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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 “college search”

New Year, New School

Happy New Year’s Eve! For high school seniors, this is especially poignant, since the year will mark your graduation and subsequent first months in college.

I ran into a high school senior at the Jewish Community Center yesterday, where we were both taking a ballet class. She asked me about Butler, and we spent the better part of an hour talking about colleges. As a college senior, I was surprised by how I could look back over four years and see the large sweep of events — how this aspect of the liberal arts was wonderful (physics class), how this part was really obnoxious (mixed-up degree plans). Thinking about colleges inspired me to create this list.

List of 6 Qualities You Should Consider When Deciding Where to Go For College and How Butler Relates to the Aforementioned Attributes:

1. Degree Plan

We attend college in the hopes of learning more about our areas of interest in the hopes of getting a job in the hopes of attaining some personal goal, whether it be personal fulfillment or world-changing innovation. So make sure the college you pick will let you take the classes you want.

Also, make sure the college is up to your caliber. You want to major in pharmacy or dance? Butler provides a challenging environment for both areas of study. I considered attending another college when I was a senior, but the brochure for their English Department contained typos and I was not overly impressed by the professionalism or talent of the dance department. Butler was different — it offered a solid English program in a liberal arts setting where I could concentrate on a high level of classical ballet.

2. The Food

Do you have dietary restrictions? Are you vegetarian? The first two years of study at Butler mandate your participation in a meal plan, and Butler isn’t the easiest place to be vegetarian. There are always options — but having visited my sister’s college, I must say that Butler really could not be considered a leader in environmental issues. This means vegetarians at Butler will be able to find something to eat, but they’ll have to work a lot harder than if they went to a place like Dickinson.

However, Butler is revamping its main dining hall in Atherton Union over this winter break. I also haven’t been on a meal plan for two years, so things might have changed. I know several people who are vegetarian, and they did just fine. Now, if you are vegan… not sure. I know the university has concentrated on this aspect of campus life, and they are trying to improve. Talk to the dining services if you have concerns.

3. Cost

These aren’t always the most fun aspects of a college to consider. Who wants to calculate how far into debt one will have slipped by the end of four-ish years? Cost should not be prohibitive, especially in terms of applying for college. After that acceptance letter, you can always discuss financial options with the Office of Admission and Financial Aid. Money sometimes equates reality, however, and a college decision might come down to cost. Sad but true.

4. Location

Always dreamed of living in the Midwest, where the corn fields stretch across a very flat plain and one may spot windmills? (Windmills! I say. We don’t have those on the East Coast!) College offers the chance to see a new place, to live with snow or alligators or windmills. (Note: I’m exaggerating here. I don’t know of any windmills directly in the Indianapolis area, but the drive to Chicago has certainly/clearly left a great impression on me.)

A word on location: You should factor the cost of travel when looking at quality number three…

5. Teaching Style

This becomes extremely important for a dance major, though I’m not sure how much it applies to other disciplines. I’m sure there are connections, but I’m too lazy at the moment to seek them out.

Do you want to focus on classical ballet? Balanchine? Modern? A balance of the above? Butler’s first focus rests squarely on classical ballet, but the curriculum is wide enough with jazz, contemporary pas, theater dance, modern (no straight style, but taught by a former member of both Paul Taylor and Martha Graham’s company) (this professor is truly one of the gems of the dance department, corny as that may sound), and so on to create a versatile dancer.

6. Breadth of Study

Perhaps this is just my liberal arts background talking, but I think one of the pillars of higher learning is breadth of study. Concentration on a major all but guarantees depth, but the liberal arts mindset — a real liberal arts which both requires and inspires students to do more than brush past outside fields of study — provides context for the primary interest.

For example. The liberal arts requirements mandated I take a science course. A trick of the university scheduling offered PH 201 as a course which would fulfill that requirement. The opportunity to take a higher level science course and the requirement that I take at least five hours of science let me explore something completely different. If the class had not been mandated, I would never have taken it. If the classes that fulfilled the science requirement were not rigorous, I would never have gotten so much value out of those five credit hours. I acquired a deeper appreciation for the elegance and complexity of the world and rekindled my high school love of math as well as my long-time love of science.

Taking classes in physics might not be appealing if your only interest seems to be ballet. You might want only to dance, not to sit in a classroom memorizing names from dance history or singing solfege in a piano studio. The same applies to other areas of study at Butler. But Butler’s great strength does lie, I believe, in the liberal arts, and in the range of study it affords its students. Go for the liberal arts institutions. You’ll come out of four years knowing things you never expected to learn.

Who wants to receive exactly what one bargained for?

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.)

      Q&A: Dance Department

      Last week I got a series of great questions from a high school senior looking into Butler’s dance major. I thought I would answer them here on the blog so other prospective students can see and comment!

      Q: Is Butler’s dance program based in classical ballet? Most programs seem to be modern emphasis.

      A: Yes, the dance department is grounded in classical ballet. I was struck by the scarcity of options for a serious classical ballet, liberal arts program when I was looking for schools four years ago. I take a ballet technique class five days a week, plus pointe, classical variations, and classical partnering.

      Snow Corps, The Nutcracker, 2010, choreography by Cynthia Pratt

      Q: What other techniques are you learning at Butler?

      A: The semester counts here are out of seven, since I am taking my seventh of eight semesters. I have studied jazz (4 semesters), modern (7), contemporary partnering (1), Slavic character (1), Spanish character (1), and improvisation (1).

      In less technical-movement-based classes, I’ve studied: Laban Movement Analysis, Teaching Analysis of Classical Ballet (of Jazz and of Modern are also offered), Body Placement (a sort of Pilates-nutrition-anatomy mishmash), and Choreography.

      On the purely academic front, the Dance Department offers/requires: Masterworks of Dance, a history of music class, Music Theory for Dance, Design and Construction of Dance Costumes, Dance History, and Theory and Philosophy of Dance. Other related requirements include an acting class, piano, and voice.

      Midwinter Dance Festival 2010, 1st of 3 in 17, choreography by Cynthia Pratt

      Q: Anything you think would be helpful…

      A: This senior mentioned double majoring, which I am doing with great difficulty. If you want to double major, my advice is to be realistic and to become intimate with the requirements of both departments and with the colleges of each department. The trouble I’ve run into personally is the language requirement demanded by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (for my English Literature major) — though it’s not required by the Jordan College of Fine Arts (the college of my primary major in Dance Performance). Look carefully at all your requirements and do the credit-hour math beforehand. You might, as this senior wisely mentioned, have to stay an extra summer or semester to finish.

      Q: I live in Georgia, so scheduling a visit is tough. Can you give me some pointers?

      A: Here are some questions you might want to consider before flying/driving to Indianapolis if you are from out of state or looking at the dance major:

      – Do you want a liberal arts environment (versus a conservatory)?
      – Do you want a program based in classical ballet?
      – Are you open to learning all sorts of other techniques?
      – Does Butler offer the classes you want, both in and outside the dance major? (Which you can check here…)
      – Could you live in Indianapolis? Could you fly/drive a substantial distance for the holidays?

      As I told this senior, if you have any other questions you want answered about Butler University, don’t hesitate to ask! If I don’t know the answer, I can find someone who does and get that information to you as you begin your college decision process. You might also like to peruse the departmental requirements or the Jordan College of Fine Arts Facebook page.