You've probably seen articles on how dance prepares you for anything making the rounds in your social-media circles. The discipline, creative thought and communication skills learned in a dance class are coveted in (and often missing from) the broader workforce. And it's a good thing, too, because for even the most talented, it's virtually inevitable that, at some point, dancers will need to support themselves with a side job. So how exactly do the skills acquired in a college dance program transfer to other fields? Four graduates told DT how their degrees prepared them for much more than dancing.


Maggie Bailey, BA, 2014

College of Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina

Currently: MFA student, film and media production, University of Texas at Austin

"Understanding bodies and movement and energy really helps my filming and editing—knowing when to make cuts and giving actors something to do with their bodies," says Bailey. "I work with composers—I have experience doing that from college, talking about music and how to communicate a feeling." Photo by Alex Masi/Swng Productions, courtesy of Bailey

Dance-degree takeaway "Dance is more than just moving your body around," she says. "You learn social skills and team-building skills, and you can market yourself with those. You can say, 'I know how to take and give correction, how to hold a large group of people's attention.' A lot of people don't leave college with those skills."


Ansley Davis, BFA, 2016

University of Southern Mississippi

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Currently: ensemble member and part-time teacher with the Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and working in childcare

"Even if I'm not dancing at that moment, everything I did in college is showing through," she says. Photo by Darian Blake Hill, courtesy of Davis

Dance-degree takeaway Time management and organization, thanks to juggling classes, rehearsals and an active social life on campus. "I learned how to make sure all aspects of my life are in order, even when navigating a new transportation system and a new city," she says. "And when I'm nannying, I'm making sure all aspects of [her charge's] life are on track, in coordination with what her parents want for her."


Jessica Stroh, BFA, 2015

University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida

Currently: dancing part-time in New York City with modern company BodyStories: Teresa Fellion Dance, plus managing an ever-changing rotation of freelance jobs

"You have to basically be a director," says Stroh of managing a complex NYC dance career. "You have to make choices and find a balance between what works for you creatively and what works for you financially." Photo by Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy of Stroh

Dance-degree takeaway "Keep up relationships with people you knew in college," says Stroh. "Reach out to professors and people who are doing things you might be interested in. You never know what one opportunity may lead to."


Helen Phelan, BFA and BA, 2013

Elon University

Elon, North Carolina

Currently: full-time Pilates instructor in Brooklyn, New York, while planning to earn certification in integrative nutrition later this year, to launch her own wellness company in the future

"One day I realized that it wasn't just a day job—I really enjoy teaching," says Phelan. "I realized I was much more a fitness instructor than a dancer, and I felt OK with that." Photo by Hayley Hill, courtesy of Phelan

Dance-degree takeaway "Every class I took for the dance major has influenced my Pilates teaching," she says. "Even the less obvious things—narrative story lines help you become empathetic; pedagogy teaches you to be patient and compassionate when commanding a room; improv teaches creative problem-solving."

Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Kyle Froman

Darla Hoover was at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet's studios running a rehearsal in 2014 with director Marcia Dale Weary. Hoover had just returned the day before from staging a ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia. Jet-lagged, she mixed up her words when giving a correction.

Weary took Hoover's hand and gently said, "Honey, you work too hard."

Hoover, and the students, had a good laugh.

"Are you kidding me?" Hoover replied. "You're the one who made this monster. There is no off switch!"

Weary founded CPYB in 1955, and it quickly became an internationally known school that has produced countless principal dancers. Famous for her high standards and tough work ethic, Weary instilled those qualities in Hoover, who served as associate artistic director at CPYB under Weary, as artistic director at Ballet Academy East's pre-professional division in New York City and as a répétiteur for the Balanchine Trust.

Hoover took over as artistic director at CPYB in the spring this year after Weary died suddenly, and while she's committed to continuing Weary's legacy, students have begun to see some of Hoover's vision as well.

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Studio Success with Just for Kix
Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix, has been called the Queen of Fundraising by colleagues. A studio owner and high school dance coach with over four decades of experience, Clough is known for her smart and successful fundraising ideas.

Now, Just For Kix has created a new online tool to help everyone tackle their fundraising goals, whether you're raising money for uniforms, extra classes, or to cover the cost of travel for your dance team's next convention.

