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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.

Personal Stories

The Gifts I Received in College Led Me to My Future

Finding the right life-work balance for this dance major included also having a great on-campus job, a hip hop crew, and foreign travel. It can all lead to the life you want.

My Able Body

A chronic illness like pan-colitis is hard enough for anyone to deal with, much less a dancer who relies on strength and focus on physical skills. But one dance major found courage and purpose in the studio, enough for her to deepen her resolve to dance and to look forward to her future with optimism and hope.

Dance--the cause of our fight, the cause of our bond

When dance isn’t considered an appropriate career for men, a boy may have to hide his studio classes from his father. After many years, one dance major finds that times actually do change.

Where have you been all my life?

The image in the mirror is a constant companion for dancers. Even at 30, a dancer sees her body as aging and writes a letter to her future self about what’s really important in life.


Perspectives on Dance from a Non-dancing Dance Mom

Even if your mother didn’t learn dance in the studio, you may find her experiences doing swing dance help her understand your own passion.

Old dance forms, new bodies, and new friends

Teresa Marchand is a 20-something social dancer who learned many folk forms as she grew up among people who did folk dance socially. Taking up swing dance as an adult, she has found it connects her to others, both locally and globally.

Dance to connect to others--and also find yourself

One 30-something Texan tells how social dancing has always figured in his life, from joining in salsa and bachata at family parties, to self-conscious years at middle-school parties, to finding out how to dance just for fun, not caring what others think.

It is never too late to pursue the life you want

When Judy Ying came to California from Beijing years ago, she and her siblings started several businesses that thrived. Now, Judy has finally found time to pursue her passion for dance in retirement. Her dance major teacher is impressed with her hard work and innovative methods of keeping up.

Dance Documentaries You Must See

Should you travel on The Road to the Stamping Ground?

A documentary on Jirí Kylián's 1980s dance “Stamping Ground” is considered in light of current debates over cultural appropriation in the dance world. With sensitivity and respect, it’s possible that cultural borrowings, which have always gone on in the arts, may enhance the field.

Learning from Limón

As a Mexican immigrant who became an American modern dance icon, José Limón became famous, but maybe his “Other” status as Mexican got lost in the legacy, an important aspect to unpack for today’s dancers. The film Jos é Limón: A Life Beyond Words provides an overview of this historical aspect of heritage.

Into the Vibe of House Dance

Review of director Sally Sommer's dance documentary on the individual style and community of House dance in the clubs of New York, and how House can be a creative influence on studio dancers.

Hot topics: critical issues in dance

Out Loud

The daughter of forward-thinking parents who valued diversity in her education finds that she needs to think about the privileges her skin color gave her. She suggests that parents talk to their children “out loud” about the lack of a level playing field, so that they can contribute positively to future change.

Do Dancers Have to Think?

Dance is rarely talked about as an intellectual pursuit, yet many complex cognitive processes are involved in learning a physical art form. To explain to outsiders how much goes on in the brain as you dance, it is useful to reference Bloom’s Taxonomy, a set of six categories of mental processes that develop brain power.

[America], will you love me?

The complex feelings of belonging and being an outsider are explored in a poem written “to” a nation that has both valued and denigrated its immigrant populations.