freshman dance major

5 things I wish I would have known as a freshman Dance Major

I always knew I wanted to be a dancer, and I ran after it the best I could with my family knowing nearly nothing about the dance world. I was really fortunate to get into the university of my choice, but it wasn’t what I expected. I’m not sure what I expected, but my experience wasn’t what I had dreamed of. I am thankful I have my degree in dance, but looking back on it now as an adjunct dance professor there are some things that would have been helpful to hear from someone with experience.

  1. Don’t compare yourself to your classmates. You walk into these new dance spaces and they feel foreign, especially if you’ve grown up at the same studio your entire life. The immediate impulse is to look around and see how you measure up. I challenge you to let this ‘measuring up’ move you to inspiration instead. The girl in the corner might have an amazing extension. Study how she does it, and what you can try on from your study. The guy in modern class might take up A LOT of space going across the floor. If you can manage it, be the one that goes with him across the floor and take up just as much space! Let go of comparison, be inspired, and practice showing up and staying present as yourself. 
  2. If you don’t get cast in something you are really interested in, there’s no harm in asking to be an understudy. This is something that I didn’t even think of as a dance major. My program was intense, and honestly, I was intimidated. I didn't have the confidence I should have had. I felt like I couldn't reach out to my teachers, but looking back I think I could have reached out more to a select few of them. When I say a select few, be mindful of who you talk with about your needs and questions as a dancer. Your dreams and ideas are important which makes it equally important for you to find a mentor that pushes you while wanting the best for you. 
  3. For the love, go to bed at a decent hour. You will be dancing a lot. You will also be in academic classes and taking care of all the projects, papers, and exams that go into covering that material. You need to be able to be fully present. This not only will help out with your grades, but it will help you to prevent injury in your dance classes. Which leads to…
  4. To the best of your ability, fuel your body properly. When you are visiting campuses, take note of the cafeteria and what meal plans you are required to purchase. Do you have food sensitivities? How can they work with you for what you need to dance fully? Do you need to budget a little money to getting some things to keep in your dorm. Some dorms even have places you can cook. Does the place you are planning on living have a kitchen?
  5. Keep dancing during your winter and summer breaks! I wish I would have done so much more of this. These breaks are great opportunities to travel to other cities and try out different styles. You can audition for so many companies’ summer programs. Meet people and stay in touch with them! 

I would love to hear from you all that have been in the dance major shoes. What is some advice that you would give to your freshman self when looking back on your experience as a dance major?

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Yes Ashten! I agree with all of those things. Especially the breakfast tidbit. I still have to practice fueling my body properly to be able to function fully. whew


Other things I wish I would have know as a freshman: Show up early to technique classes (especially early morning ones) and prepare yourself mentally and physically and adequate protein at breakfast. I was so shocked with how these two things changed my performance in classes.
And a funny one: always keep extra hair supplies on you at all times, I could have saved myself a lot of embarrassment my first year.


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