Ask Amy - Web Exclusive

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.

Latest Posts


Pacific Northwest Ballet's Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan, photographed by Jayme Thornton for Pointe

The Radiant Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan: Why She's One to Watch at Pacific Northwest Ballet

Hollywood could make a movie about Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan's big break at Pacific Northwest Ballet.

It was November 2017, and the company was performing Crystal Pite's film-noir–inspired Plot Point, set to music by Bernard Hermann from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Ryan, then a first-year corps member, originally was understudying the role of another dancer. But when principal Noelani Pantastico was injured in a car accident, Ryan was tapped to take over her role.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Maria Kochetkova. Darian Volkova, Courtesy Kochetkova

Maria Kochetkova on How COVID-19 Affected Her Freelance Career, and Her New Home at Finnish National Ballet

When international star Maria Kochetkova embarked on a freelance career three years ago, she never envisioned how a global pandemic would affect it. In 2018, the Russian-born ballerina left the security of San Francisco Ballet, a company she called home for more than a decade, for the globe-trotting life of a guest star. Before the pandemic, Kochetkova managed her own performing schedule and was busier than ever, enjoying artistic freedom and expanding her creative horizons. This all changed in March 2020, when she saw her booming career—and her jet-setting lifestyle—change almost overnight.

After months of uncertainty, Kochetkova landed at Finnish National Ballet, where she is a principal dancer for the 2020–21 season. Pointe spoke with her about her time during the quarantine and what helped her to get through it, her new life in Helsinki, and what keeps her busy and motivated these days.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
DTH's Alexandra Hutchinson and Derek Brockington work out with trainer Lily Overmyer at Studio IX. Photo by Joel Prouty, Courtesy Hutchinson.

Working Out With DTH’s Alexandra Hutchinson

Despite major pandemic shutdowns in New York City, Alexandra Hutchinson has been HIIT-ing her stride. Between company class with Dance Theater of Harlem and projects like the viral video "Dancing Through Harlem"—which she co-directed with roommate and fellow DTH dancer Derek Brockington—Hutchinson has still found time to cross-train. She shares her motivation behind her killer high-intensity interval training at Studio IX on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks