The Best Dance Colleges in California

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a female ballerina dancing in a dance studio

The Best Dance Colleges in California

Golden sunlight and rhythmic footsteps echoing through ornate dance studios are just a few trademarks of the dance colleges in California. With a thriving dance scene, proximity to the entertainment industry, and diverse dance styles and opportunities, it’s no surprise that many students choose to pursue their dance education in California.

Why Choose California for Dance Education

The Thriving Dance Scene in California

California is a haven for dancers from all over the world. The state is home to a thriving dance scene that offers a plethora of performance opportunities for aspiring dancers. Whether it’s ballet, modern, hip-hop, or contemporary, there’s always a show or audition to attend. The dance scene in California is so lively that it has its own unique culture. Many dance colleges in California have partnerships with local dance companies, providing students with direct exposure to the professional dance world as they pursue their degrees.

One of the most exciting aspects of the dance scene in California is the abundance of outdoor performances. From the beaches of Santa Monica to the parks of San Francisco, dancers take to the streets to showcase their skills. These performances are often free and open to the public, making them an excellent opportunity for dancers to gain exposure and build their reputations.

Proximity to the Entertainment Industry

California is also home to the entertainment industry, making it an ideal location for aspiring dancers looking to work in film, television, or on stage. Many successful dancers and choreographers got their start in California and have established connections in the industry. Dance colleges in California often have guest artists from the entertainment industry and offer specialized courses in dance for film and television.

Additionally, the proximity to Hollywood means that dancers have the opportunity to audition for roles in movies, TV shows, and music videos. Many dancers have gone on to have successful careers in the entertainment industry after starting out in California.

Diverse Dance Styles and Opportunities

From the beaches of Southern California to the city lights of San Francisco, dance styles vary greatly throughout the state. California is a melting pot of cultures, which translates to diverse dance styles and styles of dance education. Many dance colleges offer programs in traditional dance styles, as well as modern and contemporary dance.

Actor dancer young man performs in the theater on stage in a retro dance musical show

Aside from the traditional dance styles, California is also home to a variety of unique and unconventional dance styles. For example, the Bay Area is known for its avant-garde dance scene, which incorporates elements of theater and performance art into the choreography.

Furthermore, many dance colleges in California offer opportunities for students to study abroad and experience dance in other cultures. This not only expands their dance education but also gives them a global perspective that can be invaluable in the dance world.

In conclusion, California is a fantastic destination for dancers looking to pursue their passion. With its thriving dance scene, proximity to the entertainment industry, and diverse dance styles and opportunities, California has something to offer for dancers of all backgrounds and aspirations.

Top Dance Colleges in California

California is home to some of the best dance colleges in the United States. With a diverse range of programs and opportunities, students can find the perfect fit for their dance education. Here are five of the top dance colleges in California:

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Located in the heart of Los Angeles, UCLA offers a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. This program provides students with a strong foundation in modern, ballet, and choreography, along with the opportunity to specialize in a specific style of dance. The program boasts renowned faculty members, including former members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Martha Graham Dance Company. UCLA’s connections to the entertainment industry provide students with unique opportunities to work on productions like “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Exterior view of Royce Hall, UCLA

University of Southern California (USC)

USC offers both a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary collaboration, with opportunities to work with other departments like music or theater. USC’s faculty includes former members of the New York City Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet, as well as award-winning choreographers. Students also have access to guest artists and international dance programs, including a summer intensive in Paris.

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

The CalArts dance program emphasizes creativity and experimentation, with a focus on contemporary dance. Students have the opportunity to work with faculty who are also active choreographers and performers, and participate in productions and festivals both on and off-campus. CalArts’ faculty includes former members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the Trisha Brown Dance Company. The program also offers opportunities to study dance in other countries, such as a winter intensive in Brazil.

California Institute of the Arts blue building

Loyola Marymount University (LMU)

LMU offers a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a minor in dance for non-majors. The program focuses on modern dance and choreography, with opportunities for students to collaborate with faculty and guest artists. LMU’s proximity to Los Angeles provides access to the entertainment industry, with many alumni working in film and television. The program also offers unique opportunities, such as a dance immersion trip to New York City.

Chapman University

Chapman University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and a minor in dance. The program focuses on ballet and modern dance, with opportunities to study other styles like jazz and hip-hop. The program’s faculty includes former members of the American Ballet Theatre and the San Francisco Ballet, as well as award-winning choreographers. Chapman’s international dance opportunities include faculty-led trips to countries like Israel and India.

Chapman University archway

Overall, the best dance colleges in California offer students a diverse range of programs and opportunities to pursue their passion for dance. Whether students are interested in contemporary dance or classical ballet, they can find a program that fits their needs and helps them achieve their goals.

