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anondancer_15

University/Vocational training

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Hi all, long time no speak! 

I've just started studying Dance at De Montfort Uni in Leicester (after much struggle and debate discussed in previous posts from the last year) and I'm enjoying it so far (I literally only started on Monday).

 

But although I'm in every day and have a practical class every day, most of my days finish at around 1pm, and then I don't know what to do with myself for the rest of it! I've been to dance society tasters this week however most of these are designed for people who aren't typically dancers and just want to keep it as a hobby; this also costs a certain amount to join and go to each class and is not lead by dance professionals but by current students. 

 

When I accepted my uni place my original plan was always to reapply for vocational after my first year, but obviously I'd need to start applying and thinking about auditions now or in the next couple of months, and I don't know if I can put myself through that again? It was such an emotional rollercoaster the first time around! 

 

Basically what I'm saying is, I'm considering reapplying for vocational training because I'm not convinced I'm going to get enough practical hours in here at uni, without going to find another dance school and paying for evening classes (something I am looking into). Any advice?

 

Thanks!

 

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Hi, there are some excellent schools in and around Leicester who can offer intensive, vocational level training and coaching. PM me if you want further information.

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Graham Fletcher runs his ballet associates near the Curve theatre once a month, that might be worth looking into. It's quite a small scheme and it seems quite flexible.

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Lovely to hear you're enjoying your course. :)

 

As a Mum, I would advise you to give yourself time to settle in and see how the course goes before thinking about auditioning again.

 

If I'm right in assuming that you're thinking of Contemporary training as opposed to Classical ballet, there's no hurry to reaudition as you could get your degree and then think about an MA in Contemporary or Choreography. I'd also want to know what effect re-auditioning at this stage would have on your student finance if you were successful?

 

Instead of putting yourself through the emotional and financial stress of thinking about auditions so soon after the course has started, if I were you I would investigate the options for extra classes above, and *really importantly*, think about joining a gym so that you can cross train, swim, take pilates classes etc - all of which will help strength and stamina for dance and help with injury prevention.

 

You could perhaps do a distance learning course in dance notation too.

 

Best of luck and I really hope you continue to enjoy the course.

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Gosh,what fabulous advice Anna. I think everybody needs an Anna C in their life!

*blushes* Awww, thank you hoglett! :)

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I second Anna_C's advice (as usual!).

 

Right - general points about university: you are in Week 1 or 2 of your first year, right? The work hasn't really started yet. Have a look at what assessments and projects are coming up - you will find that your time after 1pm will soon be filled. 

 

We work out module/course workloads that for every hour of face to face teaching you receive, there should be another 3 to 4 hours of independent study undertaken by the student. As a dance student this might be, as others suggest, Pilates, cross-training, yoga. Also reading & writing, and seeing dance (often called 'Contextual studies"). This is part of adjusting to university, and excellent training for after graduation, when you may be working as an "independent dance artist" - you'll need to be making opportunities for yourself, working on your practice, and reflecting on it.

 

Some specifics: I know a little of the DMU set up (on the theatre side). There are some nice studios there, and if it's a half-way decent department, you'll eventually be set a lot of self-directed work, and you will also have been inducted into ways of booking rehearsal space for group & individual work, that is not scheduled face-to-face teaching. This is your responsibility as a self-directed artist/practitioner. It's good to get into the habit of daily self-directed practice.

 

Good luck & have fun! It's a wonderful opportunity to spend 3 years exploring the intersection of your own interests & talents, and the formal structure of contemporary dance training. Where are the harmonies, and where are the clashes? You learn MOST from the clashes and irritations, more than from the harmonies. 

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thank you all, especially Anna I love that advice! In terms of student finance, i believe everyone's entitled to 4 years of funding so if you don't like your first year somewhere you can transfer? i've also heard of lots of people who were unsuccessful auditioning for vocational schools, did a year at uni and reapplied and were successful after that?

