• Dance students from the McDonald College in an anatomy class. Photo: Matthew Syres.
    Dance students from the McDonald College in an anatomy class. Photo: Matthew Syres.

A guide to all the ‘other’ subjects you might come across in a fulltime dance course.

CHOOSING a full-time dance course can feel like an overwhelming task. Browsing this guide, you’ll see an extensive but potentially bewildering array of choices on offer!

When creating a shortlist of options, it makes sense to look, initially, at the dance genres and techniques offered by each course. But training to be a dancer isn’t just about technique classes and rehearsals. While dance is, by definition, specialised, it pays to have as broad an education as possible, whilst still gaining the skills you need.

Why? Firstly, knowledge of subjects like the history of dance, anatomy and alignment, choreography and dance teaching can directly impact on your performance as a dancer. It’s not just interesting to know about these things, it’s practical!

Plus it’s worth thinking about your future. We all know that being a dancer is not a guaranteed long-term career so completing units in areas that have applications beyond the studio can help to bridge the gap between the stage and the world.

So when it comes to choosing the right course for you, it’s important to look at what each course offers, beyond dance technique. To help you navigate the options, we’ve outlined a few non-technical subjects that you are likely to come across when you’re looking at full-time courses.

It’s almost a cliché, but a dancer’s tool is his or her body. Understanding how your body works, physically, enables you to maximise its efficiency and minimise the chance of injury and/or fatigue.

If you teach at any point in your career (and most dancers do), understanding anatomy/ alignment will also enable you to teach your students safely and effectively.

If you sustain an injury, anatomical knowledge will enable you to communicate more easily with your health professionals and better understand the rehabilitation process. Lastly, anatomy may provide a pathway into post-performance careers in allied health and fitness industries.

Even if you don’t see yourself pursuing choreography, it is still an important part of your training as a dancer. Many choreographers expect dancers to contribute to the choreographic process and having some experience making your own work will be invaluable.

Gaining an understanding of what it takes to make your own work, too, will enable you to be a more productive cast member. And should you land up teaching, it’s likely that you will have to choreograph work for your students and these skills will be very handy...

This is an extract from an article by Nina Levy in Dance Australia's Full-Time Studies Guide - a pull-out, FREE supplement in the August/September issue. To read the full story, buy Dance Australia from your favourite retailer, purchase an online copy via the Dance Australia app or subscribe here.

Pictured top: Dance students from the McDonald College in an anatomy class. Photo: Matthew Syres.

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