What To Do If You're Waitlisted By Your Dream School
When it comes to college admissions, there's perhaps nothing more confusing than being waitlisted. It sends a mixed message, the middle ground between a "yes" and a "no." You may be elated that you still have a shot at your dream program, or discouraged that you weren't a school's first choice. But is it worth sticking it out, or are you better off accepting another school on your list? We asked program directors for candid advice.
Why Was I Waitlisted?
Susan Shields, director of George Mason University's School of Dance:
"It means we have some concern that you might not get as much opportunity as another person here. Sometimes it's fear that you might not be physically strong enough—we don't want anyone coming who might get injured. Basically we try to say, 'Would this dancer be competitive within the pool we have right now to be able to get parts?' "
Students in the Alonzo King Lines Ballet | BFA at Dominican University program
Rapt, Courtesy Dominican
Marina Hotchkiss, director of dance at Dominican University of California:
"We're a pretty small program, so I'm looking to find a group that can be very cohesive, so that nobody's drowning and nobody's twiddling their thumbs. I'm also looking for a good mix within the group so that they'll stimulate each other. I just recently waitlisted a student because I didn't have enough of a feel yet for who the group would be to see where she would fit in."
Michael Bearden, director of University of Oklahoma's School of Dance:
"We strive to keep our class sizes small and thus our acceptance rate has dropped from 30 to 25 percent over the last year. This means more dancers will be placed on our waiting list who may get in if accepted students decline."
Alonzo King Lines Ballet | BFA at Dominican University program
Rapt, Courtesy Dominican University
Why Stay on the Waitlist—and How to Get Off
When Chiara Ruff stepped onto the University of Oklahoma's campus, something clicked. Though she had already auditioned at several other dance programs, it was her first choice. Getting waitlisted didn't deter her. "There was a glimmer of hope," she says. She knew she hadn't had as much training as some of her peers (she started dance on the later side, at age 11), but still had a strong feeling that the program was the right place for her.
Ruff made sure to stay in touch with the school. After receiving positive feedback, she emailed periodically to let them know she was still interested and to express her enthusiasm. According to both Shields and Hotchkiss, this is essential information for dance programs when they're making final decisions. Hotchkiss finds that, while her reasons for waitlisting a dancer often have to do with technique, her reasons for taking someone off the waitlist have more to do with personality. "Often it'll be something about their character that is really attractive to me," she says, "where I feel like they're incredibly enthusiastic, they're curious." This was the case for Ruff, whose persistence paid off. "Because I made the effort of really trying to make the human connection, to show that I'm a hard worker and I'll get there, it kind of opened their mind," she says. Today, she's in her senior year at the University of Oklahoma.
In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.