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We hope you’ll join us this July 19-24, 2021 in Los Angeles!
Tis’ the season! The holidays are upon us. And though this
time of year should be a one of joy and relaxation, it can often be rather stressful.
I’m here to relieve a little bit of that stress by helping friends and relatives
with some gift ideas for their dancers.
I literally asked my parents for these for Christmas. Dancers love music.
If they don’t, then they are in the wrong industry. Wireless headphones are
great for running choreography before a class or competition without having to
worry about the headphones disconnecting from the music-playing device.
Online Tutorial Membership
If you want LA training but live
in the middle of nowhere with limited funds, then this one is for you! Gift a
membership with a dance tutorial company. Tutorials are available in a variety
of levels and styles, so there is something for everyone. Check out Steezy and
I invested in one of these last
year, and it was worth every penny. It’s perfect to bring to competition to run
your numbers before you hit the stage. Because competitions can get super loud,
oftentimes laptops and phones just can’t cut it where volume is concerned. Portable
speakers are the new boom box, and their usefulness to dancers cannot be
Dancers’ feet are extra important.
I always have a separate pair of sneakers that I only use for dancing—that way
they don’t wear out as fast. Especially for hip hop and jazz funk, dancers will
want a pair of shoes that have a flat surface at the bottom. The flat surface
makes it easier to glide and turn. Avoid styles with grooves and indents.
Let’s be honest, dancers live in
athletic apparel, especially yoga pants. Whether we wear them to dance class, to
school, or just to lounge around, dancers can never have enough
Tickets For A Performance
Attending performances is a great
way to become a more informed dancer. Giving tickets to a show for a musical or
a dance company makes for a wonderful present idea. You’ll be gifting your
dancer an experience that he/she will never forget.
Registration For A Convention or Intensive
Material goods are always nice and
appreciated, but experiences are often better. And if not better, then gifted
experiences at least offer unique benefits for the recipient Attending a
convention or an intensive can help improve your dancer’s skills and technique.
But it’s also like a mini dancer vacation—though your dancer is still dancing,
he/she is getting away from the studio. To make this an extra special holiday
present, see if the convention or intensive you plan on gifting sells
merchandise and pair the gift certificate with a sweatshirt or T-shirt!
Does your dancer want to do a summer intensive or fly out of the state to
experience a dance hub? Put money into a dance fund for him/her! This way,
other family members can contribute during the holiday season, as well as
during other gift-giving occasions. The money can go toward the intensive or
Headshots make a great present! For
one thing, they are required in this industry. And for another, headshots are a
nice motivational gift. Having a good headshot can help with a dancer’s confidence
when attending castings and auditions. Headshots are a serious investment of
both time and money. (Some photographers have waiting lists!) They’re so
crucial and costly that, personally, I would be thrilled if someone
gifted me a headshot session.
This holiday season, be the Oprah
of dancewear-giving for the performers in your life. You get a leotard! You get
a leotard! EVERYONE GETS A LEOTARD! Dancers can never have enough dance clothes.
Leotards, booty shorts, crop tops, bra tops, or even fun dance-related clothes
to wear to school! You can’t go wrong.
I hope the above list helps relieve some of the stress of
gift-giving this holiday season. From myself and the rest of the Hollywood
Dance Experience team, thank you for being here and supporting us. You mean so
much, and I hope you have a blessed and happy holiday season!
A 2018 article from Dance Spirit Magazine, “What Dancers Can Do with a College Degree that They Can’t Do Without One,” has recently resurfaced on social media. It has been getting a lot of buzz and, this week, I’d like to add to the noise. For those of you who have been here before, you likely already know that I attended university and earned my dance degree. So, as you can probably imagine, the reemergence of this Dance Spirit Magazine article prompted me to reflect on my own education and post-college experience. After careful consideration, I am… torn. The article is somewhat aligned to the reality of my own experience, it is very informative, and it provides a good deal of food for thought. That said, I believe the article’s assessment of the value of a dance degree is a tad skewed. In an effort to balance the perspective, here is my two cents.
Save $500 and give your dancer a magical vacation and unforgettable memories with just one gift – Hollywood Dance Experience!
This holiday season, give your dancer the gift of Hollywood Dance Experience! Save up to $500 on Registration with this special offer—and say “HELLOOO HOLLYWOOD” to new adventure in July 2020!
For a limited time, save $500 or more on Registration at HDE, Summer Event, July 20-25, 2020. Act fast—by December 16, 2019—to save the most with this offer!
