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About Me:

My name is Olivia and I am a senior at Butler University. I spend most of my time in Lilly Hall as a BFA Dance Performance major. When not in rehearsal or ballet class, I write papers for my English Literature second major. In my super-abundant, never-lacking, this-is-highly-sarcastic spare time, I attempt to cook in my apartment kitchen, watch Youtube videos of ballet, knit sweaters that never seem to come to an end, and read books both silly and serious. If I could take any class at Butler just for kicks, I'd go for DiffyQ.

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Posts Tagged “auditions”

What to Expect When You’re Auditioning

In this post, I’m going to walk you through the Department of Dance audition process. Dancers will take two ballet technique classes, both in flat shoes. Men will take one men’s ballet technique class, then join the females for a ballet technique class. Females will take two ballet technique classes, first with the Level 4 females (predominantly seniors), then with the Level 2 (predominantly sophomores).

The JCFA website claims your day runs from 8:45 am to 5 pm. Here’s what I remember from my audition day four years ago: (This might not be the correct order of events/wholly accurate/still the same four years later.)

  • Introduction to the dance department and the degrees offered
  • Tour of the fine arts facilities
  • Meet some of the faculty and staff
  • lunch
  • financial aid meeting for parents?? or something parenty?
  • 12:20-1:50: Class with the Level 4 women (auditioning females)/department men (auditioning males)
  • 1-2:30: Class with the Level 2 women (all auditioners)
  • time to poke around campus, campus tours, etc.

A bit about the audition classes themselves: These are the Level 4 and 2 normal technique classes with current students, so the auditioning students can see what the atmosphere is like on a day-to-day basis. The teacher conducting the class is the normal teacher for that particular class on that particular day (dance faculty rotate teaching schedules every few weeks, so your teachers vary throughout the semester depending which class you take).

The Level 4 class is predominantly seniors. This year (if I’m counting correctly) there are 14 senior women, 2 junior women, and 1 sophomore woman in the Level 4 class. Men take technique class together Monday, Wednesday, Friday and are combined with the ladies’ Levels 1-4 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On these days, we are joined by 4 senior men and 2 junior men, plus another junior lady who moves up to Level 4 Tuesday/Thursday. This is the general outline for who will be in your audition class.

The class will be in flat shoes, black leotard with pink tights inside the leo, no dangerous jewelry, etc. You will receive a number and be placed all in a line at the barre at one end of the room. The way we face at the barres, no auditioner will have to do the combination without seeing anyone for the right side, but if you are on the end, you will have to know the combination for the left. Other faculty members will drift in and out throughout the class. There are usually far more people observing the center than the barre work.

In the center, the teacher usually places the auditioning students on one side of the room with the other side used by the regular class. This is so the faculty do not have to search throughout the room to find you; you want to been easily seen so you can show off your nice technique. Lines usually rotate I think, so those in front and back switch off. Sometimes the class faces the mirror, sometimes the back wall. Just listen to the instructions in the class, and you will be fine. Butler students taking the class will help as well! I remember someone nudging me forward when I was auditioning.

After the first class is a ten minute break. Level 4 leaves for their next classes, and Level 2 ladies enter. You can get water, use the restroom, eat a banana, whatever during this break. Then you do it all over again! After the class is over, hand in your numbers and safety pins and pat yourself on the back!

Butler Ballet, Midwinter Dance Festival 2011.

Applying to the Department of Dance

If you want to apply to Butler’s Department of Dance, you must attend one of the dance auditions unless you live outside the 48 contiguous states. Sign up for auditions earlier rather than later! Butler has two admissions deadlines, Early Action and Regular Decision. Both are NON-BINDING, so if you apply by Nov 1 (early action), your acceptance will be mailed on Dec 15. Regular Decision dates are Feb 1 for the application and Feb 15 for the decision. I would highly encourage you to get your application together in time for the early action dates.

Advantages to applying/auditioning for colleges at the beginning of your senior year:

  • You have the best chance for receiving academic scholarship awards if you apply by Nov 1, (according to here).
  • You have a better chance at JCFA talent scholarships (according to here). The earlier you audition, the more money the college will have to give away.
  • I received my Butler acceptance some time in December, I believe. This meant my entire second semester was free, if not from stress, then at least from the stress of college decisions. It’s really nice knowing early in your senior year where you will be come fall.

What you need to apply to the Department of Dance (I’m getting my info from this webpage):

  • Butler academic application
  • JCFA departmental application (I can’t find this, and I think it might be part of the Butler University general application I linked in the first bullet point…)
  • 5″x7″ full-length photo: Women en pointe in first arabesque or attitude, Men in relevé attitude derrière (wear dress code leotard and tights)

    The JCFA is comprised of the School of Music, the Department of Dance, the Art Program, the Arts Administration Program, and the Department of Theatre. For more information on these other fine arts majors, check out the JCFA webpage.

