Everything You Need to Know About Declaring a Dance Major

Thinking about declaring a dance major? We had professors discuss all the factors you should consider before submitting that major-declaration form.

Think seriously about:

General Education Requirements

"Be aware of the general education requirements at your institution, and think about consistently working on those in conjunction with your dance work. Look for courses you're excited about taking, rather than feeling like you have to get them over with."

—Annie Kloppenberg, associate professor of theater and dance at Colby College in Waterville, ME

Your Faculty Adviser

"Your advising situation is super-important to your success as a dance major. Make time to meet frequently so your adviser can get to know you and your goals."

—Tauna Hunter, dance director and associate professor of dance at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA

Self-care and Time Management as You Balance Academics and Rehearsals

"Many dance departments have an entry-level course to learn about nutrition, sleep habits, and how to manage your time at school. If your college doesn't offer such a course, seek out resources from student counseling, student health services, and the academic resource center to build the skills you need as a busy dance major." —TH

Focus Within the Major

"You should decide on your path within the major by sophomore spring, so you can successfully graduate on time. Hopefully there's an exploratory time of 18 months
to 2 years before then, when you
investigate paths available within the department." —TH

If You Want to Double-Major

"If the second major requires a lot of courses that don't overlap with dance and you declare late in the game, that can be challenging. On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with declaring a second major early and starting to follow those paths. If you realize it's the wrong path for you, there's time to change." —AK

Study Abroad

"If it's a priority for you to study abroad, talk to your adviser sooner rather than later. Look at the language requirements for the abroad programs, as well as what your home university requires. Think strategically about which courses you'll take abroad to count toward your major and/or move you toward graduation." —AK

Don't need to worry about it yet:

Senior Thesis

"The work you do in the major evolves and develops toward the thesis. Students make a lot of changes from freshman to senior year in their personal and artistic development." —TH

Postgrad Plans

"It's perfectly acceptable to major in dance even if you don't think you're going to pursue it as a career. The college major serves a broader purpose: It's a framework for learning and shaping your future citizenship and engagement in the world. The more important question to ask yourself is, 'Am I going to be deeply engaged in the majority of these courses?' "

A version of this story appeared in the March 2018 issue of
Dance Spirit with the title "The Major Requirements."

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.


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