An Ode to the Teachers
1. Justin Timberlake- Can't Stop the Feeling
2. Kenny Loggins- Footloose
3. MKTO- Classic
4. Starley- Call on Me (Ryan Riback Remix)
5. Alice Merton- No Roots
6. Selena Gomez- Kill 'em with Kindness
7. Sheppard- Geronimo
8. Coldplay- Sky Full of Stars
9. Demi Lovato- Neon Lights
10. Capital Cities- Safe and Sound
11. Selena Gomez & The Scene-
Love You Like a Love Song
12. Katy Perry- Roar
13. Carly Rae Jepsen- Call Me Maybe
a guide to applying to undergraduate dance programs
College was always in the cards for me. I attended a college preparatory high school, and from day one of freshman year I told my guidance counselor that I was going to be a dance major. I spent the next few years explaining to people in my life that yes, majoring in dance is in fact a "thing", sifting through dance magazines looking for colleges to apply to, and Googling dance programs into the wee hours of the morning.
There is a lot to know that I really didn't know when considering which programs to apply to. While I am no expert on the subject, here is the best advice I can offer a high school student looking to take dance to the academic level, things that I feel would have been good to hear when I was going through this process...
Know Your End Goal
Do you want to dance professionally, choreograph, teach, or some combination of these or other possibilities? Look into the different programs out there and find out what the focus of each program is. You can do this by looking for specific majors (i.e. a degree in dance vs. a degree in dance education) and looking at the curriculum to see what courses you would specifically be taking. Some schools have dance as a concentration rather than its own degree, but the courses may still prepare you for your future.
Additionally, look into the type of degree you are applying to. Typically, a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) program is geared towards professional dancing and students will spend the majority of their time taking technique or choreography classes. BFA programs are also known to be more competitive programs to get in to. BA (Bachelor of Arts) programs usually have a more diverse curriculum. The level of competition to get into a BA program will depend on the school. If you are looking for a two year program, schools like Dean College and some community colleges can offer you this.
Get To Know the Program
Familiarizing yourself with a specific program can help you decide if it will be a good fit for you or if it is likely to be an option. Many dance programs often open houses or drop in classes that you can attend to see if you will be able to keep up there. If the program you are interested does not offer this, try reaching out to their department and see if you can shadow a student or take a class with them!
If may also benefit you to look up a program's acceptance rate. Keep in mind, a school's acceptance rate will be different from your specific program (if the program requires an audition). Many schools will accept you into the institution, but not into the program if you do not pass the audition.
Make Sure You Have Options
With many of these programs being as competitive as they are, it is important to tier your schools like any prospective college student would. Which programs do you genuinely feel you have a shot at, which are safe bets, and which are a reach? Apply to a variety of these programs to ensure that increase your chances of studying dance as planned. Note: pedagogy or dance education programs are sometimes just as selective as a dance performance program, depending on the school.
Plan As Far in Advance As You Can
The harsh reality of applying to be a dance major is that it takes much more planning than your typical college application would. In addition to the researching process, auditions, audition videos, portfolios, interviews, etc. can be very time consuming. It is in your best interest to start looking into these programs as soon as you decide that is what you want to do after high school. Invest in a planner or use an online calendar to plan auditions and application deadlines. Like any other audition, start practicing and preparing for that early, too.
Diversify Your Experiences
The first experience I ever had with modern dance occurred during an audition. While it is important to try new things during an audition regardless, it will help you to seek out new opportunities in dance before this process. Dancing at the collegiate level is going to diversify your experience, but starting ahead of time can help you feel more prepared for the audition and make you a more desirable candidate. Even something as simple as taking a Vaganova style ballet class when you have always studied Cecchetti will make you feel more comfortable to walk into whatever lies ahead of you.
Ask Yourself What You Want Out of a College Experience
If what you what to do in college is just dance, dance, dance all day, everyday, then you will want to attend a conservatory style school. If you are looking for a more traditional or diverse college experience (whether you want to double major or add a minor or get involved on campus), a conservatory style program is better for you.
Make Your Dream Work
This process may be a trying time for you, especially if you watch your friends get acceptance letter after acceptance letter and all you want to focus on is the senior prom. However, if this path was meant for you, I truly believe you will get there. You may need to adjust your plans or seek alternative options, but you have the capability to make your dream work.
I hadn't heard of Bridgewater State until my guidance counselor mentioned to me that they have a dance program. I have had many failed auditions that I went into with no preparation and no potential to pass. I have submitted applications the day they were due and struggled through this process without any guidance from the dance world. Yet here I am, four years later, about to graduate with my BA in dance and will be student teaching this month. No, I didn't end up at the dream school I'd hoped to go to since I was 14 years old, but I have learned so much and have met the most amazing mentors and friends at BSU.
Do what it takes to make your dream work, even if it doesn't seem like your desired path. You might just end up in a better place than you ever thought you would. I know that's what happened to me.
