5 Pros Who Chose Non-Dance Majors in College—and How It Helped Their Careers

New York Theatre Ballet's Alexis Branagan studied English at Princeton. (photo by Richard Termine, courtesy New York Theatre Ballet)

College-bound dancers sometimes feel as though a dance degree is the only path to professional success. But while majoring in dance can be a great option, it's certainly not the only one. College should be a time of self-discovery, which often means exploring a variety of academic interests. We spoke with five artists who chose college majors completely outside the dance world—without sacrificing their postgrad careers.

Gwen Phillips, Dancer at 3rd Law Dance/Theater; BA in journalism from the University of Georgia

Phillips with Mason Lawrence Taylor in "Till We Wake," by Katie Elliott and James LaVita (photo by Heather Gray, courtesy Phillips)

Gwen Phillips always knew she'd be going to college for something other than dance.

"My parents wouldn't have accepted anything but a traditional liberal arts education," she says. At the time, she imagined following a career in journalism, which led her to the University of Georgia. "They had both a great journalism program and a dance education degree, which was a big selling point for me," she says. Phillips ended up with a degree in magazine journalism and a minor in dance education.

Following graduation, Phillips moved home to Atlanta, GA, and began taking classes with Zoetic Dance Ensemble. "They ended up inviting me to dance with the company, and that's how I got my first dance job," she says. Phillips found herself in the right place at the right time again when she moved to Denver, CO, to pursue a certificate in publishing. "I found a sign for a dance company looking to replace a dancer on maternity leave," she says. That's how she found Ormao Dance Company, where she danced until meeting Katie Elliott of 3rd Law.

Dance has always been a part-time job for Phillips, who has moved from a career in copywriting and graphic design to become a physical therapist assistant. "3rd Law only rehearses Mondays and Fridays, so I'm able to balance both jobs," she says. While Phillips ended up leaving journalism behind, she still uses her degree almost every day as social media manager and content developer for 3rd Law.


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