Juilliard student Diamond Ancion. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, courtesy Juilliard
In the ballet world, the phrase "going to college" is sometimes regarded as the musings of a dancer who's not really serious about their craft. Although schools like Juilliard and Bennington College have made degrees acceptable for modern dancers for decades, the competitive ballet world (which often follows a philosophy of "the younger the better") tends to discourage higher education.
But some ballet students just don't feel physically or emotionally ready to join a professional company at age 18, and others simply don't want to miss out on the college experience. So they choose to pursue an undergraduate dance degree to continue their ballet training in an academic atmosphere.
When I was in high school, I visited the college counselor's office with other students to talk about what we wanted to major in. One by one, she asked us about our plans. "Teaching? Great, here's a list of top programs nearby." "Engineering? Fantastic, check out these resources." "Dance?" Cue, the chirping crickets. (Thankfully, my dance teacher lent me her copy of the Dance Magazine College Guide, which I decorated with dog-ears and Post-Its.)
If you've ever wondered how performing arts programs stack up, I'm happy to direct you to the first professionally-ranked listing of performing arts colleges worldwide. This year, QS World University Rankings, which analyzes troves of data to rank colleges around the globe, included a category for performing arts. QS' top 100 list includes schools that offer concentrated study in music, drama and/or dance. To see if your school made the list, click here.
Unsurprisingly, The Juilliard School took first place. While American institutions make up 26 of the 100 spots, the list features schools from 27 countries.
While a list like this is a great resource, it isn't dance-specific. Here's a deeper look into some of the top dance options we've covered in DM:
Juilliard (#1), Indiana University (#10) and Harvard (#17): Click here to spend a day in the life of a dance student at each of these schools.
University of California, Los Angeles (#17): One of several programs that offers a pre-college summer workshop to give you a taste of undergrad life before you apply
Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (#22): If you're looking for a fast track into the professional world, read about Tisch and other schools with three-year degrees.
Harvard (#17), Yale (#25), Columbia University (#39) Princeton (#42):Dance does exist in the Ivy League! These schools (except Columbia) don't have an official dance major, but they do boast notable faculty.
SUNY Purchase (#31): If you live for the stage, schools like Purchase have their own touring companies to give you more performance opportunities.
Florida State University and University of Iowa (both ranked in the second half of QS' list): Dance-specific study abroad programs are rare, but these schools have immersive dance experiences in France and Brazil.
If you're just starting your college search, check out the Dance Magazine College Guide, which has info on more than 600 dance programs in one place, and advice on auditioning, choosing a program, paying for school and more.