To receive a personalized presentation tailored to your needs, contact a Hollywood Dance Experience Customer Care Specialist by calling (562) 294-6239. They’ll be happy to talk to you about Hollywood Dance Experience, which is customizable to fit your dancer’s vacation dreams. You can also ask about savings that may be available on other packages.
These savings end January 28, 2020—and additional savings are available when you purchase by December 16, 2019—but your vacation memories will last a lifetime.
I don’t need to be a parent to know that it’s the hardest job in the world. Literally. I know this because my mom had to deal with me, and my adolescence was no cakewalk for my dear mother. I’m aware that parents have a million and one things to do on the daily basis. And if you are a full blown dance mom (or dad), then you probably spend too much of your time at the studio when you could be at home with your family or having “you” time. That said, with the precious little time you have on your hands, there are a few basic things you can do to help your child take the next step in the dance industry. Just as students sit down to do homework every night, I am giving you two assignments to continuously work on to help your child succeed in this Instagram world.
1. Learn How To Use Technology
Every few months, my mom calls me and asks me to explain, yet again, how to upload pictures from her computer to Facebook. At her request, I wrote down the directions for uploading pictures. Yet, I inevitably get the same call asking for the same instructions. This drives me crazy! For all the help my mother has given me, I am happy to return the favor. My primary concern, however, is that we live in an ever-changing world dominated by technology. We all must learn to use that technology, or we will be left behind.
You may be thinking, “So what? What does this have to do with helping my dancer?” Well, do you know the best way to record a video on your smartphone that gives your dancer great quality for a reel or Instagram? After that, could you edit the video into your child’s reel? And could you then upload the video to your child’s social media accounts? Do you know how to tag relevant people (e.g., choreographers and teachers) in the description and on the actual photo or video on Instagram? Wait. Let’s backtrack. Do you know how to use Instagram?
Some of you probably have dancers who are old enough to manage their own social media accounts. For the rest of you, however, you can and should help your child develop a social media presence. The fact of the matter is, if your child aspires to dance professionally, he/she will need to be on social media. So you should learn the ropes. Wherever you are at with technology, it’s okay. Taking 10 minutes each day to learn and advance your skills will only benefit all of you in the long run. Additionally, try to keep up with social media trends (i.e., which platforms are growing, which existing ones are changing or rebranding, which new ones are launching, and which ones are most applicable to your child’s career). You don’t have to be an expert by tomorrow.
2. Do Your Research
I know that “doing research” is a very general piece of advice. So what do I mean by that? First, maybe find different dance intensives or programs in your area in which your child could participate. Maybe it’s a summer program. Second, search for nearby, upcoming conventions that your dancer could attend. Third, map out your dancers general plans for the next year. This could mean (1) finding out what kind of headshots your dancer needs for his/her age, (2) learning how to write a dance resume, (3) researching the types of clips that belong in a reel, (4) investigating college dance programs, (5) where to find auditions and so on and so forth. There are plenty of other research topics to dig into, but these few are a good place to start. Understand that these research questions will be different for everyone depending on what they want to do with their dance career. Once you get comfortable with this sort of research, pass the skill on to your dancer. They will need to be able to do this research on their own in the near future. They will need to make decisions about where to go to school—that is, if they want to attend college—and about what sort of dance career they want to pursue. Once they’ve made those choices, they will have to continue researching classes, events, and auditions to advance their careers. Preparation is key. The best thing your dancers can do for themselves is stay informed. And that is something you can teach them to do. Get them started and set an example.
While I gave my mom a hard time at the beginning of this blog she did great when it came to doing research for me. Except, she didn’t use the internet to do research. Not at first at least. She used Dance Spirit magazine! She didn’t know how to surf the web, to be honest, she still doesn’t! Every month my magazine would come in the mail and she would use sticky notes to flag conventions, competitions, or summer programs that we would need to look into. We would then type in the web address and go from there. Yes, type in the web address. She didn’t know how to use Google. When I was older, I did this for myself. But at that younger age she did it for me. Trust me when I say, if my mom can do it you can do it too!
