Friday, July 8, 2011

College Dance Auditions 101: Choosing the Major

This post is for all of you dancers out there who are auditioning for college in the fall, or thinking of majoring in dance. It will be the first of a series of posts (I hope), especially if I get feedback or questions!

So you're probably a rising junior or senior in high school, and you've decided (or known for a while) that you want to major in dance in college. But what do you really want to do? With a BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Dance, you're headed for a wide range of fields - performance, choreography, costuming, history, therapy, Labanotation, just about any field that includes dance that you can think of. In general, the BA for Dance is a generalized degree. You're not required to take as many classes as the BFA students are. On the other hand, the BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in Dance sets you up for a career as a professional dancer. You will most likely specialize in a certain area of dance (ballet, jazz, modern/contemporary usually) and will go on to perform in companies, on Broadway, and in music videos, just to name a few.

Having read my brief overview of the BA and BFA degrees, some of you may have realized that you don't know what you want to do with your dance degree - only that you love dance and/or are talented and want to develop your talent. Before applying to college, put some consideration into these questions:
  1. "Why do I want to be a dance major?"
  2. "What do I want out of my life?"
  3. "Do I want to dance for the rest of my life?"
Things to consider when thinking about the above questions:
  1. Could you dance 3-4 hours a day 5 days a week for at least 4 years? That's a generalized idea of what dance in college will be like, unless you're in a conservatory program (BFA) like The Juilliard School or CalArts, in which you may dance up to 9 (or more?!) hours a day. And keep in mind this is only college! Once you have your degree and graduate, then you dance for the rest of your life!
  2. Are you interested in becoming a professional dancer (BFA)? Have you thought of the things that professional dancers have to do, like flying all over the country for auditions, not having a steady annual income, not having a lot of money to spend, late night rehearsals, and being injured? Or do you want to have a more normal life, a desk job, and/or a family and have dance on the side (BA or minor)? (Don't get me wrong - it's possible to have a family and be a professional dancer, but it's tough) Do you have other areas of talent or interest? 
  3. It's a hard life you're choosing, if you want to be a professional dancer. It's one of the most competitive and lowest paid industries. There is a high rate of injury and it's very likely you won't last past 30. Do you have a backup plan? Do you love dance enough to keep going? Even if you want to dance and your heart wants to dance, can your body dance? Do you see yourself on a stage somewhere?
I bought this book when I was applying for college, and it gave me a great idea of the BA and BFA, the lifestyle, courses, possible jobs after college, and much more. A good idea for any prospective dance major!

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