What Can I Do With A Degree In Dance?
"I love to dance so much, it really brings me alive. I know I want to spend as much time as possible around dancers. But I am not 100% sure that I have what it takes to become a professional dancer. If I pursue a degree in dance, what are the options for using it?"
asked by Pierre from Ithaca, New York
I would say be courageous in the pursuit of your dreams. No one is born a master artist; it takes training, discipline, and perseverance to become a professional dancer. Expect to grow and strengthen as a movement artist and allow for the possibility of your own greatness. You may surprise yourself one day.
That said, there are ways to use a degree in dance even if you do not pursue becoming a professional dancer. If you have a love of dance and can plan a whole sequence in your mind, consider becoming a choreographer. A dancer uses his or her body to express a story, but a choreographer creates the outline for the dancer to follow. As a choreographer, you choose the music, the theme and intent of the performance, the dancers, and other elements like costuming and lighting. You are also the outside eye, guiding the dancers in the execution of your vision and making adjustments to their form as needed.
There is often more job security for choreographers than dancers, as companies will sometimes hire choreographers for an entire season or even several years. Choreographers tend to be able to work later in life than dancers, and even if you need to rest from dance because of injury or overwork, you can usually still choreograph and direct. Choreographers often earn more money than most ensemble dancers.
Another way to make use of a degree in dance is to become a dance teacher. Dance teachers can work at high schools, colleges, community centers, gyms, and private dance studios. They teach people from 3 to 80 years old. It can turn into a lasting career with decent job security, and some facilities offer medical insurance and other employment benefits. As a dance teacher, you also have the joy of helping a talented person grow and blossom. It is also not as physically demanding as dancing professionally, and there is less performance pressure.
You would still need to create exercises and sequences for the classes, and be able to demonstrate those sequences. Dance teachers need to have a very keen eye for proper form and technique. They also need the tenacity to demand excellence from their students, and the compassion and passion to inspire their students to keep coming back.
Even though teaching is not as demanding as performing, there is still some pressure put on the body. Be certain the company or facility you work for has worker’s compensation insurance to provide for your medical needs in case of injury.
You can also use a dance degree to pursue a career as an arts therapist. Dance therapists use movement and dance exercises as treatment for people needing mental or emotional support. You would need further schooling in counseling to practice as a dance therapist. It is a fulfilling field, allowing you to help people recover from trauma and find emotional balance through the use of dance and other movement arts. If you love dance and know that you want to be of service and help people, this may be the field for you.
Whatever you ultimately choose, know that an education in dance can serve you in the future, whether or not you pursue dancing professionally.