How to Incorporate Your Dance Experience in Your College Essays
Of the many moving parts of a college application, the essay might be the most daunting. But consider yourself luckier than other applicants, because your dance experiences can only help you craft a winning essay—whether or not you're planning to pursue a dance major.
If You're Going to Major
If you're gunning for a highly focused dance program, you might think that the audition is the most important component of your application. But don't neglect to express your dance goals clearly in a general admissions or scholarship essay, says Megan Slayter, chair and associate professor of dance at Western Michigan University. "Just like any department across any university, we're looking for good grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure," she says. "Beyond strong written communication skills, we're looking for your sense of identity as a dancer—that you know who you are and who you want to be as an artist, and why you think we can help you achieve that."
Cite specific aspects of the college's dance department that excite you—unique artistic or research resources, or a particular emphasis in the dance major that intrigues. But don't just tell a university what you think they want to hear. "Over-the-top language that compliments our school doesn't tell me about you," Slayter says. "I question the authenticity of a student who tells me, 'This is the best dance department ever and I can't imagine being anyplace else!'"
If You're Not Going to Major
Even if you don't plan to major in dance, your years of dedication in the studio can show an admissions department why you'd be a great addition to their student body. "Your experience in dance has shaped who you are," Slayter says. "Dance is a unique voice you can share with an admissions officer to talk about overcoming adversity, working hard to achieve your goals, and sharing a part of yourself with others."
If you choose to focus on dance in your admissions essay, consider who's reading your words—usually, non-dancers in the admissions department—and take care to translate your dance life to the language of college life. "Dance builds leadership skills, communication, collaboration, and creativity," Slayter says. "For example, think about any time you've had a large, traveling spatial pattern onstage and have had to figure out who's crossing up- and downstage. That's problem-solving!" Brainstorm the skills you've built onstage and in rehearsals, and use your essay to prove how those experiences have prepared you for a successful college career—in or out of the studio.
A version of this story appeared in the November 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Essay All Day."
Get in, losers. We're going to Broadway.
OK, not losers, actually—more like the bajillion die-hard fans of Tina Fey's 2004 cult hit Mean Girls, who've been wearing pink every Wednesday since a musical adaptation of the film was first teased back in 2013.
Now their world is like a cake filled with rainbows and smiles, because Mean Girls the musical, which had a trial run in Washington, DC, last fall, is set to open at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre April 8. And in a very grool twist, it turns out the show—with direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw and a book by Fey herself—is delightfully dancey.
Today in Ballet Dancers Are Actual Superheroes news:
You've no doubt heard that the fabulous Alicia Vikander is playing Lara Croft in the newest iteration of Tomb Raider, which hits movie theaters this Friday. But while her training for the high-octane action role was crazy tough, she says, studying at the Royal Swedish Ballet School was far tougher.
What do you get when a hoard of dancers collaborate to the catchy tune of "Love Somebody," by the band Frenship? The most epic dance party ever, of course! Said dance party was produced by the talented Michael Riccio, who's performed in feature films, including "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" and "Shrek Forever After."
They say there's no "I" in "team"—and nowhere is that truer than the world of college dance teams, where precision reigns, uniformity is key, and a single misstep from any given "I" can cost a group a championship trophy. So it's unsurprising that securing a spot on one of the best dance teams in the country is no easy feat.
Members of these highly athletic teams rehearse for hours every week—on top of academic classes and commitments—and perform at football and basketball games, annual concerts, and nationally televised competitions (hi, ESPN). And "no I" rule notwithstanding, each of these top teams is made up of highly trained, highly technical, highly hard-core individuals, who come together to create a ready-for-victory pack.
These six teams aren't one-off success stories—they're consistently strong, and earn the top spots at major competitions like UDA and NDA nearly every year. Up for the challenge? Here's what to know before you go to auditions.
Are you a high school senior who's been accepted to a four-year accredited college or university program? Congrats! Within the 2017-2018 season, have you competed in events run by at least two of the organizations in the above graphic? Double congrats, because the Association of Dance Conventions and Competitions, or ADCC for short, wants to give you $1,000 (!!) towards college tuition.
From dancing in music videos (including Katy Perry's "Swish Swish") to performing on reality TV shows (including "Dancing with the Stars" and "The Voice"), 17-year-old Amanda LaCount is already conquering the commercial scene. If you've ever seen her dance, you understand why: She's a hard-hitting phenom with major stage presence. But in an industry where not having the "right" look can jeopardize your career, Amanda's also blazed her own path by accepting her beautiful curvy body the way it is.
Amanda's never let body-shamers discourage her from going after her dreams. She hopes that by breaking the "dancers are skinny" stereotype, she'll give others the courage to highlight their own unique features rather than hiding them or changing them to fit repressive industry standards. She's even started a campaign, #breakingthestereotype, to inspire artists of all shapes, colors, and sizes to dance for themselves.
We caught up with this dancing maverick to get her advice on cultivating body confidence in a world that's obsessed with the "perfect" body.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
All the dancers in my level auditioned for a prestigious summer intensive—but I'm the only one who got in. Now everything is incredibly awkward at the studio. I'm really excited about the program, but I don't want to make my friends feel bad. What can I do?
Can't get enough of the dance party T. Swift throws herself in her "Delicate" music video? Take a look at the two making-of clips Taylor just shared on her Instagram, showing her practicing the vid's charmingly awkward choreography.