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university dance courses


katie**
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Hi everyone

 

My daughter is 15, just finishing year 10 at school. 

She goes to a decent associates scheme but she is probably at the lower end of the ability there. She has been offered another year to start in September but it looked borderline for a while if she would keep her place. 

She works very hard but I'm concerned about her future. 

Ideally she would like to study contemporary dance at somewhere like Rambert or Trinity Laban but obviously the competition for these places is huge. However, her back up plan would be to study at university for a degree in contemporary dance. Can anyone offer any experiences of these degrees and what type of work they may lead to?

She has her important GCSE year at school coming up and she is more committed to her dance than her academic work. I don't know whether to encourage her to slow down on her dancing and have a non-dance related back up plan instead. Obviously it's her life and I want to support her to do what she loves but equally I want her to be realistic. I don't want her to spend 3 years at university getting into a lot of debt for a degree that doesn't lead anywhere. 

 

Any thoughts / opinions would be appreciated. 

 

(ps I have no experience of these types of degrees so I in no way intend to cause any offence - I'm just trying to find some first hand experience and opinions) 

 

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Hello katie, welcome to the forum.  There have been quite a few threads regarding dance degrees at uni; if you type "university" into the search box at the top right of the page, a list of relevant threads should appear.  Alternatively, if you can see the tag "university" under the thread title, you can click on it for other threads with the same tag. :)

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Hi Katie,

I went down the university route years ago. I'd encourage her to find somewhere she can study dance A level first. It's quite academic and very different to how people imagine it's going to be. There are two written exams at the end, one on anatomy and one where you write reams on a particular piece of choreography. There is also a dance notation element which is examined. Think it was Laban notation from memory.

Entry to university is dependant on being able to fulfill the academia side and the actual performance side. I had auditions for every course I applied to and they are all different. I remember Northampton being very focused on fitness and Pilates type approaches where Breton Hall were all about the shows! I audition at these as well as Lancaster, Leicester, and LIPA. Eventually I went to DMU in Leicester but left after two months as I was homesick! (I got in nearer to home to study psychology 2 weeks later!)

Go to some open days, that way your daughter can get a feel for the place. Some are literally in the middle of nowhere, and some are in cities so do lots of research! 

Any questions, ask away...

xx

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Katie** I think you will find decisions easier to make if you know what your dd wants to do in the future.

 

If she wants to perform professionally then that would be a lot more likely from a place such as Ramsey or Trinity Laban. 

 

My understanding from the threads that have been on here are that most university courses do not have enough high level technical training to support such a career although I'm happy to be corrected! 

 

Why not ask the Associate teacher for their opinion on your dd chances of getting into Ramsey etc?

 

Good luck! My dd is same age and it's a minefield. ....

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It is possible to pursue dance from the uni level rather than the vocational route, just make sure you have a good old nosy round places! 

Some vocational schools run performance degrees alongside their vocational courses. 

From memory, look into LIPA in Liverpool who produce a very high standard of commercial dancer. I'd be super proud if one of mine went down this route as I have an appreciation of how difficult it is to get in! 

Best of luck...xx

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Thank you so much everyone for the helpful replies.

 

Her associates teacher has given her some feedback of things to work on this year and she says age is on her side as she can spend the next 12 months working really hard. But she also has to work really hard with her GCSEs and time management is so hard at this age! 

 

In terms of her long term goal I'm sure she would love to be a professional dancer but she's also at the stage where a little bit of realism is starting to slip in too.

If I ask her she will say 'I'm not sure but something dance related' or something vague along these lines. I know she would love to have her own dance school in the longer term. 

My concern is that so many dancers don't seem to have permanent work :-( They have to top up their wages with bar work etc. There's nothing wrong with that and I admire their dedication but it's such a shame for them to work so hard through university and then struggle at the end of it! 

 

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It's worth remembering that a lot of dancers who decide to go down the contemporary route do so at 18+, rather than starting vocational training at 16 which is more for ballet. Many of the degree-funded contemporary courses don't accept students under 18, so your dd has plenty of time, and will be able to do A-levels (she'll be thrilled at that news!!). They will come in very handy if she has a change of career choice in the future.

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Graduate destinations from contemporary based university dance courses do vary from university to university but most are geared towards preparing graduates for freelance work. Many also go on to do PGCE courses either to teach dance in secondary schools or to become primary school teachers.

