A College Dance Experience
Not all dancers need to or want to go to college to dance. It’s a totally personal decision and should be based upon your progress and goals. There are certainly some questions to consider when deciding which route makes the most sense for you…
1.Am I ready to dance professionally now?
You might need consult with a trusted mentor for some help with this one, or go on auditions for college dance programs AND companies and see what offers you get. It’s always smart to keep your options open.
2. Is there a career track that I can use while I dance?
I studied dance and arts administration and while I never planned to pursue arts admin, I do know dancers who have worked in arts admin positions at the companies they also dance for. Can you study dance and simultaneously study PR or Marketing or something that could translate to an online gig that could support you through your early professional dance years (when you’ll likely not be getting paid).
3. Will I be OK with competing with younger dancers when I’m out of school?
This is hard to predict…I’ve heard from college grads of the challenge of competing with young dancers and I experienced it myself. It can breed insecurity. You go from being the top dog (a college senior) to being the bottom of the totem pole (trainee or 2nd company). It’s a hard transition that you might not be fully prepared for.
4. What kind of environment will I thrive in?
Will you feel better in a city or more remote location? It’s beneficial for your own company auditions post college to be near a city but you can certainly get great training even at a school that’s in a more remote location. You’ll just have to think about where you’ll go for auditions.
5. How much do I want to perform?
Different dance programs have different plans for performance. Some have just 1 or 2 shows and they’re on a smaller scale, while others have bigger productions in bigger theaters. Do you have a preference? What do you need to feel ready for the next step.
6. Do I want a more traditional college experience or a strictly dance experience?
College vs. conservatory is a question that comes up – I enjoyed the college life that felt more traditional socially and I think I benefitted from being surrounded by non-dancers. It was good for my sanity. A conservatory environment really is all dance all the time and if you’ve been training since you were 8, I think there’s a greater chance that you might burn out.
Some advice based on my college experience :
Audition every year. It’s a good way to gauge your progress even if you don’t plan to leave college to pursue an offer.
Go through college with the end in mind. Even though you’re taking some time to enjoy the time you have in college make sure you’ve got your eye on the prize of dancing professionally.
Don’t get sucked into bad body habits. It’s likely the first time you’re on your own with food outside of your parents home full time. Eat enough and fuel your dancing. Disordered eating will only serve to rob you of precious time you could be dedicating to dancing your best.
Careful with the partying. It takes a lot for your body to recover from alcohol consumption and sleep deprivation. As enticing as the party scene can be, try to be moderate with the amount you go out. Your body and your dancing will thank you.
Find mentors, learn as much as you can. You can always learn from the dancers around you and your professors have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Use your time with them to learn as much as you can.