Students audition for dance scholarships, concert roles

Current and aspiring dance majors will have their only opportunity to perform in their department’s spring shows when the Department of Ballet and Modern Dance holds a set of auditions starting tonight.The first audition is tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the Ballet and Modern Dance building. The audition is used to cast dance majors for spring concerts and other shows for the rest of the semester.

“It is exciting, (the dance majors) go to a new level and learn new choreography and dances, giving them range and versatility,” said Ellen Page Shelton, chairwoman of the dance department.

This audition will be the only audition for dance majors to try out for shows for the rest of the semester.

The second audition is for entrance to the department and scholarship offers for fvreshmen and transfer students and is scheduled for Saturday at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

The Nordon Scholarship, for which the students will be competing, is only available to dance majors and awards students with $8,000 a year.

“We are pretty selective to those we let in, but we are flexible,” Shelton said. “We don’t have a set number of students we will accept. We’ll accept as many students as we have room for.”.

Shelton said, however, that with only two scholarships being awarded, the audition becomes very competitive and stiff.

“There will be 60 to 70 students from all across the nation trying to get the scholarships,” Shelton said. “So it’s always great to see the students that come in because they are all very good dancers

Nancy Carter, administrative assistant to the dance department said that though the department takes in as many students as they can, only half of those who try out for the audition make it.

“The audition process has been the same since the 1970s. It’s very difficult and it judges dancers on both ballet and modern techniques, which include jazz,” Carter said.

Carter said students are required to fill out an application that requires information on height, weight and health. Students are also required to send in a DVD or VHS tape of them dancing prior to the audition for judges to review.

Judges for the audition will be the entire faculty of the dance department and Shelton said she looks forward to the new dancers coming to audition.

“It’s great to see up and coming dancers from across the country come to our school,” Shelton said. “We get to see what’s being taught around the nation and what we can learn from and experience different styles.”

Heather Bays, a freshman dance major, said the audition is very hard and physically demanding.

“It is a comprehensive audition that requires dancers to show their techniques in both ballet and modern dance, and we even had to do modern dance improvisation,” Bays said. “It helped to show our abilities by putting us on the spot like that.”

Bays said dancers can expect to be judged on technique, professionalism, confidence, focus and the willingness to learn.

She said that the difficulty of the audition is worth going through because it trains dancers to become versatile and learn styles they wouldn’t normally.

“You really get to know the faculty and they help make corrections based on your strengths and weaknesses and focus on the individual, not the class as a whole,” Bays said.

Bays chose TCU because she said that it was one of the only schools she could get a BFA in ballet or modern dance separately.

Shelton said that those accepted into the school will obtain a dancing experience other schools don’t offer. Dance students are required to take curriculum classes that range from dance history, anatomy, kinesiology and stage and light production, which Shelton believes is why dance students choose TCU.

“We have our students get their feet wet in all aspects of the field,” she said. “We want them to have a career in dancing their whole life, so that when they are 90 and can no longer dance, they can still pursue their dancing career.