Published May 28, 2009
Written by Grace Chen
Learn about how you can pursue a rewarding dance career by starting at your local community college. Whether you are a dancer or aspire to be a choreographer, your community college may be a fantastic starting point.
With beautiful choreography, artful costumes, enthralling music, and captivating performances, the art of dance can provide community college students with an array of career opportunities. Whether you are interested in learning about the techniques of production and choreography or hoping to hone your own dancing skills, community colleges are an excellent venue of opportunity.
Careers in Dance
Due to the myriad of facets involved in a single dance performance, there are many types of jobs in the dance industry. Foremost, for students interested in pursuing professional dancing through their local community college courses, professional dancers are typically trained to perform within a variety of different genres. Examples of popular dancing genres include folk, ethnic, tap, hip hop, jazz, ballet, and regional.
Yet, since dancing can often be stressful to one’s body, many dancers choose to cease their professional performances as they reach their early to mid 30s. Despite this relatively short performance window, professional dancers can continue to work in this field by pursuing one of the many related performance positions.
For individuals who have a background in dance, choreography is a popular long-term profession. As Career Overview explains, dancers are typically paired with a choreographer, who helps the dancers to create, perfect, and learn new forms of existing dances. Choreographers train dancers at rehearsals, during practice, and are also commonly involved in dancing auditions.
Data from a 2002 study shows that the median income earned by choreographers is generally around $30,000, although the top earning choreographers reported an annual salary of almost $60,000.
In addition to careers in professional choreography, some dancers choose to continue work within their field by earning their dancing teaching certification(s). With a solid background and extensive experience, dancers can seek employment at a variety of dance studios.
Community College Dance Opportunities
While nearly all local community colleges offer courses in the art of dance, a select few institutions have demonstrated exceptionally powerfulcourse offerings.
Among one of the top community colleges for a degree in Choreographic Studies and Dance Techniques is Glendale Community College. Located in Glendale, California, Glendale Community College (GCC) is one of the many prestigious community colleges with an extensive dance program. According to GCC, the dance program is designed to help students appreciate the art of movement and motion, as students are also provided with advanced studies, vocational preparation opportunities, and career acquaintance information. Furthermore, as GCC describes, “The program is primarily concerned with the process of education and the development of thought and practice rather than the emulation and absorption of prescribed or pre-designated theories… The curriculum is constantly evolving according to the needs of students in the changing world of dance.”
With a modern and adaptive educational focus, GCC students can enroll in one of the nearly 50 different dance courses. Examples of some of GCC’s outstanding classes include:
- Survey of Dance History – An analysis of the prehistory, history, and evolution of dance
- Introduction to Dance – A focus on the various experiences in movement to enhance dancing skills and abilities
- Ballet Performance Skills: Repertoire – Students are provided with practice experience to enhance their technical and performance abilities using the varied styles of contemporary choreographers
- Middle Eastern Dance – Beginning level introduction to the ethnic dances of Armenia, Egypt, Morocco, Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan
- Commercial Dance – Provides students with working knowledge of the dance entertainment industry, allowing students to more adequately develop their professional experiences
- Choreography and Performance Skills – Students explore various choreographic principals while engaging in practical participation venues
- Movement for Musical Theatre – Students are able to focus on the specific techniques of musical threatre dance, as participants are able to participate with hands on practice and opportunities
Upon completing the necessary courses for a major in Choreographic Studies and Dance Techniques, GCC graduates will be able to: “Integrate technical dance skills using correct body alignment and muscle coordination,” while furthermore demonstrating a knowledge of various dance forms and their relation to historical and cultural contexts.
If you are excited to pursue dance as a career, seek out information from one of your local community colleges. Additionally, if you’re simply curious about what a major in dance may involve, test one of the many dance-based theory or practice courses. With a variety of dancing genres and focuses, students can enjoy new experiences—and potentially a new career pathway!Additional Resources [+]
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