As many young dancers come to the end of their high school years, the battle of continuing dance in hope of a professional career or leaving it behind and pursuing a university route is quite common. For many, the idea of leaving behind years of training and memories seems impossible and instead look to combining both their passion of dance and a desire to obtain a university degree.
In Australia there are currently 7 institutes offering a degree in dance, generally as a Bachelor of Arts majoring in dance or dance performance. Majority of the courses are a 3-year full time undergraduate degree teaching a range of practical and theory based skills for a career in the dance industry. Employment opportunities include dance teacher, choreographer, community dance artist, artistic director, dance medicine and science and arts management, as well as a professional dancer.
So why study dance? Studying dance not only offers you three more years of technique and performance classes in a variety of styles including classical, jazz, musical theatre, yoga and ballroom, but, unlike regular dance classes, undergraduate degrees expose you to other aspects of the art form you may not have previously considered as a possible career path. From anatomy to dance history, theatrical production, drama and entertainment marketing, a university degree offers intensive exploration into the world of dance beyond the practical nature.
Of course, having a degree is not going to guarantee you jobs as a professional dancer and, like many jobs in the entertainment industry, your talent and connections play a very large role in your career. However a lot of dancers who haven’t been studying dance full-time find the leap from high school to a professional career too big and find studying dance a time to figure out exactly what they want and to grow as an industry professional. It is also a great way to gain connections, experience and maturity in a professional environment as a creative practitioner. On top of this, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance) is also great to have as a back-up should your performance career not work out and provides longevity to a career that is often short-spanned.
If you have had your heart set on being a dancer since your first class and are ready to begin your professional career, then university dance studies may not be the best option for you. Studying is also a big commitment both time wise and financially so it is important to make sure it is the right decision for you. If, however, you are ready for the commitment, university dance has some great benefits and is definitely a path worth exploring! Of course, it is important to remember that even with a degree it is important for any dancer to keep attending auditions, workshop and events to not only keep your technical skills up, but your professional network!