Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Setting Yourself Up for a Career in Dance

Dancing is by no means an easy way to make a living. However, for some people it's the obvious choice when it comes to deciding on a career. Getting in to the professional dance world can be tough, and it takes a lot of luck. With so many universities and colleges offering degrees in dance, is it worth going to school before you take a crack at the stage? There are many ways to set yourself up for a career in dance and this blog should help your decide whether or not a dance degree is right for you.

Career Options for Dancers

It can be easy to imagine yourself on stage or dancing on a music video, but dance careers aren't just limited to performance. It's important to realise that whilst professional dance is a tough world and many performers just don't make it, that there are other career options. Teaching is always a possibility, as is choreography. However, physical therapists, dance therapists, and even primary school teachers can all benefit from dance training. Given how hard it is to break into the dance world, it is worth considering some back up options that relate to your dance training.

The Pros of a Dance Degree

There are some advantages to getting a degree in dance, not least that should you be considering these back up career options that a degree will be infinitely useful. While dancers don't need degrees to perform, getting qualifications can aid you in other areas of the dance field. Even if you're a great dancer with a promising professional future ahead of you, there is always the chance that you could be injured and unable to perform, so additional qualifications are a nice safety net. Plus, many dance students tend to double major, giving them a degree in dance as well as one in another area that can provide additional support should dancing not pay the bills.
There is another huge advantage to getting a degree. Schools specialising in dance, whether they be dance academies or universities with a solid dance programme, will give you the contacts that you need to get ahead. In the area of the arts, just as in other professions, sometimes the people that you know are just as important as what you know. Getting into a good dance programme, even if you don't end up completing a degree, will get you introductions to professional dancers, choreographers, directors and agents, and these people can be instrumental in helping you build your career.

The Cons of a Degree in Dance

There is one major drawback to a degree in dance, which is the combination of time and money. Dancing requires constant learning and training. It's possible that a study programme will leave you without the time to put in the training that you need. Additionally, as university and academy programmes are getting more and more expensive, you might find yourself short of funds to pay for on-going classes with good teachers.
Even with loans to pay student fees, once you have a degree you're not guaranteed a stable income that's going to help you pay those loan bills. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have a big break and know the right people, a dance degree really isn't going to be a necessity. You can make it without a degree if you work hard and train hard, but an additional qualification, if you can afford it, might make a difference to your quality of life if things don’t pan out as you planned. Just like sports, dance careers are often short and high-pressured, so having a plan B is the sensible option.

Sharon Pertwee is a stage performer who teaches dance and musical theatre to young children in her spare time. She studied at a well-known university to gain a teaching qualification but followed her passion and learnt dance at

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