In Defense of the Dance Major

One of my dance teachers just posted this and I am really excited to share it after a conversation I heard at the studio the other day. A woman (ex-dancer and mom) was talking to a student about to take class. The student was mentioning still looking into some conservatories and dance training options even though it was later in her career just because she wanted to dance more hours and get the intensity of training an institution like that would give her. I didn’t hear the whole story but it switched to the woman essentially saying that college dance majors get the butt end of the stick because they never get enough dance hours and then they suffer academically. Now, I can’t say that every program will take core of sorting out this balance for you, they probably will not, but every student has a choice. They can decide to aim for programs with a better balance, find out what the class structure is and where that puts them academically. I do know a lot of dance majors who essentially went to a conservatory with the way the dance was run. I also know some who barely danced but usually they chose to be minors and knew that going in.
Basically, I was half a second away from cutting the lady off and saying the experience is what you make of it. I danced 8 hours a day, a lot of days, and then i was in the library after that nailing down my hard science pre-requisites for post-grad options. In two years, I, like all of my class mates, get to be Dr. so and so and my only other degree is in dance.
Sounds a bit crass, but even I have given myself heck for choosing a degree that produces a meaningless piece of paper and that is because of so many other peoples views. Dance does have a lot to offer and choosing a college degree to go along with it can be a great choice for a lot of people. At the very least, I think my decisions worked out a lot better than if I had decided to go with Chemical Engineering.


after the rain After the Rain – the first piece I choreographed at DeSales University, in 2005

Several months ago, I heard two interesting reports from NPR’s Planet Money team that focused on college majors and jobs – why people decide to pursue particular tracks of studies and the careers they hold as a result  As might be expected from a program entitled “Planet Money,” both of the these reports focused heavily on the economics of such decisions. Specifically, “What’s Your Major” took a look at the relationship between college majors and salaries, and the title of “Why Women Like Me Choose Lower Paying Jobs” pretty much says it all.

One topic that came up often as the various economic experts tried to justify why someone wouldn’t choose a more lucrative college major and career was “passion.” On some level, I think that is absolutely true. Some of us do make such…

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