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The days of filling out college and university applications are done – along with the long nights stressing over writing the perfect essay that will open the door to the college or university for local Carmel Valley senior high school students. At our dance studio, I know that the early months of the new year can include attending multiple college and university dance auditions, and can translate into hundreds or thousands of dollars in college and university grants. Now, the letters of acceptance are coming in and choices about the future are being made.
Just about this time, I’m usually inundated with questions from our senior dancers about if a degree in dance is something that is worth being pursued. Parents have the same question. How is a college or university degree in dance, going to benefit my son or daughter in the long run? This translates roughly into, “is my son or daughter going to be able to support themselves after college graduation with a dance degree?”
The answer is definitely YES. Dance in college or university settings has made great strides and changes in the past ten to fifteen years. More than ever before, grant money is being distributed to students who want to pursue a degree in dance. Some of our dance students are receiving as much as $30,000.00 in grant money. The variety of fields a student can pursue while studying to receive their Bachelor of Fine Arts or their Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance, are growing and the demand for these fields of study are in high demand in the work place as well.
Of course the most well known and traditional degrees in dance, the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, offers a dancer the opportunity to continue a concentrated study of dance in the area of technique, performance and choreography. This will also enable the dancer to continue to enhance his or her skill base, while pursuing a professional career in dance.
Many colleges and universities are recognizing the benefit of mixing dance arts with biology. So much so, that a new field of study of Dance Science/Medicine is on the horizon, and is a rapidly changing, growing and becoming a more popular area of study for dancers interested in a Bachelor of Arts degree. Bachelor of Art degrees in this field lead many dancers to do post graduate work, which can lead dance majors into roles as practitioners, physical therapists, movement specialists, consultants, and/or clinical educators.
As technology such as cell phones, ipads, and computers become more and more integrated into everyone’s lives, some colleges and universities offer Dance Media programs focused on how to lead dancers into world of incorporating dance in media. Today, this is something being used more in web based applications such as media marketing, as well as documenting and presenting dance in different forms of media (live or recorded performances).
For a dancer wishing to pursue a career in teaching dance in an academic setting, there are B.A. concentrations specifically in dance that incorporate detailed knowledge of dance as on a social, historical, cultural, economic, political and artistic basis. Dancers who pursue an academic teaching position are in great demand in schools of higher learning – where students are not only pursuing the study of dance in a creative or performance level, but dance composition, stage and performance strategies and analysis of dance.
Lastly, and probably one of the most popular and rewarding avenues resulting from a dance degree, are those who wish to emphasis teaching dance to children and adults looking to learn the physical movement of dance; perhaps in a local Carmel Valley dance studio. At my dance studio, I have been lucky enough to have many of my senior dance students, graduate high school, attend college and return to Carmel Valley with their Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance, and become a part of my teaching staff. This is so neat considering they are now teaching dance in the same dance studio where they began their careers.
Nevertheless, I do encourage my senior high school dancers to pursue a college or university degree, even if not in dance. The benefits of the college experience that offers personal growth, the development of organizational skills, and an understanding of socializing, are invaluable. A dancer’s physical ability to perform, can be shortened for many different reasons. Having a college degree will allow the dancer to have more options in the filed of dance, and ultimately it will provide a “back-up” plan should the dancer need it.
Louis McKay is President of North County DanceArts, Inc. located in Carmel Valley and currently trains 400 students from ages 3 to 93 years of age. Louis has performed and taught Master dance and musical theater classes in 42 of our 50 states and Europe and South Africa. In 1980, Louis McKay opened Louis McKay Dance Studio, later to become North County DanceArts, Inc., which is a teaching facility that is best known for its professional teaching staff and quality dance training. Dancers from beginning level to professional are taught technique, terminology, and discipline in a nurturing and fun environment. Louis currently lives in Carmel Valley San Diego with his wife Tanya and is the proud father of four grown children and two grandchildren. Louis and Tanya McKay also own DanceHearts, a 501 (c) (3) Public Charity called Bells of Freedom Program, serves military men, women and their families by providing emergency care and support, back to school backpack program, vehicle donations and the annual “The Big Thank You” Military Holiday Event.