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Questions to ask when applying to dance college

What questions should I ask when applying to dance school?

So, you want to go train at a professional dance school? There are so many amazing dance colleges out there, it can be hard to narrow it down to where will be best for YOU! Here are our top questions to ask when applying to dance college…

Most of these questions can be asked and answered before your audition day – you may find everything you need to know on a college’s website, or you may want to call or email them in advance of your audition. These questions can help you decide which colleges you want to apply to and if you’re offered a place at more than one college, where to accept.

We go into more detail with each question below + share the answers you can expect from Dance For All.

  1. What happens during your open day? What’s the format of the audition day?
  2. What grades or skills are needed for entry onto the course?
  3. Do only a select number of students get to perform each year, or is every student in every year group guaranteed an opportunity to perform?
  4. How many performances are held per year?
  5. The course says “full-time training” – how many hours a week will I be at college?
  6. What styles of dance will be taught?
  7. What qualifications will I get?
  8. What are the fees and are there any additional expenses?
  9. At the end of my course, what range of career options will I have in front of me?
  10. Where are your dance graduates working?
  11. What funding will I have access to?
  12. Where will I be living and where is the college based?

Download your FREE Audition Tips + Checklist!

Picture quote: “I feel so lucky to have been given such a versatile training because it has given me so much confidence going into the working world knowing that no new style is going to phase me. 

Also, being able to study DDE teaching qualifications alongside performing widens your employment and career opportunities.”  - Claire Grieve
Claire Grieve, DFA College 2013 graduate – returning to the Caribbean and performing aerial

Question 1. What happens during your open day? What’s the format of the audition day?

Each college will have its own format. Some open days will involve you simply observing studio classes, while others may involve talks &/or participatory classes, so check with each college you’re visiting. 

At Dance For All our Open Day includes:

  • observing studio classes
  • participating in a jazz dance class
  • a demonstration from current students
  • a talk from our Principal & Artistic Director, Tracy Hawkes
  • Q&A session with tutors and students
  • Find out more –> DFA Open Day

DFA’s Audition days involve:

  • a commercial jazz workshop
  • a ballet workshop
  • you interview
  • your solo audition of a 2-minute piece in your chosen dance style/genre
  • Find out more –> DFA Auditions

Question 2. What grades or skills are needed for entry onto the course?

Most dance colleges offer places purely on your one audition, but certain course elements may require some minimum qualifications.

At Dance For All, we offer places based mainly on your audition but we also look at your potential, determination, attitude, talent and passion for dance on the day.

The HND part of our course, requires at least two Highers or relevant NC passes at SCQL Level 6. Higher Dance is not mandatory, but many high schools now offer this qualification which will enable you to improve your dance skills.

Likewise, extra-curricular dance qualifications (such as RAD Ballet, ISTD Modern, etc) are a bonus, but they are not mandatory. If you’ve been unable to access these or participate in dance examinations, it will not work against you. Your talent and potential will shine through.

If you’re able, do attend dance classes or workshops in your local area &/or take National 5 and Higher Dance at school – take any available opportunities to safely work on your dance practice and technique.

Question 3. Do only a select number of students get to perform or is every student in every year group guaranteed an opportunity to perform each year? Do students have to audition to perform in college shows?

Unfortunately, we have heard from our transfer students and graduates that some performing arts colleges audition their students for their shows. So this is an important question for you to ask.

Here, at Dance For All we ensure all of our students are given the opportunity to perform regularly. As long as studio and rehearsal attendance is maintained, you’ll have the opportunity to perform in all our college shows. Additionally, you may be invited to perform at other events throughout the year.

Question 4. How many performances are held per year?

Regular performance is important for building technique and experience, so it’s useful to find out how many performances you can expect each year.

Dance For All students perform at the Go Dance festival in Glasgow as well as all of our own college productions, where new choreography is performed throughout the year, including the Christmas Festive Fling, Spring Fling and June Graduating Showcase. Our students have also been invited to perform at numerous events and openings in Scotland.

Question 5. The course says “full-time training” – how many hours a week will I be at college?