Comparing Dance Programs

Dance is a beautiful and expressive art form that requires dedication, discipline, and talent. If you’re considering pursuing a dance education in California, you have many options to choose from. However, with so many programs available, it can be challenging to determine which one is the best fit for you.

Curriculum and Focus Areas

When researching dance programs, it’s important to consider the curriculum and focus areas to ensure they align with your artistic goals. Some programs may focus more heavily on technique, while others may emphasize choreography or interdisciplinary collaboration. It’s essential to understand the program’s approach and determine if it aligns with your artistic vision.

For example, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in contemporary dance, you may want to look for programs that offer courses in improvisation, composition, and partnering. If you’re interested in ballet, you may want to find programs that offer a strong foundation in classical technique.

Faculty and Guest Artists

The faculty and guest artists at a dance program can heavily influence the quality of your education. Look for programs with knowledgeable and experienced faculty members who have connections within the dance world. Guest artists can also bring new perspectives and opportunities to a program.

For instance, a program that regularly invites guest artists to teach master classes or set choreography can provide valuable exposure to different styles and techniques. Additionally, faculty members who have connections within the professional dance world can help students land internships, apprenticeships, and jobs after graduation.

Performance Opportunities

Dance is a performance art, so the opportunity to perform should be an important consideration when choosing a dance program. Look for programs that offer a variety of performance opportunities, including dance concerts, festivals, and collaborations with professional companies. These experiences can provide valuable networking opportunities and exposure to the professional dance world.

Some dance colleges in California may also offer opportunities to perform in non-traditional settings, such as site-specific works or dance films. These experiences can help students develop their creativity and adaptability as performers.

Alumni Success Stories

Researching the success of alumni can provide insight into the quality of a dance program. Look for alumni who have successful careers in the dance industry and who have been able to apply their education in practical ways. This can be an indication of the overall effectiveness of the program.

Additionally, alumni networks can be valuable resources for current students. Alumni may offer mentorship, job leads, or other opportunities to help students launch their careers after graduation.

Overall, when comparing dance programs in California, it’s important to consider a variety of factors, including curriculum, faculty, performance opportunities, and alumni success stories. By doing your research and asking thoughtful questions, you can find a program that will help you achieve your artistic goals and launch a successful career in dance.

Financial Aid and Scholarships for Dance Students

Are you passionate about dance but worried about the cost of pursuing your dreams? Fear not! There are numerous financial aid and scholarship options available to help you achieve your goals.

Types of Financial Aid Available

When it comes to financial aid, dance students have a variety of options. Grants, loans, and work-study programs are all available to help ease the financial burden of pursuing a dance education. Grants are typically awarded based on financial need and do not need to be repaid. Loans, on the other hand, do need to be repaid but often come with lower interest rates than traditional loans. Work-study programs allow students to work part-time on campus to earn money to put towards their education.

It’s important to explore all options and speak with financial aid advisors to ensure you’re receiving the maximum amount of aid available. This will greatly mitigate the costs of exploring dance colleges in California.

Dance-Specific Scholarships

Did you know that there are scholarships specifically for dance students? Many organizations offer scholarships to help alleviate the financial burden of pursuing a dance education. Some examples include the National YoungArts Foundation, the Dance/USA Fellowship Program, and the Martha Hill Dance Fund.

In addition to external scholarships, many dance programs offer scholarships to incoming students. These scholarships may be based on talent, academic achievement, or financial need. Be sure to inquire about these opportunities when researching dance programs.

Tips for Securing Funding

Securing funding for a dance education can be a daunting task, but there are resources available to help. In addition to speaking with financial aid advisors and researching scholarships, consider participating in fundraising efforts like crowdfunding. Websites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter allow you to create a campaign and share it with family, friends, and the community to raise money for your education.

Don’t be afraid to ask for support from those around you. Family and friends may be willing to contribute to your education, and community organizations may offer scholarships or grants for students pursuing the arts.

Remember, with a little research and effort, you can find the financial aid and scholarships you need to pursue your passion for dance!

Preparing for a Successful Dance College Audition

Preparing for a dance college audition can be a daunting task, but with the right mindset and preparation, it can be a rewarding experience. Here are some additional tips to help you prepare for your audition:

Researching Audition Requirements

Before you audition for dance colleges in California, it’s essential to research the specific requirements for each dance program thoroughly. This includes the types of dance combinations you’ll need to perform, any personal statements or essays you may need to submit, and whether the audition will be recorded or live.

It’s also important to research the dance program’s overall focus and mission to ensure that your audition pieces align with their values and requirements.

Choosing the Right Pieces

When choosing your audition pieces, it’s crucial to showcase your strengths and range of abilities. Choose pieces that highlight your unique style and technique, but also make sure they align with the program’s focus areas and requirements.

