2 answers

I am intending to pursue a BFA in Dance as my major in college with a minor Arts Management or Business with a career goal to dance professionally. How critical is it to attend a college in New York City vs great universities in places like Texas or Ohio?

Asked Plano, Texas

My career vision is to dance professionally, including opportunities like a professional dance company, Broadway shows, LA productions, or traveling touring companies. I realize I cannot dance forever, so I would then want to transition into a role either as a choreographer, setter, or in the marketing or management area of the industry. I have been accepted to some great universities in my home state of Texas as well as Ohio, PA and VA. I have also been accepted by some good schools in New York City, but they are not the academic powers that some of the non-NYC universities are, but I feel like I almost have to go to one of the NYC colleges because of their dance department reputations and being in NYC for college to give me the best shot at achieving my career goals. So, is it really THAT critical to go to college in NYC if you want to dance professionally? #dance #dance-education

2 answers

Janelle’s Answer

Updated

Hey there!


First of all, I applaud your decision - not just to study dance, but also to be so conscious of crafting a long-term career once your dancing days are over. You have a bright future ahead of you!


I did not study dance in college, though I've been a dancer for the past 12 years. I studied creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and later moved to San Francisco, where I decided to throw all my eggs in the dance basket so to speak. Making all new connections in a new city in a new community was a big challenge, but it's one that's paid off! My work ethic and determination have granted me opportunities to travel all around the world for dance - teaching, filming and performing - regardless of my degree or where I obtained it.


If I hadn't spent 4 years of my life in Santa Cruz, I don't know if I would have been introduced to the San Francisco dance scene. It was my roommates and friends in college who showed me everything that was waiting for me here. My career path hasn't been the straightest, and when I started college I didn't plan to pursue the life of a dancer. But every experience I've had has led me to this point.


New York will always be there, and you can always move there, whether it's for college or a job farther down the line. Getting a stronger education from another university in Texas or Ohio might actually set you up for success more, as you'll be more challenged, you'll be given more opportunity to experiment in a less-saturated arts landscape, and you'll gain more confidence through that experimentation.


Networking with dancers I admire has been so much more valuable than a degree for me. Keep a list of the dancers working now who you most admire and make an effort to get to know them. Whether you go to school in New York or anywhere else, I guarantee you'll meet the people you are meant to meet on your journey to creating a career that is uniquely yours.

Janelle recommends the following next steps:

  • Take a look at the work that professors at each university are creating - what would challenge you the most?
  • Make a list of the dancers you'd like to get to know - include where they live and where they teach to help you determine networking possibilities

Jordan’s Answer

Updated San Jose, California

Hey Chaslyn!


This is a great question! For myself, I did dance for about 8 years, but simply as a joyful hobby and form of expression/outlet. I did not professionally study dance, though in high school I was part of my school's dance/theatre department and in community college I did take classes at the school such as Ballet, Modern and Dance Appreciation. I also danced at multiple studios in the area and even danced at a performing arts school(not a college) around San Francisco, Bay Area. Therefore, my knowledge may be limited but I've learned and grew up with tons of professionals who did/do go to school for dance!


I think choosing where to attend college is a crucial decision because regardless of what you study, the teachers, environment and opportunity is what really matters. I was between two colleges in California that I applied to once I graduated from community college. I made my decision after I did my research to understand the institution I was planning to attend - San José State University. I got to know my professor and understand the opportunity (the potential of finding a job in the area) of attending that school.

Teachers & Environment:

With that being said, I bet universities in Texas and Ohio probably offer GREAT opportunity for you. Also New York would definitely offer great opportunity. But, I think you should look deeper into the programs that are offered at all those universities. Introduce yourself to the teachers, visit the campus to understand the student life. Look for the place that you will thrive in to grow in your career goals. Guaranteed, the majority will say New York, because of reputation and if you are interested in industries like Broadway, what's more better than to begin your networks in the city!

Opportunity:

I decided against San Diego State University (my other option) because I knew I didn't want to relocate to Southern California after graduation. I wanted to stay a bit up north. So that is something you would want to consider. Where you study will hold a majority of your contacts and networks and those people will help you get a job!


If you think that there is opportunity in Texas or Ohio for you then you should consider those places. If you think the learning environment and the teachers at those schools provide much more insight and skill you want to learn compared to a highly reputable place like NY, then chase after those schools.


I applaud you for a great start of questioning deeply where you want to attend! Students who do this simply set themselves up for success! Keep it up!

Jordan recommends the following next steps:

  • Pick the correct environment for opportunity
  • Research the faculty
  • Research the different schools
  • Pick the correct environment for opportunity