Someone with a two year degree in dance (associate level), has basically taken pre-dance classes. “PRE”…or the general ed’s of dance. They have only taken the pre-classes that might help them gain entry into a bachelors (BFA), or masters (MFA) program. A two year degree is no guarantee you will make it into a real dance program. Most professional schools of dance require a tryout / audition(uofu’s modern department link), as well as a host of other preparatory items. A number of two year programs really do not offer all the prerequisite skills that will be necessary to enter into a four year and/or major university dance program. Two year programs offer very little real dance above the entry level. Auditioning is the only way in, and if you do not have the necessary skills the competition will be overwhelming to you.
To better understand, think of the dance levels as categories, starting with beginner, then intermediate, advanced, elite/varsity, and then pro. A two year course is pretty much beginner to intermediate. I doubt any instructor at a two year institute would lead their students to believe anything else.
A four year bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA)will give you a much better understanding of what will be necessary for you to learn as you embrace the dance profession. A masters degree (MA) (MFA) is a specialty degree. To teach at a university, a masters degree or higher is required for undergraduate courses. Graduate level courses are generally taught by instructors who have doctoral degrees. You will probably train with a number of tenure- track associate professors, you have both teaching and research experience at the graduate level. Full tenured professors have PhD’s, which qualifies them to hold the position of Dean’s.
A professional or semi-professional dancer may have a combination of dance experience and/or academic training. Or, they may never have gone to school, but rather learned their craft from years of experience on the competition floor. Participants of SYTYCD are a good example of studio trained and street competition dancers.
Semi-professional and professional dancer generally have a dance portfolio, or dance history that they can present. It is a chronological history of events, trainings, areas of expertise, and current status, be that in training, judging and/or teaching. Many have a list of accomplishment and/or published works.
‘Fake or for Real?
Be careful of the dance institutions that make promises they really can’t deliver on. They can be a rip off, and the training can be extremely poor; as they suck in unexperienced students. The degrees can amount to no more than a certificate that is non-transferable. That’s another aspect to look at. See if they are an accredited facility of higher education. Meaning….their credits will transfer to other colleges or universities. You will be surprised at how many do not.
Two year graduates might be able to skim by working at a studio that doesn’t really care about what your academic training is; or with directors that just want to control their own environments, and don’t want or need any competition that makes them look “different”. Basically, no experience is necessary to own a studio if you want to. But to be good – that takes skill – a skill that is recognized by the community and dancers.
Experience is what matters. Dance is an art, and dance is a sport, you can’t learn technique with your head in a book. It takes years to develop skill and knowledge. You might memorize terminology and be able to recite after reading a book, but you would do better to practice what you preach. 🙂
Be warned if you are trying to fabricate your way up – that those dancers and instructors who are highly involved in dance can spot a fake a mile away. They probably won’t tolerate your behavior.
Your claims will be under the microscope. It DOES matter in the dance community, what you do, or don’t do. When people pay money for you to train their children, and you can’t even teach them to do a simple turn or teach them to point their toes – your doors will eventually close.
If you are serious about setting your life ambitions to be a dancer, you have options. One, you can go the university route, or two, you can develop a life time of dance performance through studio training and upper level competitions. A lot depends on the style(s) of dance you wish to perform.
Dancing on a university team is also a good choice to help you develop your skills along side of dancers your own age and of equal ability. Many pro’s and semi-pro dancers dance(d) on university teams. It’s a whole different level of expertise that complements your former training, be that in ballet, contemporary, hip hop or jazz.
Learning to dance with a partner is a challenge for many. Do it!
Serious dancers know when another dancer is their senior, and they acknowledge that. Equal dancers also acknowledge the level of each other. When you dance with equal level dancers you really are a team. You recognize each other, and respect each other. That is the way it should be. Yes, there is competition – but it is a recognizable merit of skill.
Deciding where you dance is as simple as acknowledging your own level, and being honest about yourself.
What’s out there for you?
What is available for teachers, choreographers, directors, cheerleaders, experienced coaches, ballerina’s, and hip hop artists?
There are so many wonderful programs available for the person who wants more of a professional background rather than a recreational one.
Many top organizations offer franchises and specialty training. Masters level classes, memberships, and more.
Check out some of the Utah links on my website, and start to explore or branch out in your dance career.
