To be a dancer in your senior year at a top performing arts high schools is like having pre-show jitters times 100…or 100,000 I should say. I am a male dancer, and I am getting ready to take that big step and graduate from high school in the spring. I am moving on into adulthood. Well, that is what everyone around me keeps saying, and judging by the increasing pressure I feel – I believe them.
After high school, I plan to pursue my dream, my passion: I want to dance, act, and sing in New York City.

Before you dish out the skeptical, ‘good luck’, I will say I do not necessarily want to take this big leap and try to straightaway make it on Broadway, so to speak. I actually want to reach for my dream in a college setting while pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts. This blog post is for other teenagers like me, who want to both pursue their artistic passion and still go to college. It is also for anyone who plans on helping an artist like me.

Like I said at the start, the first half of my senior year has been fun and exciting, a bit stressful, and a little frightening. Why do I say this? Well, because not only am I working through the usual responsibilities of a high school senior – staying on top of my grades, being a role model for underclassman, and finally taking the lead in areas I wanted to lead in before – there are tons of other details too.

First, there are the traditional college-related duties and deadlines that really should be completed in the summer before or early fall of your senior year. There are the visits to college campuses or college fairs. There are also standardized tests, college applications, essays, and recommendation letters required to be admitted to the colleges.

Second, there are additional special applications for the various art programs that must be completed. The additional applications hopefully qualify you to be allowed to audition, in the case of dance, for the college’s performing arts program. I will say that pure dance conservatories do not require some of the academic pieces of information, but they still have a unique application process.

Third, there are the live auditions. After all the applications to the colleges on your interest list are submitted by November and December, in some cases you have to wait until January or February to actually audition live for the various college dance programs.

Like I said, all the steps are much like preparing for a show. There are lots and lots and lots of details, and tons of energy and anxiety in the air. In the end though, the process is like any production. After all of the running around and stressful moments you are pretty much hoping it goes just as planned – spectacular.

photo Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, dancer Quint Lattimore

Quint Lattimore is a senior at the Chicago Academy for the Arts High School

Related Links: Chicago Academy for the Arts High School

Chicago Dancers Share Their Views on College, CDS Blog 2006