As you watch your children grow, you have so many hopes and dreams for them. You imagine what their life will be like… what you hope their life will become. As the years pass and the idea of college begins to loom large, one of the most challenging decisions for many students is deciding on what to major in at college. After all, it really is a weighty decision. There’s a whole lot riding on getting it “right.” What parent isn’t secretly waiting to hear their child say, “Mom, I think I want to study law.” Or “Dad, I was so inspired by summer camp, I have decided to become a pediatrician.” There are hundreds to choose from, so how do YOU react when your child says, “I think I want to major in dance.”
Chances are this isn’t a decision your child has made out of left field! They’ve probably been very active in their community dance scene for years before arriving at this particular decision, but some parents can still struggle. They may have visions of the “starving artist” living from gig to gig, subsisting on a diet of ramen and toast, and living in a roach-infested hovel in “the big city.”
You just want what’s best for your child, and the decision to major in dance is probably not at all what you might imagine. Along with their dance classes, students will be required to take all of those basic core classes required of any college degree plan. Some students may go on to dance professionally with top-named companies or enjoy successful careers on Broadway, but it’s important to remember that those are not the only options.
Take a chance on dance! Sure a job dancing professionally on Broadway or on “Dancing With the Stars” would be great, but remember there are other places where performers are at a premium. Think cruise ships, theme parks, casinos: they all hire thousands of dancers to entertain their paying customers. And don’t forget off-Broadway touring companies. If you don’t mind travel, there may be more opportunities than you first realized.
Choreographing a future! Many dancers discover a talent for choreography and choose to go into that field. Others find a job in public relations comes naturally, especially working to raise funds for the arts! Skill as a writer opens another possible career option.
Teach what you love! Many dancers may find side gigs as teachers, spending time sharing their love for dance while others take a more entrepreneurial stance and open their own studios! Take Fred Astaire Dance Studios as an example. Hundreds of dancers have partnered with us to help make their love of dance a way of life! Some dance majors actually pursue what’s called a “double major,” marrying their interest in dance with another skill, such as business. The ultimate plan — to be their own boss!
Of course, there are the proven “soft skills” that dancers develop which are looked for by employers across the board! After years of practicing their passion, dancers often have these skills in spades:
- The ability to speak in public and to perform
- Creative thinking
- Time management (You try juggling all those classes and practice sessions!)
- Ability to work independently or collaboratively
- Organizational mindset
- Ability to handle pressure
On the flip side, remember this: If you’re trying out for a dance job the chances of someone actually looking to see what you majored in in college are pretty slim! They just want to see you dance. In the end, it’s important for parents to find that fine line between guidance and being supportive. It’s not always easy, but then again, you probably realized that from the get-go!