Studying Dance: The Where and Why

By Ria Vahi

It’s almost that time of the year when high school students need to start applying for colleges, especially if they wish to study contemporary dance at a higher level outside India. This can be a confusing time for those who are trying to figure out what they wish to study in the field of dance, where or even how to go about the process. Having been through the research and application process myself, I highly suggest researching the course and the program in depth, understanding the course structure and classes being offered and look at how they can help you grow. I would also recommend reaching out to professors of the courses that interest you the most to gather a deeper insight into the course. Each admission process follows a similar pattern, with an audition being the most important component. Below is a list of colleges with some great dance programs. This is by no means an exhaustive list and therefore, I recommend conducting your own research in addition to see if the program suits your needs and requirements.

North America

  1. Tisch School of Arts, New York University, U.S.A - B.F.A. Training Program with Summer residencies and optional study abroad, “provides a comprehensive, organic approach to dance. Students earn their degree through an intensive three-year plus two-summer curriculum. Technique classes emphasize placement and alignment principles. First-year course work focuses on learning to dance in the most efficient and healthy way. The second year develops these principles with courses in dance history, acting, improvisation, music literature, and advanced dance composition. The third year focuses on integrating the previous years of training into staged performance and choreography. Third year students gain professional dance experience as ensemble members of Tisch’s Second Avenue Dance Company. ”
  2. University of North Carolina at Greensboro, U.S.A - B.F.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography “is a studio-intensive program that prepares students for a career in the art of dance, with an emphasis on choreography and performance. All BFA students take studio technique courses in contemporary dance, ballet, and African dance, with elective courses in tap, jazz, capoeira, technology for dance, and somatic practices. In addition, all students complete a course of study in improvisation/choreography, performance, dance production and dance history. BFA students in dance can also choose to add NC K-12 Standard Professional I Licensure to their degree program.”
  3. Ohio University, U.S.A - B.F.A. in Dance: Performance and Choreography “provides a foundation on which to build a career as a performer, choreographer, or teacher. Core curriculum in dance emphasizes developing performance skills through the study of technique, and fostering creative abilities through the study of choreography. Core curriculum in dance emphasizes developing performance skills through the study of technique, and fostering creative abilities through the study of choreography. Other major coursework provides a broad knowledge in dance history, ethnology, kinesiology, music and the teaching of dance.”
  4. Simon Fraser University, Canada - B.F.A. in Dance “offers contemporary dance training, creation, and performance that is uniquely interdisciplinary, intercultural, and that caters to today’s imaginative dance artist. Studio courses provide theoretical approaches to training using a variety of methods and techniques that are also integrated into courses on composition, improvisation, collaboration, and performance. Our lecture courses follow the same principle: they not only provide historical and aesthetic contexts for critical thinking based on our concept of practice-as-research, they also allow our students freedom to question those contexts with information from their own socio-cultural backgrounds and experiences.”
  5. Ryerson University/Toronto Metropolitan University, Canada - B.F.A. in Dance Performance: “This one-of-a-kind, conservatory-style program offers rigorous professional training in multiple dance styles. You’ll study in Toronto, home to the third-largest English language theatre district in the world and internationally renowned professional dance companies, and a North American film and television hot spot. With our innovative curriculum, you’ll learn and dance in direct collaboration with highly acclaimed guest artists and major arts organizations. Thanks to experienced faculty and plenty of opportunities to participate in studio and public performances, you’ll graduate as a skillful, versatile dance artist empowered to become part of the next generation of creative leaders!”
  6. Concordia University, Canada - B.F.A in Contemporary Dance “is unique in offering core choreography and creative process courses over the full span of your degree, with technical training that supports choreographic research and versatility in performance. Given the program’s focus on creative process and choreography, the dance training we provide is a synthesis of technique principles and new approaches in dance training, beyond style specific techniques. Teachers bring to class a diversity of perspectives, fed by their sustained practice as performers and artistic collaborators. ”

United Kingdom

  1. University of Roehampton - B.A. in Dance, B.F.A. in Dance “will help you develop your own creative identity as a dance artist. Our School of Arts and Digital Industries provides a virtually unparalleled breadth of curricular expertise. We’re responsive to the needs of each individual student, meaning that the course will be shaped around your interests and ambitions, and provide you with countless opportunities to flourish both pre- and post-graduation. Our classes are led by artists and academics with a wealth of experience and teaching expertise.”
  2. Middlesex University - B.A. in Dance Performance “fosters individuality through rigorous technique training, collaborative projects, frequent performance opportunities and applied professional practices. Dance lives within the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, which is also home to an array of creative disciplines including music, animation, theatre and interior and architectural design, and so we strongly encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration. Being based in London, the creative and cultural hub, means there are plenty of opportunities for participation and inspiration, right on your doorstep.”
  3. University of the Arts London - B.A. in Contemporary Theatre and Performance “will give you the opportunity to develop as a collaborative theatre-maker, creative entrepreneur and innovative performance practitioner. The course will enable you to work in an ensemble and to form a company or collective. You will plan, design, develop and deliver performance projects for a range of theatrical and non-theatrical locations and contexts, ensuring your work is engaged with contemporary culture.”


  1. Macquarie University, Sydney - Bachelor of Arts in Performing arts and entertainment industries “...offers a unique combination of creative, practice-based and professional approaches to the study of the performing arts, entertainment and creative industries. It involves theoretical and practice-based study across a wide suite of performing arts and entertainment industries, including theatre, dance, performance and music, and related disciplines such as film, television and gaming. The major will develop your knowledge of the creative processes, management, production and business practices of the performing arts and entertainment industries in live and online contexts.”
  2. Deakin University - Bachelor of Creative Arts: “Over the course of the degree, you’ll develop an entrepreneurial mindset and the leadership skills needed to keep pace in the fast-moving creative industries. Beyond your creative practice, you’ll develop real-world skills and form connections with the arts industry through programs, internships and volunteering opportunities. By the time you graduate, you’ll have the foundations to work across the arts and entertainment industries in anything from live theatre and dance, film and television to media and communications, or develop an independent freelance career working towards exhibitions, publications, festivals and community productions and events.”
  3. Flinders University - Bachelor of Creative Arts (Dance): “...the rigorous program of study explores both practical and theoretical elements of dance. Classes cover classical and contemporary dance, together with acting, anatomy and kinesiology, history, music, composition and production, with intensive training held in state-of-the-art rehearsal and performance spaces. The course is industry focused, giving you rare and exclusive access to professional dance artists, companies and their networks.”

In addition, here is a short list of other colleges with great programs. While the aforementioned colleges provide a detailed description of their specialisations, the list below will also assist in finding job opportunities after graduation, in addition to providing a well-rounded education.

North America (U.S. + Canada)

  1. Boston Conservatory at Berklee, U.S.A
  2. Alvin Ailey/Fordham University, U.S.A
  3. California Institute of the Arts, U.S.A
  4. Barnard College, Columbia University, U.S.A
  5. University of the Arts, U.S.A
  6. York University, Canada
  7. University of Toronto, Canada
  8. University of Calgary, Canada

United Kingdom

  1. Leeds Beckett University
  2. University of Lincoln
  3. Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance


  1. University of Melbourne
  2. Edith Cowan
  3. Queensland University of Technology
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