    Other important tips:

    • While you do not have to be admitted academically to Butler before auditioning for the dance program (or music, theater, or arts administration — auditions and interviews also required), you DO have to have submitted your academic application.
    • Follow the dress code. The website says black leo, pink tights for women/solid color shirt, black tights for men. Ladies, don’t wear tights on the outside of your leotards. You want to look as professional and tidy as possible. The auditions are not en pointe.
    • Dance as cleanly as you can. Musicality and artistry, tidiness of technique and attitude toward class are much more important than pulling out tricks.

    Good luck!

      Tips for Looking for Dance Colleges

      High school seniors looking for colleges left me comments recently with some truly awesome questions. Among them was “What universities would you recommend for a dancer aspiring to dance with AAADT or Complexions Contemporary Ballet Company [or pick-your-company]?”

      First of all, I must say I think classical ballet training is essential for any dancer aspiring to join a professional company. The strength and articulation developed, the attention to detail, the conditioning the body receives… I’m biased, of course, my first love being classical ballet, but this is by no means an uncommon opinion.

      Butler Ballet's Nutcracker at CMH.

      However, if you know a certain company holds a dear place in your heart, the best thing to do is to get on the company’s website and look through the dancers/artistic director/staff bios. My answer to the senior who posed the question above was: “If you want to look at what sort of dancers the company directors have been hiring, you should look at the company bios for both Alvin Ailey and Complexions. For instance, a quick glance through the biographies of the Alvin Ailey dancers revealed that many had graduated from the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program in dance. You can then look at the schools that appear — or at the curriculum of the schools as compared to Butler’s degree plan or to other schools’ courses.

      Obviously, going to a a certain school provides no guarantee of a job offer, but by looking at the dancers in the company you can get a sense of what sort of person the artist director likes to hire. I firmly believe jobs come in the largest part based on your actual dancing, on your performance during an audition. However, these are some questions I’ve been considering as I look at companies for which I plan on auditioning this spring. They would apply equally well, I think, to the college search.

      • What sort of training do the dancers have? Are they all Balanchine? ABT? Taylor?
      • What diversity of technique do the dancers have? Do their bios stress only ballet training, or do they list techniques as varied as tap, African dance, and flamenco?
      • How much experience did the dancers have before they were hired? Does the director hire them straight out of high school? College? Do they feed in their dancers from an affiliated school? Do all their dancers have performing experience with other companies prior to being hired?
      • Are any of the dancers college graduates? Though I think the practice of hiring only super young dancers (so they can mold them or whatever) is a bit antiquated, some companies still think twenty is too old. The good news is that hiring college graduates has been more of a trend.

      I hope these questions help both dancers looking into professional companies and dancers looking for college programs that will help them prepare for their ideal companies. You can also look at a list of the companies Butler alumni have joined. (And there’s another one here for some reason.)

      One Week In: Dance Department

      One week into my last fall semester, and I’ve done a fair amount of dancing, homework completing, cooking, talking… not so much blogging in there. Highlights from the dance department in the first week of classes:

      • Everyone suffers for about three days from post-vacation soreness. I don’t care how much you danced during the summer — if you took off four days to move in (the weekend, then Monday and Tuesday before classes began on Wednesday), you will be sore. And holy cannoli, was I sore! But — apart from a mildly strained hamstring that’s almost completely gone now — that soreness was short-lived, only two or three days.
      • Department meeting on Thursday. We introduced all the new students (or rather, they introduced themselves). We welcomed old and new faculty members, including a guest teacher for the semester… the former Boston Ballet member, Michael Johnson. I have had two classes from him this year, both extremely enjoyable.
      • Also as the department meeting, we met the new Dean of the JCFA, Ronald Caltabiano. I actually met and enjoyed conversation with Dean Caltabiano at a lunch during Butler Summer Institute. This should be an exciting year in Lilly Hall with all the new people!
      • Monday we conducted our annual height line meeting for Butler Ballet. Every student participating in Butler Ballet (the performing aspect of the dance department) filed into a long (very long) line according to height. The department records the line to aid with casting. Speaking of which…
      • Tuesday marked the first of Nutcracker auditions! Level 3 and 4 women performed several sequences of movement different faculty members prepared; the men had the next slot of time. Then 3 and 4 women joined forces with the men as faculty members watched a short partnering sequence performed by dozens of different pairings. Auditions for underclassmen continue later this week (as well as call backs, if needed).

      And there seems to be the big news from the dance department. What can you look forward to during your first week as a dance major at Butler? You will be sore. So will everyone else, to some degree — use this as a bonding experience. You will attend various meetings with introductions, waivers, interest forms, and other non-dancing activities. You will line up by height and the truth will come out. (Or not.) You will dance and dance and meet dozens of people. Friendship, lactic acid, tutus and pointe shoes… Sounds good to me.