Dancing is a full time job, even as a dance student. With the number of classes to take in a week, plus late night rehearsals and as many performances as you can land, you are lucky to have enough time to eat and sleep (so what if it’s in the greenroom backstage!?). With all this well-spent time on the dance floor, it might seem like taking time off to travel is out of the question. However, with a simple leap into a dance degree abroad, it is possible to eat, sleep, explore-an-awesome-part-of-the-world, dance, and repeat.
Why Earn Your Degree Abroad
No matter your style of choice, earning a degree in dance abroad opens your learning to a unique culture, history, and expression. Dance has roots tracing back to our earliest ancestors. A degree in dance abroad, especially in countries where traditional and ceremonious dance remains prominent, will allow you to deepen your understanding and connection with the art form. Your specific form of expression will evolve and be shaped both by your studies in your home country and by your outside-the-box study in an international setting.
Talk about a standout performer! Your diversified training will attract attention at auditions, and your new life experiences will provide stories and inspiration to share through your work.
Dance can be found everywhere and anywhere, so the world is literally your oyster when it comes to getting a dance degree abroad. What you are looking for both during AND after your studies will help determine which location is right for you. Selecting a more remote location or an area with a narrow offering of dance styles will make it much harder to drop into that fun, let-loose dance class down the street when you need a break from your rigorous lessons. But, whether you choose a modern city or a more traditional town, you are guaranteed to move outside of your dance comfort zone.
England is home to an estimated 200 dance companies, so it is no wonder there are plenty of offerings for both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in dance. Like in the U.S., the bigger cities in England, like London and Manchester, play host to numerous auditions, performances, and networking opportunities. Ballet, contemporary, and street dancing seem to be the most popular and widespread styles of dance studied in England, yet everything from African dance to belly dance courses can be found. Plus, if you’re a native English speaker and learning a new language isn’t your thing, you will fit right in to dance degree programs in England (and you won’t have to worry about a language barrier when trying to score tickets to Wimbledon or a quick flight to France).
To push yourself both physically and culturally as a dancer, India is one place to consider. Culturally, many traditional Indian dance styles tell stories and legends from the past, a good skill to have for developing choreography. Indian dance also uses techniques that can be new and challenging for all dancers (all the more reason to add these styles to your repertoire!). In Mumbai, the Bollywood scene is booming and taking with it a popular blend of classical Indian and Western styles. Your ability to blend the two might come more naturally than you think! No matter where you earn your dance degree in India, you’ll be able to enjoy the country’s many holidays and festivals, like Diwali and Holi, celebrated loudly and colorfully in the streets.
Finally, if you want a balance of experiences, New Zealand and Australia offer an exciting mix for dance degrees abroad. Both countries offer a wide range of styles, from contemporary to ballroom to traditional tribal dances. In big cities, like Melbourne, the Arts Capital of Australia, you can receive a rigorous and comprehensive degree in dance that prepares you for careers with companies specializing in ballet and contemporary dance. You can also enhance your techniques in different forms of expression or story telling by studying strong forms of traditional dance, like the Haka in New Zealand or Aboriginal dances in Oz. While you are far away from home earning your dance degree abroad, you won’t have much free-time to get lonely in New Zealand or Australia, because there’s so much NATURE to explore! It won’t take long to find a national park filled with wildlife to get your mind off things.
Dance Degree Programs Abroad
Earning a degree in dance abroad will prepare you for the future, whether your dreams are to be a dancer on stage or a choreographer, director, or programmer behind the scenes. Since studying dance can become what you make it, no matter which country or type of degree program you choose, you will be able to add your own personality and style to your dance degree abroad.
Both undergraduate and master’s level degrees are available in dance performance and dance studies. An undergraduate dance degree typically prepares students through classes in technique, improvisation, choreography, theory, and professional studies, which then leads to careers as a dancer, choreographer, teacher, or administrator/manager. On a broader scale, graduates may also obtain jobs as fitness professionals and dance writers or critics.
Moving onto the graduate level, you’ll be able to fine-tune your dance studies to achieve more senior and advanced roles in choreography, education, and program development, or delve deeper into studies such as dance history, anthropology, or analysis. If you are looking at the master’s level, it will be more important to do your research to see the specific focuses each school offers.
Another option you have for obtaining a dance degree abroad is whether to attend a university or a specialized dance school. The biggest difference between these types of schools is the certification obtained upon completion. If joining a dance company is your dream, a school of dance offers certificates or diplomas that are geared for a professional career as a dance performer with a large focus on contemporary and classical dance. A diploma may be equivalent to an undergraduate degree, depending on the program, so a master’s degree is not out of the picture either.
If you are looking to extend your reach in dance beyond the stage, or combine dance with other interests, a university would allow you to have more choices. For example, if you love psychology just as much as dance, you could find a university to study dance movement psychotherapy, which you wouldn’t be able to find at a specialized dance school.
Most admission requirements for international students in dance mirror those for local students. Undergraduate dance degree programs typically require previous dance experience or schooling, and, following acceptance of the application, an in-person or video audition. Master’s level dance programs require an undergraduate degree in dance or a degree in a relevant field plus sufficient dance experience. Both dance degree programs may also require an interview. Many dance degree programs also offer the opportunity to gain experience with dance companies, study abroad in select countries, and perform independent research.
Benefits & Challenges
Exposure & Networking. Earning a dance degree abroad will open doors small and large to local and international dance companies, not to mention once-in-a-lifetime auditions. Auditioning in Europe or getting to know a choreographer in India can help you make the connections you need in order to get that call back in Los Angeles. If your eyes aren’t set on the stage, understanding dance from different cultural and artistic foundations will make you a more interesting candidate for programming, choreography, and teaching.
Language. Depending on where you decide to earn your dance degree abroad, a language barrier could prove difficult at first. If you see travel as a lifestyle and not a one-time thing (touring dance troupe, you say?), learning different languages through your university and through cultural immersion will definitely help in airports, cafes, and hotels around the globe. Plus, with the time spent earning your degree abroad, you will have ample time to improve and become fluent.
Competition. Competition is a challenge, and dancers know this all too well; but put yourself in a different country, with different styles, techniques, etiquette, and audition practices, and you can find yourself overcoming an even bigger learning curve. Just remember, every experience makes you stronger!
You may decide to obtain your dance degree abroad and find a form of dance that fits you better than any other or a teacher that pushes you to a level you didn’t know you had in you. You may even find a new city that becomes a new home or a new community of friends that becomes a new family. The universality of dance makes it a passion and study too easy to take abroad and too good to pass up.