Take responsibility for your own development
Each dancer brings a unique set of talents, aspirations, and abilities to the dance
profession. Although you are in school and probably taking class, it is important
to take increasing responsibility for developing your particular abilities toward
your specific goals. Begin by obtaining the admission requirements of schools you
may wish to attend... the earlier, the better. Ultimately, you are responsible for
choices about how you use your time to prepare for your future. For most dancers,
that future involves dance at the center supported by many other capabilities.
Practice, practice, practice
Whatever you do or intend to do in dance, try to practice it as much as possible.
This applies not only to your technique, but also to other types of work in dance.
For example, if you are interested in teaching, you should try to observe and gain
teaching experiences under appropriate supervision. If you are interested in dance
scholarship or criticism, you should practice writing and speaking on dance topics.
If choreography appeals, seek instruction. No level of knowledge or skill that you
can attain will be too high.
Perform alone and with others
Performance ability is essential for all dance professionals. You should be a competent
performer in at least one dance area whether or not you intend to have a performance
career. Ensemble experiences of all kinds should be sought. Work in large and small
ensembles develop different kinds of dance skills. Fine ensemble work comes primarily
Master the basics
Be sure that you know the basic terminology, the fundamental gestures, and the major
types of dance.
Develop your musical understanding
Take every opportunity to study in music. Try to acquire the ability to read and follow
musical notation and an introductory understanding of the musical works that accompany
Learn to care for yourself
Your body and mind are your instruments. It is critical to take extremely good care
of both. Learn about nutrition and exercise, how to prevent injury, and how to maintain
healthy habits that will promote long-term health and fitness. Work closely with your
physician, your parents, and your dance teachers.
See as much dance as you can
You need to be familiar with far more dance than that which you perform. Try to see
as much dance from as many historical periods and cultural sources as possible. Ask
your teachers to recommend a list for you that covers the various repertories. Try
to make sure that you have seen major works of all types in the particular area of
dance that interests you. Seek more to learn the breadth and depth of the repertory
than to enjoy what is already familiar.
Learn how dance works
Take opportunities to learn the basics of choreographic structure, including such
areas as form, composition, and improvisation. Like so many other things in dance,
this knowledge is developed throughout a lifetime. Those who are able to get started
early have an advantage. Work with your dance teachers, take classes at your local
college or professional studio school, or otherwise explore opportunities to gain
initial acquaintance with this material.
Become a fluent, effective English speaker and writer
As a dancer, you will communicate in movement, but you will also rely heavily on your
ability to communicate in words. Everything from rehearsals to teaching, to writing
grant proposals, to negotiating, to promoting your professional interests relies on
fluent English skills. Focus attention on learning to speak and write effectively.
Get a comprehensive high school education
The dance profession is big, but it is also part of a larger whole. Dance both influences
and is influenced by the humanities, mathematics, the sciences, the social sciences,
and the other arts--architecture, film, literature, music theatre, and the visual
arts. For entrance into college-level study, you are encouraged to gain a basic overview
of ancient and modern history, the basic thought processes and procedures of math
and science, and familiarity with works in as many of the other arts disciplines as
possible. Most professionals who work with dance comprehensively develop a particular
sensibility about the connections among dance, history, and the other arts. Understanding
the basics of math and the sciences support future work in dance technologies. Social
studies are related to understanding the context for various dance endeavors.
Think of everything you study as helping you become a better dancer
As we have already said, the best dance professionals continue to learn throughout
their lives. They are always studying and thinking, always connecting what they know
about dance with their knowledge of other fields. Since you never know the direction
your career will take, it is wise to spend your high school years gaining the basic
ability to understand and work in a variety of fields beyond dance. Keep dance at
the center of your efforts, but accept and enjoy the challenge of gaining the kind
of knowledge and skills in other areas that will support both formal studies at the
advanced level and your dance career beyond
(Suggestions from National Association of Schools of Dance NASD)