Courses at Further Education colleges, such as HNCs and HNDs, can range from 2 ½ – 4 days per week.

At Dance For All the HND is part of our course and is incorporated into our full-time specialist dance training, so you will be attending full-time, 5 days per week from Monday to Friday, with additional ‘out-of-office-hours’ required for shows and rehearsals – see our College Prospectus for more details below:

Quick Downloads: Audition & Apply, Prospectus and Fees Info Pack

Dance For All College helped me work towards my teaching career by providing a range of dance styles which has made me more open minded as a dancer and teacher. It also means I have experience in various dance styles. I have made friends for life at DFA who I still see regularly, after graduating in 2018. - Sophy Dowie
Sophy Dowie, 2018 DFA College graduate – Starting and Running a Dance School

Question 6. What styles of dance will be taught?

This is an important question, because some schools may focus more on contemporary dance or musical theatre.

Training versatile dancers who can perform a diverse range of dance styles drives commercial success for our students. Ballet underpins our training because it provides a strong foundation of technique and body conditioning for all forms of dance. Training at Dance For All will give you professional-level experience in:

  • RAD* Ballet
  • ISTD* Tap
  • ISTD* Modern
  • ISTD* National
  • SDS* Spanish & Flamenco Dance
  • Contemporary Dance
  • Commercial Dance
  • Jazz Dance
  • Lyrical Dance
  • Urban Dance
  • Performance techniques
  • Choreography
  • Improvisation
  • Audition Portfolio
  • Gymnastics
  • Aerial
  • Singing
  • Musical Theatre
  • Anatomy
  • Body Conditioning
  • Contextual Studies, including Dance History & Appreciation, Physiology, Teaching Methodology etc.
  • Dance Teacher Training, including ISTD* DDE (Diploma of Dance Education)

*RAD: Royal Academy of Dance; ISTD: Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing; SDS: Spanish Dance Society.

Question 7. What qualifications will I get?

You may leave college with one qualification, for example, an HND or BA degree, or your chosen college may offer additional industry-specific qualifications.

At Dance For All we offer the following professional dance performance qualifications:

  • HND in Professional Dance Performance, in collaboration with Edinburgh College
  • RAD Ballet examinations to Advanced 2 level
  • ISTD Modern, Tap and National examinations to Advanced 2 level
  • Spanish Dance Society examinations

And we also offer the following dance teacher qualifications:

  • ISTD Diploma in Dance Education (DDE)
  • Trinity College’s Certificate in Safe & Effective Dance Practice
  • Placement and mentoring for those wishing to train as an RAD teacher

Leaving DFA, you will be qualified with your HND to apply for a BA degree 1-year completion certificate at Edinburgh College.

Question 8. What are the fees and are there any additional expenses?

Many vocational dance colleges have fees associated with their full-time training which can range from £5,000 – £16,000 per year, which will not be fully covered by your local awarding body, such as SAAS. All college courses will have additional expenses, such as travel, books, stationery, living expenses (rent, food, etc) and materials (listed below).

At Dance For All, our course incorporates the HND into our full-time training, which gives eligible students access to SAAS funding: bursaries, HND tuition fee payments and student loans.

Like most vocational dance colleges we have fees for the private tuition parts of our course, but they are much less than the above figures and we keep our vocational fees as affordable as possible.

As a dance college student, you will have additional course-related expenses, such as:

  • College uniform
  • Dancewear (leotards & tights, Flamenco & Ballet character skirts)
  • Dance shoes (Ballet, pointe, character, Tap, Flamenco & Jazz shoes)
  • Stage make-up
  • Stage costumes (low fees for hire & cleaning)
  • Examination fees (RAD, ISTD & SDS examinations)

See our Dance College Course page to access our most recent fees and expenses breakdown.

Question 9. At the end of my course, what range of career options will I have in front of me?

This question will help you understand the focus of each college course to see if it’s in-line with your career plans.

