Choosing a School

At a certain point in our dance practice, many of us want to pursue higher education in order to develop professionally. However, choosing a school is not always easy. In fact, sometimes we don’t even have a choice. Access to these institutions is extremely limited and selective. To increase our chances of being accepted somewhere, most of us decide to apply to many schools. Of course, some schools are automatically eliminated from our list, since the tuition is too expensive and scholarships aren’t always available. So, now you’ve narrowed down your choices.
Next, based on the selection results, there are three possible scenarios:
- You’ve not been accepted anywhere;
- You’ve only been accepted at one school;
- You’ve been accepted at several schools.
The first scenario, which we’ll only briefly discuss, is obviously disappointing and difficult, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your journey. You can always try again or take a new path other than schooling.
You’re more interested in the other two scenarios. If you’ve been accepted at only one place, it may seem that you’ve got no other options. However, you’re always free to refuse if you think the school in question is not right for you. So, how do you know whether or not a school is right for you? How can you find out more information about the school? All of these questions also apply to the last scenario, in which you’ve been accepted at several schools.
To learn about a school and the program it offers, it’s helpful to find various brochures, descriptions and online information, but they don’t tell the entire picture. To increase your chances of making the right choice for you, it’s essential to have an in-person experience. So, as soon as possible, you should visit the school to experience the students’ living environment. This point may seem trivial, but when you realize how much time you’ll be spending there, you’ll understand why it’s so important.
Also, visiting the school can help you determine whether or not you’re ready to take the plunge.  Plus, audition times can sometimes be good opportunities to speak with students at the school. Obviously, you can’t base your decision solely on the feelings and experiences of these students, but this could help you realize the benefits and challenges of the program. Having an in-person chat with people directly involved in the school, such as management, faculty, students and graduates, can also help you better understand the school’s operations, objectives, ethics and values. I believe these points are absolutely essential when choosing an institution. In fact, every school is different. There are also many ways to conceive dance. So, to get an idea of how a school works, you can take a look at the typical weekly schedule and the courses offered. Depending on what you’re looking for, you may prefer to have a large number of different and varied courses to meet your need for stimulation or, conversely, have time to yourself to carry out projects and personal reflection, which is essential for the development of creativity. Lastly, the school’s objectives, values and ethics should be key factors in your decision. Where do you want the program to lead? Towards expertise in a pre-determined practice/technique? Towards development and self-actualization?
No one answer is necessarily better than another. It just needs to match what you’re looking for in your training.
The career and training of school teachers may also be key factors in determining the school’s type of training. In this sense, it may also be helpful to learn about the artists who work with the school. This will provide you with more information on the openness and artistic orientation of the institution in question. In addition, this aspect also has a bearing on your future, since the more artists you meet, the better understanding you’ll have of professional careers and the direction you’d like to take after school.
Lastly, it’s always helpful and important to learn about the tools and resources available to graduate students. The type of training that the school offers should be a determining factor in your decision, but you should also consider the opportunities and assistance provided after graduating, since this may have a significant impact on your transition to a professional career. As a young graduate, access to scholarships, studios, stage equipment and digital tools (computers, software, etc.) may help you better understand your new status.
- Lauranne Heulot, 2nd year student at the EDCM
/// In the Student Life section, EDCM contemporary dance students put pen to paper: an opportunity to explore different viewpoints and topics related to professional training, the daily life of young artists and life in Montreal. ///
Photo: Ariane Famelart | Dancer: Lauranne Heulot | Choreography: Foutrement byVirginie Brunelle

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