A little insight on graduating college from a graduate.
What’s up! Emma here, aka Small Egg. Joining the Tap That crew a little under two years ago, I’m the newbie! I grew up in New Jersey and call Los Angeles home after relocating here five years ago. Besides tap dance, I am SUPER passionate about traveling (I really don’t like to stay in one place for more than a few weeks), baking treats, matcha tea, going on boats, my cat Kittie…
Now onto the reason I relocated here in the first place.
If any of you are anything like me, you have been through the "WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE???" crisis, multiple times, and specifically right as high school ended and “adult” years began. Go to college? Work to save up money? Move across the country to pursue my passion? You know, normal adult sh*t. I chose college first, hated it, and moved from New Jersey to California for MORE college. I constantly questioned it but continued, and ultimately crushed it. Now this is not the route for everyone, but I’m here to give you my lil bit of input on attending a college for careers you don’t technically *need* a higher education for.
Picking up my life and moving it to Los Angeles was easy. I didn’t think twice about it. I was 19 and accepted to a small (like first-year-open kind of small) college now known as Studio School, formerly Relativity School. The campus is on an active movie lot where they’ve filmed scenes from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, among many other films you can look up on IMDb. There was nothing to lose and everything to gain at this point, so I went on to study for my BFA in Commercial Dance there for four years. I recently graduated as an inaugural class member in May 2018! Cheers to determination and perseverance!
To no surprise, dance for film and television does not require a college degree for success. Most professional dancers never stepped foot in a university for class. The question often comes up, “do you need to go to college for dance or acting?” My answer is no, but it adds a whole different element to your skill set if you do. I didn’t just dance all day, every day during my four years. Our curriculum included producing our own live show, acting for camera, and first-hand experience on live sets. All of these things were professional level, yet with a safety net to screw up as a learning experience.
Getting through a four-year long program allowed me to prove to myself and others that I can finish what I start. There is always something to be said about that! Along the way, I built a community of artistic peers and teachers who guided me in a way that not many people have when they move to a new city alone. I now have those people for the rest of my life! The connections I’ve made led me to most of the post-college opportunities I’ve had so far, all because I spent years training with those who now trust and hire me. My favorite part of being at school was learning more about myself as a person and artist. I found out I love--and am pretty dang good at--aerial work and creative production. As a graduate I gained all of these tools to foster my success further than dancing. I took Hula and Bollywood dance, how awesome is that?
No, you do not need to go to college for dance. Yes, it will teach you more than you expect and bring wonderful, like-minded people into your life. The experience will teach you more than dance technique; it will send you off as a defined, driven artist with proper skills to thrive in the entertainment industry. I wouldn’t trade my time at Studio School for the world. If you’re thinking about whether higher education is right for your dance or acting career, reach out to me!
Photographer Credit: Chandler Kravitz
Choreographer: Johnnie Hobbs
Fun side note - I met the Tap That crew because of my college tap teacher! Shout out to Johnnie Hobbs! He has also introduced me to pretty much all of my tap dancing inspirations. He’s pretty alright.
PS. Come join our Tap That Squad !