Did you know that if your college or the university you want to apply for has a dance department, it is more than likely that they will offer dance classes for all enrolled college students, and that in some cases at no or very little cost to you!
You can dance in college without having to major in dance or ballet by taking dance as a minor, as an elective subject, as an extracurricular subject, by attending an open audition for a performance or college dance company, through a student-run group or club or through the athletics department for the dance, poms or cheer team.
Some universities offer dance even without a dance department, through their athletics department, gym or wellness programs or as a creative and fitness orientated extracurricular activity for their staff and students.
10 Ways to Dance In college Without Majoring in Dance
From my current research and writing of several articles recently about college dance programs, I was astonished by the different ways you could pursue your love of dance in college without actually having to declare yourself as being a dance major. Not all colleges will offer the same amount of access to the dance program to non-dance major students, but a majority of them hold spaces open for all students to be able to participate and experience the joy, creativity, and discipline of learning and training in dance. To check out the specific programs available check out our article Dance Colleges Across All 50 States which will open in a new tab or click here to quickly pin it to your College Dance board to read later.
Minor in Dance
If you are not sure what a minor in dance is, you can read all about them in our article What is a Dance Major? which describes the difference between a dance major and minor and lists the types of dance minors you might be able to find at various institutions.
Basically a minor is a reduced version of a major, which means you can take a set of planned courses in dance and apply their credits or units towards the completion of your degree, which might have absolutely nothing to do with dance. A minor is a good option at colleges that only offer dance to students enrolled in a dance program, or the ability to audition for performances to those enrolled in the dance program, for those currently doing or wanting to have the opportunity in the future to do education studies to teach dance or as a complementary or interdisciplinary learning area to your major study.
To be given your degree, you need to accumulate a specific number of credit or unit points to finish which you can read about in more detail in our article Dance Degrees Explained. Most degrees have core subjects and general studies that need to be completed, but often have a number of credit points not allocated to pre-requisite studies allowing you to choose courses from different schools or departments that might not even complement your degree, but that you might like to try out.
Most colleges with dance studies offer dance classes for elective purposes, meaning that you can just take one class of dance, for example, every week for a semester to obtain credits or units towards your degree.
As previously written many colleges with dance studies offer dance classes for elective purposes but not all students choose to do the classes for credit because of the extra commitment to their study load. They may prefer to do dance classes as a non-credit extracurricular activity so that they are not committed to for example turning up to ballet class every week. Instead, they might like to do ballet one week and then a modern or hip hop class the next.
Some colleges have no accredited courses in dance but still offer dance classes to their students as a recreational activity for fun, fitness, creativity or even stress release.
Performance or Dance Company
Institutions with dance and theatre programs regularly put on broadway shows, dance concerts, dramatic plays, and other performances. Sometimes auditions for these shows for various reasons open up to the general college population rather than just those students in the dance program. These shows provide another avenue and opportunity for non-dance major students to participate in dance at college.
Student-Run Group or Club
Every college supports the organization of student-run groups and clubs and if your university doesn’t already have a dance group or club, you could be the one to start one!
The great thing about student-run groups and clubs is that you will often find a style of dance focused on that is not offered through the dance department. There might be a dance crew who specializes in hip hop or street dance and who regularly battle other college dance crews. You might find a social dance or line dance club to join. Joining a club is also a great way to find your tribe at college, a way to make friends with similar interests which can be a daunting prospect to many new freshman students.
Dance or Poms Team
Many people don’t realize there is are such things as dance or poms teams at college, because many mistake them and group them under the label of being a cheerleader. But being on the Cheer team and dance or poms team are two totally different things.
The purpose of the dance team is similar to the cheer team in that they support many of the sporting teams at the college, but you are more likely to find the dance team performing at the basketball game rather than the football. You are also more likely to see the dance team at indoor college pep rally events, rather than the cheerleading team.
Their main difference is the style of movement and steps used when performing. Cheerleading is all about cheers, stunts, tricks, drill movement and acrobatics. Whereas the dance team is all about choreography and entertaining a crowd.
The dance team is sometimes called the pom’s team because of the use of pom-poms in most of their performances.
To get onto a college dance or poms team you will generally need to be an experienced dancer and pass an audition to ensure you have the skills and performance experience to become a valued member of the team.
The drill team usually consists of a large group of dancers who perform synchronized movements in patterns that look spectacular on the football field. They often perform with the college marching band.
The drill team spends many hours rehearsing their precision routines, and learn how to work as part of a team that relies on each and every member to do their best so that the intricate canons of movement and patterns work with ease to entertain the crowds at sporting and other events generally held outdoors at the college.
To get onto the drill team, students generally need prior experience in dance to be able to learn and remember the complicated choreography and patterning required for the drill style of dance.
Although cheerleading isn’t exactly dance as I have written about in the article Cheer Leading Vs Dance: What’s the Difference? If you have the skills to make the team, it is a great way to continue your love of performing without actually studying dance academically in college. Cheerleading is a mix of acrobatic gymnastics and drill dance with some modern dance moves sometimes mixed in for entertainment value and most people who cheer at a college level have prior experience of cheerleading at their high school.
Getting onto the cheerleading team at some colleges can be very competitive, and different colleges will provide you with different cheerleading experience. Some cheer teams train and travel extensively to compete against other colleges in national competitions, whereas others predominately perform at their college sporting events.
If being on the cheer team at college is an important part of your college experience, then researching and contacting the athletics department of the institutions you wish to apply to is a good idea to both ensure you are a right fit for the program, that you have the skills needed to make the cheer team and also to make an impression on the cheer coaches even before you start at the school.
Instead of a cheerleading or drill team, many colleges have Majorettes, who perform a style of dance that has evolved over time and is a mix of cheer and drill dance as well as popular dance styles such as hip hop into it’s style. Beyonce at Coachella themed some of her performance around the majorette and college marching genre of performance.
Majorettes perform at college sporting events and usually perform to music played by the college band or marching band.
It is also popular for Majorettes to attend dance battles where they compete against other Majorette teams for other colleges. Majorette teams are also usually all-female and you need to audition to become a member of the team.
Associate Degree in Dance
Many community colleges, as well as universities, offer an associate degree in dance. Some associate degrees are transfer degrees and can, therefore, be considered majors as they allow you to enter university as a third-year student. But many are not, and can still offer a great foundation or even pre-professional preparation for a career in dance, without the requirements of a full four-year college degree or cost. To check out what colleges offer an associate degree in dance, check out our article Dance Colleges across all 50 States: The Ultimate List, which includes many community colleges and universities that offer a two-year associate degree in dance.