Ask Amy – Web Exclusive

September 25, 2012

Are there ways to increase my chances of being offered a merit scholarship? I’m auditioning for colleges this year and am going to need as much financial help as I can get. —Ana

I spoke with Mary Margaret Holt, director of the School of Dance at the University of Oklahoma, for insight on what program directors look for when determining merit scholarships. “When students audition for our program, we evaluate and rank them based on coordination, alignment, overall technique, flexibility, overall fitness, sense of line, musicality and artistry,” she says. The faculty then uses these categories as a general guide when determining scholarships, and Holt recommends concentrating on them in class as you prepare for auditions. Other factors come in to play, too. For instance, you may want to take some extra pointe classes—Holt often sees underdeveloped pointe technique. Ramping up your pointe training over the coming months will give you an extra advantage.

Of course, technique can only take you so far—they’ll be assessing your potential, artistic expression, attitude and work ethic, too. Holt watches for dancers’ reactions during auditions, such as how well they apply corrections, how quickly they learn combinations and how passionately their love for dance comes across. “A dancer with highly developed technique may not be ranked as highly if he or she shows very little artistry or seems to lack the ability to utilize technique as an expressive tool,” says Holt. In short, colleges are looking for a well-rounded package.