Resistance bands are my favorite tool to warm up with! They come in different strengths depending on your level of dancer and are great ways to warm up before class or a performance, improve strength and flexibility, and achieve that perfectly pointed winged foot!
How to Purchase: These are available in dance stores and on many dance websites, including Discount Dance for $9.44 !
Massage sticks or rollers are also great tools for warming up and stretching muscles! I have used one of these for years and it is very useful when keeping warm backstage or re-warming up in between rehearsals.
How to Purchase: Discount Dance has one available for $30.24. They are also often seen in any store that sells exercise equipment, such as TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
Warm Up Boots
Dance boots are very comfortable hard-sole slippers that dancers love to wear while keeping warm between classes or running around between acts backstage. Mine have lasted a few years and I was lucky to receive them as a gift. They also fit over pointe shoes- a great way for your ballerina to keep her shoes clean and her feet nice and cozy!
How to Purchase: These are usually seen at dance stores or can be purchased now at Discount Dance for $38.25!
A Novel for Dancers: Ballet Shoes
There is so much literature out there for dancers to get sucked into while waiting for class to start! My favorite dance book is Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield, which is ideal for strong 9-10 year old readers and still great for older students. This novel takes dancers on three sisters' adventures of becoming the professional performers they were destined to be.
How to Purchase: Amazon has this title available for $6.99, or check your local bookstore!
Anything Misty Copeland
If you are unfamiliar with the dance world and are looking for a role model for your dancer, Misty Copeland is a great choice. She is the first African-American woman to become a principal ballet dancer for a national company and is an advocate for racial and body diversity in dance. Misty has books for dancers of a wide range of ages.
How to Purchase: Amazon has a great selection of Misty Copeland books, including the one shown here!
The Nutcracker on DVD
While seeing a live production of The Nutcracker is the dream, a more affordable and quick gift for your dancer is the classic New York City Ballet version! Watch this classic from the comfort of your home after a long day of dance classes.
How to Purchase: Amazon has this film available for $9.96!
In the age of social media taking over the world, dancers are eager to have fun photos to post on Instagram. Consider giving your dancer an experience like no other by hiring a photographer (or someone with a really nice camera phone) and taking them to a fun dance photo shoot!
Usable Stocking Stuffers
Looking for fill a dancer's stocking? Items like bobby pins, hair elastics, hair nets, rhinestone earrings, scrunchies, make-up wipes, and false eyelashes are all useful ideas!
How to Purchase: Items like these could be found at Discount Dance or from your local drug store!
Go-To Dancer Gifts
Still not sure what to get your dancer? Classic items like ballerina ornaments or their very own nutcracker can still put a smile on their faces. My nutcracker collection has been growing since I was very young, so don't be afraid to go with something dance themed from a holiday store!
Happy Holidays from Ballet with Becca!
We are so quick to equate these superficial signs of "success" to the value of our dancing. We treat the glorious as the gods of dance, while we brand the less fortunate or less successful as wannabe dancers. The second we walk into a ballet class, we identify the good and the bad, while trying to find our place at least somewhere in the middle. We get envious of those that can show off their incredible flexibility in photographs. We don't skip that third class of the week in order to keep our teachers, dance moms, and classmates happy. We even perform to get the crowd on their feet in roar of applause. So much of what we do in dance is for someone else.
As I have gotten older and have taken a step back from performing and training as rigorously as I did growing up, I have had this fear of not really being considered a dancer anymore. Yes, this sounds crazy, especially considering I've been studying dance at BSU for the past 3 (going on 4) years, but I no longer have these outward attributes of a dancer. I don't have a show to rehearse for or a new move to nail. But I still have dance in me.
Last week I took a ballet class for the first time in a year. Even though I've been taking other styles for the past year, I could definitely feel that I am much less flexible than I was in the past. I was definitely one of the least advanced in the class, but I still felt like I belonged there. The familiar feeling of tights being stuck to my legs on a hot July day had not been forgotten. My technique was still there, and it felt like I had never left. Ballet had not left my body just because I had left the barre.
Dance is mine. It has been mine since I was three years old and I took my first ballet lesson. It was mine when I found out I was genetically predisposed to being less flexible than the average person. It was mine when the girls I went to school with made fun of me for doing ballet productions instead of dance competitions. It was mine when I first became injured and had to come home and ice my knee every night. It was mine when I fell into a deep depression because someone in my life discouraged me from pursuing my dreams of becoming a dance teacher. It was mine when I choreographed my first musical with my best friend, and struggled to just get my dancers to master a jazz square. It was mine when I cried at my first big audition because I got cut halfway through. It was mine when I finally got to be Clara in The Nutcracker, even if it was just for community outreach performances. It was mine when I got anxiety over modern dance classes because I really had no clue what I was doing. It was mine when I received my first card from students with "Miss Rebecca" on the envelope. Dance was mine, and is mine, through every trial and triumph, success and failure, good memories and bad, that I was been through...and it always will be.
