This past May I graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in dance. After spending three years vehemently defending my choice to major in dance and fending off the inevitable “what are you going to do with that degree?”, I found myself rapidly nearing graduation and asking myself the same question. What are you going to do with that degree?
I want(ed) to dance, make dance, and dance some more, all desires that do not easily coincide with capitalism's demand that I make money, pay rent, eat. In a theoretical sense, columbia had me well prepared for the financial hardship that is being a dancer, but on a personal level I was not ready. My need for a steady income became mixed up in my artistic desires. Should I take the first job that comes my way to land some stability? Or should I hold out for the job that is more fulfilling? Can my artistic goals ever align with a job that gets the rent paid?
Though I’m still in the throes of this particular struggle, I have becoming increasingly thankful for my job as a dance teacher. It is reassuring to know that classes will continue this week and the next, that my schedule remains steady and reliable. Teaching also challenges my creativity in a way I don’t find in any other aspect of my dance life. A room full of energetic three year olds will always offer me a chance to think differently about how the body and brain work together to create movement. As I continue to find my footing in the dance world, I will continue to be grateful for the many challenges and rewards that teaching offers.
-Jaime Corliss, Design Dance Instructor