The Countdown to College Dance Graduation

by Roger Lee for The Dance Journal

The new year is already underway! While many adults are working on new year’s resolutions involving weight loss, financial increase, and the pursuit of happiness, a small percentage is preparing to graduate from college. An even smaller percentage is getting ready to graduate from college with a degree in Dance.

As a college dance graduate and working professional in the field, I highly recommend that all of you senior dance majors spend the rest of your school days wisely. Below are some action steps that you can take over the next few months. The following steps will help them prepare for graduation and the “real world” ahead:


Daydream: Imagine yourself in May. This may sound silly, but close your eyes and imagine your May (or June) graduation day. Picture yourself walking down the aisle, grabbing your diploma, and smiling into the crowd of photographers and supporters. Imagining this happy day of triumph will give you the motivation you need to deal with all that lies ahead. Imagining graduation day will also light a fire that causes you to work diligently over their last few months of school.

Plan: Once the daydreaming is done, you should try and channel your dreams into a strategic plan. I recommend outlining your ideal job, living situation, and affiliation with the dance field, if any. This plan will provide goals to work towards over the next few months. It will also help flesh out your ideas and show what is realistic and what is nothing more than a pipe dream.


Share your ideas with helpful people: Now that you have a vision and plan, it is time to share both with your closest circles. Share your ideas with academic advisors, dance professors and program directors, family, friends, and significant others. Sharing your vision and plan will put it out there into the universe. It will also get people thinking about your ideas, providing you with helpful feedback, and connecting you with other people who can make your dreams come true. The phrase “It is not just what you know, but it is who you know” suddenly comes to life as dancers transition from the nurturing college environment to the raw and competitive professional industry.

Research: Once you have met with people you will most likely have some new leads to look into. Spend lots of time researching names of people, businesses, organizations, artists, and resources that people recommend to you. Also, spend time researching things that you would like to do, see, or be a part of in the immediate future. You may be surprised at just how much information and help is out there. You may also be surprised to find that a lot is hidden on the web. Strategic keyword searches and social networking will help you immensely during their research process.


Design or purchase a Promotional Kit: Now that you have a vision, plan, network of supporters, and researched leads, you need to develop a promotional kit to “sell yourself.” Although some artists do not like the notion of self-promotion, it is a necessity for surviving and thriving in the changing creative field. The whole world is online and we as artists need to be right there with them. After helping several dance businesses, organizations, and artists promote their work, I am convinced that senior dance majors need to develop a promotional kit with most (if not all) of the following materials: website, social media pages including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Blogger, promotional reel highlighting the very best of your performance, choreography, and teaching, photo shoot including head, full-body, and action shots, resume’, and short bio.


Apply, Audition, and Contact: After spending a few months getting all of your ducks in a row, so to speak, it is now time to share your hard work with the world! April is a great month to apply for jobs, audition for roles, and contact potential clients and collaborators. This is where you will use the handy-dandy promotional kit that you designed or purchased. You will be happy that you have a kit or promotional items to use during this critical outreach period.


Graduate, Celebrate, and Join the professional field:  May will be here before you know it! If you have taken my advice and following the action steps I proposed above, you will have nothing to worry about. May should be the month to tie up any loose ends and enjoy your last official month of school. You can have fun graduating, celebrating your major accomplishment, and becoming a new member of the professional field. We cannot wait to welcome you into the family in just a few short months.