What is Dance?

Dance, the most ancient of the arts, is a vital and exciting art form that has been an integral part of all cultures throughout time. A language of expression based on movement, dance allows us to communicate with one another in a fundamental way.

“To dance is to live” is a familiar phrase and, indeed, dance is a basic and important part of many individuals’ existence. However, an extreme amount of discipline, inspiration, and daring are required to become a dancer.

At UCSB, the Theater and Dance Department offers two degrees in Dance: Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and the Bachelor of Arts (BA). Both programs are studio centered and emphasize performance and choreography. Both require daily classes in modern dance and ballet. Program coursework includes theoretical as well as technical aspects of dance, and allows for breadth of experience in related arts and sciences. The BFA degree is the more specialized and highly structured of the two programs. It is designed for students who aspire to professional performing or choreographic careers. The BA is less specialized, less structured, and has fewer major requirements than the BFA. The BA allows students to undertake coursework in related fields in order to prepare themselves for alternative dance careers such as dance therapy, dance administration, dance history, and dance education.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Dance?

Students who major in dance are creative, imaginative and expressive. These students are able to express their artistic abilities by drawing, painting, movement, and performance. These students may also enjoy hobbies that include attending live performances or art exhibits. They must be physically conditioned to perform well.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the undergraduate advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings:

Modern Dance
Dance History
To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:
- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.
- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.
What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?
  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.


General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be.  The following list provides only a handful of possibilities.  Dance majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fields.  Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study options include:

Dance Teacher
Dance Instructor
Dance Therapist
Dance Critic
Dance Director
Company Manager
Dance Historian
Dance Notation Specialist
From the Theater/Dance Department website:
All Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Theater at UCSB Department of Theater and Dance provides sound preparation for study at the graduate level. In addition, opportunities in professional theater have increased during the last two decades with the expansion of theater centers in many cities and with the development of regional theatres throughout the country. The competition for jobs, particularly acting, remains keen, but the record of UCSB theater graduates is impressive.
Theaters that have employed UCSB alumni include the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, the Guthrie Theatre, and the New York Public Theatre as well as Broadway. Some graduates establish their own theatres. Two which continue to grow since their beginnings in the mid-1970s are the San Diego Repertory Theatre and Santa Barbara's Ensemble Theatre. Prior to their senior year many students begin working summers at the Oregon, Idaho, Santa Cruz, Utah and Colorado Shakespeare Festivals, Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, and Santa Rosa Summer Repertory Theatre.
In addition to professional theater, many graduates work in film, television, radio, commercials, and modeling. There are also opportunities, particularly in design and technical theater, for employment by opera and dance companies or by amusement industries.
Not all theater majors choose to pursue careers in the performing arts. Instead, they use the communication skills, the understanding and appreciation of the humanities, and the personal growth and development which they have gained in the degree program to enter such fields as law, public relations, business, banking, and administration. Other graduates, upon receiving their bachelor's degree, continue their education to earn masters and doctoral degrees.

To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online

Occupational Outlook Handbook

See what UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn.


Graduate and Professional Schools

Dance Schools
This list includes programs in the United States, organized by State.

National Association of Schools of Dance
Listing of accredited Dance programs by the NASD
This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Come to the Career Resources Room to view the CHOICES lab version of graduate schools.

Experience Search Strategies

Jobs in the Arts and auditions

Careers in Entertainment
Includes internships, jobs, and studio job hotlines.

A listing of dance auditions nationwide.

Professional Auditions and Employment with Dance Companies
Dance auditions in the San Francisco Bay area.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

Professional Associations

Advances the art form of dance by addressing the needs, concerns and interests of the professional dance community.

National Performance Network
Provides support for established and emerging artists in dance, music, theater, performance art, puppetry, and spoken word. It serves as the developmental rung on the ladder for emerging contemporary performing artists because it provides rare or first-time touring opportunities.

Dance Therapy
The Resources section of the American Dance Therapy Association site has been provided to bring together a variety of information about Dance/Movement Therapy topics.

American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance

Professional Dance Vision International Dance Association

UCSB Resources