 

i obviously understand that it's only the second week and i will have more work to do and independent study and all of that, i'm just concerned i'm not getting enough technique or practical sessions as my ideal outcome at the end of 3 years would be to join a company and primarily be a dancer; as opposed to purely a choreographer or teacher etc. i think that a lot of the independent study is more research and less practical; i'm just concerned i'm not getting much actual dance training! 

 

i am looking to join a gym as i'm definitely not getting nearly as much exercise as i was before i came here! (not something i thought would be the case on a full time dance course) 

 

idk if this makes anything any clearer or gives any more information but thank you all again for any advice :) 

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In my University department, which includes some dance training, independent study or 'self-directed' work includes both library research AND practical work in the studio. We would expect our students to be starting to do their own warm ups and technical practice. After all, when you go into the world of work as a performer, you may only have a company job in a short-term contract basis. So when you're not working on a show or rehearsing, you'd need to be responsible for your own training.

 

Could you book one of the department studios for a couple of hours each day, and do further training - give yourself a class, and work on areas that are more of a challenge for you?

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thank you all, especially Anna I love that advice! In terms of student finance, i believe everyone's entitled to 4 years of funding so if you don't like your first year somewhere you can transfer? i've also heard of lots of people who were unsuccessful auditioning for vocational schools, did a year at uni and reapplied and were successful after that?

 

i obviously understand that it's only the second week and i will have more work to do and independent study and all of that, i'm just concerned i'm not getting enough technique or practical sessions as my ideal outcome at the end of 3 years would be to join a company and primarily be a dancer; as opposed to purely a choreographer or teacher etc. i think that a lot of the independent study is more research and less practical; i'm just concerned i'm not getting much actual dance training!

 

i am looking to join a gym as i'm definitely not getting nearly as much exercise as i was before i came here! (not something i thought would be the case on a full time dance course)

 

idk if this makes anything any clearer or gives any more information but thank you all again for any advice :)

 

Even a full-time dance course where you are dancing 6-8 hours a day would not necessarily provide you with sufficient aerobic/strength/core work/targeted exercises to maintain a strong, injury resistant body. So you would still benefit from swimming, pilates, theraband exercises etc. but be having to do these in the evenings or at weekends if not part of the syllabus. If you can do them during the day, that's a bonus! :)

 

Kate is right, at any university you are expected to be disciplined enough to work alone, both practical and academic work, so hopefully you will get studio time in your "free periods" where you can go and practice alone, work on corrections etc. I also wonder if they are breaking you in gently, and the work will increase as the term progresses?

 

In terms of "lots of people" auditioning successfully for vocational schools after a couple of months at Uni, for the following year, only you know how realistic that would be for you. Did these other people get Finals and/or unfunded offers at any of their chosen schools? Were they Associates on a good scheme previously?

 

My *personal* feeling is that if a student gets finals at their chosen school(s), but not a funded offer (or one they can afford), then yes, waiting a year then trying again is probably worthwhile. If they didn't get any finals or offers, and say hadn't previously been successful at a good associate scheme, then it would be worth trying to get a realistic second opinion from an independent teacher to try to work out why they didn't get any finals and realistically, would they be better off changing path slightly and thinking about teaching, choreographing, and so on - especially given the scarcity of company jobs. Obviously it's still only someone's opinion, but it can be a worthwhile exercise.

 

This is only my personal opinion though, with my "Mum head" on. :)

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If there is studio space available during the afternoons, perhaps you could team up with a few of the other students on your course and work together on something?

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well i joined the university leisure centre yesterday so can swim, go to the well equipped gym and attend as many fitness classes as i please, which i'm sure will whip me into shape. i've also contacted all the local dance schools and trying a number of classes this week to see if any of them are worth attending regularly, just got to hope i get my student loan through soon! 

 

the studios are available to book (not sure if there's any specific rules about that though) and we get an extra 20-30mins in the space before/after our classes that aren't included in the 'formal' taught part of the class, so that will be useful as well. 

 

i kinda just feel that the classes i was doing in my free time before i started here, so for the last 2-3 years in particular, were just of such a high standard and quality and gave me so many opportunities, i was so lucky with all the teachers i came in contact with, that anything even marginally less than that seems a bit average!

