“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ― Confucius
As high school juniors begin to explore higher education choices, it is no secret that many parents hold their breath and hope their children will not choose to major in the arts. Dance, music, art and theater are wonderful, but are they fields you can make a living in? If someone majors in dance and it doesn’t work out, what will he or she have to fall back on? Is going to college for something as “frivolous” as dance a waste of money?
People tend to believe that majoring in dance simply means taking a myriad of technique classes for four years only to graduate and begin auditioning for a performing opportunity that may never come to fruition.
The good news for college students who are passionate about dance, their parents, and everyone whose life has been touched by dance, is that this assumption could not be farther from the truth.
As dance has grown and continues to grow, so has the number of possible dance careers. Dancers will always have the option to audition for professional and regional companies, but there are also a multitude of other possible career paths available in the field of dance.
Choreography: College students who major in choreography spend time learning about dance composition. They learn how to manipulate movement phrases in various ways, and they learn about different styles of dance, different choreographers, and gain a historical perspective on dance. These students can go on to become company choreographers, free-lance choreographers, or musical theater choreographers and are also able to teach dance composition courses.
Dance Education: Students who major in this area will be required to take classes in educational philosophy and practice as well as dance courses. Their courses may include dance history, music for dancers, anatomy for dancers, class and lesson planning, foundations of elementary education, foundations of secondary education and foundations of special education. Many colleges also offer the option of state teacher certification to enable the graduate to teach in public schools. These graduates can teach in private studios, private schools, or public schools. A terminal degree such as an MFA would enable the dancer to teach at the college level as well.
Dance Therapy: Dance therapy combines the study of dance with psychology. In order to be a practicing dance therapist, using dance as a form of psychotherapy, a graduate degree is necessary. Dance therapists work in private practices, hospitals, schools and prisons.
Dance Scholars: Dance scholars study dance technique, dance history, and dance notation and can get jobs with dance companies, in the television or film industries, or in libraries and museums. Their job is to preserve dance for future generations through research, writing, and recording dance.
Dance Journalist: A dance journalist combines dance studies with English classes. Journalists get jobs writing about dance, editing books on dance, or as dance critics for magazines, newspapers and online publications.
Dance Science: Dance Science is a relatively new field of study. It combines dance with the study of anatomy and kinesiology. Dance scientists work with dancers to educate them about their bodies and healthy, efficient ways of dancing. Those studying dance science often choose to pursue graduate courses in exercise science or physical therapy. They may work with dance schools or companies, designing strength training programs, or in injury rehabilitation programs that work with dancers.
Arts Management: These students combine their love of dance with the study of business. These majors graduate and become company managers, booking agents, grant writers, arts advocates, and community outreach activists.
The career opportunities for dancers are numerous and all have one common denominator: they require a love of dance. A parent whose child decides to major in dance need not panic because dancers are not just performers anymore. They are the people that keep the art form alive, and by doing so, they preserve a very important part of our culture.