This is an excerpt from Studying Dance With Web Resource by Karen Schupp.
Studying any subject on campus necessitates dedication, curiosity, and responsibility, but this is especially true for dance. Successfully studying dance on campus as a dance major, dance minor, or dance enthusiast requires you to push yourself as a student. Because dance is a versatile field, you need to fully invest and do your best work in your dance, general education, and elective courses. Equally essential is the willingness to embrace new frameworks for thinking about dance and other subjects as well as new teaching and learning methods. Approaching your studies in this way will help you create a solid bridge between your current dance understanding, developing dance interests, and prospective opportunities in dance.
Today’s dance professionals are articulate movers and speakers, proficient as artists and writers, and able to apply dance-specific knowledge to other disciplines and vice versa. At the same time, dance learning cultivates multiple types of knowing and interacting with the world. Because dance involves the whole person and is a comprehensive area of study, you can expect to be challenged in numerous ways while studying dance on campus. You should expect to be challenged physically, artistically, and intellectually as you make and perform dances, write papers about your experiences relative to new knowledge, give presentations, and work individually and collaboratively in both your dance and general education courses. These multiple experiences not only mirror the expectations of working as a dance professional, they provide diverse means for you to learn about dance.
Your college education will include a combination of discipline-specific courses and general education courses. Dance and other discipline-specific courses focus on your major or minor area of interest. For students interested in dance, these courses may include technique, dance history, and choreography classes to name a few. General education courses are designed to provide a wide academic foundation. English, mathematics, humanities, and science courses are some common examples of general education courses. The ratio of discipline-specific courses to general education courses will vary depending on your degree program. It is also likely that your degree program will require elective courses. Elective courses are courses that students can select to fulfill either a general education or discipline-specific degree requirement. Successfully studying dance on campus depends on recognizing that all of your coursework, inside and outside of dance, is interrelated and relevant.
The academic study of dance examines the interconnected aspects of artistry, culture, education, history, science, entrepreneurship, and research in dance. No matter what area of dance you think you will pursue upon graduation, you must have experience with and an understanding of dance as a distinct yet broad discipline. Dance performers need to be conscious of the historical and cultural contexts of the dances they perform. Dance educators may draw on reviews of research literature, such as research about best teaching practices, new information about how to safely execute movement, or recent findings about child development, in their teaching. Community dance practitioners need to constantly reflect on how their teaching and choreographic methods relate to emerging artistic and educational trends so that their work stays relevant. As a small business owner, the private studio owner needs both marketing and business management skills. Fully investigating all areas of dance helps you achieve a wide and interwoven knowledge of dance so that you appreciate how much there is to the discipline.
Your movement and technique courses; creative, compositional, and performance courses; and context courses are the places where you will delve into dance-specific content. You will learn how to expand your movement abilities and to develop your creative voice as well as various philosophies, histories, and practices of dance. Although each course has a distinct purpose, you must recognize how these courses work together to provide you with a wide and interconnected comprehension of dance. Each dance course you enroll in, regardless of whether it immediately connects to your current dance interests, is equally important to your dance education.
General Education Courses
Balancing depth and breadth is central to any college education. Whereas your dance courses provide depth into a specific discipline, your general education courses provide you with breadth, or general knowledge. This wide understanding is important in many ways. First, these classes give you a broad educational foundation to build on within and outside of dance. For example, English courses cultivate your writing and reasoning skills, and math courses foster logical problem-solving abilities. These aptitudes can be applied in dance, other disciplines, and everyday life. Because general education courses can introduce you to new areas of study such as anthropology, psychology, women’s studies, and fine arts, you may find new areas to connect to dance that will influence your dance education and future career pursuits. Lastly, regardless of your interest in dance, all successful dance professionals possess not only an incredible understanding of dance but also a keen awareness of dance’s relationship to other disciplines, inside and outside of the arts, and diverse communities and cultures. In your campus dance education, this wider awareness is cultivated through general education courses.
As a dance student, you should take your general education courses just as seriously as your dance courses. The more you fully invest in your general education courses, the more apparent the connections to dance become. You may have some choice in which general education courses you take. It is to your advantage to stay open minded about what you might learn in these courses and how they relate to your evolving dance interests. The more knowledge you gain from your general education courses, the more foundational information you have to build on in your study of dance and as a young dance professional.
Learn more about Studying Dance.