Many young dancers who participate in our regional and national dance competitions have dreams of growing up to be a professional dancer. If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you might remember one particular blog all about dance-related careers. In that blog, we discussed the multiple career paths a dancer might take, from a professional dancer on stage and on screen to a dance therapist who helps people improve their mental and physical health through dance. But, how does a dancer go from competing in dance competitions to, say, owning their own studio or dancing with the New York City Ballet?

While sheer talent might outweigh higher education for some, many dancers will benefit career-wise by having a degree from a reputable college or conservatory. In today’s blog, we will be discussing why dancers might choose to attend a college over a conservatory, and vice versa, as well as how competing in dance competitions now can help you when it is time to apply to these institutions.

Conservatories Vs. Colleges

When it comes to higher education for dance and performing, prospective students will need to choose if they want to attend a performing arts conservatory or a college with a performing arts department. Performing arts conservatories, such as the famed Juilliard, focus exclusively on the arts. If you were to take a history class at a conservatory, for example, it would likely be focused on the history of art and music rather than wars and politics.

On the other hand, most major colleges have music or dance departments where students can earn a degree in dance while still completing general education requirements including math, science, and history.

If you are a dancer looking to continue your dance education, there are pros and cons of both colleges and conservatories. A college with a dance department will give you the traditional college experience you have seen in movies and TV while a performing arts conservatory will have you fully engulfed in the arts. At a college, you might spend your weekends cheering on the football team or participating in a sorority or fraternity, while weekends at a conservatory might be spent training and rehearsing with other dancers. A college will give you a more rounded approach to higher education while a conservatory will provide you with an immersive experience.

Should I Attend A College Or A Conservatory?

This is a question to discuss with your parents, dance instructors, and other important people in your life. If you are completely and wholly determined to make a career out of dance (no ifs, ands, or buts about it), then a conservatory might be the right choice. However, if you are on the fence about where your career might go but you want to keep a dance career as an option, then a traditional college could be the better place for you. At a college, you can easily change your major and pursue other passions. At a conservatory, you might feel limited in the range of classes you can take or degrees you can earn.

While a degree from a college might give you better broad-range job prospects because you will have completed a variety of general education classes, spending time at a conservatory could give you access to big names in the dance industry and allow you to network within the dance community in a way that a college might not.

However, performing arts conservatories are not the only place you can network. Dance competitions, both regional and national, do more than simply build your resume. Competitions, as well as dance intensives, can be a great place to network and meet industry professionals.

Let Us Help You Reach Your Dreams

Whether you decide to pursue higher education in dance at a college or a conservatory, have a resume packed with dance competition participation can increase your chances of getting into your top-choice schools. In a highly competitive field, the more you can do now to prove you’re all-in when it comes to dance, the better. Star Systems offers dance competitions all over the country, as well as one-day-only dance intensives where you can learn from the best in the industry. Check out our list of dance competitions happening in 2019 and get registered!