 

What students end up doing after graduation depends largely on what they have the confidence to pursue, which is often influenced by what kind of experience and training they had prior to starting the course. Those pursuing freelance work often end up with a portfolio career involving teaching classes and workshops, directing and choreographing youth and community dance groups as well as performing in small scale companies, possibly ones they have formed themselves. There is also the possibility to go into dance development or arts administration, either full time or as part of a portfolio career. 

 

I think your daughter needs to investigate some of these university courses and see whether the kind of jobs graduates are getting are something she'd be interested in. 

 

I did a dance degree myself and some of the students came to the course with unrealistic expectations of what they would be doing at the end of it.

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3 hours ago, invisiblecircus said:

Graduate destinations from contemporary based university dance courses do vary from university to university but most are geared towards preparing graduates for freelance work. Many also go on to do PGCE courses either to teach dance in secondary schools or to become primary school teachers.

Many schools are now severely constrained by budgets, and are cutting subjects such as dance and music out of the curriculum. The secondary school my dd used to go to has recently dropped A-level dance from the timetable (and that is a very large school). Teaching dance in schools might not be a very good career choice for the future if things carry on the way they are with funding.

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Sadly her own school is not offering any dance studies at GCSE or A level anymore despite having a lovely dance studio so I can definitely see that teaching in a school may not be a sensible option at the moment. 

I will have a look at the RAD teaching degree now. 

Thank you, you've all been very helpful. 

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I'd endorse everything Invisiblecircus says.

 

And the very hard facts are that if your DD isn't good enough to get into the conservatoires, then her career will be quite different. It will be possible to have a career in dance, but it won't necessarily be a straight line. However, I"m not sure many careers in the arts & humanities will be straight lines in the future.

 

University degrees in dance will be like any Bachelor of Arts: as well as subject content & knowledge, there will be broad training in the arts and humanities, training you as a critical thinker and a researcher; training you in developing your own projects, working in groups & project teams, writing, reading, thinking, discussing, debating. There will likely be one technique class each day, but you'll need to be self-directed & develop your own practice, thus, as Invisiblecircus says, preparing you for freelance work.

 

Conservatoires (Rambert, Laban et al.) are much more like vocational schools, although there is a necessary proportion of critical studies content.

 

You can look to the QAA Benchmarking statements to see what the national requirements are.

 

http://www.qaa.ac.uk/publications/information-and-guidance/publication?PubID=2964#.WXMEeNMrIfw

 

( I teach in a related performing arts university department, with dance included. My Dance colleague trained at The Place & still performs professionally).

 

 

Edited by Kate_N
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When DD was in year 10 she knew she wanted to do something with dance probably teach. So as she entered year 11 she looked at 6th forms to do A levels which would lead on to University, but most likely RAD BA course. After her mocks in November it all changed. She was predicated A/A* across the board and she pretty much got those results in her mocks, with the exception of Maths and English Lang/Lit which are silly numbers but something changed and she knew she wanted to give dance and performance a go. We went to see the deputy head in January and talked it through. She agreed with DD that A levels will always be there but her body only has a limited time. And has fully supported her during yr 11 with her academic studies and her commitment to dance both in and out of school. This really helped DD get through yr 11 and we will always be very grateful to her for her support. 

 

So in September she starts a two year Extended Diploma in Performing Arts -Dance ( equal to 3 A levels ) and plans to apply at 18. She didn't feel ready to apply or go away at 16, so is giving herself 2 more years at home plus we left it too late for most places. 

Not really answering your question but telling the story of how we went from wanting to dance but thought she wasn't not good enough so going to teach to simply wanting to dance and being determined to give it her best shot. 

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30 minutes ago, Pointetoes said:

When DD was in year 10 she knew she wanted to do something with dance probably teach. So as she entered year 11 she looked at 6th forms to do A levels which would lead on to University, but most likely RAD BA course. After her mocks in November it all changed. She was predicated A/A* across the board and she pretty much got those results in her mocks, with the exception of Maths and English Lang/Lit which are silly numbers but something changed and she knew she wanted to give dance and performance a go. We went to see the deputy head in January and talked it through. She agreed with DD that A levels will always be there but her body only has a limited time. And has fully supported her during yr 11 with her academic studies and her commitment to dance both in and out of school. This really helped DD get through yr 11 and we will always be very grateful to her for her support. 

 

So in September she starts a two year Extended Diploma in Performing Arts -Dance ( equal to 3 A levels ) and plans to apply at 18. She didn't feel ready to apply or go away at 16, so is giving herself 2 more years at home plus we left it too late for most places. 

Not really answering your question but telling the story of how we went from wanting to dance but thought she wasn't not good enough so going to teach to simply wanting to dance and being determined to give it her best shot. 

 

Thanks. I think my daughter is similar but feeling a bit confused! Good luck to your daughter :-) 

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I've just been looking at the RAD degree.

It sounds ideal but the option to study full time in London is only available for ballet. The dance degree is only distance learning.

Is anyone aware of anything similar with the option to move away from home but not focused entirely on ballet? 

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I was about to say Preston college aswell. Others I have heard of/know of people who went there are: Dance Academy South West (in Bristol), The Dance College/Penny Meekings dance teacher training and Linda Virgoe Dance Academy. I should point out that although I know of people who looked and sent their DDs there, they are people who I lost subsequently lost touch with so I don't know what their DDS thought of the courses or how they got on.

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2 hours ago, Kate_N said:

I'd endorse everything Invisiblecircus says.

 

<snip>. However, I"m not sure many careers in the arts & humanities will be straight lines in the future.


<snip>

 

i agree with all you comments,  and as someone who  has a professional background in Nursing  and who  didn't 'train' as an RN  being of an age when  we  were into 2nd and a bit bit generation HE  pre-reg courses  the  mindset that   a University education  can  and should  provide  is a  big thing, and  without harping on  it;s  something which is still a tension in Nursing  as  senior management are still mainly 'trained' Nurses  rather than those who  were educated  ( nevermind socialisation across the whole profession and Stockholm Syndrome in the early P2k Diplomates) 

I don't think any career is going to be linear  in the way  we have traditionally   known it / seen it ...  even my friends who are Medical Practitioners (doctors) , and despite a system that designed to funnel people into a  sausage machine of  specialist training  , all seem to have  taken advantage  of the 'step -on, step -off '  points  to  travel, do  research / teaching  or teaching / education degrees /  do  out  of  program  type jobs  .... 

Edited by mph
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6 hours ago, Pas de Quatre said:

Preston college used to have a course that might suit, have a search.  A member of this board (or the previous incarnation) had a  DD who went there some years ago and said it was very good.

 

6 hours ago, 2dancersmum said:

I was about to say Preston college aswell. Others I have heard of/know of people who went there are: Dance Academy South West (in Bristol), The Dance College/Penny Meekings dance teacher training and Linda Virgoe Dance Academy. I should point out that although I know of people who looked and sent their DDs there, they are people who I lost subsequently lost touch with so I don't know what their DDS thought of the courses or how they got on.

Hi Katie**

I have a dd at Prestons Dance College. How she came to go there is a long winded story but basically she wanted a Classical Upper School. She was at the Hammond so we brought her home and enrolled her at Preston and she auditioned again ,still no joy .

Preston used to be basically a course for the DDI / DDE exams ( fully funded ) they also do a foundation degree for teaching in the private sector along side this you pay for a performance package £1,200 this includes workshops with industry professionals , commercial,jazz,MT, Lyrical etc some of her teachers have taught at Hammond and SLP.

Exams are up to Adv2 in Ballet , tap , modern and national 

There are trips to New York and London every year and regular theatre trips

Quite a few Graduates this year have got cruise jobs with Disney, Cunard , Royal Caribbean and Costa.etc

There is funding to help with living but I've no idea how much or how it's allocated.

Although quite a technical dancer already the staff at Preston have made my dd perform more than she ever has and her confidence is going from strength to strength .

The end of year show might not have had all the polish I'm used to but it was fabulous to see all of the students performing their heart out whatever their capabilities. 

An all round fab course and dd hasn't used any HE funding . The only drawback is if she wanted to try for theatre work the new rulings for Spolight means she wouldn't be eligible to join this is a requirement for getting oneself an agent .This is also a consideration when looking at University make sure there are enough contact hours if a career in performing is what your dd would like .

Its a minefield but things tend to fall into place. Good Luck with it all lots of help on here and on the Notapushymum forum.

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