What I Learned Applying For A Dance Degree

Let’s talk about auditions and university applications! I remember filling out my university applications, with the help of my sister and my ballet teacher, and I was so overwhelmed. Going to uni was going to be a pivotal point in my life and the start of a whole new chapter. I felt so much pressure to make the right decision for myself and my future and I now realise, that was an almost impossible task for such a young (barely) adult. But I made the decisions and I made it through. 😉 So I wanted to share what I have learned and also give you an insight on what that process looked like for me.

I wanted to study ballet and I wanted to study in the U.K. I knew the language (something that was super important to me) but also that was where my sister had studied and it just felt familiar. I applied to a number of universities that offered dance degrees, through UCAS, and then I also applied to some Ballet Academies (aka private schools). I got accepted by some schools, I didn’t get accepted by others. And here is where my first tip comes in, do not put all your eggs in one basket. You have to apply to multiple schools! And more than that, you have to have an open mind -as much as possible-. Don’t fixate on one specific school and make it your “all or nothing”. There were some schools I liked more than others but at the end of the day, the school I did choose to go to, wasn’t my top option at the time. Little did I know back then, that five years later, I would be so happy with my choice. There are so many things to consider when choosing a university/school. Have you to think about the location, fees, financial aid, cost of living, etc. You need to give yourself as many options as possible so apply to as many schools, academies, and universities as you can.

This point is relevant to you, no matter what degree you are applying for. Make sure to get all the deadline dates written down in bold! Different schools will have different deadlines to submit applications and then audition tapes and so on, so make sure you are on top of your game.

Another super important list you have to make is what you will have to include in each application. Yes, each school will request pictures for your first application. Some might overlap but for the most part, each school will request different positions and from different angles! And things will only get more complicated as you move on to the next stages.

After the initial application, it will be audition time. Some schools will request a video audition, some will request a live audition and some will request a video audition which if successful will lead to the third stage of a final live audition. I only did pre-recorded auditions so this is what I have the most experience on.

Pre-recorded auditions are so much more work than you think. You need somebody to film you, you need somebody to edit (unless you can do that on your own but it obviously still takes time), you need your ballet teacher to set the exercises for you and guide you and you could also use one friend (preferably dance friend) for moral support lol. On top of all that, you will have to make a separate video for each school you are applying to because they will all have their own requirements. I must have sent in about five pre-recorded video auditions and they were all different! Preparing video auditions is a very lengthy process, however, a pre-recorded video allows you to do things again and again until you are happy with the result. Plus, you are not nearly as anxious. Standing in a studio you are so familiar with, with your dance teacher, feels a lot more like a dress rehearsal for an audition, rather than the actual thing. On the other hand, in a pre-recorded video your performance will be at about -100 and this is just how it is.

I would say the biggest pro of pre-recorded auditions is they don’t cost nearly as much as live auditions. If you are applying to schools abroad, flight and hotel costs add up very quickly! *And those costs are on top of the fee you have to pay at some school JUST to send in your application*

The biggest pro of live auditions is that you actually get to visit the school. You can meet teachers/tutors, get a feel of the environment/vibe of the school, meet other people that already go there, and people that will potentially be in your year. And of course, you get to see first hand the location where you might be spending the next three years of your life.

Besides auditions, which are all about how you dance (your technique, performance, artistry, etc.), you should also be prepared to know some dance history. Obviously you are going to university to learn, so they don’t expect you to know everything, but do your research in preparation for interviews (either in person or over the phone). If you do Dance GCSE you will have some knowledge, which will be very helpful. If you don’t that’s okay too, Google will be your best friend.

Staying on the topic of academics, again, each school will have its own requirements but just a heads up if you are applying to a school abroad, be prepared to have to do some sort of a language qualification. I was applying to schools in the U.K. and even though I had done English Language GCSE, the R.A.D. still needed me to do IELTS.

Last but not least, don’t take things for granted and don’t take it personally when a school (you were expecting to get into) doesn’t accept you. When you look up a school and get to know people that go there (or that have auditioned for it) you will get an understanding of the ‘level’ of the school and how good its students are. Based on that, you can make a prediction as to whether you will get accepted or not. There were schools I applied to, which I knew I had no chance of getting into (but I applied anyway). When those places didn’t accept me, I was expecting it (and those were all the rejections I got). Places I was almost certain I would get into, I did. And places I thought I had a good chance of getting into but I wasn’t sure about, I still got in. Well, let me tell you, that was pure luck. (Not the getting accepted part, but the anticipating the results part.) I know people that applied for the same degree as me and didn’t get in. I was at the school, I knew the level of it, and I was suuureee they would get in. Still, for some unknown reason, they didn’t get accepted. This I know for a fact happened to other people as well when applying at different schools and unis. You simply can never know. So if a school doesn’t accept you, don’t take it to heart. Everything happens for a reason.

I hope you found this helpful if you are going off to uni soon and if not, I hope you found this interesting to read.

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