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I second Anna_C's advice (as usual!).

 

Right - general points about university: you are in Week 1 or 2 of your first year, right? The work hasn't really started yet. Have a look at what assessments and projects are coming up - you will find that your time after 1pm will soon be filled. 

 

We work out module/course workloads that for every hour of face to face teaching you receive, there should be another 3 to 4 hours of independent study undertaken by the student. As a dance student this might be, as others suggest, Pilates, cross-training, yoga. Also reading & writing, and seeing dance (often called 'Contextual studies"). This is part of adjusting to university, and excellent training for after graduation, when you may be working as an "independent dance artist" - you'll need to be making opportunities for yourself, working on your practice, and reflecting on it.

 

Some specifics: I know a little of the DMU set up (on the theatre side). There are some nice studios there, and if it's a half-way decent department, you'll eventually be set a lot of self-directed work, and you will also have been inducted into ways of booking rehearsal space for group & individual work, that is not scheduled face-to-face teaching. This is your responsibility as a self-directed artist/practitioner. It's good to get into the habit of daily self-directed practice.

 

Good luck & have fun! It's a wonderful opportunity to spend 3 years exploring the intersection of your own interests & talents, and the formal structure of contemporary dance training. Where are the harmonies, and where are the clashes? You learn MOST from the clashes and irritations, more than from the harmonies. 

Kate, when you say about for every hour of face to face teaching, another 3 to 4 hours of independent study is undertaken. Is this generally the case for most Undergraduate degree courses?

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It completely depends on the course. For example, if you choose something vocational or lab based it will be less as you will be 'doing'rather than studying if that makes sense! I used to do pretty much 4 full days and 1 half day a week in the university or at a hospital etc. plus studying. Probably around 50 hours a week total. Probably the same amount of hours as Kate has quoted but the balance will be different depending on degree. Lots of lab based work in a science degree, more independent study for humanities etc.

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bringing this back again, a few weeks in now! only one more week until we have a week 'off' (no classes but still things to be getting on with but a chance to go back home for a few days etc)

 

i'm now getting more of a feel for the course, i've got more to be doing with free time when not in practical classes or lectures (probably should be doing some reading right now but this forum is very distracting) but i'm still not entirely convinced. i'm still thinking about reapplying and i really don't know whether to just let it go and stick it out here or to start looking at audition dates. 

 

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

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Anon_dancer 15 it's very tricky. Where did you apply for vocational last year and how did you get on?

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Anon_dancer 15 it's very tricky. Where did you apply for vocational last year and how did you get on?

 

i did london contemporary, laban, northern and london studio centre. if i were to do it again i'd probably leave out london studio centre - i absolutely loved them all and the auditions kinda confirmed for me that that's what i wanted to do and that's where i wanted to go and spend 3 years. i didn't even get any recalls though :/ i spoke to my dance teacher about it at the time and she was adamant i should just go to uni and then reapply. kind of wish i'd deferred uni and took a gap year, reapplied this year and failing that then gone to uni.....

 

it's so so so hard 

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What do you have to lose by trying again? Assuming you can afford it. You may regret it if you don't try again and it needs to be sooner rather than later I would think.

 

Just my opinion....

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What do you have to lose by trying again? Assuming you can afford it. You may regret it if you don't try again and it needs to be sooner rather than later I would think.

 

Just my opinion....

 

i can afford it at a push if i think of it as more workshops and a learning experience to get something out of either way but it's not exactly cheap! on one hand i'd regret it if i don't try again but if i try again and fail again i'll be even less motivated to come back here i think? or more determined to make more out of this course? i'm not sure!

 

all opinions welcome:') 

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I think you should try to separate the 2 issues. If your course is not providing what you want you should leave regardless.

