Throughout the history of our nation, dancing has always been one of the touchstones of American culture. In the first few decades of the 20th century, we moved from the intense ballet routines tapped out by Isadora Duncan to flappers dancing the Charleston. From there, our culture transformed into teenagers vibing to “The Twist,” at sock hops in the high school gym, then towards the disco hits of the seventies, with big hair and flared pants. At the turn of the century, we danced the Macarena, we “cranked dat,” with Soulja Boy, and nowadays, everyone from Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to Hillary Clinton “hits the dab.”
Yes, dancing is as American as baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. However, there is a difference between these passing, goofy dance fads and the study of dance, a serious pursuit that requires intense athleticism, focus, and discipline. Dance majors spend their hours perfecting steps, jumps and hold in order to allow the world to enjoy their skills. In return, it is the least we can do to offer those most dedicated to dance assistance in getting through college, offered in scholarships such as these:
The Dance Discovery Foundation, or DDF, incentivizes young dancers into pursuing their chosen art as a learning track or possible career. Their mission statement additionally cites commitment to the arts and the “vitality of the community,” as reasons for supporting dance. It is clear that the DDF foundation places themselves firmly behind the performing arts, specifically dance, as a way to further the relationship between individuals and the cultural community at large.
To this end, the DDF awards young dancers regionwide that best represent the DDF’s dual goals of encouraging the survival of dance as an art and, subsequently, connecting that art to society as a whole. The DDF offers three unique dance scholarships; the Shine Scholarship, for young dancers intending on entering college to pursue dance; the Accel Scholarship, to support dancers undergoing professional training, and the Dream Scholarship, for professional dancers who aim to move upwards in their field. All three have various criteria and financial rewards and are open to dance schools that partner with the DDF. Applicants must be from the Southern California region, maintain a GPA between 3.0-4.0, and demonstrate financial need.
Deadline: February 1
The aptly-named Hope College lies on the shores of Lake Michigan, in the seafaring town of Holland, MI. The school, a private liberal arts academy which touts Christian values, has a tradition of supporting the performing arts, especially dancing, reflected in their annual Winter Fantasia dance. For any Harry Potter fans out there, think the Yule Ball: a magnificent event held in Grand Rapids where students dress formally and attend in groups or with dates. Additionally, the school holds a “Dance Marathon” for charity where students dance in shifts for twenty-four straight hours to raise money for a local children’s hospital. It’s abundantly clear that Hope College holds dancers in high regard, further supported by their Distinguished Artist Award for Dance.
The DAA award requires incoming dancers to submit a headshot, a letter of recommendation from their current instructor, and a short essay that addresses the prompt of “What is it about the dance program at Hope which interests and excites you?” In a school whose culture is so steeped in the performing arts, it may be hard to limit the answer to the one page required by the admissions board. Students who apply must also attend auditions, where collegiate instructors judge their performance. If they are lucky enough to receive the scholarship, they will be notified by March. To keep the award, which is renewable, winners must maintain a 2.6 GPA, participate in “dance programming,” and take two dance classes, at least, per semester.
Deadline: TBD for 2020
The Arts for Life organization is one of the largest scholarship providers in the massive state of Florida, awarding deserving students tens of thousands of dollars per year to pursue their calling in the arts, whatever that may be. The scholarships are not limited to the performing arts. In addition to dance, drama, and music, the organization offers scholarships for visual art and creative writing. Founded by the former first lady of Florida, Columba Bush, wife of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the Arts for Life! organization follows the creed that every student has a reason to be proud of themselves and pursue their dreams.
The dance award is one of their more popular scholarships, even though it has perhaps the most stringent requirements. Dancers must perform two contrasting pieces for up to five minutes before a camera. Performers may not use props, costumes or other dancers for support; they must stand on their own talent. After their performance, they are asked to upload the footage to YouTube, Vimeo, etc. and send it into the foundation as a link on their application. In addition to the footage, students are asked to fill out a thorough application, including a short essay answering the question “How have the arts positively influenced your life?”
Interested in being a Dance Major? Use our free college match tool to discover colleges around the country that fit your academic interests!