What to Expect From a Dance Degree

dance degree students practicing in a barre studio

If you are passionate about dance and have dedicated yourself to years of study, you might consider earning an undergraduate dance degree. For dancers who aspire to perform at the professional level, a dance degree is an invaluable asset. In your formal studies, you will learn about all aspects of the industry, as well as multiple forms of dance. You will have the opportunity to explore topics relevant to various careers within the industry. This will help you make informed decisions about your dance education, your life after graduation and future career possibilities.

What Does Earning a Dance Degree Require?

The curriculum for a dance degree emphasizes physical work. You can expect to become immersed in many different dance forms, including ballet, jazz and vernacular dance such as hip-hop. You will practice improvisation in dance as a creative practice as well as a tool for generating original movement. In dance ensemble classes, you will have opportunities to apply what you’ve learned in rehearsal and performance, with faculty who exhibit a range of tools and practices to develop impactful choreography.

In addition to courses in the studio, you can expect to take classes with a more traditional academic format. For example, you will study the history of dance. It is also common for dance majors to study pedagogy, injury prevention, dance kinesiology and choreography. Additionally, students pursuing a dance degree are strongly encouraged, if not required, to participate in various performances throughout the year.

Beyond the core classes in your dance degree, students are expected to take certain classes generally required by the institution. For example, you may be required to take a communications class, which will allow you to develop skills that are essential to the workplace.

Preparing to Excel in College

As a high school student intending to earn a dance degree, there are a few things you can do to prepare for your four years in college. The most effective strategy is to immerse yourself in the dance world. Watch as many live performances as you can and access professional dance videos, many of which are available on online video platforms. As you watch, analyze the dancers’ movements and techniques, and try to apply those skills in your own dancing.

You can also familiarize yourself with dance history by visiting your local library. Learn about famous dancers, choreographers and historical events. This will also help you become more familiar with the terminology of the industry.

It is also important to continue taking dance classes after school and during school breaks. Go outside your comfort zone. If you typically prefer ballet, challenge yourself to take a modern dance class. Be sure to maintain healthy habits. Eat nutritious foods, avoid sugary snacks, drink plenty of water and get sufficient sleep.

Positioning Yourself to Succeed in Your Dance Program

To earn a bachelor’s degree, you can expect to be in college for four years. That time will go quickly, so it is important to make the most of it. Dancers need to take good care of their health because they use their bodies as a form of self-expression. You will be dancing for hours every day in your classes, so be sure to stay well hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you to each class. Similarly, prioritize your sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause both physical and mental fatigue, which is definitely not helpful for succeeding in your dance program.

Although the typical goal of a student majoring in dance is to dance professionally, you should also explore other opportunities in the arts and entertainment. A performance career will likely not last forever, so start thinking about what you would like to do after you retire from performing. To ease your transition, it can be helpful to choose a double major or a minor in a field such as communications, marketing, business administration or perhaps even counseling (which can lead to a career in dance therapy), which will help you become more versatile and broaden your skill set.

Considering Your Future Career Options in Dance

Graduates with a dance degree have many career options. A career that focuses on performance is often the primary goal, and many dancers audition to join professional dance companies across the country. Cruise lines, theme parks and music-video producers all hire professional dancers, but there are novel opportunities that arise every day. Many dancers launch their work independently through online platforms, connecting with causes that impact them and amplifying important messages, many reaching international audiences.

Many professional dancers go on to have second careers after spending some time performing. Here’s a look at some other career options to consider, which may require additional degrees:

  • Dance choreographer
  • Dance instructor
  • Fitness instructor
  • Dance notator
  • Professional critic
  • Dance and movement therapist
  • Dance photographer

Some former dancers go on to work in the business and administrative side of the industry. They might become arts administrators, operations managers, publicists, marketers or social media managers for dance companies.

Prepare to pursue an artistic and meaningful career by earning your dance degree at Grand Canyon University. The Bachelor of Arts in Dance degree program instills the fundamentals of dance, including technical proficiency in various dance forms, somatic practices, dance pedagogy and dance choreography. Additionally, dance majors are encouraged to perform at GCU’s many concert productions throughout the school year. Click on Request Info above to get started.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.


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