Building a Performance Portfolio


How do you showcase your special talents in either music/art/drama/speech & debate/mime/dance? Performance art can now be presented to universities as part of the Common App process

The first step is to put together a performance portfolio. This is critical for college applications because an eye-catching portfolio can really sway college admission officers. But how do you go about putting together a brilliant portfolio? Read on to find out!

Step 1: Start Early!

Beginning your prep early means you have the luxury of time to create an outstanding presentation that will impress the socks off the admissions board.

Step 2: Define audience

Figure out who will be viewing/watching your performance. In this case, it would be the college admissions board. Public recitals, stage performances, talent shows, competitions you entered, face-offs, etc. all of these are good options to include in your portfolio. If you have any community service work where you performed your pieces or exhibited your work, include that.

Step 3: Check college requirements

You can’t customise your portfolio to meet every college’s needs. But you CAN carefully read and understand what each school is asking for and try to accommodate their divergent requests in the way you present your work.

Step 4: Decide on the format

Should it be a webpage portfolio, because it’s a raging trend right now? Or should it be a static file? Again, go back to the colleges you’re aiming to please. What format have they requested?

Step 5: Decide what to include

Think of this like a shop. You’re selling your talent. Colleges are shopping for talented students. How best can you show off your work such that they will pick YOU? This is not the time to be modest!

INGREDIENTS OF A PROFESSIONAL PORTFOLIO:
  • A Banner Photograph of you alone or with your band

Make sure this is a clear, high quality image. Include a head shot of yourself. Please wear formal clothing and try to have a professionally clicked picture for this one. Alternatively, include a picture of yourself performing that someone has clicked, with your face in focus. I’m told black/white photos are considered very ‘arty’ 🙂

  • Introductory Letter and Biography

Put together a short write up of you as a performer. Why is it important to you? What were your influences growing up? What is your daily schedule where you include hours you practise your art?

  • Demo Recording

This is the part where you include high quality photos of your paintings or audio clips of your best music or video clips of your best dance/mime performances. Make sure your top 2-3 pieces really capture the eyeballs of the admissions officers.

  • Press Reviews

If you’ve been featured in any local newspapers, magazines, online websites, received any praise from private audiences, ensure you highlight them here. Provide a source!

  • Recitals and Performances

Showcase as vast a range of genres in your portfolio as possible. If you’ve done something avant garde or path-breaking, you definitely want to include it! Include any original compositions or creations, created either solo or as part of a band/team.This portfolio will complement your main Common App application and show a creative side of you. Even if you’re not applying to an arts program, creativity is highly valued in colleges. Creating a portfolio doesn’t have to be stressful. The whole idea is that you enjoy the process!

Good luck! Share some snapshots with us if you’ve started this journey!

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