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Hi!! I've got one more audition left at Arden School of theatre next week, but I didn't get into any of the vocational schools I applied for (London studio Centre, LCDS, NSCD and Laban) however I have got offers from Middlesex University as well as Edge Hill!

 

I was just wondering if anyone had any experience in either of those places? Initially I was drawn more towards Middlesex however the audition day put me off a little, but I'm now heading back towards that one just because of the location, I've always wanted to train and live in London because I think there's so much more opportunity there and Edge Hill is so far away!

 

Any advice on either of them or how to choose would be greatly appreciated :')

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I know someone whose daughter trained at Middlesex, she was then a professional dancer but got injured and had to give up. She now teaches dance instead.

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I'm in a related area: I'd seriously consider Middlesex rather than Edge Hill. It's a far better university academically, and has been teaching dance for a lot longer. But neither course will focus on ballet - most university Dance degrees are focused on contemporary dance, choreography, performance making and critical studies.

 

Can you regroup and look at the much wider range of university Dance degrees? The course at Plymouth is excellent, and Royal Holloway is about to launch a single Honours Dance degree - you'd be in one of the best university departments in the country. And also there's Roehampton and Surrey.

 

Edge HIll really doesn't stand up to any of these, although Middlesex does.

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Would value opinions on the best dance degree courses anywhere in the country. Coming into thinking about where to apply with DD! Thanks.

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Have you considered studying in Europe? My DD is auditioning for the BA in Fontys and Codarts. She has an offer of a place on the foundation course in NSCD.

 

The fees are far lower than in the UK. However we are in Ireland so have to travel as there are no BA courses here so it might not be an option for you.

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Do graduates of university dance course get jobs / work as dancers these days? When I look at where contemporary dancers and dancers with companies such as Matthew Bourne have trained it always seems to be ballet schools, Rambert and places such as London Studio Centre. A fair number of contemporary dancers have also danced professionally with ballet companies before moving to contemporary companies.

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A BA (Hons) in Dance from a university can lead to a lot of things, not always as a performing dancer, but usually dance-related. It's a little bit like a BA (Hons) in History or English or French - there are jobs which draw very specifically on the content & knowledge of the degree, but there is also a wide range of jobs which require graduate-level skills, but not always specific content.

 

There are very few conservatoires (the usual name in the HE system for "ballet schools" which offer post-secondary education) where graduates go on 100% to jobs as dancers performing in a company.

 

A good BA (Hons) in Dance will have information about graduate employment destinations, or you can check the HESA statistics for graduate employment, 6 months after graduating.

 

You could also look at the dance-related roles as educators, community arts workers, freelance dancers, commercial dancers. With further training there are roles as dance therapists, or even building on dance knowledge to train as health therapists (eg physion, personal trainer, and so on).

 

If you look at reasonably high-entrance universities, there will be a very solid critical/analytical education - something maybe a student raised on a BTEC and with the dream of working as a performer may not enjoy or feel committed to. However, many artists of all genres (painters, actor, dancers) make work funded on a project basis by the Arts Council or local funding bodies - they'll need to be able to write applications for funding which are read & evaluated by people like me - so they'll need to be able to articulate their vision, their process, and the orginality & innovation they're experimenting with, or seeking to find, through making their work.

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Do graduates of university dance course get jobs / work as dancers these days? When I look at where contemporary dancers and dancers with companies such as Matthew Bourne have trained it always seems to be ballet schools, Rambert and places such as London Studio Centre. A fair number of contemporary dancers have also danced professionally with ballet companies before moving to contemporary companies.

i get this but i tried for vocational schools and was unsuccessful hence am probably going to end up at uni, still doing what i love just not as i'd originally hoped/planned. i'm also seriously thinking about reapplying for vocational schools in my first year of uni :) 

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I suppose the question is what career are you hoping to go in to following the degree?

I am hoping to perform in a company of some description though really as long as it's in the field of dance i think i'll be happy. i'd like to have my own dance school and go into teaching at some stage but first get myself some professional performance experience before teaching!

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Hi AnonDancer_15.... have you thought about taking a year out and doing some more dance training, perhaps working on technique/fitness with a wider range of teachers and re-auditioning for vocational schools? Middlesex uni (I'm assuming it's still based at Trent Park?) is quite a good course but the campus is fairly isolated, there used to be a shuttle bus to the tube station but it's a long tube ride into London (last but 1 station on the line) and I'm not sure how good the shuttle is or if it's still running (I was there over 10 years ago!!!!). But even a good course like MDX won't have as much practical content as a vocational school. 

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Does anyone know the reputation of the dance course at Chichester uni? Also wondering about the merits of a joint honours degree of dance with an academic subject? Thanks.

