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Choosing your college dance program

It’s a matter of environment.

Advice for High School Seniors deciding on their college choice for 2011.

By Professor Vincas Greene.

“How do I choose the best school?” resounds as one of the most common questions asked by dancers choosing to pursue their training at a university.  I advise students to refine the question by adding “for me” at the end of their question. There are many wonderful universities with many different aims and opportunities available to students, but not every dance department fits every student.

The goal is to find the right university and dance department for you. Think independently about your desires, goals, interests and talents. Let your friends find their own personal best programs. Finding the right fit for you is rewarding and exciting. Remember, a good dance program in the right environment spells success for you as a student and as a dancer. If the environment isn’t right for you, even the most highly regarded dance department can be a personal disaster.

So let’s find the dance department for you. 
Do you want to study mostly ballet, modern, jazz… or a combination of techniques?
Do you want the chance to choreograph?
Would you like to perform right from the start?
Do you want to learn to teach or become certified as a public school teacher?
What are your short term goals while in school and your longer term goals after your graduate?

Now let’s think about the university. 
Would you like a large or small size for your non-dance classes? (At a major university classes can be several hundred large and at some private universities they can be as small as 8 people in a class.)
Do you want lots of extra-curricular activities to be involved in or do you want to be focused on your dancing with maybe one or two outside organizations in which to be involved?
Do you like to have major athletic teams to follow and root for?
Do you want a college that you can disappear into, find your own small set of friends and be semi anonymous or do you want a college where everyone knows you and you know most of the other students?
Do you want to minor in another subject and is that subject available?

Now it’s time to hit the internet for the first go-round. There are several great sites for searching dance departments, but you might want to try the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD) first. Visit http://nasd.arts-accredit.org/index.jsp NASD is a voluntary accrediting agency for the U.S. with a database of members that have met the requirements to be accredited by this nationally recognized association. If the school is not on the NASD list, don’t discount it, there are many reasons it may not be a part of the organization.

After visiting the university dance site and seeing if it appears to match your answers or piques your interest, look at the broader university website. Once again, if this appears to be a match, you may be on to something. Email the dance and university admissions contacts and ask them to send you further information. Make sure to properly address the recipient (never use “hey”), use correct grammar, and supply your name and contact information.

Read over all the information carefully (you are expected to know the information provided for you). Make notes of questions that you have concerning the university and the dance program. Also, make notes about admissions processes and deadlines for paperwork and auditions. Now you are ready to contact them again. You may call or email the admissions contacts with your questions. They will be able to answer your questions or have the appropriate people contact you with a response.

It’s time to schedule a visit. Check the audition schedules and procedures for the universities you would like to visit. 

Does the dance department require acceptance to the university prior to auditioning?
Do you need to submit dance applications prior to attending the audition?
Are pictures and résumés required prior to or at the audition?
Does the dance department have multiple auditions, a few set dates, or individually scheduled auditions?

Once you have this information in hand, decide which college/s you’d like to audition for and get yourself ready….

About Vincas Greene
Vincas Greene is an award winning professor at Brenau University where he is the Chair for the Department of Dance (NASD accredited) and Director of Bighouse Dance Theater.  Vincas has taught throughout the Southeast, in Washington and California and was recently a guest teacher at Nanyang University in China. His choreography has been set on the Brenau Dance Ensemble, the Gainesville Ballet Company, Theatre Ballet of Spokane, Room to Move, Santa Clarita Repertory Theatre, Pebblebrook Performing Arts High School, the Avondale High School of Performing Arts and others.  He received his MFA from California Institute of the Arts where he was invited to dance in the CalArts Dance Ensemble.  In his home state of Washington, he performed the choreography of several artists including Mark Morris, Erin Matthiessen, and Long Nguyen.  In New York, Mr. Greene danced with Pat Catterson and Dancers and Peter Healey’s Mesopotamian Opera Company and received scholarships to study at the Merce Cunningham Studio.  After moving to Atlanta, he danced with the Carl Ratcliff Dance Theatre and several other companies including Robin Williams, the Gainesville Ballet Company and Susan Eldridge’s Red Clay.
www2009.brenau.edu

Top photo: © Olga Galkina | Dreamstime.com

Published by www.danceinforma.com

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Andy Pelzo

    Oct 6, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Thanks for the Awesome info! I am so nervous about college next year. Picking the right college and course is a BIG decision!

  2. Jackson

    Oct 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I don’t know whether to major in dance or minor in dance. I would like to do engineering, but the two don’t seem to go hand in hand, but I have danced since I was 10 and I’d still like to keep it up.

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