Dancer to Dancer

How to Incorporate Your Dance Experience in Your College Essays

Thinkstock

Of the many moving parts of a college application, the essay might be the most daunting. But consider yourself luckier than other applicants, because your dance experiences can only help you craft a winning essay—whether or not you're planning to pursue a dance major.


If You're Going to Major

If you're gunning for a highly focused dance program, you might think that the audition is the most important component of your application. But don't neglect to express your dance goals clearly in a general admissions or scholarship essay, says Megan Slayter, chair and associate professor of dance at Western Michigan University. "Just like any department across any university, we're looking for good grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure," she says. "Beyond strong written communication skills, we're looking for your sense of identity as a dancer—that you know who you are and who you want to be as an artist, and why you think we can help you achieve that."

Cite specific aspects of the college's dance department that excite you—unique artistic or research resources, or a particular emphasis in the dance major that intrigues. But don't just tell a university what you think they want to hear. "Over-the-top language that compliments our school doesn't tell me about you," Slayter says. "I question the authenticity of a student who tells me, 'This is the best dance department ever and I can't imagine being anyplace else!'"

If You're Not Going to Major

Even if you don't plan to major in dance, your years of dedication in the studio can show an admissions department why you'd be a great addition to their student body. "Your experience in dance has shaped who you are," Slayter says. "Dance is a unique voice you can share with an admissions officer to talk about overcoming adversity, working hard to achieve your goals, and sharing a part of yourself with others."

If you choose to focus on dance in your admissions essay, consider who's reading your words—usually, non-dancers in the admissions department—and take care to translate your dance life to the language of college life. "Dance builds leadership skills, communication, collaboration, and creativity," Slayter says. "For example, think about any time you've had a large, traveling spatial pattern onstage and have had to figure out who's crossing up- and downstage. That's problem-solving!" Brainstorm the skills you've built onstage and in rehearsals, and use your essay to prove how those experiences have prepared you for a successful college career—in or out of the studio.


A version of this story appeared in the November 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Essay All Day."

Amanda LaCount showing off her skills (screenshot via YouTube)

There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.

Keep reading... Show less

Leap! National Dance Competition offers dancers of all skill levels an opportunity to showcase their talents in an event where the focus is on fun and competing is just a bonus!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer

Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
The School at Jacob's Pillow's contemporary program auditions (photo by Karli Cadel, courtesy Jacob's Pillow)

Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.

Keep reading... Show less
Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB

Mark your calendars, bunheads! On Monday, January 29th, at 2:45 PM (EST)/11:45 AM (PST), Pacific Northwest Ballet will be streaming a live rehearsal of Act II of Kent Stowell's Swan Lake.

Keep reading... Show less
Watch This
Tavaris Jones dancing with the Cleveland Cavaliers' Scream Team hip-hop crew

We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)

So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Joe Toreno

The coolest place she's ever performed:

I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!


Something she's constantly working on:

My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'


Signature look:

My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.


Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!

Serafina

Keep reading... Show less
Trending-posts
Screenshot via YouTube

*suddenly feels the overpowering urge to purchase a million bottles of Pocari Sweat*

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Mandy Moore (photo by Lee Cherry, courtesy Bloc Agency)

In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.

Read more at dancemagzine.com!

Sponsored

Want to Be on Our Cover?

covermodelsearch-image

Video

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Sponsored