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my initial plan was to take a year out and do more training and work to get myself some savings etc but my current dance teacher has talked me out of that as it doesn't look good on applications to have a year out, it would look better to say I completed a first year at uni as that would still give me regular training even though it wouldn't be as full on as vocational (which is why I wasn't keen on uni in the first place)

 

and Chichester is supposed to be very good, I have a friend there and she's loving it in her first year!

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What would happen though, with funding if you were to do that? Would you be able to do the first year of a degree and then change to a course somewhere else with a DaDa, or move to a different college/uni offering a degree - would there be issues with student finance?

 

Or are you thinking of doing a 1-year foundation course and then re-audition to hopefully start a degree with a student loan the year after?

 

Does your current dance school have a high success rate and a large number of former students in vocational training? I'm wondering whether their advice is based on former students' experiences.

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Re: Funding: Under student loan/finance arrangements, students can have up to 4 years loan funding (at interest rates below commercial rates) for a first degree. This is because there are some degree courses which are 4 years, but it also allows students who realise they've chosen the wrong course to start again and re-do first year.

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If you decide to take a year out, would there be enough dance classes for you at your current school to keep you going, or would you have to take classes elsewhere as well (and would your teacher allow you to do this)?

 

Ideally, you'd need to be taking ballet at advanced level, pointe, contemporary and jazz (maybe pilates too) and be dancing at least 2 or 3 hours a day in order to be able to stay on top of your fitness and increase your strength and level too.

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I would suggest you way up the quality and quantity of training you would get at Uni vs. training you could get at home.  A Dance course may only contain one or two ballet classes a week?  and maybe no pointe work.

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What would happen though, with funding if you were to do that? Would you be able to do the first year of a degree and then change to a course somewhere else with a DaDa, or move to a different college/uni offering a degree - would there be issues with student finance?

 

Or are you thinking of doing a 1-year foundation course and then re-audition to hopefully start a degree with a student loan the year after?

 

Does your current dance school have a high success rate and a large number of former students in vocational training? I'm wondering whether their advice is based on former students' experiences.

I actually have no idea how that would work with student finance i should probably find out!! the courses i've applied for at uni are all 3 year degree courses, not foundations. 

i'm at a few different dance places at the moment, my main school just focuses on exams and shows in modern, tap and ballet so a lot of people just go there as a hobby rather than to get into vocational schools, however there are some former students in very respectable places. the other places i'm at do also have a pretty good success rate in getting students into training of those who want to go down that path!

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Re: Funding: Under student loan/finance arrangements, students can have up to 4 years loan funding (at interest rates below commercial rates) for a first degree. This is because there are some degree courses which are 4 years, but it also allows students who realise they've chosen the wrong course to start again and re-do first year.

that's brilliant to know so i am definitely ok to do one year and then switch :') 

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If you decide to take a year out, would there be enough dance classes for you at your current school to keep you going, or would you have to take classes elsewhere as well (and would your teacher allow you to do this)?

 

Ideally, you'd need to be taking ballet at advanced level, pointe, contemporary and jazz (maybe pilates too) and be dancing at least 2 or 3 hours a day in order to be able to stay on top of your fitness and increase your strength and level too.

at the moment i do 2 hours contemporary in a company, an hour of advanced ballet on tuesday, i've just started modern, tap and advanced jazz on wednesdays, an advanced ballet class and 2 hours contemporary technique/choreography on thursday, and another advanced ballet class and pointe on fridays. i also work in a leisure centre so have a free gym membership which also gives me free access to all the classes which would include pilates/yoga etc. i'm not really sure if this is enough to sustain me for a whole year considering i'm doing all that at the moment as well as a levels, thoughts?

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What sort of career in dance would you ideally like to have at the end of your training (as they say in interviews - where do you see yourself in 5 year's time? And 10 years?).

 

That will really be crucial in the decision-making process. A 'Plan-B' is also a very useful thing to have, whether connected to dance in some way, or in another field entirely (and makes sense as dance can be a relatively short career anyhow).

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idealy performing in a company somewhere, possibly starting my own company? and after that becoming a dance teacher maybe even with my own school eventually. i'd also perhaps like to do some examining/judging as well, so i don't have a plan B in another field but am open to options in the dance world as long as i get to perform at some stage!!

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I don't want to sound harsh here, but there are some tough questions you may need to think about. You don't have to answer these questions online here, but you might like to consider them, to help you make decisions about where to study next. 