You’re here, reading this article right now. That means you are already on the right path! I know you all want the best for your kids, no matter what they choose in life. Saving time is everything. I’m not saying to cut corners. In this industry if you don’t have that solid foundation your house will fall down. I know you want them to be happy and successful. The best way to help them is to get a head start. Make those materials (i.e., headshot, resume, reel, and social media accounts). If your dancer is prepared and ahead of the curve, the rest will come a bit more easily. If you are completely overwhelmed, I’m sorry to make you feel that way. But please know I already wrote a handful of blogs that cover some topics to get you started. I’m here for you. Hollywood Dance Experience is here for you! I know parents don’t get told this enough, but you are doing great! Keep going and you got this!
As performers, it is natural for us to want attention and praise—even the humblest of dancers. It is reassuring and gratifying to know that your efforts are recognized and that your hard work is paying off. But what happens when you might not be getting all the praise and aren’t the best dancer in your level or age group? How do you deal with not “being the best”? If you truly want to get better, then I will assume that your answer isn’t “hide under the covers and feel sorry for myself.”
When you realize you aren’t the best dancer at the studio you have already compared yourself to your peers. Competition among dancers can hinder friendships, but it shouldn’t. Don’t let it. The competition days are a prime time in your life to make memories and perform because you love to dance. For the parents reading, try not to get caught up in the cattiness of studio politics. None of that matters once your dancer graduates from the studio. At the end of the day, it’s dance. It’s not a competition of who gets a life saving surgery. But there is nothing wrong with wanting to get better. And while everyone in the world can’t be the best at everything they do, we can always strive to be better. Even that dancer who you think is amazing and wins all the time.
First, let’s define the term “best.” Being the class favorite could mean many things. For our purposes, let’s assume that the “best” dancer is the most technical dancer who is in the front of every dance. You want their spot in formations. If simply showing up to class and listening to your instructor isn’t getting you that spot, then here are a few things you can do to help you become a better and smarter dancer to take your training to the next level:
1. Apply Corrections Not Given To You
Any time a correction is given to you, apply it. Any time a correction is given to someone else in the room, apply it to yourself. Take the notes given to another dancer and evaluate yourself. You may be making the same mistakes. Depending on the number of dancers in the room, it may be impossible for the teacher to fix every mistake made by every dancer. So pay attention to all pieces of constructive criticism, not just those directed at you. It is the dancer’s responsibility to apply the corrections given and to make corrections for himself/herself. That is also why there are mirrors in class!
2. Finish Your Across-The-Floor Combinations
The size of your classroom does not matter. Whether you can fit the across-the-floor combination in once, twice, or two and half times, use all the space you are given. If you fall or mess up on that last little bit of the combo, who cares? You have to make mistakes to improve. Figure out why you failed, or assess the little things that need to be adjusted. Use all your space. Don’t be that person who walks to the other side of the room after doing the across-the-floor combination once.
3. Stand Next To The Best Dancer In The Room
If you struggle with hitting clean lines, try to get your arms to match theirs in the mirror. If you struggle to dance with texture, match theirs. If you tend to dance small, try to dance bigger than them. It’s not about becoming them. It’s about taking your technique to the next level. Beyond that, learning to match other dancers is an important skill to master if you’re interested in dancing professionally. Backup dancers, for example, need to be able to match one anther to a certain extent. Consider this an exercise in basic mirroring. Please don’t become a carbon copy of that person; we still need to see your personality.
4. Take Class Somewhere Else
No two teachers are alike. Different instructors will be able to provide you with different feedback. Try taking a class with a new teacher. He/she might give you a correction or might explain something in a different way that clicks with you. This does not require you to switch studios entirely. Just a class here or there can make a difference. Getting out of your normal studio and not worrying about what’s going on with your friends will allow you to focus solely on you and your training.
5. Videotape Yourself
I’m not talking about videotaping the cool combination that you do to post on your Instagram. Oh no. I’m talking about videotaping your barre warm up in ballet class, your center floor rond de jambes and battements in jazz class, your grooves in hip hop class, and so on. I would suggest doing this once every six months. You can learn so much from watching and critiquing yourself.
6. Cross Train
Simply put, having a stronger body will allow you to have more control over your movements. You don’t need to become a body builder. But one or two strength training sessions per week, or even a high-intensity elliptical workout to improve endurance, can go a long way.
7. Private Lessons
If you truly feel like you aren’t getting the one-on-one attention you need in class, schedule a private. If you are struggling with one specific thing that you need to workshop over and over again, schedule a private. With a dance teacher’s focus solely on you, you are bound to receive more individualized feedback. As I’m sure you all know, private lessons are not cheap. Warm up beforehand and arrive at your lesson ready to go. Given the cost of private lessons, you will want to utilize every minute.
