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  • Madeline Maxine Gorman

10 THINGS THEY DON'T TELL YOU ABOUT BEING A DANCE MAJOR

So far, I have attended three different colleges as a dance major. While my path to finding the right college has been different, I can honestly say that I don’t regret it. I’ve also learned a lot of things along the way.  


1.) You’ll dance in a way that’s different (and kinda weird)

Dance professors are really great at making you explore new possibilities and ways of moving. However, nobody told me that it can be a really weird and kinda disconcerting experience. Prof be like, “hey dance like you’re falling down the stairs, but you’re happy about it, but also convey what it’s like to experience a nuclear disaster. You’ll be graded on this.” The important thing to remember is that it’s always better to just go for it (awkward is always hard to watch, weird can be interesting). Also, knee drops and fouette turns trigger professors. No joke. Avoid them at all costs.


2.) You’re probably going to overload on credits 

This will impact you more or less depending on the structure of your major, but generally most dance majors have a lot of requirements. In addition to all of those requirements, you’ll need to complete your general education requirements. Maybe you’ll minor or double major too (and if you’re really crazy you’ll transfer and deal with all that confusion). All these add up to a lot of sore muscles and a tired mind. Do your best to take care of yourself mentally and physically. It’s easier said than done, but you can make it.


3.) Dance professors are usually hard graders

Now before freaking out, let me clarify. A lot of dancers go into college thinking that they just have to show up to class and they’ll get a good grade. Unfortunately, grading at the college level in dance is tough. Not only does your technical skill need to improve throughout the semester, but the professor needs to see that you’re putting in the effort. Don’t worry, it is possible to get good grades. It’s just going to take some hard work. 


4.) Some of your “dance” classes won’t be dancing

Ladies and gents, be prepared for anatomy, kinesiology, dance history, dance production, and dance writing classes. You might also have to be a crew member for shows. While I personally really like these classes, many people are not big fans of the more academic requirements of the major. Flashcards and study groups will be your allies.


5.) Drama is present but strongly discouraged 

Again, before panicking let me clarify. Dancers are artists. Artists are divas. Divas have drama. Someone will get cut from a piece. Someone will make a snarky comment. Someone will have a swelled head. It’s unavoidable. However, as a choreographer, I can tell you that no one likes to work with someone who is dramatic. Be kind and I promise it will get you far. The MAJORITY of dance majors are chill. Don’t judge the ones that aren’t. Simply go about your business. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life.


6.) Not all of your friends will be dance majors

No one ever explicitly told this to me before I went to college, but I think a lot of people expect it. Don’t worry, a lot of your friends will be dance majors too. But it’s also important to make friends outside of your major. In the professional world, you’ll be working with dancers most of the time. But “normal people” will be your audience. It’s important to be a dancer AND a normal person.


7.) You’ll hardly ever wear the cute clothes you bought


Sad but true. While you’ll still have to time get dressed up and go out, most of your life will be spent in dance class, at the gym, or at late night rehearsals. Stock up on tights, bobby pins, leotards, and sweatpants. That’s 90% of what you’ll be wearing. 


8.) People won’t always understand or respect your major

“What do dance majors even do?”

“That’s not a real major.”

“What are you supposed to do with that kind of degree?”

Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t have a lot of respect for the arts. If anyone ever questions your choice, just explain to them that you did intense exercise for five hours today and managed to smile the whole time.


9.) You’ll experience amazing highs and frustrating lows

You’re going to have a bad turning day more than once. You’ll feel like you didn’t do your best on an exam. It happens. When you’re a dance major, dance becomes both your stress reliever and stress inducer. In the end, just remind yourself that you’re awesome and you can do it.


10.) It's going to be such an achievement

When you get your degree, you’re going to feel just like Leo when he finally got his Oscar. You made it through the rehearsals that ran over two hours. You made it through that class with the crazy Russian teacher. You healed from all those weird injuries normal people don’t understand. You were a part of or created a work that changed you. You’re a boss.

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