A Survival Guide for Dance Majors

Preparation Pointers

  • Leave your ego behind. This isn’t “your studio,” so don’t assume you’ll be the best dancer in every class.
  • Prepare yourself for the task of adjusting to different styles and ways of teaching. Approach each class as if it were a workshop with a master teacher.
  • Constructive criticism helps dancers discover both their strengths and weaknesses. Before heading off to college, ask your favorite teacher to be candid about yours. Then, ask her for advice on how to give feedback tactfully to others.
  • Peer pressure can be as strong in college as it is in high school. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll listen to your instincts when making decisions.


Major Etiquette

  • If you attend college in your hometown, never ditch a dance program function, rehearsal or performance to participate in activities with your home studio.
  • Hard work equals success. If you give 100 percent every day to improving your technique, your professors will put 100 percent into helping you develop as a dancer.
  • Always respect your professors’ advice, especially when it concerns choreography projects, your movement progress or your future.
  • Network, network, network! Mingle with guest artists who visit your school; research and contact companies, magazines and dance organizations; and get involved in the local dance community. Make connections and keep them.
  • Step out of your comfort zone in order to explore new types of movement. Take technique classes in styles you’ve never tried before—expanding your movement vocabulary is essential to expanding your opportunities.
  • Never turn down an opportunity to choreograph. College is the time to cultivate these skills, when you have mentors and free rehearsal and performance space.
  • Leave your ego behind. This isn’t “your studio,” so don’t assume you’ll be the best dancer in every class.
  • Prepare yourself for the task of adjusting to different styles and ways of teaching. Approach each class as if it were a workshop with a master teacher.
  • Constructive criticism helps dancers discover both their strengths and weaknesses. Before heading off to college, ask your favorite teacher to be candid about yours. Then, ask her for advice on how to give feedback tactfully to others.
  • Peer pressure can be as strong in college as it is in high school. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll listen to your instincts when making decisions.

Staying Grounded
  • Balancing dance and academics can be tricky. At the first sign of work overload, ask your professors for advice and always enlist their help when planning your schedule.
  • Make healthy choices, eat right, exercise and get enough sleep. Bottom line: Don’t deprive yourself.
  • If you’re attending a liberal arts college, take as many academic courses as you can fit into your schedule. Graduating with knowledge in different areas can help you get work between dance gigs. Plus, you could combine passions—for instance, pursuing dance journalism or movement therapy.
  • Form friendships both inside and outside the dance program to keep yourself balanced and positive. Rely on these friendships, especially when being a dance major becomes overwhelming.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

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Photo by Erin Baiano

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