An Insight To The Lives Of Dance Majors

An Insight To The Lives Of Dance Majors

Here's an enlightenment for all those curious as to what dance majors really go through during their time in college.


Many people assume those dance majors, and performing art majors in general, have it easy and we go through college having absolutely no worries because what we do on a daily basis isn't challenging or academically demanding. Little do people know that we are doing just as much, if not more work than the other majors around. We are constantly are pushing ourselves to be better than we already are mentally and physically and the demand our majors put on us is sometimes the most overwhelming thing. We also have to deal with drama because, surprise, we are a part of the dramatic arts.

I am currently in my sophomore year as a dance performance major. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, you'd be right about it being cool but I have also received a lot of negative feedback for my decision to be a dance major. *Full disclosure that I am a double major in the Political Science field as well* However, during my freshman year of meeting people, when I would tell them that I was a dance major, they would just step back and laugh. They would say that it wasn't a real major and that I can't get a degree for skipping and rolling around a room all day long. I feel this need to constantly reaffirm that I have made the right decision being a dance major.

What most people do not know is that dance majors do not just dance around the whole time they are in class. We really are more academically based, even in the performance classes that we take. During the two years I have spent here, I have been in 6 performance-style classes, but I am required for those classes to constantly be reading and writing papers on the history and the formations of styles and other elements of dance that I need to know in order to have a full understanding of my art form and how it has developed.

We also have strict requirements for our academic-based classes. As dance majors, we must understand the entire history of dance and therefore, at Illinois State we are required to take two semesters of dance history classes, along with the supplemented history we learn in our technique classes. We also must understand how the body works and moves, so we take an anatomy course designed for dancers. Music theory and understanding music is another class that we have to take for us to be able to develop a mental understanding of the way music works with movement and the different theories along with it. Our composition classes are pushing us as dancers to be able to come up with organic movement from our own minds, usually having us create 5-12 minute pieces to show to our classes in the matter of the week, within our three required choreography classes. As dance majors, we are also in need of an acting class, costuming class, stage makeup class, lighting class and more to enhance our skill set and make us better understand these forms of art and how to incorporate those into the dance aspects we are learning.

People also don't realize that since it is such a small program, we have a lot of drama that goes on. This is really just due to the fact that we are with each other all day, every day and sometimes we butt heads on certain situations. We also just deal with people not meshing sometimes and that is usually okay in most other departments and majors, but as I had said, we are together all the time. In a lot of our classes or rehearsals, we are constantly working with everyone in the department, regardless of the way we feel about them. We are like a family full of brothers and sisters and just like families, we disagree sometimes but at the end of the day, I feel blessed to have this strong support system behind me. The products that we put out, whether it be our concerts, choreographic works, new partnering, job wise, or anything in between, are amazing because we work through the drama and it just makes us stronger.

Becoming a dance major puts a lot of strain on your body.

Constantly dancing most of the day for your classes and then at night for the rehearsals you have really put a large amount of pressure on your body. We must learn how to work our hardest to prevent injury and really take care of ourselves, however, sometimes it is inevitable and our bodies get pushed too far. Injury as a dance major is scary. We have to drop our movement classes most of the time if it is a long term injury which means we are below the credits we need and we are behind in the classes we need to graduate. Plus, financially we have already paid for the classes we are taking most of the time. So it is always in our mind that we must take care of ourselves and be the best that we can be in order to keep dancing and keep our dreams alive.

So, yes dance majors are extremely lucky that we get to spend every day doing the thing that we love the most but never forget that we go through so much in order to establish our place and work toward what we want. This is just a little taste of the life of a dance major because there is so much that goes into it but I hope this was enlightening for someone who previously was uneducated about what really goes on in the life of a person who picked the dance major.

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Stop Discourging Future Teachers

One day, you'll be thankful for us.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?" It seems like this is the question we heard from the time we were able to talk. Our answers started out as whatever movie or action figure was popular that year. I personally was going to be Cinderella and shoot spider webs out of my wrists at the same time. The next phase was spent choosing something that we read about in a book or saw in movies. We were aspiring to be actors, skydivers, and astronauts.