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Very tricky. Did you get any feedback at all on why you didn't get finals, anondancer? Would you be able to analyse your audition performance compared to the other candidates; i.e. were you all at the same level, did you all have similar physique? I know the advice is always to concentrate on your own dancing and not get drawn into looking at the other dancers, but we're all human and I'm sure everyone looks at the "competition" from time to time. :)

 

If you can look back objectively and find any reasons why other dancers may have got finals, is there anything that you have changed or improved upon in the last year that gives you confidence that you'd get finals this year? That's sometimes difficult to pinpoint, so could you perhaps have a private lesson with your former teacher and ask her for her honest opinion?

 

For the price of travelling to an audition and the audition fee, it might be worth getting a second opinion on your chances of getting finals this time, or whether it would be better to wait until you've completed two years then apply for a completion year elsewhere.

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Maybe instead of using the money to reaudition at this stage perhaps spend the money on extra classes, associate courses, workshops and holiday courses for the next year and reapply after two years as somebody suggested above? Rather than worry about what you are missing at a vocational school try to focus on what your current course can offer you ( often "the grass seems greener elsewhere" but it may seem like it and then not actually be the case). Plus a degree opens many doors and there are some fantastic MAs on offer (I know because I have been researching for DD!)

 

Be careful of giving something concrete up for some "chance", I would think very carefully about taking that step!

DRSC

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How many hours of actual dance training are you getting each day?

 

i have a 1.5 hour technique class monday-thursday. these are lead by a different teacher every day and therefore vary in style and intensity. on fridays i have a 3 hour 'choreography' workshop which isn't really involving that much movement at the moment to be honest, though i am assuming that eventually we will be making choreography in that session and will therefore become more active

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Very tricky. Did you get any feedback at all on why you didn't get finals, anondancer? Would you be able to analyse your audition performance compared to the other candidates; i.e. were you all at the same level, did you all have similar physique? I know the advice is always to concentrate on your own dancing and not get drawn into looking at the other dancers, but we're all human and I'm sure everyone looks at the "competition" from time to time. :)

 

If you can look back objectively and find any reasons why other dancers may have got finals, is there anything that you have changed or improved upon in the last year that gives you confidence that you'd get finals this year? That's sometimes difficult to pinpoint, so could you perhaps have a private lesson with your former teacher and ask her for her honest opinion?

 

For the price of travelling to an audition and the audition fee, it might be worth getting a second opinion on your chances of getting finals this time, or whether it would be better to wait until you've completed two years then apply for a completion year elsewhere.

 

i hadn't thought about going for a completion year elsewhere tbh! 

 

in terms of how i felt the auditions went last year, i didn't feel that my ability was miles below everyone else's, i genuinely felt like pretty much everyone was at the same level but obviously there are multiple audition dates for each place and i only know what i saw in my groups, i also don't know who got through out of the people i was with. i think this year i've just gained more performance experience, more technique classes etc and supposedly gaining a place on a uni course and completing a year of that looks better? i think my physique needs some work tbh but again is probably slightly improved since this time last year just through the amount of dance work i was doing! 

 

on another note, one of my teachers gave a bit of a speech today as we've had quite a few people drop out of the course already, and that kind of gave me motivation to stick it out here and see if it's just a case of getting used to working in a different way to what i was doing before i came here. the course here is supposed to be one of the best in the country and i did pick here over the other uni courses i was offered a place on. but at the same time i obviously don't want to force myself to stay here because i feel obliged to when i'm paying so much money to be here, there's no point if it's not going to get me to where i want to be by the end of it.

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Maybe instead of using the money to reaudition at this stage perhaps spend the money on extra classes, associate courses, workshops and holiday courses for the next year and reapply after two years as somebody suggested above? Rather than worry about what you are missing at a vocational school try to focus on what your current course can offer you ( often "the grass seems greener elsewhere" but it may seem like it and then not actually be the case). Plus a degree opens many doors and there are some fantastic MAs on offer (I know because I have been researching for DD!)

 

Be careful of giving something concrete up for some "chance", I would think very carefully about taking that step!