~”A great dancer is not great because of
their technique, They are great because of
Author: Martha Gram
‘“Considering becoming a drill coach?”
Dance Drill has gone the extra mile to help would be Drill coaches work with teams and parents. They have links on team development and offer coaches educational support as well.
Good information that any drill coach should have.
American Dance Drill goes over the basic categories on their support page: http://www.danceadts.com/edsupport.htm
- Officer and Team Tryouts
Traveling With Your Team
Helpful tips for Contest Preparation
Nutrition & Conditioning
Preparing for the seasons
starting a new dance program, or reorganizing the old
When you are ready to get started you will need to go to the Utah High School Association Website to get started. There is a lot to learn, so be prepared to invest some study time. You will learn as a coach that you will refer to these links a lot.
- Drill team policies
Clinics and Certification/Training
State tournament info
UHSAA Drill Competition Materials (CD Packet)
As many of you already know I was a drill judge way back in the day. It was a fun and exciting time for a first time adult experience. It isn’t for everyone however. But neither is coaching or directing. Really think about this before you go head into something that you might not be able to cope with. It’s a big responsibility and the only person who gets to pick you up when you have problems “is you”. But if you really think its for you, then you should do it, and put your heart soul into it. Working with a team of dancers is a rewarding experience. As an instructor for the past 15 years, I have been privileged to watch my students grow up in the dance world, move on to drill and some are even thinking about college dance. You have the ability to mold those future college level and pro dancers.
Good Luck, I wish you and your students all the success in the world.
If you are going to college, you may find that you really don’t have time for anything just yet. That’s okay. – been there -done that. It’s all cool!
Not everyone wants to go back into the dance world right out of high school. The load of college is sometimes too much. You might be noticing that a lot of people you went to school with are settling down and having kids already. But not all. A lot are opting to get an established career going after college.
Some are trying their hand at teaching dance. Not as easy as you think. Family commitment, college, and job responsibilities make that living hard, if it isn’t your full time occupation. Trying to arrange to travel to competitions is also “out of pocket”. A few are even trying the studio route. Again, not as easy as you think.
Good studios aren’t running off debt, and renting space will quickly drain your wallet due to all the over head costs. If you are challenged to open your own studio, a little word of caution may be in order – take up bookkeeping first.
Another precaution, is when you decide to partner with a friend to open a studio. That can also be a sure way to end a friendship. It might be something to consider before you put your name on the dotted line. It costs you nothing to sit down and visit with the Small Business Development (SBD) professional and talk about setting up your own business. You need a good business plan.
What are the responsibilities in a partnership, and who has the final say? Deciding not to partner with a friend in a business venture can have a number of different outcomes. But even if they open a studio of their own without you – big deal. Open your own. May the best technical teacher “bookkeeper” win… It’s called Capitalism.
Then there are those who aren’t likely to ever give up dance. It will be with them until the end. These are generally your lifers. They radiate dance. They still enjoy the art of dance, but don’t want to be saddled with the debt, management, and administrative aspects. They prefer the creative end of things. Being able to continue to train and learn is what its all about. They don’t have the desire to take over. They are your consultants, professionals outside of the internal organization that you can draw advice and help from.
Making up your mind to continue in dance is something only you can do. Deciding who, what, when, and how, is also your choice. If you really love dance you will find a way to be involved at some level.
It really is up to all of us to train the next generation of dancers. The real talent in young dancers is discovered between the ages of K through 5th grade. This is when they start to solidify their technique – in these early years. If they are strong and study hard past this time, then hopefully they won’t look gangly and thin in their teen years. 7th through 9th grade is a very difficult time for dancers body wise, and unfortunately social wise.
Sure it is nice to work with older dancers – but if they don’t have a strong dance foundation to back them up – you might as well be teaching the lower levels. Because that is what you will be doing. Having and owning all the videos and professional dance choreography in the world won’t help you if you don’t have solid technical dancers to work with.
In this same line of thinking, not everyone who teaches should teach, and that is a sad fact that many learn too late. Don’t go into something that you really don’t have a desire to stay in.
It’s important to understand where everyone is coming from, and where they are going, in a dance family. Not everyone wants the hassle of owning a studio. Not everyone wants to teach either. You have to find that balance between all the members of your dance family and use their skills to build upon each and every successful venture.
After high school – then what?
“In fashions swim with the current, in principles stand like a rock”.