After we realized NASA may not necessarily be interested in every eager 10-year-old, we went through the unknown stage. This chapter of life can last a year or for some, forever. I personally did not have a long “unknown" stage. I knew I was going to be a teacher, more specifically I knew I wanted to do elementary or special education. I come from a family of educators, so it was no surprise that at all the Thanksgiving and Christmas functions I had actually figured it out. The excitement of knowing what to do with the rest of my life quickly grew and then began to dwindle just as fast.


"Well, looks like you'll be broke all your life."

“That's a lot of paperwork."

“If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't choose this."

These are just a few replies I have received. The unfortunate part is that many of those responses were from teachers themselves. I get it, you want to warn and prepare us for the road we are about to go down. I understand the stress it can take because I have been around it. The countless hours of grading, preparing, shopping for the classroom, etc. all takes time. I can understand how it would get tiresome and seem redundant. The feeling a teacher has when the principal schedules yet another faculty meeting to talk an hour on what could've been stated in an email… the frustration they experience when a few students seem uncontrollable… the days they feel inadequate and unseen… the sadness they feel when they realize the student with no supplies comes from a broken home… I think it is safe to say that most teachers are some of the toughest, most compassionate and hardworking people in this world.

Someone has to be brave enough to sacrifice their time with their families to spend time with yours. They have to be willing to provide for the kids that go without and have a passion to spread knowledge to those who will one day be leading this country. This is the reason I encourage others to stop telling us not to go for it.

Stop saying we won't make money because we know. Stop saying we will regret it, because if we are making a difference, then we won't. Stop telling us we are wasting our time, when one day we will be touching hearts.

Tell us to be great, and then wish us good luck. Tell us that our passion to help and guide kids will not go unnoticed. Tell us that we are bold for trying, but do not tell us to change our minds.

Teachers light the path for doctors, police officers, firefighters, politicians, nurses, etc. Teachers are pillars of society. I think I speak for most of us when I say that we seek to change a life or two, so encourage us or sit back and watch us go for it anyways.

Cover Image Credit: Kathryn Huffman

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14 Honest College Things The Class Of 2023 Needs To Know ~Before~ Fall Semester

Sit down, be humble.


To The Class of 2023,

Before you start your college career, please know:

1. Nobody...and I mean nobody gives a shit about your AP Calculus scores.


" I got a 5 in Calc AB AND BC, a 5 in AP Literature, awh but I only got a 4 in AP Chem"

2. THE SAME GOES FOR YOUR SAT/ACT SCORES + nobody will know what you're talking about because they changed the test like 10 times since.


3. College 8 AMs are not the same as your 0 period orchestra class in 12th grade.


4. You're going to get rejected from a lot of clubs and that does not make you a failure.


5. If you do get into your clubs, make sure not to overwhelm or overcommit yourself.

visual representation of what it looks like when you join too many clubs


6. It's OK to realize that you don't want to be pre-med or you want to change majors.


7. There will ALWAYS ALWAYS be someone who's doing better than you at something but that doesn't mean you're behind.


8. "I'm a freshman but sophomore standin-" No, you don't have to clarify that, you'll sound like an asshole.


9. You may get your first ever B-, C+ or even D OR EVEN A W in your life. College is meant to teach you how to cope with failure.


10. Go beyond your comfort zone. Join a theatre club if you're afraid of public speaking. Join an animal rescue club if you're afraid of animals. College is learning more about yourself.


11. Scholarships do exist. APPLY APPLY APPLY.


12. Don't try to brag about all the stuff you did in high school, you'll just sound like a weenie hut jr. scout


13. Understand and be sensitive to the fact that everybody around you has a different experience and story of getting to university.


14. You're going to be exposed to people with different opinions and views, don't fight them. Instead, try to explain your perspective and listen to their reasoning as well.


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