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Top 6 Dance Schools to Kickstart Your Dance Career

May 23, 2018

Top 6 Dance Schools to Kickstart Your Dance Career

Breaking into the arts is difficult no matter how strong your skills are, but dancing can be particularly challenging because it’s also one of the most physically demanding. You’ll need the right training and education if you’re thinking about dance as a career path.

The following schools are considered among the best, having produced a number of successful dancers, choreographers, and other professionals in the industry.

Oberlin College & Conservatory


Oberlin College & Conservatory, located in Oberlin, OH,  has many successful alumni, which is one of the reasons it ranks so high among dance schools. Students can choose among four focuses: Somatic Studies, Critical Inquiry, Physical Technique, and Creation and Performance. Students wishing to major in dance must take courses in all four categories, and have opportunities for performances throughout each year of their program. Many student-run organizations also hold classes and performances that focus on jazz, tap, hip hop, and other styles of dance not covered in the academic courses.

Skidmore College


Skidmore is a private school that consistently ranks high for students interested in liberal arts. Located in Saratoga Springs, NY, the school takes a more well-rounded approach to dance studies. Students learn the history of dance, how it affects the body and society, as well as how society influences dance, for a comprehensive education. With a Bachelor of Science in Dance, Skidmore students are prepared for careers in performance, choreography, dance education, and more.



Juilliard is best known for its music program; however, it has an equally impressive and well-reputed dance school. Most students work toward the four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts degree; a Diploma is also offered, which omits the liberal arts requirements. Located in New York, this private school attracts many guests and professional dancers for extra training and workshops throughout the year. Be warned though: the application process is a bit more intense than other dance schools. Applicants are required to have prior dance training (at least three years) and attend a live audition. For younger students (ages 15-17), the schools also offers a Summer Dance Intensive program, designed to give young dancers a look into life at Juilliard.

University of California, Berkeley


The University of California, Berkeley, is one of the most prestigious dance schools, but unlike most of the other schools on this list, this one is a public school. As a Dance & Performance Studies Major, students learn about choreography, advanced technique, and the history and theory of dance. Students also have the opportunity to produce performances, attend workshops and classes with Artists-in-Residence, intern with professional companies and studios, and more. Admission to the school requires a short essay, but undergraduates must first pass two prerequisite courses to qualify as a dance major. There is also a Ph.D. program for Theater, Dance, and Performance studies, for students wishing to take their studies even further.

Rutgers University


Mason Gross School of the Arts is a school within Rutgers University, located in New Brunswick, NJ. The dance focus is divided between performance and research, so that students have a thorough understanding of the many different elements, theories, and fields within dance. Because of its proximity to New York City, students have opportunities to attend master classes and workshops with international artists in the city. The school is also unique in that it offers several different programs to choose from, including a five-year degree for dance education, allowing students a wider range of possible careers.

New York University


Tisch School of the Arts is a school within New York University, offering a top-ranked dance program that focuses on training professional dancers and choreographers for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Classes are taught by working professionals in New York, and students have many opportunities to perform and choreograph productions; each year, the schools puts on twelve concerts. Students in their final year also gain experience working within a resident company setting, the Second Avenue Dance Company.

Dance is one of the most physically demanding arts, and it continues to be highly competitive. Comparing the different dance schools may seem like another difficult task in an already challenging process as you apply for college. However, finding the right school will help you not only improve and grow, it will give you the boost you need to turn what you love into a rewarding career. Readers, what other dance schools would you recommend that aren’t on this list? Leave a comment below and let us know! 


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Photo credits: Mark J. Telehacalder wilsonSusan SermonetaJohn Morgan, tomwsulcerKevin Christopher Burke

Megan L. is a writer and musician living in San Diego. She loves supporting independent artists and learning more about music every day. Megan has been working for TakeLessons since November 2011. Google+

Megan L.