Dance BFA programs are growing exponentially with the rise of dance careers available thanks to modern technology and social media. But, because a collegiate dance department is such a new idea, there are many misconceptions about people that choose to pursue a dance degree. As a student in a conservative, "office-job" region, I hear them daily: "What exactly do you plan to do with that kind of degree?" "Do you even have to work?" While it's tempted to be hurt by them, it's important to remember that most people ask these kinds of questions out of a lack of knowledge. So, what better way to remedy the problem than provide non-dance majors with some facts.
1. We know it's risky, you don't have to tell us.
We would not be spending 4+ years at a college of dance if we had not already weighed the costs. We're adults with the ability to make the life choices that are right for us. Telling us to "just go to PT school" doesn't help the situation, Bob.
2. Dance Department is NOT the same thing as Dance Team.
Both are great, but the dance team performs for seasonal sporting events, while dance majors earn a degree in what they do. Totally. Separate. Things. :)
3. Dance majors aren't a bunch of dumb blondes that aren't smart enough to do anything else.
Dance majors have amazing brains! We learn long combinations of movement in minutes, translate verbal queues into movement instantaneously, and are constantly aware of our surroundings. All of our knowledge may not come via textbook, but the university-level smarts are most certainly there!
4. We DO take gen-eds.
Unless you're a dance major at a highly-ranked conservatory, general education classes are part of getting that degree! We have to study, write papers and take tests just like everyone else. But, we're usually sporting a bun or workout clothes in class, so we're not hard to spot.
5. We are athletes, even though we are not considered college athletes
There is a lot of debate in the dance world around the issue of whether or not dance majors should receive the same benefits that most college athletes do. But, whatever side you stand on, it is undeniable that dancers with such dedication to their craft are athletes among the rest.
6. We (usually) don't attend competitions.
Unless it's a nationally broadcast show like "World of Dance", "SYTYCD", or "Dancing With The Stars", dance competitions are usually reserved for grade school students looking to get scholarship money or dance intensive opportunities. Collegiate-level dance is for personal growth and artistry, which is manifested in showcases, festivals, and other non-competitive performance opportunities.
7. "Dance class" doesn't mean "prance around for three hours."
Dance studios don't have desks, but our major still requires an insane amount of work. That work is simply more physically participatory. Contrary to popular belief, dance majors don't spend their days in tutus skipping from one end of the room to the other. It's more like standing in front of the mirror repeating a step again...and again...and again...until you get sick of it!
8. We have many, many career options.
Many people assume that dance majors can only teach in small dance studios or perform on cruise ships. While both of these professions are amazing dance jobs to have, there are many others available. Dance majors can become choreographers, dance company members, dance therapists, dance journalists, dance photographers, yoga instructors, managers, lecturers, and so much more! (Many dancers work more than one job in order to sustain income and maintain multiple skills.)
9. We have friends outside of our department.
Yes, we spend a lot of time with other dancers, but it's because we don't have a choice! A tight rehearsal schedule calls for hours spent with other dance majors, but everyone needs a break! Some dancers are in Greek organizations and social groups on their college campus. Others make friends in their gen-ed classes, apartment complexes, bible studies, etc.!
10. We're not snooty!
In my experience, dance majors are very open-minded and inclusive because they understand what it means to work in a restrictive, highly disciplined environment, and no one wants to live like that all day! We have a rep for being "above it all" as artists, but that heir of confidence is mostly reserved for performance aesthetic.
Now that you've been educated on the world of the collegiate dancer, you too can refrain from making dream-crushing statements about dance majors! Congrats!