Pre-professional dancers are often faced with the choice of continuing their education at a college or university, or jumping directly into a career track (signing with an agent if commercial or joining a company to climb the ranks over time if a concert dancer). It doesn’t always have to be one or the other. Sometimes you are able to dance for a company or for commercial purposes AND be working toward the completion of your studies. But sometimes situations necessitate making a choice. Every dancer needs to make a decision that is right for them.
Regardless of their own particular timeline, I strongly encourage young dancers to continue their studies after high school, even if it means delaying a college education, in some cases for many years. You may or may not major in dance, but continuing your education by obtaining a college degree (and then maybe even going further with a Masters Degree or PhD) opens so many more doors. And when combined with dance performance experience, you are setting yourself up for a future where you can cross between many different sectors of the business.
Knowledge is power. An education is truly an investment for a lifetime. No one will ever take that away from you. There is not a day that I’ve ever regretted the time I spent earning my BA in Dance at the University of Washington. Admittedly, there is also a selfish reason for this advice. The more educated dancers we have in the future, the closer we will come to ensuring a future with artistic integrity and maintaining a strong connection to the rich history of the art form.
Wishing you all of the success that you deserve as you carve out your path to living a meaningful life.