The training from Dance For All gives you many options. You can:

  • Perform, as a:
    • Professional Dancer
    • Dance Captain
    • Musical Theatre Artiste
    • Professional Dance Performer
    • Freelance Dance Artist
    • Entertainment Agency Dancer
    • International Dance Company Artist
  • Teach and lead show productions, as a:
    • Choreographer
    • Dance Class Teacher
    • Dance College Tutor
    • Dance School Owner
  • Work in the charitable/non-profit sector, eg as a:
    • Dance Development Officer
    • Community Dance Practitioner
    • Dance Worker
    • Participatory Dance Artist
  • Go into further education, for example, you can apply to:
    • a BA (Hons) Degree course completion year
    • Thereafter, in post-graduate education, such as:
      • MA in Dance or Performance
      • PGCE in Secondary/Primary Education
      • MEd in Teaching the Performing Arts
      • MSc in Performing Arts Education
      • PhD (research Doctorate) in the performing arts

View our post, 28 incredible jobs you’ll love as a professional dancer:

28 Professional Dancer jobs - click here

Question 10. Where are your dance graduates working and how many of your graduates find employment in the first 12 months?

Asking this will give you an idea of how successful the course is at preparing students for the dance industry. According to the Higher Education Careers Services Unit’s, What do graduates do 2018-19 report*, the industry averages are:

  • Only 34.8% of performing arts graduates are working within the arts industry (up from 29% in 2015 and 31.6% in 2017)
  • Only 2.6% of UK performing arts graduates are working abroad (not necessarily in the arts).

We’re incredibly proud of our high graduate employment rates, compared to industry averages:

During our study from 2012-2015, 100% of Dance For All’s graduates have found work in the dance industry within 12-18 months of graduating, 87% within 6-12 months and 83% within 3 months of graduating. This is in sharp contrast to the industry average of 29 – 34.8%.
Of those seeking travel and work abroad, 56% – 69% of our graduates since 2013 are working overseas, compared to the industry average of 2%. Dance For All’s professional dance graduates are three times more likely to get a job in the performing arts industry and 35 times more likely to win an overseas contract than their peers.
Destinations of DFA graduates

Dance For All’s talented graduates have progressed to work in choreography, musicals, TV & film, music videos, at theme parks such as Disneyland Paris, in 5-star hotels, on cruise ships and joined dance companies, touring the world. Many go on to teach both nationally and internationally and have even established their own dance schools. Read more graduate success stories.

Amy Gallagher, 2019 DFA College graduate – performing and teaching dance in the Caribbean and Europe

Question 11. What funding will I have access to?

Access to funding depends primarily on:

  • where you live
  • your nationality
  • where the college is based
  • if you have had funding for previous studies of a similar level, eg another HND or degree
  • some types of funding (eg bursaries) may be dependent on your family’s income

Regarding Dance For All:

Scottish students applying for the HND course will be able to access funding (tuition fees, bursaries & loans) through SAAS (Student Awards Agency Scotland) and the Student Loan Company unless they’ve already had funding at HND level or above.

All years: English, Welsh, N. Irish, EU and international students, please see the Scottish Government’s student financial help information which has guidance and links to the relevant funding bodies.

As with most performing arts colleges who offer a substantial full-time programme of training, supplementary fees are applicable. Full details are within our Info Pack, which you can request, or see our most recent fees & funding breakdown summary on the Professional Dance Course page.

Question 12. Where will I be living and where is the college based?

Don’t forget to find out about the town or city where you’ll be spending the next few years of your life!

Dance For All is based in Stockbridge, an UNESCO World Heritage Site in heart of Edinburgh,  Scotland’s capital city. Find out more about Edinburgh and see where our dance studios are located.

Our course is run in collaboration with Edinburgh College enabling you to access additional student services (library, IT Learner Base, spa facilities & more), while benefiting from the unique atmosphere and additional training of a dedicated dance school. You may be able to live in Edinburgh College’s halls of residence or find a flat to rent with fellow DFA students.

Photo of dancer in leotard leaping in box split with arms over head. Text says Dance For All College ~ Auditioning Now; Award-winning Professional Dance Course danceforall.co.uk

If you’d like to apply to Dance For All – find out when our next Auditions are.

If you’re auditioning for one or more dance colleges, check out our AUDITION TIPS.

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