In Training: Ballet Goes to College
Three top programs to consider
Most college dance programs offer ballet technique classes, and some schools even present classical rep. Few, however, offer the specialization and experience you’d receive as a company trainee. There are, of course, the conservatories like Juilliard or universities like Butler, Indiana and Utah that carry well-deserved reputations as having top-notch ballet offerings. But don’t ignore these strong ballet programs that tend to fly under the radar.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Located: Columbia, SC
No. of dance majors: 75–80
No. of applicants per year: 150
No. of studios: 3 (6 when partitions are closed)
Degrees offered: BA in dance performance/choreography, ballet emphasis; BA in dance performance/choreography, contemporary emphasis; BA in dance education; dance minor
Ballet classes: Five times per week; pointe or men’s classes twice per week
Non-ballet courses required: Contemporary, improvisation and composition, choreography, anatomy/nutrition, Laban Movement Analysis, dance analysis and criticism, history, dance production
Recent repertoire: Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, Mozartiana and Apollo; Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s The Great Galloping Gottschalk
Recent guest artists: Chris Uchida (Twyla Tharp répétiteur), Jeffrey Gribler (Pennsylvania Ballet), Alan Hineline (Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet)
Alumni: Artistic and administrative positions with companies including Georgia Ballet Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre and Carolina Ballet
USC Dance Company in Balanchine’s Apollo. Photo courtesy USC.
Located: Erie, PA
No. of dance majors: 60
No. of applicants per year: 75–100
No. of studios: 3
Degrees offered: BFA in dance (beginning fall 2014), BA in dance
Ballet classes: Five days per week; elective pointe, variations and pas de deux classes
Non-ballet courses required: Modern, jazz, tap or musical theater, dance history, choreography, music for dancers, biology for dancers, pedagogy, kinesiology, Labanotation, dance conditioning
Recent repertoire: Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie, Gerald Arpino’s Viva Vivaldi, full-length Giselle and Bruce Mark’s La Fille mal gardée
Recent guest artists: Lisa de Ribere (School of American Ballet), Matthew Prescott (freelance dancer), Neta Pulvermacher (Neta Dance Company)
Alumni: Artistic positions with companies including Ohio Dance Theatre, Lake Erie Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Saint Louis Ballet
Ashley Cook with guest artist Eddy Tovar in La Fille mal gardée. Photo by Rick Klein, courtesy Mercyhurst.
COLLEGE-CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI
Located: Cincinnati, OH
No. of dance majors: 59
No. of applicants per year: approximately 100
No. of studios: 3
Degree offered: BFA in dance, emphasis in ballet
Ballet classes: Five times per week; pointe once per week, variations once per week; men’s classes and male variations once per week; basic partnering once per week, pas de deux once per week
Non-ballet courses required: Modern, dance history, choreography, character, somatic practice, jazz, eurythmics for dancers, music for dancers, costume and makeup for stage, theatrical design and production, acting, anatomy
Recent repertoire: Bournonville’s La Sylphide, Act II, Balanchine’s Serenade, “Kingdom of the Shades” from Petipa’s La Bayadère
Recent guest artists: Victoria Morgan (Cincinnati Ballet), Edwaard Liang (BalletMet), Devon Carney (Kansas City Ballet)
Alumni: Artistic positions with companies including Le Ballet du Capitole in France, Smuin Ballet, Louisville Ballet and Sarasota Ballet
CCM students in Balanchine’s Serenade. Photo by Will Brenner, Courtesy CCM.
It's a cycle familiar to many: First, a striking image of a lithe, impossibly fit dancer executing a gravity-defying développé catches your eye on Instagram. You pause your scrolling to marvel, over and over again, at her textbook physique.
Inevitably, you take a moment to consider your own body, in comparison. Doubt and negative self-talk first creep, and then flood, in. "I'll never look like that," the voice inside your head whispers. You continue scrolling, but the image has done its dirty work—a gnawing sensation has taken hold, continually reminding you that your own body is inferior, less-than, unworthy.
It's no stretch to say that social media has a huge effect on body image. For dancers—most of whom already have a laser-focus on their appearance—the images they see on Instagram can seem to exacerbate ever-present issues. "Social media is just another trigger," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with the dancers of Atlanta Ballet. "And dancers don't need another trigger." In the age of Photoshop and filters, how can dancers keep body dysmorphia at bay?
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.