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Starting out in dance

General
The first and most important point to remember when choosing to train in dance is that it is not an easy option. The complexities of the dance profession are such that you must consider many variables before embarking on this long but rewarding path towards a career in dance. London and the South East of England probably have the greatest variety of dance courses available in the whole of Britain. Every form of dance class, from Ballet to Ballroom, Disco to Ukrainian Folk Dance are available in evening or full time courses throughout the area. This introduction will tell you a little about the careers available in dance and offer advice on the questions you need to consider before choosing a course.

There are a variety of careers in dance and in order to begin to discuss careers in dance it is important to mention the variety of dance forms that make up 'Dance' itself. Whatever career or dance form you decide to choose all dance requires years of dedication and training.

Specialisms
Dance as a profession occurs in three main forms - Ballet, Contemporary, and Musical Theatre (which includes Jazz, Modern, Tap, as well as some Drama and Song and prepares dancers for the West End Musicals as well as cruise ship work and videos). There a number of other dance fields that are growing in popularity, such as South Asian Dance forms and African People's Dance Forms, but the majority of people who study dance in the hope of pursuing it as a career fall into one of the three main categories.

When you decide to follow a profession in dance you usually specialise in one of the three major forms - it is no good hoping to dance in the corps de ballet if you've trained for Musical Theatre for example. There is also an increasing need to have a knowledge of other dance forms if you want to be a performer. Ideally you should take up training at a school that offers you a sound base in one dance form but gives you the opportunity to learn at least one other form to a reasonable level. It is not unusual now for choreographers and directors to dip into a range of dance forms and styles to make one dance piece. Dancers therefore need to have a good, sound training in one or two techniques and be flexible enough to adapt to others when necessary.

Choice
It is very important to train in the right field, therefore ask the college you want to go to what careers they train dancers for. Read the prospectus carefully and do not be persuaded into going to a school because you have heard of it on the television or because your friends are going there - it needs to be a school that offers the sort of training that is going to suit you and the career you want to follow. It is advisable to read more than one prospectus. CDET provide lists of accredited schools on receipt of an SAE and it is advisable that you target at least two to three schools. In fact, some schools question you on this during your interview! They too want to be sure you have done your research.

Most vocational schools offer a three year full time training, and no matter what form you have decided to follow it is going to be hard. Classes usually start at 8.30am and go on until 6pm, followed by two or three hours rehearsal, five days a week, plus rehearsals at the weekend. There are excellent degree courses available in vocational schools now. On these courses you not only have the practical elements of the course to consider, but also the academic element. This will mean that after a long strenuous day in the studio you will then have an evening of research in front of you to meet that morning deadline for your next essay.

Pursuing your academic qualifications is something you should seriously consider. Dance is not an option people choose because they feel they cannot do anything else. Dancers have to be quick and intelligent with good communication skills. Keep up your academic studies while you can. Qualifications in academic studies will widen your career choice should you pull out of dance due to accident or illness, or simply because the life of a performer has not lived up to your expectations. They will also broaden your career choices within the dance profession itself.

Use the drop down box to find out information about the various ways of studying dance.
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