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What's Your Specialty?

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Typically, people go to college to broaden their educational backgrounds, to discover new ideas, to be introduced to unfamiliar subject areas, and to explore intellectual territory previously unknown to them. It's the "liberal arts" tradition -- taking lots of different "survey" courses that provide introductions to all kinds of academic disciplines, as well as to the many different aspects of your chosen "major" subject. Most students majoring in theatre or dance in a college or university setting will be required to take an array of courses that investigate the performance, production, design, musical, historical, and theoretical elements of the art form. Students are encouraged to understand and experience theatre or dance from as many different perspectives as possible.

But what if you already know exactly what you want to do, professionally, as a theatre or dance artist? What if you know exactly which aspect of theatre you want to work in? What if you know the particular kind of dancing you want to make a career performing or choreographing? Perhaps you want to go to college not to be exposed to new aspects of dance or theatre, but to acquire a higher level of specialized knowledge in one area of dance or theatre studies. Maybe you have already worked a bit in the profession and have learned what it is you don't know, or exactly what it is you need to study in order to advance your career. You feel you need to "brush up" your Shakespeare and get more classical acting training, or to focus strictly on improving your ballet technique, learning the Ailey style, or learning lots more about building costumes, or becoming a dramaturg. Perhaps you have a college degree and are ready to go on to graduate school, but you want to study only those aspects of dance or theatre that really interest you or pertain directly to your professional work.

Back Stage has discovered six unusual college and university theatre and dance departments that allow students to do just that kind of specialized study. These institutions offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs that are very tightly focused and encourage students to engage in deep explorations of very particular areas of theatre or dance.

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