well I’m going to the Philippines this summer to teach at performing arts high schools. Twenty-two hours around the world to teach dance…what could be better?

I hope that my experience has been a helpful and educational one for you. I never realized how much this school has to offer. All I can say is that if Juilliard is the place you want to be…then go for it. And remember that there are so many things to think about when choosing a school. I hope that Juilliard is right for you.