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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dance Major Journal

UC Irvine


Dance Major Journal was founded in 2010 in the dance department of the University of California, Irvine. It features writing focused on the interests, issues, experiences, and concerns of dance majors, aimed at sharing information, research, advice, and points of view.

DMJ welcomes conversational writing style, personal essays, new formats, humor, stories, and “answers for dance majors” (ways to explain to the outside world the value and facts of a dance education), as well as academically sound essays using clear language and lively prose.

Dance Major Journal

Hot topics: critical issues in dance

The Black Sheep is the Black Dancer

What does it feel like to be an African American ballet dancer when you are in the minority, and costumers don't even know how to match your skin tone when a "nude" look is called for?

The New Shift in the Ideal Ballet Body Type

In an age where body positivity and dancer health are emphasized more than before, can the dance world become more accepting of varying body types? It seems as if the ballet world is making baby steps in that direction.

Hey ballet dress code...let's talk about queerness

The dress code often used in ballet, which prescribes different attire for females and males, might not work for dancers who are "gender fluid," or even if a dancer wants to explore more than one gender expression while learning. It's proposed that a binary dress code reinscribing conservative male and female stereotypes can stifle creativity, intimidate dancers, and deny them freedom of expression.

Am I screwed if the choreographer isn't my BFF?

When casting, professional choreographers often prefer dancers they know, or ones they have worked with before. In universities, however, should the same situation apply? Is it worthwhile to audition if you haven't gotten to know the choreographer outside the theatre? Dance majors are often told they need to "network" and get to know choreographers in order to be cast, yet these skills are not taught. Could such skills be taught along with performance and choreography?

You can't filter real life: can you be too obsessed with elite dancers on social media?

The internet provides young dancers with a lot of role models and much useful information about the dance world. Celebrated dancers can influence and encourage others in the field, letting fans see that they are "real" people who struggle and work hard. At the same time, some aspiring dancers may be intimidated by the level of achievement they see in seasoned professionals. They may become discouraged, or, worse, try to perform technical feats beyond their skill level. How can you avoid feeling you'll never get anywhere in dance unless you are one of the privileged few who gather thousands of followers on social media?

Do student athletes get all the advantages over student dancers?

Dance majors have all the coursework and performance demands as college athletes do, but they do not receive the special resources and physical care that the university routinely supplies to its athletes. Is it fair that artists who are also athletes are not looked after in the same careful, appreciative way as team members who play sports?

A sport with finesse: it seems clear that universities do not support dancers as well as they do athletes

Dance at universities is as athletic and time-consuming as basketball or soccer, yet student athletes receive much more support and enjoy privileges and resources dance majors do not. How is such unequal treatment fair at a university that proclaims itself in favor of equal treatment for all?

The move to success! Is it really what you think?

Young dancers often believe they have to move far away from home to find success in the dance world. It's proposed that sometimes, they may overlook opportunities closer to home. Relocating to popular dance cities such as New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago might work out, but the competition can be intimidating and reduce your odds of finding a job. Having contacts and support closer to home may even make it more likely you will find a fulfilling dance career without uprooting yourself.

Ignore the arts at a nation's peril: why we need the NEA

With funding from the National Endowment for the Arts threatened anew in a new federal government atmosphere, the United States is in danger of losing one of its greatest assets. World leaders throughout the ages have recognized the power of the arts, the responsibility to offer arts to their citizens, to represent their people globally, and to contribute to the betterment of human kind. It's suggested that some leaders fear critique from the arts, or simply do not recognize their crucial importance.

Adding to Your Dance Major Skills

The zen dance of 8 a.m. ballet class

The schedule of a dance major can be stressful. Developing a meditative approach to dance practice can help you find more focus, awareness, and enjoyment, making class refreshing and exciting.

What am I even doing as a dance teacher?

Dancers who become teachers often realize that it's a different skill than performing. Offered are some valuable basic strategies that can help you become more aware of effective teaching practices.

Awakening the social body in the institution with Gaga

Sometimes, dancers need to rediscover their passion and motivation in the studio. Gaga movement language, which stems from the choreographer Ohad Naharin in Israel, can connect a feeling of social and physical agency in the moving body and help you thrive while making choices and understanding more about your individual choices.

Research? But you're a dancer not a scientist

Dancers and scholars talk about the ways in which embodied research works, including observation, analysis, and interviewing, as well as the more familiar strategies of journaling and improving awareness of dancer process.

Seeing dance through a different lens: how interdisciplinary practice enhances creativity

While you're at university, you might as well study topics outside of dance as well as focusing on your dance major. It may contribute to the famous "back-up plan" parents advise, giving you skills that lead to many different kinds of jobs, but interdisciplinary awareness can also enhance your creativity and mood, adding extra dimension to your dance practice.

Do dancers focus to much on dance alone? Finding dance-life balance

Most dancers come to the field with a fierce dedication and passion for dance, something that helps them achieve their goals in the studio. But is there a point when the obsessive focus becomes damaging? Finding a healthy balance between dancing and activities ouside the studio can not only improve your artistic practice but improve your life in general

The case for adding club involvement to your undergraduate dance education

Some dance majors think of "outside" activities as taking too much time away from their studio focus. The case is made for joining a campus club to help prepare you for the future by enhancing your skills and providing useful experience for the job market beyond university. The author focuses on Bare Bones Dance Theatre, a club formed at University of California, Irvine, for dance majors to fundraise and produce their own dance concert, as well as contribute to the community with outreach projects.

Walking the tightrope: effective treatment for dancer burnout

The stressful schedule of a dance major can result in burnout, which requires a balance of both physical and mental treatment. Strategies for getting better emotionally are often ignored and can include development of a self-awareness practice like meditation, and somatic practices like yoga or Pilates, all of which seek to promote a harmonious union between mental and physical states of being.

Integrating somatics and meditation into dance curriculum

It can feel impossible to find time to add moments of healthful relaxation to an already crowded dance schedule, but it's something that can enhance a dancer's body and mind. Many universities offer a few courses in somatic techniques, but often they are minimal. The author proposes series of daily classes be offered to dance majors, consisting of Improvisation or Gaga Technique, Stretch and Conditioning, Mindful Meditation, Yoga, and Foam Roller coupled with Self and Partner Massage.

Why Be a Dance Major?

Is going to college the right choice for a dancer?

Dancers are often encouraged to start their careers right after high school, but there are good reasons to consider dancing at university instead. Interviews with professional dancers reveal the ways they think college helped them prepare for the dance world, including honing their auditioning skills, making valuable professional connections, and building self-confidence.

OMG--you're not going to dance professionally! How college can be a better way to find a dance job

Going to college often turns out to be the smart, mature decision for many dancers, providing them with valuable experience and contacts. As well, company directors increasingly want to hire dancers who have some maturity and knowledge of the field from studying at university. The author found that college helped her find herself as a dancer and as a person.