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.

Michael Apuzzo, Dancer at Paul Taylor Dance Company; BA in economics from Yale University

Photo by Laspata Decaro, courtesy Paul Taylor Dance Company

Michael Apuzzo always knew he wanted to attend a liberal arts institution. "I wanted to go to the best school possible, and I felt like a conservatory program would have been limiting academically," he says. He performed as much as possible during his time at Yale, dancing with nearly every student company, immersing himself in the theater department, and even performing with the prestigious Yale Repertory Theatre. "I think I spent more time dancing than I did doing my homework!" he says.

Apuzzo feels as though his undergraduate experience helped open him up to the possibility of dancing professionally. Following graduation, he moved to NYC to teach math at a magnet school. "After school every day, I would go to Broadway Dance Center and take as many classes as I could," he says. He also began attending auditions, and after taking several professional dance jobs and touring with musical theater productions, he earned a spot in the Paul Taylor Dance Company, where he's been dancing ever since.

Apuzzo credits his economics degree with his unique approach to movement. "I think about choreography very analytically, memorizing it in sequences and mapping out where I am in space," he says. His experience came full circle when he was invited back to Yale to stage an excerpt from a Paul Taylor work on the students. "It's great to see how much the dance scene at Yale has grown, and to be able to be a part of that," he says.


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