8. Take More Classes
That’s honestly it. Take more and a variety of different types of classes.
9. Take A Notebook With You To Class
Write down your corrections and anything the teacher said that you might find useful again. Review your notes later that night, a week from then, or even a month from then. It’s always good to revisit and reassess at a later date to see where you’ve improved and where you still need work. Don’t be disruptive with the notebook; but if you have a free moment—say, between barre and center floor in your ballet class—write down your notes. If you can’t bring a notebook into class, then write down your corrections after class.
It has been six years since I last lived at home. In that
time, I have lived in two major cities, have earned my college degree, and have
entered the workforce. All the while, I’ve tried to stay as involved in the
dance industry as possible. I believe my efforts and professional experience
thus far are valuable, and I am proud of everything that I have accomplished.
Still, at the ripe, old age of twenty-four, I find myself reflecting on the
past and considering how my adolescence has shaped my present. In this
reflection, I have discovered five things that I wish I would have done—or,
rather, five things I wish my mom had made my sometimes-stubborn-teenage self
do—when I still lived at home.
1. Working Outside Of The Studio
There are a handful of dancers in our industry who are
“Booked and Blessed” (i.e., who are consistently booking dance jobs and don’t
have a side job). For most, however, this isn’t the case. In the meantime,
dancers need to work “survival jobs”–consistent, non-glamorous jobs. While I always
suggest trying to get a “survival job” in the dance or entertainment industry,
that is not an option for everyone. Sometimes, the jobs just aren’t there.
Other times, the available industry jobs do not fit your schedule, which may be
packed with classes and auditions.
If I could go back in time, I would advise high school me to
get a job outside of the dance studio. Here’s why. First, I would have learned
the value of the dollar much sooner. I have had many friends who worked at
their home studios, just like myself, when they were in high school. Instead of
earning a paycheck, these dancers are often reimbursed via a discount on their
own classes. When you’re not seeing that money in your account, and when you’re
not managing those funds yourself, the value of your work can be too abstract.
If I had had a non-industry job (e.g., retail sales associate, waitress,
babysitter, etc.), I would have more quickly learned about money management.
Second, having a job outside of the studio would have helped me to develop a
wider skillset. Not only do these skills look good under your “Special Skills”
part of your dance resume, but they can also help you find survival jobs more
easily. If you are one of the many dancers who aren’t booking dance jobs back
to back, then non-industry experience is invaluable when trying to find
alternative ways to make ends meet.
I am not saying that your dancer shouldn’t work at the
studio at all to receive discounted classes (or however they may be paid). There is a lot to learn on how to teach dance
to kids. This is valuable information if
they are interested in being a dance teacher.
However, being where I am today, I wish I had only assisted at the
studio one day a week instead of three and worked additionally somewhere else.
As a youngster, I trained at a studio that required dancers
to take gymnastics classes up to a certain age. When I was in high school, I
suffered an injury that required me to take a year off of dancing. Two years
prior to that injury, I had begged my mom to let me drop gymnastics as I had no
desire to really tumble. My mom said no to my request because she wanted me to
maintain my back flexibility. Now, I hope my mother savors this moment, because
I may never say these words again. Boy, was my mom right! The first
thing that I “lost” in terms of my dancing post surgery was my back
flexibility. I don’t need to impress upon you the importance of back
flexibility and strength in dance. It was a hard hit to take.
In general, strength, flexibility, and range of motion are
capacities that need to be improved and maintained for all professional
athletes and performers. If you’re training at the same studio and with the
same teachers year after year, it’s possible you may hit a physical plateau.
Dancers need to cross-train to ensure that all muscle groups are worked. As we age, we need to be more careful about
how we cross-train to reduce the risk of injury. In my old age, I find that
yoga, pilates, barre classes, cycling, and swimming are good cross-training
options. But I wish I had explored my options more thoroughly as an adolescent.
The dance industry is not uniform—it varies from place to
place. Different cities and communities offer different training and career
options for dancers. I truly wish I could have explored New York, Chicago, and
LA during my sophomore or junior year of high school. This would have provided
me with a better idea of what each city had to offer and, in turn, would have
helped me make a more informed decision about where to go post high school. I
know traveling is not cheap. But in the long run, it isn’t even about saving
money. It’s about saving time. I attended university in Chicago and, therefore,
made industry connections in Chicago. So when I moved to LA, I had to start
over. I am very grateful for my college experience. But I have to wonder, would
I have selected a school in Chicago if I had known more about the dance
industry elsewhere? I wouldn’t have to grapple with this question had I traveled
more as a young adult.
