Arts & Life

Dance department at Long Beach State provides creative opportunity for students

The dance program at Long Beach State is small, with approximately 160 undergraduate students, but it’s made up of a diverse community of students and faculty.

CSULB was the first campus within the CSU-system to offer a bachelor’s degree in dance, and is currently the only CSU to offer a master’s degree in dance.

There are more than 65 different courses in the dance program, from advanced jazz classes to dance history courses.

Junior dance student Heather Davis reflected on the final projects and exams she typically has for her dance classes at the end of each semester.

“They’re typically either movement-based or a research paper,” Davis said. “For dance history, I did a huge research paper. For jazz and tap [classes], our teacher assesses if we’ve improved and executed a routine well.”

There are plenty of misconceptions about dance majors and what it’s like to pursue a professional career in this creative industry.

One misconception is that majoring in dance provides a lack of solid career direction and uncertainty after graduating. Davis says that while the dance industry is competitive, she is certain on what she wants to do with her degree in the future, and has already taken steps to get there.

“I would love to keep teaching dance classes at a studio,” Davis said. “My main goal as a teacher is to create such a positive environment so that they feel comfortable when I challenge them.”

She began working at a studio a few weeks ago, leading two weekly tap classes.

While confident in her future career plans, Davis expressed that she does experience doubt while navigating the dance world.

“I have friends that are majoring in STEM or have plans to go to medical and law school, and I’m just here thinking [about how] it’s so hard to make it in the dance world,” Davis said. “There’s the ‘starving artist’ stereotype. But I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love it. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

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