Chasing The Dream
“What are you going to do with a dance degree?” is a question that I and most art majors hear too often.
I typically answer by explaining that I am a double major with Media Studies, which earns the response “oh okay, well at least you can get a job.” While this strategy of qualifying my Dance major with my Media Studies major gets me through family gatherings, it discounts my extreme passion and dedication to dance.
Here are some tips to find your artistic dream and chase it with confidence:
When thinking of pursuing an education in art, some self-reflection is necessary. You must decide if it is worth investing your time, talent, and money into this degree. If so, how can you make the most of it?
I stepped into the Dance major already feeling defeated and like I would not be successful due to the quality of my previous dance training. These feelings festered within the first month of classes. I considered dropping the major altogether, but my advisor wisely suggested that I wait out the semester and see how I had progressed. As I delved into my dance classes, I reflected on the passion I have for this art form and the profound impact it has had on my life. I realized that not only was it really worth it to study the subject I love, but that I could find success within it, regardless of my doubts and fears. By the end of the fall semester, I was enjoying my studies and had found a home in the Dance Department—a home I did not want to leave.
Learn and Experience
It is important to gain experience in your field no matter what your major is, but in art, gaining experience can reveal new passions and pathways to pursue. Learning about the numerous aspects and career paths within your art form can not only solidify and clarify your goals, but can also help you gain connections and network along the way. Within this exploration you can make contacts in your field, as well as reveal a career or artistic goal that you may never have considered.
A great way to gain experience is to investigate the various opportunities provided by your college; many schools offer the chance to explore a variety of different avenues within your art form. In the Performing Arts here at DeSales, I have had the opportunity to work in many different areas of production like performer, understudy, usher, sound board operator, Concert Committee Member, and Student Manager. These opportunities have allowed me to experience the many facets of the dance industry and make connections with people working within those areas. Now, I have a better idea of the many directions I can take my art major, and I have a myriad of answers for that fated question: “What are you going to do with a dance degree?”
If no pathway immediately forms for you, do not worry! DeSales students can make an appointment at the Career Development Center and utilize our numerous online resources to aid in your search.
Take an Active Role
By taking an active role in your education and by creating opportunities and experiences for yourself, your goals will become more attainable. You get out what you put in! So don’t wait for your professor to assign a project, seek out opportunities to expand your art. This can take many forms, like getting involved in projects on- and off-campus, as well as completing independent projects as a way to build your portfolio. For example, I created a short modern dance piece over this past winter break and posted it on my YouTube channel and LinkedIn account. Another way to take an active role in your art might be participating in your peer’s projects outside the classroom. I have been in many Senior Pieces, Compositional Studies, and other projects that both gave me more experience as an artist and allowed me to build relationships with my peers that I can carry with me into the professional world. This process will allow you to have tangible products and over time and can help you map out your progress as an artist and creator.
You will soon discover that chasing your dream will be met with many challenges. You cannot ignore the challenges and it will not be easy, but success comes with perseverance and creativity! When you invest your time, energy, and talents into your dream, your passion and determination to gain success will only grow. Do not just dream, actually do it!
Don’t qualify it, OWN IT!
I decided to stop qualifying my pursuit of dance and my artistic dreams with my other major because it made me feel like my dreams were unattainable. Believe in and be proud of not only the art that you practice and create, but also in yourself as an artist. You have to own your art and your dreams to pursue success within them!
Once you find your artistic dream, chase it.