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