Dancers: College Acceptances Are In! Now, How to Choose?
Back in the fall, when you applied to your dream dance programs, May 1—aka College Decision Day—felt very far away. But now it's almost here, which means it's time to decide where to dance for the next four years! To help you narrow things down, DS asked Molly Newman (Idyllwild Arts Academy's director of college counseling) and Denayia Miniex (currently a freshman in the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program) for advice on making the right choice for your dance career.
Visit the Campus
If you haven't set foot on a college's grounds, now's the time. "Seeing the facilities, meeting some faculty, and trying to see yourself there can be very helpful," Newman says. "One student I advised had her heart set on a program. When she went to audition, she found the studios depressing and unappealing, and realized she couldn't enroll there." Miniex agrees that even if you've already been on campus to audition, one more day or overnight visit can add detail to your initial impressions, helping you get a better picture of what life is like at that school.
Denayia Miniex (Cory Jones, courtesy Miniex)
Talk to Someone
If you can't make it to campus, the next best thing is to talk to a current student. "Schools are good about setting you up with current students so you can ask questions about their experience in the dance program, social life, and other opportunities on campus," Newman says. Talking it out with a parent (Miniex and her mom debated until "I was confident in my decision"), guardian, or dance teacher who knows you well can also guide you.
Like it or not, financial realities can affect which dance department you choose to join—not to mention the debt you'll face after graduation. "Looking at schools' financial aid offers and comparing program costs is helpful," Newman says. It's even possible to negotiate a more favorable financial aid package if, say, your heart is with College A but College B's financial aid offer was more generous. (Make sure to follow the school's stated procedures and work with your college counselor, so as not to appear unprofessional.)
Think for Yourself
"Pure name recognition is not a good reason to choose or not choose a school," says Newman. "It's harder to find a place that's really right for you if you cling to preconceived notions about where you 'should' be." "You should make the decision with your head and your heart," Miniex says.
College, like dance, is what you make of it. Keep an open mind, do your research, and remember that ultimately, you're the one with the power to make your college experience a success.
A version of this story appeared in the April 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Stuck in the Middle with Schools."
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
After a string of ballet-company rejections, Jennifer Sydor (here in Laura Peterson's "Failure") found success in other areas of the dance world. (Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy Jennifer Sydor)
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!