Consider selecting pieces that showcase your versatility as a dancer, such as a contemporary piece that incorporates both ballet and modern dance techniques.

Preparing for the Audition

Preparing for an audition involves more than just rehearsing your dance pieces. It’s essential to arrive early, dress appropriately, and be confident in your performance.

Take the time to warm up and stretch before your audition to help prevent injuries and ensure that your body is ready to perform. Consider practicing visualization techniques to help you mentally prepare for your audition.

Tips for a Standout Performance

To make your audition stand out, it’s important to showcase your personality and passion for dance. Don’t be afraid to take risks and show your unique style and creativity.

Remember to make eye contact with the judges and connect with your audience. Showcasing your stage presence and confidence can make a significant impact on your overall performance.

Handling Nerves and Stress

Auditions can be nerve-wracking, but taking care of yourself physically and mentally can help alleviate stress and anxiety. Practice self-care strategies like deep breathing, meditation, and exercise to help calm your nerves.

Remember to have fun and enjoy the experience. Try to view your audition as an opportunity to showcase your talent and passion for dance, rather than a high-stakes performance.

With these tips and strategies, you’ll be well-prepared for your dance college audition and ready to showcase your skills and passion for dance.

Life in Dance Colleges in California

Balancing Academics and Dance Training

As a dance student in California, balancing academics and dance training can be challenging. It’s important to create a schedule that prioritizes both areas and allows for adequate rest and self-care. Many programs also offer academic support services to help students succeed in both areas.

It’s common for dance students to spend long hours in the studio perfecting their technique and rehearsing for performances. However, it’s important to remember that academics are just as important. Without a strong academic foundation, it can be difficult to succeed in the dance world. Therefore, it’s crucial to find a balance that works for you.

Networking and Building Connections

Networking and building connections within the dance community can provide valuable opportunities. Attend shows and events, participate in master classes and workshops, and reach out to alumni of your program. These connections can lead to future collaborations and job opportunities.

It’s important to remember that the dance world is a small community, and building strong relationships with other dancers and professionals can be beneficial in the long run. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and make connections!

Exploring the Local Dance Community

California is home to a vibrant dance community, with many dance events and performances happening throughout the year. Experiencing these events can provide inspiration and exposure to different styles of dance.

Attending performances and events can also help you stay up-to-date on current trends and styles in the dance world. This can be especially helpful when preparing for auditions or creating choreography.

Preparing for a Career in Dance

While pursuing a degree in dance is a significant accomplishment, it’s important to prepare for a career in dance beyond graduation. Take advantage of career services offered by your program, network with professionals in the industry, and continue to hone your craft through classes and workshops outside of school.

It’s also important to be proactive in seeking out performance opportunities and creating your own work. Many successful dancers have started their own dance companies or created their own choreography. By taking initiative and being creative, you can pave the way for a successful career in dance.


Dance Colleges in California provide a unique blend of rigorous training and broad academic curriculum, helping aspiring dancers refine their artistry and prepare for successful careers in the ever-evolving world of dance. When researching dance programs, consider the curriculum, faculty, performance opportunities, and alumni success stories. With hard work, dedication, and preparation, the opportunities for a successful career in dance are endless.

How AdmissionSight can help you with college admissions

AdmissionSight is a college consulting firm that provides personalized assistance to students throughout the college admissions process. Here are some ways that AdmissionSight can help you:

Flexible ballet dancer stretching in the dark lighted studio

Admissions strategy: AdmissionSight can help you develop a strategic plan for your college application process. Our professional consultants can assist with identifying schools that are a good fit for your academic, extracurricular, and personal goals and help you plan and prioritize your application strategy.

Application review: AdmissionSight can review your application and provide feedback on how to improve it. We can offer suggestions on how to make your application stand out and highlight your strengths and unique qualities.

Essay coaching: AdmissionSight can help you craft compelling essays that showcase your personality, goals, and achievements. We can guide you through the essay writing process and provide feedback on your drafts to help you refine your writing.

Interview preparation: AdmissionSight can provide interview coaching to help you feel confident and prepared for your college interviews. Our experts can offer tips on how to present yourself professionally and how to answer common interview questions.

Extracurricular planning: AdmissionSight can help you plan and develop your extracurricular activities to make them more impactful and meaningful. We can suggest activities that align with your interests and goals and provide guidance on how to demonstrate your leadership and initiative.

Overall, AdmissionSight can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the college admissions process to help you maximize your chances of getting accepted into the college of your choice.

We’re not just about getting you into college; we aim to set you up for success beyond, by helping you develop a strong academic and extracurricular profile. Contact us and let’s turn your college dreams into reality!



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.