Clough shared a few of her best fundraising tips, including everything you need to know about the new tool:

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Dance Teacher Tips
Father-daughter dance. Photo by Lisa Lee, courtesy of Dance Academy USA

Your year-end recital is your studio's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Not only is it the time for your dancers to celebrate what they've accomplished during the year, it's your opportunity to demonstrate to parents firsthand the value of a dance education. A successful recital can also grant your school an influential role in the local community. Whether a prominent conservatory or a small-town studio, and whether your dancers win competitions or take classes once a week, your year-end recital is the chance for your dancers—and your program—to shine.

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Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: How do you approach gender when teaching in 2019? When I was training, male dancers were encouraged to make their movement masculine, while female dancers were encouraged to keep their movement feminine. Today, gender has become much more fluid, and the line between masculine and feminine performance has blurred. How does that impact the way we should be teaching?

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Dance News
Photo courtesy of Z Artists Group

New York City–based pre-professional training troupe Z Artists Group, along with dancers from eight professional companies in the city, are joining together to combat gun violence with, "DANCERS DEMAND ACTION," a performance aligning art with activism at The Joyce Theater, this Monday, November 11, at 7:30 pm.

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Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Infinite Flow

Last week, 2019 DT Awardee Marisa Hamamoto and her partner Piotr Iwanicki brought their boundary-breaking work to the "Good Morning America" stage in a segment highlighting her inclusive dance company Infinite Flow.

Infinite Flow is a Los Angeles–based wheelchair ballroom dance company (the first of its kind in the U.S.) that incorporates an equal number of disabled and nondisabled dancers, as well as a range of styles like hip hop, contemporary and other partner dances.

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Dance Teachers Trending

Since she was hired in 2006 to create a dance program at Washington & Lee University in Virginia, Jenefer Davies has operated as, essentially, a one-woman show. She's the only full-time faculty member (with regular adjunct support). Over the last 13 years, she has created a thriving program along with a performance company—at a school with fewer than 2,500 students—by drawing on her admittedly rare strength: aerial dance.

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Savion Glover is one of the biggest names in the dance world, and perhaps the biggest in the tap world. The trailblazing hoofer's hard-hitting, rhythmically intricate style has fundamentally altered the tap landscape.

Glover is also a master teacher. But during his many years on the scene, he's never appeared regularly at a major dance convention. That is, until this season: Glover is now teaching at JUMP Dance Convention, scheduled to appear at approximately 15 more cities on its 2019–2020 tour.

We talked with JUMP director Mike Minery, himself a gifted hoofer, about working with a living legend—and how Glover is already changing the convention class game.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Though she loved choreographing, the high school student showcase wasn't quite enough for Julie Deleger, a recent graduate of The College Preparatory School in Oakland, California. The answer for her was an independent-study project during her last semester there. "Choreography is so personal that sometimes you need to take more or less time with it," she says. "Doing it on my own was really helpful. I let the project guide me rather than having to adhere to a specific set of rules."

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Dancer Health
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Q: My 5-year-old daughter is pigeon-toed. Do you have any suggestions to help her correct this?

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Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Kreiling

While training with Abby Lee Miller in Pittsburgh, Rachel Kreiling underestimated the studio's requirement of enrolling in every class. The versatile curriculum (tap, ballet, hip hop, modern, acro, lyrical and jazz) paired with Miller's unconventional teaching style, since showcased on "Dance Moms," greatly impacted Kreiling's own style and relationship to music. "Abby would play the music and choreograph within the phrasing, but rarely to actual counts," she says. This resulted in a huge positive learning component. "I had to learn musicality myself," says Kreiling, who left the studio at age 18 after graduating, more than a decade before the Lifetime network show aired. "And studying every style became instrumental in my attachment to music," she adds. "I'm always seeking out new genres and diverse songs." After a performing career that included a Broadway-style revue at Tokyo Disney, Revolution (a tap tour with Mike Schulster), and dancing with Alison Chase/Performance and in a Rasta Thomas contemporary ballet, Kreiling began assisting Suzi Taylor at Steps on Broadway in New York City. In 2007, Kreiling, who describes her class as extremely athletic and technical, became full-time NYCDA faculty.

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