4. Attending Live Shows
There a ton a of dance shows (e.g., dance companies,
Broadway tours, SYTYCD) that tour the United States. Attend them. Live shows
are a great educational tool. It’s all about exposure. Give your dancer the
chance to encounter different styles of dance. It may spark a new interest for
them. It may reshape their goals entirely. I didn’t see my first dance company
until I was a freshmen in college. Had I attended live shows when I was
younger, I might have discovered a different passion and plotted a different
career path. That’s not to say that I’m dissatisfied with my dance career. I
like where I am. But my limited exposure in my youth leaves that “what if”
question in the back of my mind. So again, attend live shows.
5. Ballroom Dancing
To be honest, I don’t even know where in my hometown I could
have taken ballroom classes. But mastering that particular style is so
important. In my experience, competition dancers typically aren’t trained
in ballroom, and I think that’s sad. It’s not just about learning a different
style, it’s about using your body in a completely different way. More
practically, ballroom teaches you how to dance with a partner, which is an
important skill needed to succeed in the industry. For those dancers who are
small and petite, they got a glimpse of what it is like to partner with someone
for lifts. For those of us (people like me), who were almost just as tall as
all the boys in our studio there was no way I ever partnered with them. Being
able to dance with someone, not next to them, is a skill in all of itself.
Given its usefulness, I wish I had become more comfortable with this style of
dance when I was younger.
What is the deal with college for dancers? In case you didn’t know, attending a university and majoring in dance is, in fact, an option. There are a million different questions in relation to college for dancers. Here we will be discussing the few things I wish I had more information on before I decided to attend college.
Note: college is not for everyone, and many dancers choose not to attend. Pursuing a college degree is a personal choice. For some dancers, it doesn’t make practical sense to go to a university. You need to decide what is right for you—for your personal and professional goals. For the purpose of this discussion, however, I am going to assume that you are interested in going or have already decided to go to college to study dance.
Degree Options and (Other) Programs
Congratulations! You have decided to study dance at the college level. Now that you’ve made this big decision, what do you do next? Well, there is no one-size-fits-all option where college degrees are concerned. So consider the following choices:
B.A. or B.F.A. in Dance
B.A. or B.F.A. in Dance with a minor in another field of study
Double major (usually a B.A. in Dance and a bachelor’s in another field of study)
B.A./B.S. in a field of your choice with a minor in Dance
Each of these options will provide you with the opportunity to incorporate your passion for dance into your academic life. If you later decide that college dance isn’t for you but still wish to earn your degree, then you can study whatever you please while participating in a dance team or club at your university. There is no shortage of options. That said, you need to start researching schools and programs ASAP. If you are still in high school, begin your research no later than your sophomore year. If you are a young adult who is revisiting the idea of going to college, then give yourself ample time to research your options and submit applications.
In your research, you will find that most college dance programs are heavily focused on modern dance. My own university training consisted of modern, ballet, and West African. My program required no jazz or hip-hop classes. This was a shock to me, and I wish I had researched my program more thoroughly before enrolling. That is not to say that I gained nothing from the experience. On the contrary, I received amazing training in styles of dance that I never thought I would study. But the program requirements took me off guard. I aspired to work in commercial dance, and my program was not especially suitable for my goals. This meant that I had to spend my limited free time taking hip-hop classes outside of my university, as it was the closest thing I could find to commercial dance training in my area. The point is that these early stages of research are vital!
If you’re like me and you want to work in commercial dance, then know that there are very few commercial dance programs. Though it is not comprehensive, below is a list of schools that either has commercial dance programs or boast a curriculum that offers some commercial dance training.
The Studio School
Oklahoma City University
A great way to supplement your research is to participate in summer programs. Some colleges offer summer programs/intensives for high school students. If you have the time and money, I highly recommend giving this a try. You’ll have a chance to meet some of the faculty and to become familiar with the school’s facilities. It is almost (but not quite) like a trial run to see if that school is a good fit for you. Bonus: some colleges offer credit for their summer programs. Should you choose to attend that school, you’ll start your college career with credits already on your transcript. Also, remember that no summer program is a bad summer program. If you find that you really disliked the training you received, then you have one less option to consider—you’ve narrowed your search.