 

I'm just going from what you've posted here, but you say you didn't get in to London Studio Centre, LCDS, NSCD and Laban. But that you definitely want to perform, work in a company, set up your own, and eventually teach. Are these really realistic goals given your ability, facility, and current stage of training & knowledge? Are you at a sufficient standard at the moment to move towards the next level of education so as to achieve those goals? If not (and rejections from those schools might suggest that) then what training do you need to do now to get to the requisite standard for full vocational training for professional standards?

 

Did you get any feedback from those auditions? Is there a trusted professional - maybe one whose done what you aim to do - who could give you straightforward but constructive feedback? At this point in your training, it seems to me that you need to identify where the work and training needs to focus.

 

I'd really counsel against going to a university Dance degree programme just because you think you need to go somewhere. It's a big investment of time (and loans) UNLESS it gives you what you need to get to the next level. So you need to be very rational - it's not clear from your first post just what put you off Middlesex, and attracted you to Edge Hill.

 

It's difficult, but you need to look past glossy brochures & Open Day talks. I speak as an "insider" - a professor in a performing arts department. We try to be absolutely clear about what modules we offer and studio hours, library/independent study demands, and so on. We are also very upfront that we are NOT a vocational training school. And this is where you need to be very careful - ost university courses are not the same as vocational 'conservatoire' courses (we talk about vocational training places as conservatoires in my field).

 

So, as others have said, which university course will give you enough training hours to reach your goals? Ask about studio training hours. Ask about performance opportunities. Ask about guest teachers and choreographers. Look at where graduates from these programmes work one, two, three years after graduation. And don't just talk to staff; talk to current students. Delve into the Departmental websites to see what information & resources are there for students. Most websites have their UCAS course info pages, and then their actual working teaching pages. Look for those.

 

This might seem completely left-field, but you might be better not going to university at all, spending a gap year, working in an undemanding job, and taking two classes a day at an advanced level in ballet and contemporary. There will be cities where you can do this. Think of it as putting together your own training programme, to get you to the standard where you can reach the standard which would get you into a vocational school/conservatoire. This might be a more productive year than going to university, with the high costs involved, and finding that the course doesn't give you what you need.

 

Although - and I've said it in a post upthread - there are university dance courses which will give you a good basic professional standard training, but NOT at the intensity of a vocational school. Plymouth and Roehampton spring to mind, as well as Middlesex.

 

Good luck!

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Why don't you look at the bios of dancers at a range of companies? This will tell you where the dancers did their training. Particularly focus on the younger dancers who have graduated in the last five years. You could start with the well known contemporary companies eg Wayne McGregor/Random Dance, Matthew Bourne (New Adventures), Mark Bruce Company, Russell Maliphant and Akram Khan (can't remember the name of his company and he also performs in his own solo shows). Then there are less well known companies such as Phoenix Dance, Headspace Dance and Drew McOnie's company that you can look at. Are any of these dancers graduates of university dance degree courses?

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I'd really counsel against going to a university Dance degree programme just because you think you need to go somewhere. It's a big investment of time (and loans) UNLESS it gives you what you need to get to the next level. So you need to be very rational - it's not clear from your first post just what put you off Middlesex, and attracted you to Edge Hill.

 

I agree. I did a university dance course and there were some students on the course who were there because they hadn't got into vocational/ conservatoire schools but came to university with still the same goals of performing full time with a professional dance company.

 

Having said that, there were some students who set up their own companies after graduation and performed in small scale tours alongside teaching workshops in schools and communities.

 

If you're interested in examining, you'd need to remain involved with a school that teaches the syllabus you're currently studying alongside university.

 

I also echo Kate_N's suggestion that you speak to one of your current teachers who has had previous success in getting students into high level training and ask their advice.

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thank you all for your thoughts and advice! :) 

 

i have spoken to my current contemporary teacher who suggested i go to uni so that i get consistent regular training for a year and then reapply to vocational schools, and he said that this can be a very successful way of doing it. 

 

i do obviously understand that the degree courses aren't the same at unis compared to conservatoires, with the main difference being intensity of training (which is really the main difference that makes me want to be at a vocational school anyway) 

 

None of the auditions i've attended have offered any feedback at all which really isn't helpful!

 

the cost of going to uni for a year is obviously not going to be cheap and something i need to think about carefully but its so hard to make a decision without really knowing what i'm going into, it could go either way in that i could equally end up loving uni and completing the 3 years there instead. 

 

i've got another audition at de montfort which is supposed to be pretty good in terms of training quality? so if i get an offer there that'll come into the mix, and after that i do have one more space on my ucas application though i'm not sure it's worth looking at more. 

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update for you all since quite a few people have got involved with this discussion - i really liked de montfort and got an offer which i have now accepted so should be going there! :) 

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