Float across the stage as a dying swan or whirl through the room to fiery tango rhythms. Many young people dream of a career as a professional dancer. TV series and films paint a dazzling job description. But the tough training of the dancers has also moved more and more into focus in recent years. Nevertheless, passionate dancers are not deterred by the scenes of bloody dancing feet or devastating castings. Every year the universities register hundreds of applicants who want to be trained to become professional dancers.
Dance Studies in Germany: An Overview
In Germany there are eleven state training centers for dancers . There is only one university that specializes exclusively in dance. The other vocational schools and artistic universities teach other subjects such as music or drama in addition to dance .
According to andyeducation, the individual universities have different priorities in dance education . A basic distinction is made between classical dance , i.e. ballet, and contemporary dance . Many universities pursue a holistic concept and train their students in both classical and contemporary dance. However, there are also universities where a certain style is in the foreground. In addition, there are courses that train people to become a stage dancer, while others focus on pedagogy.
Depending on the focus of the individual universities, students in the bachelor’s programs receive lessons on specific dance techniques . At all universities they receive basic training in classical ballet. In addition, modern dance, character dance, improvisation dance or other dance styles such as tap dance are on the curriculum.
The students usually receive their dance lessons in groups and attend courses on jumping technique and body awareness. Theoretical subjects such as dance theory or anatomy are also on the curriculum. Choreographers from all over the world teach at many universities so that students get to know different dance techniques and have the opportunity to develop their own style. They present rehearsed pieces in internal university or public performances and thus gain their first stage experience .
In courses with a pedagogical focus , students also have lessons in subjects such as dance pedagogy, dance medicine or dance history. At most universities they can specialize in teaching classical or contemporary dance techniques.
One disadvantage of the profession of dancer is the fact that in most cases the career ends in their mid-thirties . Master’s courses offer bachelor’s graduates the opportunity to prepare professionally for the time after their own dance career. For example, there are master’s courses with a pedagogical focus that train people to become dance teachers. Other master’s programs offer training in choreography or dance therapy.
Dance students with a pronounced talent also have the opportunity to attend so-called master classes . They are supported by a mentor who creates an individual teaching program for his student to refine his practical skills. Attending a master class often includes teaching at the university.
Studying dance: requirements
If you want to study dance, you have to be able to dance at the beginning of your studies. Most applicants have been dancing since childhood and have attended special dance schools before.
Many universities only accept ten to twenty applicants per year. The selection criteria are correspondingly tough. Applicants must take admission exams to prove their skills in classical and contemporary dance, as well as their talent for improvisational dance and choreography. In addition, they must present a medical certificate confirming their physical suitability for dance training. It is possible to study dance without a high school diploma , because in the case of extraordinary dancing talent , many universities refrain from the higher education entrance qualification.
Only those who have chosen dancing to be the focus of their life have a chance of a place at a university. Universities expect ambition and above-average discipline from their students. Other interests are subordinate to dance.
The career of a professional dancer is relatively short. After completing their studies, many graduates try to get employment with a theater, an opera or another established establishment. Quite often there is the possibility of first getting hold of a beginner’s contract or at least an internship. These are usually not particularly well paid, but open up an entry into the world of professional dance. Even after that, a permanent position of several years is rather the exception.
Many dancers work freelance and are only hired for individual pieces. Many have several professional pillars . In addition to employment at a city theater or an independent ensemble, work as a specialist journalist, choreographer or trainer is an option. Graduates of artistic-pedagogical courses mostly work as dance teachers or dance therapists. Master’s programs and other advanced training courses offer dancers the opportunity to prepare for professional life after their dance career.
Studying dance abroad: advantages
Budding dancers should definitely take the opportunity to spend a semester abroad. This gives them the opportunity to gain their first international stage experience. Taking lessons from another teacher can also help students improve their dance techniques and develop their own style. Last but not least, students can improve their foreign language skills while studying abroad and get to know a different culture and dancers from all over the world. For your later career, it is an advantage to build up an international network early on .