DRSC

 

thanks for this advice, i'm trying to think about every option possible hence i came over here to hear all of your lovely opinions and i'm certainly not going to rush into making any decisions! thank you all :) 

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i hadn't thought about going for a completion year elsewhere tbh!

 

in terms of how i felt the auditions went last year, i didn't feel that my ability was miles below everyone else's, i genuinely felt like pretty much everyone was at the same level but obviously there are multiple audition dates for each place and i only know what i saw in my groups, i also don't know who got through out of the people i was with. i think this year i've just gained more performance experience, more technique classes etc and supposedly gaining a place on a uni course and completing a year of that looks better? i think my physique needs some work tbh but again is probably slightly improved since this time last year just through the amount of dance work i was doing!

 

on another note, one of my teachers gave a bit of a speech today as we've had quite a few people drop out of the course already, and that kind of gave me motivation to stick it out here and see if it's just a case of getting used to working in a different way to what i was doing before i came here. the course here is supposed to be one of the best in the country and i did pick here over the other uni courses i was offered a place on. but at the same time i obviously don't want to force myself to stay here because i feel obliged to when i'm paying so much money to be here, there's no point if it's not going to get me to where i want to be by the end of it.

It's hard to know how selection panels think at times. Instead of thinking "well, she got a place at Uni and did a year", the other way they could look at it might be "She only did a year and then gave up". I'm not saying they would definitely see it as a negative, lack of commitment etc. but they MIGHT. (Do note that I'm not talking about students who have sadly had to drop out through illness or injury - that's blummin' bad luck.) Whereas completing two years, getting a Foundation Degree or equivalent, then considering other places for a third year is much more common in dance and you would still have shown commitment by staying for two years.

 

Or, having done two years, you might by that stage think "I'll get my BA and then audition for an MA/Postgrad course elsewhere". Also a really good option.

 

All this gives you more time to work on any areas of improvement; physique, technique, strength, whatever. It depends upon whether the "slight improvement" since last year is big enough to make a real difference in your chances? Again, this is where a second opinion from a teacher might be invaluable

 

When you say "there's no point if it's not going to get me where I want to be", where is that?

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on another note, one of my teachers gave a bit of a speech today as we've had quite a few people drop out of the course already, and that kind of gave me motivation to stick it out here and see if it's just a case of getting used to working in a different way to what i was doing before i came here.

 

 

I think this is worth reflecting on & chewing over.

 

University is not school. Nor is it primarily a conservatoire-style training. You will be required to do a lot more independent work, and work on yourself, as well as work with your peers. You're doing a full-length technique class each day, plus training in choreography. That's already pretty intense, and it may well be that at the moment, the tutors are concerned about your fitness levels of you all entering full-time training. 

 

It's only about week 4 or 5, of a term which goes to mid-December. I'll bet that by December, you are finding the workload more intense, and there'll be independent research & written work as well. 

 

But you know, you might still need to have a deep hard think about what you want, and why you're at university. Are you there only because you weren't seen to be ready for a conservatoire-style training? If so, a year of doing class everyday, plus learning a number of different styles & choreographic techniques, may mean you're better placed for auditioning again this year for an October 2017 start. University places in good programmes are scarce - in my department, I don't want anyone there who doesn't want to be there more than anything else they could do. It's a waste of their time & my expertise & time.

 

But you need to be prepared for the toughness of auditioning a second time with some full-time training under your belt. If you're still not called back, then maybe you need to think differently about how your career might go? Then, your university studies may take on a very different complexion.

 

At the moment, it seems to me from what you write here (and I may be wrong) you see the university course as second-best, and you really want to be at a conservatoire. If you can be seen as up to that training, then go for it! But if you are not offered a place a second tie around, you may need to adopt a very different attitude to your university course.

 

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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I agree Kate but if anondancer_15 is unfortunately not accepted to vocational training then she needs to think carefully what her 2nd choice is.

 

I get the impression she may have fallen into the dance degree a bit but it isn't necessarily an automatic second choice for someone who wanted a vocational training. ...

 

It has been discussed extensively how different a dance degree is to vocational training.

Edited by sarahw
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