Finding The Best College Dance Program for You

Dancing in a great college program gives you the opportunity to refine your dancing to a professional level through one major while preparing for a “back-up” career with a second major – or to continue doing what you love while pursuing your academics. But as a student making plans for dancing in college, you have more to think about than the average teen. What program is right for me? How tough will it be to find what I need from a college program? Can I find the same or better quality training than what I’ve had up to now? Are there programs that focus seriously enough on my dance genre that I can have a chance to turn pro after college? How do I begin researching good dance college programs?\

According to College Matchmaker, which provides links to and info on thousands of colleges, there are 254 four-year colleges in the U.S. with majors for ballet, dance or musical theater. That’s a lot to consider, especially if you don’t even know what you should be looking for. An excellent place to start your planning is by reading through Dance Advantage’s college guide. This section of the DA website provides invaluable information from how to decide what you are looking for in the first place to how to excel once you are there, plus a nice list of external articles and websites to get you well on your way creating and narrowing down your list of colleges.

There is a lot to be gained by pursuing a higher education while refining yourself as a dancer. If you are not sure whether to even continue dancing while in college or whether to skip college altogether and pursue a career in dance immediately, researching your options thoroughly before deciding can give you a more realistic picture so that you can fully assess all the pros and cons.

What makes the “best” college for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your goals in dance, whether you want to get to a pro level via college or go recreational, and what kind of college dance programs are available to you financially. If you have professional contract offers already and are considering accepting one, you should seriously research your options for pursuing your education in that city, though you may not opt for a dance program at all. During your research, don’t get too hung up on terminology for dance programs (B.A. vs. B.F.A, for example). Focus on the instructor quality, the program’s intensity, class offerings, performance opportunities, facilities and of course where the alumni are now. Good programs will require an audition.

Lastly, consider whether to treat your college education and your dance education as separate pursuits, just as you may have done during your high school years. If you have access to a superior dance school, there may not be a college program available to you that will surpass it, so that it is certainly worthwhile to consider enrolling in the dance conservatory or school to continue with dance while taking non-dance college courses. There is a wide variety of quality in U.S. college dance programs today, but for an idea of what to expect, check out this article from Dance Informa Magazine.

As you can tell, there are many, many options to consider even before you start examining college dance programs. But it’s not as daunting as it might seem! Take control of your college future by delving into the articles and links I’ve provided, and before you know it you’ll be well on your way to planning your college career.

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5 thoughts on “Finding The Best College Dance Program for You

  1. roriroars says:

    Great post. I went to a liberal arts school that offered a dance program. Most, if not all, students who majored in dance were taking it as a double-major. No one went there looking to go pro, but it was a great option to learn about dance from multiple perspectives. I majored in something else entirely and am now really regretting that I don’t have the kinesiology and choreography and dance history tools in my bag that I would have if I explored the major or minor. Too soon old, too late smart, I guess!

  2. classicalballetteacher says:

    I can sympathize, roriroars. There are a couple things I would probably do differently if I could go back in time to my training years and college years. That’s actually the major reason I started this blog – I learned so much along the way by trial and error and rarely had all the information that I needed. With the interet today, I really hope that young dancers won’t have to make decisions without enough information like I and so many others did. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Nichelle says:

    Thanks very much for the inclusion of my College Guide series. My college dance training as a major was invaluable as I proceeded to make dance a career. It’s been a varied career with experiences in many realms and this was made possible by a varied program with courses on teaching, kinesiology, music theory, and more. Research and an idea of what your career goals are, as you’ve stated, SO important. At the high school level dance students are not always given a clear picture of the kinds of options available to someone with a desire to pursue dance – from ballet, to commercial, to Broadway, many grow up thinking performance is it and that any college dance program can get them there. You have to explore the options to set goals (even if those goals shift and change with time and experience) and you have to have a goal to find the college program best suited to you…. all the more reason to do your homework on dance as a career. Thanks for encouraging your readers to look deeper and delve into that process!

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