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Dance, General

Program Description

Just the Facts

Dance, General. A general program that prepares individuals to express ideas, feelings, and/or inner visions through the performance of one or more of the dance disciplines, including but not limited to ballet, modern, jazz, ethnic, and folk dance, and that focuses on the study and analysis of dance as a cultural phenomenon. Includes instruction in technique, choreography, Laban notation, dance history and criticism, and dance production.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

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See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Related Careers

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Related Programs

Often similar programs have different names. Be sure to explore all your options.

Additional Information

Aspiring dancers can choose from a long list of training possibilities. Private lessons, training with a dance company, joining a dance crew, bachelor's and master's degrees are all options.

Post-secondary education is not required to become a dancer. However, if you plan to take dance to the professional level, these programs offer great preparation and excellent opportunities to make contacts in the industry.

Students can find bachelor of fine arts (BFA) degrees with a concentration in dance performance. These degrees are also available at the master's level.

Bachelor of arts (BA) or bachelor of science (BSc) degrees are offered in dance by some universities. These programs often include courses and studio work in dance, movement analysis, technique, choreography, theory, dance history and criticism.

Most programs give students a chance to perform. Students usually have to audition as part of the admission process. Students will be judged based on their current ability, potential, and passion for learning and the arts. Entry can be competitive.

"The program involves rigorous training, and high-level academic achievement is expected. The nature of the program requires full dedication for a student who is serious about pursuing a career in dance," says Merry Lynn Morris. She is the academic advisor and an instructor in the School of Theater and Dance at the University of South Florida. The dance program offers a BA in dance studies and a BFA in dance performance.

"Most college programs in dance use ballet and modern dance as a fundamental base of technique. Some emphasize one over the other and may also incorporate ballroom dance, world dance, tap, jazz or other types of dance within the core program," says Morris.

Because of the different emphases, students should look for a program that fits with their interests and goals.

"We are a contemporary program that focuses on performance and creation and integrates thinking and doing. It is a good program for people who are open to exploring new ways of dancing and thinking about art," says Judith Garay. She is a dance professor. Her program offers contemporary/modern technique classes grounded in classical modern styles. Students also learn post-modern, ballet and improvisation.

"I frequently find that students are interested in what they have already been exposed to. As they study new forms of dance, their perspective frequently changes radically. I recommend that students study outside their comfort range because being a well-rounded dancer is an asset whatever one's ultimate career goal is," says Garay.

Morris recommends visiting the campus and watching the classes. Students should try to determine if the program would be the right "fit" for them. They should try to meet faculty, students and alumni, and ask questions about the reputation of the program and the curriculum.

Class size is important to ensure that there will be enough individual attention to develop as a dancer.

Students should also look for a program that will prepare them for a career after graduation.

"To be competitive in the dance world, a dancer must be versatile and able to adapt to multiple styles. Ballet has always traditionally been a healthy foundation which provides an important base of body knowledge for the dancer. A student should be exposed to ballet technique, regardless of their particular dance interest," says Morris. A consistent mixture of modern and ballet training seems ideal, adds Morris.

To prepare for a career in dance, high school students should begin to train in ballet. They should also get as much experience in other dance styles as possible.

"Being active both physically and mentally is definitely an asset. Visit the art gallery and go the theatre to see dance performances of professional works whenever possible," says Garay.

In addition to class fees and college tuition, dancewear and shoes are an additional cost. Students should also be prepared to pay for admission to performances where they will study professional dancers' techniques. Some textbooks will be required.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Dancers and Choreographers

Dance USA
A great collection of resources and opportunities for dancers

American Ballet Theater
Learn more about a ballet company

National Dance Council of America
Lots of great information about pursuing a career in the dance industry


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