Studies & Degrees in Dance
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Dance Study Programs
Since time immemorial, people have been using their bodies in order to express themselves. And until today, dancing is still a popular recreational activity. People do it in parties, by groups, in pairs and even when they’re alone. Sometimes, all it takes for a person to start dancing is to hear music. Although there isn’t much evidence about primitive people dancing, it is known that dance was incorporated in rituals, ceremonies and probably just for the sake of entertainment. It’s safe to say that people love to dance; or if they don’t, they know how to appreciate good footwork on the dance floor. Dance is an art form that is appreciated by many but can only be successfully done by some. So what can be considered as dance and what isn’t? Before, people argued that dance, like the visual arts, could only be considered as such if the movements portrayed are elegant and beautiful – much like ballet dancing. But now, any kind of movement that is meant to express or portray a particular emotion or scene is considered as dancing. Complex martial arts are considered as dancing, much like how seemingly inanimate objects like leaves can be designated to have the ability to dance.
People nowadays are more open-minded when it comes to the arts. Before, wild movements cannot be called “real dancing”. Pretty much like how paintings that were “ugly” were not really considered as “real art”. But now, like the visual arts, as long as a person makes use of his or her body in order to express something, then it is dancing.
As the years went by, different dancing styles have been created. All generations claim particular dance moves as their own, much like how all countries proclaim some dances as the byproduct of their culture, thus naming it their National Dances. Many dancing styles that were popular before, like ballet and ballroom dancing are still practiced today. But dancing is very dependent on music. That’s why classical music is usually partnered with ballet while rap or hip-hop music with street dancing. The rhythm of the music determines what kinds of movements were produced, so, if there’s dancing it’s usually accompanied by music.
Although dancing is a form of entertainment, it is also associated with rituals and other kinds of social setting. Some even go as far as studying and making a living out of it. The dancing styles may be different but they all have a common denominator; that is, if the dancer is skillful, the steps will be inspiring and entertaining; at the same time, no injuries will ensue. Many professional dancers even make the steps look fairly easy. But when an amateur tries it, surely they will not be able to copy it. And a dancer can only successfully deliver if he/she has been trained well or has an innate talent. Surely, it will take a different kind of discipline and a strong personality in order to master dance and be considered a great dancer.
Job positions for Dance:
Many people say that knowledge, or in this case, skills should be shared with other people. Dance instructors usually start out as dancers first and then hone their skills by undergoing rigorous training, competing in dance contests and so on. But sometimes, dancing can prove to be a very difficult career and even though many dancers want to keep on performing on stage for as long as they can, it is inevitable that they must move on to another career path when they reach a certain age or stage in life. Although there are actually people out there who train just so they can gain the right to be teachers in their own right. A dance instructor could also start out as a choreographer and somewhere along the lines decided to focus more on the teaching aspect. Dance instructors could also be an equal mix of both dancer and choreographer.
A dance instructor requires skills that are more people-oriented rather than just focusing on their technical abilities. In order to be an effective teacher, one must be willing to teach students from all walks of life and more importantly, is really interested in teaching dance to other people. The skills required of an instructor are different from that of a dancer or choreographer. A dancer focuses on improving himself/herself and at the same time knowing how to be able to work in groups while a choreographer focuses more on the creative aspect – making up dance moves and combining steps. A dance teacher on the other hand should have a combination of all those skills. They should be creative, people-oriented and most importantly, can teach other people effectively the skills that they’ve acquired.
A dance instructor has more career choices than that of a dancer and they have more freedom when it comes to choosing what they want to focus on. They can choose to prioritize a specific dance style like contemporary dance or ballet. They can establish their own dance studio or work for private schools or organizations. Most dance teachers who work for private institutions usually studied the specific dance style and had enough experience utilizing that particular style. A teaching post is usually best acquired when one has acquired a lot of experiences already. Usually, ten years of experience is a good number.
Dance instructors can be self-taught or schooled. But when it comes to institutions or schools looking for dance teachers, they choose those who have not only acquired enough experience but has a graduate degree as well.
The salary of a dance instructor depends on their employer (or lack thereof – which could mean that they’re doing freelance teaching) and how long have they’ve been in the business. A dance instructor’s salary is usually higher than that of a dancer simply because of the fact that they’ve been in the business longer and they’ve already established a name for themselves. A dance instructor’s life is less hard than that of a dancer’s because they have more control of their time and so on.
Dancing is very enjoyable to both do and watch. Many people like to dance occasionally when they are in a social setting, like in parties and such. But it takes a different kind of person altogether to be able to dance day in and day out and never tire of it. If you possess a remarkable ability to control your movements; are not afraid to take risks and is willing to undergo hard physical training and presumably suffer from injuries every now and then, then a career in dancing may be in the horizon. People who are passionate when it comes to expressing themselves through their movements can have a career in dancing. But in order to be a dancer, one must have perseverance, patience, passion and of course the ability to work well under pressure.
A dancer’s world is tough and even the best don’t make it in the cutthroat world of dancing. The ability to dance excellently isn’t the only determining factor when you want to become a professional – although it does help. There are lots of skills needed in order to make it in the business. First, one must know how to solve problems creatively and think critically. A sluggish mind and good dancing skills is not a good combination. One must be attuned to other people and work well in groups because most professional dancers perform in groups, although some well-known dancers perform on their own. Other skills needed include the ability to make use of criticism (constructive or not), relate to different kinds of people and most importantly, should be able to meet deadlines and work under extreme pressure.
Professional dancers usually start out young and are constantly training. After getting an undergraduate degree in dancing, one can go on and get a graduate degree. Two of the more well-known graduate degrees are Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts. The former is mainly concerned with the “behind-the-scenes” of dancing, dealing with mainly research work and academic learning. While the latter is more hands on and focuses on the dancing part itself. Although a graduate degree isn’t necessary, it will definitely be useful if one wants to further his/her career or teach in universities and such. Dancers can work for schools, touring dance companies, amusement parks and of course, in TV/Film. A dancer’s salary depends on the employer, country (or city) and of course, number of experience. Someone who’s working for a company and has more than five years experience will more or less have a salary of about US$45,000 in the US and EU countries. Not everyone can earn as much but it can be supplemented by working as a dance teacher. Or their training could pay off – in the literal sense of the word – by joining dance contests.
Truly, a dancer’s life is tough but it is rewarding. They get to travel, meet interesting folks and do what they love best. The road ahead for a dancer is full of problems and possibly bruises, but, in the end, it’s all worth it.