Help students decide which degree is right for them.

Jacksonville University offers both a dance BA and BFA.

When Julian DeGuzman transferred to the University of California Irvine as a junior, he wasn’t sure how dance would fit into his career goals. But after a summer away at American Dance Festival, he realized he wanted to perform. When he returned as a senior that fall, he changed his bachelor of arts in dance to a bachelor of fine arts. Today he lives in New York City, performing in Broadway’s Newsies eight times a week.

Though both are intensive degrees that give dancers a leg up in their training, a dance BFA and BA offer different college experiences. Helping students decide which to pursue means considering interests they’d like to explore in college and after graduation. Because most schools offer either a BA or BFA (though some programs, like UC Irvine, have both), choosing also helps narrow the list of potential schools a student could apply to.

The biggest difference between the two degrees is the time spent in dance-specific courses versus academics outside the department. At George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, BFA candidates must complete 83 dance credits over four years—nearly double what is required for a BA. That means BFAs spend roughly 20 hours a week in movement classes (technique, improvisation, composition), and BAs 10. Depending on the dancer, these time commitments might feel over- or underwhelming.

Regardless, the quality of training is equal. “The choreography classes are the same, the theory courses are the same and ballet is the same,” says Brian Palmer, chair of theater and dance at Jacksonville University in Florida. “The proficiency necessary for level placement and the courses themselves don’t differ.”

It was the additional time spent in technique class and rehearsals that prompted DeGuzman to change his degree to a BFA. “I became more involved with rehearsals and had to collaborate with choreographers. And I knew I needed that on my resumé,” he says. “That comes in handy now that I’m assistant dance captain for Newsies. I feel more eloquent in communicating movement to new cast members.”

In general, BFA candidates tend to be performance-oriented dancers, while BAs are interested in jobs like dance programming, physical therapy or teaching. For instance, GMU program coordinator Marjorie Summerall points out that two recent GMU BFA grads dance with Mark Morris Dance Group; a BA graduate, who double-majored in dance and mathematics, is in grad school studying biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University, while teaching ballet in Baltimore.

Newsies dancer Julian DeGuzman chose the BFA to gain performance experience.

For students with additional interests, Summerall says the scheduling flexibility of a BA makes it easier to double-major or minor. And the additional academic load may make students more attractive to graduate schools and nondance employers. “Sometimes students develop a strong interest in another area of study,” she says. “They can better manage it with a BA and still graduate in four years.”

BA students also find more time to get involved in their university’s community through clubs or sports. “A recent BA graduate wanted both dance and crew in her college experience,” says Palmer. “She was at the highest technical level of dance and was very disciplined, but couldn’t fulfill the higher performance credit amount.”

Palmer says it’s important to stress to dancers that one degree isn’t more prestigious than the other; it’s about which is best for their training needs and career goals. “There’s always going to be a comparison when there are two degrees,” he says. “But it all depends on the experience a student wants.” DT

Photo by Michael Erdelyi, courtesy of Jacksonville University; photo courtesy of Julian DeGuzman

Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Jerome Capasso, courtesy of Man in Motion

Finding a male dance instructor who isn't booked solid can be a challenge, which is why a New York City dance educator was inspired to start a network of male dance professionals in 2012. Since then, he's tripled his roster of teachers and is actively hiring.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of HSDC

This fall Hubbard Street Dance Chicago initiates an innovative choreographic-study project to pair local Chicago teens with company member Rena Butler, who in 2018 was named the Hubbard Street Choreographic Fellow. The Dance Lab Choreographic Fellowship is the vision of Kathryn Humphreys, director of HSDC's education, youth and community programs. "I am really excited to see young people realize possibilities, and realize what they are capable of," she says. "I think that high school is such an interesting, transformative time. They are right on the edge of figuring themselves out."

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Q: What policies do you put in place to encourage parents of competition dancers to pay their bills in a timely manner?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo courtesy of Kim Black

For some children, the first day of dance is a magic time filled with make-believe, music, smiles and movement. For others, all the excitement can be a bit intimidating, resulting in tears and hesitation. This is perfectly natural, and after 32 years of experience, I've got a pretty good system for getting those timid tiny dancers to open up. It usually takes a few classes before some students are completely comfortable. But before you know it, those hesitant students will begin enjoying the magic of creative movement and dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Photo via @igor.pastor on Instagram

Listen up, dance teachers! October 7 is National Frappe Day (the drink), but as dance enthusiasts, we obviously like to celebrate a little differently. We've compiled four fun frappé combinations on Instagram for your perusal!

You're welcome! Now, you can thank us by sharing some of your own frappé favs on social media with the hashtag #nationalfrappeday.

We can't wait to see what you come up with!

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Original photos: Getty Images

We've been dying to hear more about "On Pointe," a docuseries following students at the School of American Ballet, since we first got wind of the project this spring. Now—finally!—we know where this can't-miss show is going to live: It was just announced that Disney+, the new streaming service set to launch November 12, has ordered the series.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Tony Nguyen, courtesy of Jill Randall

Recently I got to reflect on my 22-year-old self and the first modern technique classes I subbed for at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, California. (Thank you to Dana Lawton for giving me the chance and opportunity to dive in.)

Today I wanted to share 10 ideas to consider as you embark upon subbing and teaching modern technique classes for the first time. These ideas can be helpful with adult classes and youth classes alike.

As I like to say, "Teaching takes teaching." I mean, teaching takes practice, trial and error and more practice. I myself am in my 23rd year of teaching now and am still learning and growing each and every class.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Misti Ridge teaches class at Center Stage Performing Arts Studio. Photo by Arlyn Lawrence , courtesy of Ridge

The dance teachers who work with kids ages 5–7 have earned themselves a special place in dance heaven. They give artists the foundation for their future with impossibly high energy and even higher voices. Enthusiasm is their game, and talent is their aim! Well, that, self-esteem, a love for dance, discipline and so much more!

These days, teachers often go a step beyond giving tiny dancers technical and performative bases and make them strong enough to actually compete at a national level—we're talking double-pirouettes-by-the-time-they're-5-years-old type of competitive.

We caught up with one such teacher, Misti Ridge from Center Stage Performing Arts Studio, The Dance Awards 2019 and 2012 Studio of The Year, to get the inside scoop on how she does it. The main takeaway? Don't underestimate your baby competition dancers—those 5- to 7-year-olds can work magic.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Patrick Randak, Courtesy In The Lights PR

The ability to communicate clearly is something I've been consumed with for as long as I can remember. I was born in the Bronx and always loved city living. But when I was 9, a family crisis forced my mom to send me to Puerto Rico to live with my grandparents. I only knew one Spanish word: "hola." I remember the frustration and loneliness of having so many thoughts and feelings and not being able to express them.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Courtesy Just for Kix

As a teacher or studio owner, customer service is a major part of the job. It's easy to dread the difficult sides of it, like being questioned or criticized by an unhappy parent. "In the early years, parent issues could have been the one thing that got me to give up teaching," says Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a teacher and studio owner with over 43 years of experience. "Hang in there—it does get easier."

We asked Clough her top tips for dealing with difficult parents:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Getty Images

It's the middle of the semester and two dancers are sitting out of class, you're worried about one student's mental health and another has developed an eating disorder. Sound familiar? College can be a tumultuous time. To help address the additional demands of being a dance major, some schools have found strategies for enhancing wellness and integrating health services into their departments.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox