Best Colleges with Dance Programs

December 10, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Best Colleges with Dance Programs

If you are a fan of the New York City Ballet, the Alonzo King LINES Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, or really any dance company in the entire world, traditional or contemporary, you are aware that almost all of the members of the company attended one of the most prestigious colleges with dance programs in the US.

What exactly makes a degree in dance performance so unique and desirable? It is possible, aside from the prestige some of the colleges with dance programs have, that this is the most physically demanding degree there is; students in this field have to get up at an ungodly hour every day and keep their bodies moving for a significant amount of time, seven days a week.

Aside from going to one of the best colleges with dance programs, these dancers take in an incredible quantity of information; in addition to ballet, tap, jazz, and modern genres, they study contemporary dance as well. They need to be able to imitate the motions of those who were brave enough to choreograph Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and other of the very best composers.

In addition to this, just like every other college student, they are required to maintain a healthy balance between their workloads in English and mathematics.

When we take a look at the histories of the best dancers in the country, we almost always find that they attended one of a small handful of schools. Therefore, you might be wondering: what are some of the best dance performance schools in the United States? The following is a list of ten of the most prestigious colleges with dance programs in the country.

Why should you study dance in College?

Why should you study dance in college? If you want to get a head start in the dance world, it is recommended that you enroll in a traditional higher education institution and pursue a dance program of study rather than enrolling in a conservatory or pre-professional program for dance. This will provide you with a much broader starting point.

To begin, there are the coursework and credits that you are often obliged to complete outside of your major, regardless of whether you attend a liberal arts college or a university. These requirements are the same for both types of educational institutions. In addition, most undergraduate dance programs are structured to provide students with multidisciplinary perspectives on dance, including historical, cultural, artistic, theoretical, and scientific viewpoints.

It’s possible that you have a strong interest in dancing but are hesitant to pursue a career in the field because you don’t want to feel “locked into” the profession. The reality is that a large number of students do not end up working in the same field as their undergraduate major, and this is especially true if the student chose a liberal arts major in the humanities or arts, such as dance, as their area of study.

Earning a degree in dance from one of the conventional universities or colleges with dance programs will open numerous doors in the field of performing arts, and not just in the realm of performing roles. There is a wide variety of work available behind the scenes in the dance and performance industry, and it is never boring.

Students who concentrate on dance usually pursue careers in management or arts administration, where they put their familiarity with the field and their capacity for effective communication to use. In addition, they have the opportunity to pursue careers as choreographers, dance teachers, publicists, or individuals who work in marketing for dance groups and companies.

Obviously, the aforementioned choices are not the only ones open to you. You should never have the mindset that you will be trapped in the performing arts sector; you can always branch out and carve a new route with the experience you’ve gained in dance as well as the knowledge and abilities you’ve gained from your other classes.

What are the best colleges with dance programs?

What are the best colleges with dance programs? College is the first step towards a professional dance career for many high school students, and whether you plan to concentrate on contemporary or ballet, it is essential to find a program that is tailored to your personal ambitions. The following is an introduction to some of the most prestigious colleges with dance programs in the country.

Juilliard School

What is there to say about Juilliard that hasn’t already been said hundreds of times in the history of artistic education? The accomplishments of the institution provide abundant evidence that it is deserving of the prominence and distinction it enjoys.

Paul Taylor was one of the first graduates of the school to become a “superstar” in the field of dance. He graduated from the program in 1953, which was only two years after the dance division at Juilliard was established. His ensemble, which is still operating today and known as the Paul Taylor Dance Company, still goes on tour and performs some of his 144 original pieces.

Juilliard School main entrance made of glass

In today’s day and age, Juilliard is constituted of some of the most prominent figures in the field of dance. Faculty members from the school, including the well-known performer and pedagogue Jeff Edwards, who is recognized as a great talent and scholar of Balanchine’s works, have performed in world-renowned dance companies and choreographed performers on Broadway and beyond.

Off-campus performance options are plentiful here because New York City is often regarded as the cultural center of the United States. Students give performances at a wide variety of New York City’s most prestigious museums and venues, such as the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the Juilliard Opera, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, and a great many more.

New York University Tisch School of the Arts

One of the colleges with dance programs, New York University Tisch School of the Arts, is without a doubt one of the best schools in the country for performing arts, and it is possibly the best school in the country for a pre-professional dancer who is looking for conservatory-level instruction in addition to a well-rounded university experience.

Not only do dance students at NYU work with renowned instructors, but they also collaborate with choreographers who are regarded as some of the most prominent names in contemporary dance.

The university flag New York University propped outside of its building.

Second Avenue Dance Company is an NYU group that gives students the opportunity to perform new and existing works choreographed by master artists. This is one of the ways in which students are given the chance to collaborate with these visiting choreographers.

Seán Curran is a highly recognized American dancer and choreographer. He is currently the Chair of the Dance Program at NYU Tisch. His teaching credits span over 100 institutions, including the Boston Conservatory, the Bates Dance Festival, the American Dance Festival, and more. In 1985, he was recognized for his work with a Bessie Award.

Fordham University

Alvin Ailey, widely regarded as one of the most influential choreographers of the 20th century, is responsible for founding the Ailey School, which is widely regarded as the most prestigious training facility for dancers in the country.

Fordham University main entrance

Students participating in this one-of-a-kind program are enrolled full-time at both the Ailey School and Fordham University simultaneously. This brings together the academic rigor of Fordham University with the expertise of the faculty and studios at the Ailey School of Dance, which are both on the cutting edge of technology.

The Ailey School of Dance and Fordham University are both located in Lincoln Center, which is often considered to be the cultural epicenter of all of Manhattan.

