As mentioned in my last article, we live in an area where we are bombarded with choices. Not only do we have choices for our kids regarding which dance studio or ballet school they are going to attend, but we also have choices regarding what academic school they are going to attend. You can send your child to their home school, you can send them to private school, or you can even send them to a dance magnet school. Many of my students do go to these schools, but I have to say that they are not a substitute for an excellent after-school dance/ballet program. While many magnet schools do offer good dance programs, your child will not be getting everything he or she needs, technique-wise, at a dance magnet school. I have gotten a little ahead of myself….Let’s backtrack and talk about how your child can even get into a magnet dance school. (hint: Ballet, Ballet, Ballet!)
All of these magnet dance auditions require each child to take a ballet class. That is the first step in the audition process. Hopefully your child is already in a dance or ballet school taking ballet classes, but if he or she isn’t, that should be your first step. Jazz, tap, hip hop, lyrical and other classes offered at dance studios are great and certainly do help in the audition process because those classes teach rhythm, coordination and most importantly, the ability to pick up different styles and combinations, but ballet class is where each student learns proper technique. You can not fake ballet technique. It isn’t about how to point your toe; it is about how you execute a perfect Tendue from first position.
Other aspects of the audition for middle school (it is a little different for high school) may include a jazz or hip hop combination after the ballet class, a solo and sometimes even a ballet vocabulary test. The solo is usually no longer than one minute and it is best to get one of your child’s teachers to choreograph it. For a fee, your studio can usually provide you with a solo that will highlight your child’s best abilities.
High school dance auditions are a bit different as your child will have to take a modern class along with the ballet class. Modern is taught in a lot of dance schools but it is also a staple of a good ballet school. Modern is similar to ballet in that it follows a specific technique. Jazz, lyrical and hip hop, although fun, don’t follow a strict technical syllabus. There are various different modern techniques like Graham, Horton and Limon, and an audition for a magnet high school will lead students through a series of modern exercises to see if they can grasp the techniques.
Let’s say your child attends a magnet middle school, then a magnet high school for dance and then decides to audition, for example, for Juilliard or Boston Conservatory for dance. He or she will be expected to take the very same kind of audition. Ballet class and modern class, and sometimes a solo, are all a part of that audition process. At the Juilliard audition, they even make a cut after the ballet class.
Ballet is important. Ballet is important even if your child wants to dance on Broadway. Ballet is important if your child wants to do figure skating or gymnastics or even sports. Ballet teaches grace and posture and builds muscles to help run fast, jump high and even kick a ball. If you are about to embark on the journey through magnet dance tryouts with your child, make sure that ballet is your top priority.
Opening its doors in 2008, Soul Purpose Studio has become the place to train in advanced ballet thanks in part to Alison’s very well-respected name in the community. The studio offers ballet class from ages 3-18 as well as Pilates and Yoga. Alison primarily teaches the Pre-Professional program which is ages 10-18 as well as all of the Pilates classes and absolutely loves what she does every single day! For more information, please visit soulpurposestudio.net or theballetspace.com.