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The Breakdown

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”  This quote from Martha Graham attempts to encapsulate why people are so drawn to this art form.  With graceful, pronounced movements, dancers are able to convey ideas and feelings without words.  A simple leap can remind us of the beauty of the human body and possibly even reduce us to tears (or at least chills).  If you’re passionate about dance, know that it’s possible to pursue it at the collegiate level.

Beyond conservatories, many colleges and universities offer an undergraduate dance major.  The best programs take a holistic approach to the discipline by combining theory and practice.  You should expect to hone your skills as both an artist and a scholar through classes in history, criticism and even anatomy.  Further, you can also anticipate exposure to a wide variety of forms and cultures, from ballet and jazz to Javanese and Ghanaian dances.  This integrated (and intellectual) approach will no doubt help to inform and shape your own dancing as well as give you a greater appreciation and understanding of the art form.      

Dance majors quickly discover that their chosen field requires focus, dedication and discipline.  Indeed, be prepared to log many rehearsal hours (and nurse sore muscles).  It’s also important to be healthy and in good shape.  And of course, dance calls for creative and imaginative thinkers.  Finally, you should probably avoid this major if you’re easily stricken by stage fright. 


Nuts and Bolts

As a dance major, you’ll be exposed to all facets of the art form with classes such as: Beginning Modern Dance, Intermediate Dance Composition, Anatomy and Kinesiology, Ballet I, Jazz II, Aesthetics: Dance Criticism, World Music, The Art and Cultural History of Flamenco, Dance and Religion, Dance for the Camera, Solo Performance, Lighting Design, Ballet Masterworks of the Twentieth Century, and Performance and Social Change.

Decisions, Decisions

Dance majors hold a deep appreciation for the arts, athleticism and self-expression.  Therefore, they might also find their curiosity piqued by courses in theater, arts administration, art history, art education, physical therapy, physical education, musical theater, film, sports management, kinesiology, music, arts therapy and musical education.

What's Next

Though some people (cough, your parents, cough) might warn you that dance is both a narrow and competitive field, fret not.  Graduates are often able to pursue some type of dance career.  Indeed, many audition for troupes and companies around the country and even the world.  Others maintain their connection to dance through teaching, either with studios or after-school programs.  And certainly, a handful of majors also look to kick-start their choreography careers.  Many find their place in the dance world through business and back office-oriented positions.  For example, grads can find employment within arts administration, writing grants or working on marketing campaigns.  They might also work for agencies that help to either manage or cast dancers.  Further, dance therapy is another emerging field that’s becoming a popular pursuit.  Of course, plenty of dance majors ultimately find satisfying careers outside of dance.  Undoubtedly, you can find dance majors everywhere from publishing to medicine.



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Don Munce