Butler University

The dance program at Butler University is consistently ranked among the top 10 in the United States. Butler University’s Jordan College of the Arts is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious art colleges in the United States.

The College of the Arts as a whole boasts one of the highest placement rates in the country, at 94% for its graduating students, making it one of the best in the country.

Butler University signage

The facilities at Butler include five studios, each of which is fully equipped, as well as a conditioning room that is specifically designated for use by dance students. Students have access to an athletic trainer as a result of a collaboration with St. Vincent Sports Performance. This trainer offers advice to students regarding injury prevention, rehabilitation, and overall fitness objectives.

Oklahoma City University

The Ann Lacy School of Dance and Entertainment is one of those colleges with dance programs that confers multiple degrees to prospective dance professionals in order to meet their educational needs. There is a Bachelor of Performing, a Bachelor of Dance Management, a Bachelor of Dance Pedagogy, and even a Bachelor of Entertainment among them.

Anyone with aspirations of pursuing a career in dance or the performing arts should give serious consideration to OKCU because of the extensive range of dance-related courses it offers.

Oklahoma City University main building

The Gaylord Dance Center at Oklahoma City University is widely regarded as the best instructional facility for dance in the entirety of the United States. There are a total of eight dance studios, dressing facilities, student lounges, and a sizable atrium housed within the Gaylord Dance Center.

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Alumni of the dance program at UNCSA, which is widely regarded as one of the best performing arts schools in the country, are now working for some of the most prestigious dance companies in the world, in addition to holding teaching positions at some of the most prestigious universities and academic institutions.

Students participating in the Choreographic Institute at UNCSA are given the extraordinary opportunity to collaborate with aspiring professional choreographers who are members of the program and are referred to as “fellows.” The fellowship is currently in its third year, and it just recently announced its newest class of fellows, which includes a graduate of UNCSA.

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

In addition to being a college preparatory institution, UNCSA also offers an academic curriculum for high school students. Gillian Murphy, who attended UNCSA when it was still in its high school division, is arguably the most well-known graduate of UNCSA’s dance program.

University of Arizona

The University of Arizona’s School of Dance is consistently ranked as having one of the nation’s best contemporary and classical dance training programs. As one of the colleges with dance programs, students can work toward either a Bachelor of Fine Arts or a Master of Fine Arts degree.

The University of Arizona School of Dance has a student organization known as “The Dance Collective,” and they are the ones who best exemplify the school’s unique culture. The Dance Collective is an organization at the University of Arizona that is technically open to all students at the university.

However, the majority of its members are dance majors, and their mission is to spread dance in all of its forms across the campus and the city of Tucson. In addition, they sponsor the annual Arizona Jazz Dance Showcase.

The program has a stellar reputation for looking after the physical well-being of its participants. Students studying dance at the University of Arizona have had continuous access to a musculoskeletal clinic since 2013. This program’s goals are to increase the overall performance of the school’s dance pupils as well as reduce the number of injuries they sustain.

Southern Methodist University

Cooperation with the Texas Ballet Theater, which is the largest professional dance company in north Texas and serves tens of thousands of patrons in the creative hub of Dallas/Fort Worth, is one of the most significant aspects of this program.

Southern Methodist University main building

Students are given the opportunity to perform in several of Greater Dallas’ historic arts venues, such as the Winspear Opera House as well as City Performance Hall. This makes the school a prominent location for both classical and jazz genres of ballet.

Point Park University

It is one of the most competitive dance programs in the world due to the high regard in which it is held. The teaching staff at this institution is of the highest caliber and are widely regarded as some of the most accomplished professionals in the field. Garfield Lemonius, who currently serves as the Chair of the Dance Program, has collaborated with illustrious artists like Chuck Davis, Alonzo King, and Bruce Wood.

Point Park University students

The George Roland White Performance Center, which is LEED-certified and costs $16,000,000, is one of the most outstanding facilities at the school for dancers. It features 44,000 square feet of area dedicated to dance. In addition, the institution is one of the colleges with dance programs, and operates the Pittsburgh Playhouse, which is located on campus and hosts annual performances for more than 30,000 people.

Cornish College of the Arts

The Bachelor of Fine Arts program at Cornish College of the Arts is a physically demanding course of study; students spend between six and eight hours per day in the studios of the college learning, practicing, and rehearsing. Cornish’s program is so appealing that even dancers with professional experience routinely apply. Through the school’s “Professional Dancers Program,” experienced dancers can finish their BFA in fewer than two years.

Opportunities for working together are a defining characteristic of Cornish education. Because this educational institution is an autonomous arts conservatory, students majoring in dance typically work with those studying other performing arts disciplines, such as music and theater.

What are my chances of getting accepted?

With the knowledge of the best colleges with dance programs in the country, what are my chances of getting accepted? If you want to improve your chances of getting into college to pursue any major, whether you want to study dance or physics, having a solid academic record is absolutely essential.

The colleges you’re applying to want to know that you will be successful not only in the program for which you’re applying but also as a student there in general. This is also a fantastic place to start showing that you have an interest in dancing; if your high school offers them, performing arts electives are something you should think about taking.

Outside of your academic pursuits, you can consider becoming a member of an existing dance team (or perhaps starting one from scratch) or working backstage at an upcoming dance or theatrical event. You might develop a streaming site that focuses on your technique and performance, or you could use other social media platforms to discover dancers in your local region who would be interested in choreographing and performing your own compositions.

Want to learn more about getting into one of the best colleges with dance programs in the country? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college. Contact us today for more information on our services.


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