So you’ve been a studio dancer your whole life, and now it’s time to start thinking about going to college. The opportunities are endless — and so are the chances to keep dancing! Whether you plan to major in dance or not, here are five ways to keep training and performing during your college career.
1. Majoring in dance
If you plan to go pro post-college, an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) program is one of the best ways to help you get there. Dance majors will spend the bulk of their time in college focused on dancing, whether it’s taking technique classes, learning about dance history, taking master classes with big-name choreographers, or preparing student-choreographed end-of-semester showcases. If your a dance major, you’ll still take regular academic classes, but you’ll be spending a lot of time on your [slightly callused and probably not pedicured] feet. (And talk to your adviser before signing up for classes each semester: Depending on demand and availability, some schools allow non-dance majors to take for-credit dance classes alongside the dance majors.)
Every fall, composition students take a class in which they create original pieces that are then performed by third-year student dancers. This season's "Choreographers and Composers" features six collaborations, and is currently running sold-out productions in the Willson Theater. Step behind the scenes and see more rehearsal photos in this month's Juilliard Journal! #juilliarddance #juilliardmusic #choreographers #composers #dance #music #juilliard #choreography #composition
2. Joining the dance team
College dance teams usually perform at halftime and on the sidelines at basketball and football games, as well as other campus events (think holiday tree lighting ceremonies, alumni weekends, and pep rallies). Some also compete! The competitions — UDA and NDA are the big ones — are different from the competitions most studio-trained dancers are used to (some take place outside!), but if you’re fueled by a competitive drive and perform best with a team, the dance team is probably your best bet. Dance teams often incorporate kicklines, pom, and hip hop into their routines.
3. Getting involved in musical theater
Considering going the Broadway route someday? Audition for the campus musical or musical theater events! Performing in the ensemble will prepare you for regional and professional theater, and will help you learn the terminology and process behind what makes a musical come together. (Bonus: You’ll get to hone your singing and acting chops, too.)
4. Joining student-run dance companies
Most campuses offer at least one student-run dance company. Some are similar to what you’re used to at your studio — you’ll do some technique stuff at rehearsals, and you’ll choreograph pieces for an end-of-semester showcase or recital — while others are more casual and are more about having fun and dancing together than perfecting a performance. The dance styles will run the gamut, from contemporary-based groups or modern ensembles to hip-hop crews and step squads.
5. Branching out into the community
If there are studios near your campus, see if you can drop for master classes when your schedule allows, or inquire about part-time teaching gigs. (One hour a week teaching minis tap and ballet combos can do wonders for the stressed-out college soul!)