Deciding What to do After you Graduate: a Dancer’s Perspective
“Some dancers dream about successful careers...and some dancers wake up and do the hard work that’s necessary to achieve them” - Grover Dale.
Dancer’s are hands down some of the hardest working, disciplined, and smartest people I know. I am constantly in awe of my teammates accomplishments both in and out of the studio, and I greatly admire dancers who are able to prioritize both school and dance simultaneously. School is something that is immensely important to me and it always has been. I value any opportunity to learn and I am constantly striving for a challenge educationally. I know many dancers who similarly try to immerse themselves in a challenge at school with things like honors courses, IB, AP, extracurricular involvement, etc… but I also know how difficult trying to balance school and dance can become. One of the hardest decisions for dancers as they near closer to their high school graduation date, is whether or not attending college is the right choice. Dance is and will continue to be an incredibly competitive industry so the sooner you set your sights on how you want to incorporate it in your future, the sooner you should go for it! I don’t personally believe one option is better than the other, but I want to share the insight and advice I have received over the years as well as my own experience in deciding upon a plan while still pursuing my passion and love for dance post high school.
Currently I am dual enrolled for college credit through the Running Start program at Pierce Community College where in a few short weeks I will be set to graduate with my High School Diploma as well as my Associates Degree. For me, college has always been the plan. However, in the midst of setting goals educationally for my future career, I have also spent time exploring opportunities and ways to incorporate dance in my life while I attend college.
The cool thing about dance is that opportunities for it are everywhere. Whether it be teaching at a local studio, starting your own dance company, auditioning for jobs, or even performing in the street. Dance is an art form and it is important that if you truly love it, you are able to maintain that artistic outlet for your future self. Ask yourself, am I serious about dancing? How can I continue to incorporate dance as a part of my life? Most dancers feel that they need to move to Los Angeles or New York to pursue a career of dance. I would argue that yes, those places are packed full of talent as well as some of the best jobs, choreographers, and networking opportunities. But the reality is, opportunity for dance will arise wherever you want it to. If you know for certain that you want to attend college post graduation, but you aren’t ready to stop dancing, maybe start a dance club and spread the word or research schools that already have a dance team you would be interested in auditioning for. The opportunity to dance is everywhere if you choose to seek it and it’s important you set goals for yourself and stay true to your passions.
I think the most valuable piece of advice I have received regarding school and dance is that both will always be there. It’s not like if you decide to go to college, you can’t ever dance, and vice versa. Education and dance should work in harmony, not against each other. And like I said, dancers are some of the smartest and hardworking people I know! I have learned that the more specific the goals you set for yourself, the more confident you will begin to feel while planning a future that includes those goals. Don’t be afraid to dream big and aim high!
The most important thing to remember is that you should always be choosing to doing what you love! If you love to dance, then find a way to dance! If you love school, there are endless opportunities to continue to grow and improve as a dancer while you further
your education. Just remember to never doubt that you can have both education and dance and that no choice post high school graduation is the wrong choice.