If you’re a high school upperclassman, you’re probably trying to figure out what you’ll do after you graduate—do you want to move to Los Angeles to pursue a professional dance career right away? Do you want to audition for a pre-professional conservatory program in New York City to hone your training? Or do you want to attend a 4-year university and major in dance—or even major in something completely unrelated to dance? Whatever you decide, you need to understand that there is no “wrong” answer. Each dancer’s journey is unique and individual, and your post-high school decision can help direct you to a path that’s right for you.
You know the pros and cons of moving to a big city for a professional career right away versus deciding to take a few years to go to school first. But by majoring in dance at a college, you’ll probably get a more well-rounded dance education than you received at your hometown studio or might experience if you decide to pursue dance professionally right after high school. A dance major at a university or conservatory will usually incorporate a core foundation of ballet and modern classes, electives in jazz and multicultural styles, and academic courses that might include dance history, human anatomy and kinesiology, music theory, pedagogy, choreography, and improvisation.
If you have a profound interest in teaching, choreographing, or pursuing a tangent field related to dance (sports medicine, arts administration, etc.), majoring in dance might be the right choice for you as it will provide a deeper and more thorough education before you embark on your career. If you want a traditional college experience (Greek life, football games, etc.), majoring in dance might also be a wonderful chance to develop as an artist and earn an undergraduate degree at the same time.
But you might also want to major in something else—English, communications, biology, musical theatre, or something else. College is a great opportunity to focus on your academic interests while still dancing in classes, on your school’s dance team, or just recreationally. Having a bachelor’s degree can open up a lot of doors for getting other side work (as required by many part-time jobs) and pursuing a career or higher education after you’re done dancing.
If you are thinking about majoring in dance in college, do your research online, talk to current students and faculty, and, if possible, visit the program and sit in (or even partake in) a class. But no matter your post-high school path, if you dream of pursuing dance professionally, you can make it happen.