To my future students, please know that dance is all yours. No matter where you are on your dance journey, where it begins, where it ends, or where it throws you for a loop, dance is yours. The joy you feel when you dance will stay in your body throughout your life is you let it. Don't let this false idea of what a dancer is cloud your judgment. Don't let someone take dance away from you, as they have no right to. It doesn't matter if you're the best in the class or you make it as a professional; what matters is that you love dance, you keep dancing, and you save a place in your heart for dance, always.
Amusement parks are a great way to break into the entertainment industry. Many amusement parks have performances or entertainment departments that can provide you with dance or performance experience. Even if you are working in another department, every employee in an amusement park is part of the entertainment business. There's a reason many amusement parks call their employees "cast members" and use terms like "on stage" and "off stage" to describe parts of the park. Regardless of weather or crowd conditions, employees are expected to put on a show for their customers and provide them with excellent guest service and quality entertainment.
Local dance stores are often looking for extra help, and their employees are usually members of the dance community. By working in a dance store, you can learn about the dance retail industry, give advice about merchandise to other dancers, and possibly get a good employee discount!
Many dance studios and schools offer dance camps, so look for a job assisting or even teaching at one of them! Getting some teaching experience can't hurt your dance career, and if you're lucky, you'll be paid for your time.
Like jazz squares, children's theatre camps and workshops are a crowd favorite, and are often looking for choreographers and/or dance teachers. Look into programs like these and see if you can find yourself a job!
Professional, pre-professional, and local productions may already have choreographers, but dance captains come in handy during the rehearsal process. See if any theatre companies are putting on a show this summer, and try reaching out to see if they need a dance captain.
Want a fun way to stay in shape this summer? Start your own dog walking business in your neighborhood and get your steps in while taking care of some furry friends!
Dancers are also artists of many forms, so if you have a knack for crafts or other art forms, try making your own little business and selling your work! Some cool ideas for dancers would be painting/bedazzling/redesigning old pointe shoes, making wreaths out of old pointe shoes, making doll replicas of dance costumes, or anything else you can find on Pinterest!
Assistant at Dance Intensives
Many young dancers board at their summer intensives, and these programs hire "resident assistants" (or a similar title) to look after these students in some way, shape, or form. Look into intensives and see if you meet the qualifications for this kind of position!
Schools, museums, and other places hire tour guides to show their guests around. Being a tour guide can help you practice your performance skills and get some exercise in! If you are a college student, your school might even be hiring tour guides for the summer.
Interested in applying for a job? Create or edit your resume (see CONTACT for my resume as an example!) or design your own website (with Weebly, like this site!) to create an online portfolio. Happy summer, and happy dancing!
Photo from Facebook
A few nights ago I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came across this photo with a captain describing what happened at WSU. According to students at WSU, they had built this extravagent set for their upcoming production of Urinetown, and have had this space booked since last Spring. Last week (two weeks before the show goes up), school staff members were beginning to tear down the set because they had double booked the space for one of the production dates. Senator Elizabeth Warren was set to speak at this event and MSNBC would be filming. The show was going to moved to a black box theatre that would only be able to fit 13 of the 35 cast members on stage and would not be able to have this set.
By looking at the photo, you can see the funds, heart, blood, sweat, and tears that had gone into that set. And it was being taken down for a PR event.
First of all, I would like to take the blame off Elizabeth Warren. I'm not just saying that based on political views, but she isn't the one to book her own events. Her people probably didn't even know there was supposed to be a musical in that space, and that the set was being destroyed on the event's behalf. The school was basically sweeping the show- and more importantly, the students- under the rug for this event. Not to mention, knowing Senator Warren's platform I don't think she would have been okay with any of this.
But what I am saying WTF to is the fact that any sane human would think that destroying this set and throwing away all of this students' hard work was a good idea.
What I am most horrified about is that this was real life. We've all seen an episode of Glee or some other TV show where the arts are underrated, but this is proof that shows like Rise and Bunheads weren't lying. There are actually awful people that are willing to hurt the arts and its students for selfish reasons. All I have to say about these people are they are unjustified, cruel, and not fit to be working in education.
How many times do we have to say that the arts are important??? How many times do we have to spell out the benefits of the arts??? How many times do we have to stick up for kids that like to do something other than play sports???
Never underestimate the power of the arts (and social media), because news broke this past Friday that MSNBC has pulled out of the event after hearing what the school was planning to do to its students. I am so happy for these students and grateful that someone came to their senses. However, I think it's pathetic that the school did not make this decision themselves. Someone that works in education should ALWAYS put the students first.
Long story short, I am proud that these students stood up for their art and saved their show. I just wished they didn't have to defend it in the first place.
If you'd like to read more about this story, read about it here:
Welcome to my blog!
My name is Becca and I am a 23 year old dancer, teacher, writer, and advocate originally from Massachusetts.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in dance from Bridgewater State University and I am a Master of Arts Candidate at New York University.
I have this *radical* idea that all students have a right to a quality dance education that is inclusive, positive, meaningful, and fun. Keep reading my blog to follow my dance teacher journey and hear my thoughts on things that may or may not be important!
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