As you already know, selecting a university and dance program is a big decision and not one to take lightly. If you are graduating from high school and know that you want to go to college, but are unsure of your next step, remember that a community college is also an option. But you have to keep a few things in mind. First, to save you time and money, you’ll want to make sure that your community college credits transfer to whichever university you plan to attend. Second, you will need to thoroughly research the schools you plan on attending because some require you to be at their program for a full four years due to dance requirements. Other schools are a little more flexible and you can complete your program in less time. Be sure you speak with both an academic and dance advisor before making any decisions. To be completely honest, some academic advisors are not always on top of all the requirements for each department (even though they should be). Also going to summer school through a community college is always an option as well. I attended community college every summer to complete some of my general education classes so I could save a little bit of money.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before you start planning this wonderful future of yours, you must first be accepted at your preferred university. This is where college dance auditions (and applications!) come into play. Like all auditions, these can be stressful and exhausting. The best way to prepare is to… do your research! Shocker, I know. You didn’t see that one coming. Try to get an idea of what each school will require for your audition. From my own experience, I can tell you that most of my auditions required full ballet and modern classes. Some auditions also demanded a one-minute solo, as well as an interview. Other auditions had jazz or West African class on the schedule. You get the picture—auditions vary from school to school. Do your research as best you can to prepare for each audition. A few other things to remember:
Don’t forget about applying to the school itself. The last thing you want is to be accepted into the dance program but miss the deadline for the application to the school.
Always bring your printed dance resume with you to college auditions. Some schools will ask for your resume, and others will not. It’s best to be prepared.
If your audition requires a solo, make sure you have your music both on your phone and on another device. (My college auditions were only a few years ago, and the music had to be on a CD.)
Universities can seem like a labyrinth to those unfamiliar with the campus. Get to the school early on the day of your audition to make sure that you can find your way and not be late.
In case the implication here wasn’t clear enough, note that you should plan for multiple auditions. Though it should go without saying, you cannot bank on getting into one school. Give yourself some options. It never hurts to have back-up schools. That being said, remember to invest your time and money wisely. If you are traveling across the country for auditions, you are likely incurring many costs. Don’t waste your money by traveling to schools that you have no real interest in attending. While you are across the country auditioning for a specific program, I would also try to see if there are other colleges in the area having auditions around the same time. If so, you should audition for those schools even if they aren’t one of your first choices. It gives you more options for the future and you are already in the area so you might as well try!
Speaking of travel, where are you going? Did you say that you’re flying to Nebraska for a college audition? Do you want to work on Broadway and live in a big metropolis? Oh, you do? THEN NEBRASKA ISN’T THE PLACE FOR YOU. If you are going to college, you are likely making a four-year plan. Make sure you are going to a school in a city where you will be happy to live for an extended period of time. I went to school in Chicago. I had been to Chicago many times before, and I loved the city. But it might not have been the most strategic choice for my goals. As I’ve already mentioned, my dream is to work in commercial dance. And there were limited commercial dance opportunities in Chicago. This meant that I would inevitably move to LA, home of the commercial dance industry. After four years of hard work and networking in Chicago, I had to start over again. For those of you who want to work in the performance industry, location is important. Allow this factor to weigh heavily in your decision-making. On the other hand, for those of you who ultimately wish to work at or own a studio, location is a less-critical issue to take into consideration when choosing a college.
Be invested in your schoolwork 110% of the time. But also remember to keep the bigger picture in mind. While in college, you can and should audition for real, paid work. While in college, you can and should take classes outside of school to make connections with working choreographers. While in college, you can and should participate in events, mixers, and the like for your local dance community. College is the perfect time to begin building your resume and your professional network. This is quite possibly the most important takeaway from my own experience. I worked and trained outside my university endlessly. I spent my spare time teaching dance, going to auditions, taking extra classes, etc. And when I graduated, I had a job in the dance industry. I had my start. These “extracurriculars” are imperative to your success.
A final note: as I’ve already said, college isn’t for everyone. You can have a successful dance career without ever setting foot in a university. You might choose to wait and go to college later on in life. That’s fine. Do whatever works for you. But if you choose to get a degree in dance, don’t let yourself be shocked like I was. Make sure you are enrolling in a program that fits your ambitions. College is far too great an investment (in terms of time, money, and effort) to be careless in your decision-making. As always, research is your best friend—never undervalue it.