By Katherine Moore of Dance Informa
Here you are! After years and years of dance study you’re finally enrolled in a college dance program and are on your way to becoming a professional. You’ve made it…sort of. Here are some tips and guidelines for getting the most out of your college experience as a dance major.
1. Keep an open mind
For dancers who have been training for most of their lives, the tendency to feel like you already know it all can be strong. After all, you haven’t been training several nights a week and spending your summers inside at dance intensives for nothing, right? While all of those years of training and experiences are certainly a worthwhile part of your dance education, college study can be a totally different ballgame.
Your teachers will come with years of higher education teaching experience in addition to their work as dancers and choreographers, and they will use those skills to challenge you! Don’t be surprised if they ask you to think about your body, technique, or even what dance is in a totally different way. If you’re attending a conservatory-type program, you will probably be pushed in ways you couldn’t have imagined as a dancer, performer, and possibly choreographer. If you’re attending a program at a liberal arts or research institution, you will probably be encouraged to look at dance within a variety of artistic, scientific, social, and cultural perspectives.
Instead of fighting against your teachers with what you “think” you already know about dance, embrace a beginner’s mindset and see what happens! This will give you a much fuller and more expansive dance experience over the next three to four years.
2. Take care of your body
Ever hear of the freshman 15? Yes, this can apply to dancers, too. In your late teens and early twenties, your body can go through big metabolic and hormonal changes that may affect your general health. Combined with the late night pizza parties, drinking, and lack of sleep that often characterize the first few years of a college experience, it can be a challenge to keep your body healthy.
It goes without saying that dancers should be particularly mindful of maintaining a healthy diet, but this can be hard to do. If you’re using food services on campus, try to choose nutritious options whenever possible. If you find those hard to find, college is the perfect time to teach yourself how to cook! Depending on your previous training, this may be the most dancing you’ve ever had to do in your life, so now is not the time to deprive your body of the nutrition and fuel it needs to perform at a high level…