The 10 Best Dance Schools in New York City

Dubbed the “Dance Capital of the World” – alternatively, the “Cultural Capital of the World” – New York City is home to some of the most reputable dance schools in the world. The Big Apple is the most densely populated city in the country, with more than 2,000 cultural and artistic organizations and over 500 art galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Broadway, and the once-Bohemian mecca, Greenwich Village, immediately spring to mind when thinking of the city’s eclectic arts culture.

Any student with high aspirations in dance and choreography would do well to peruse NYC and its dance schools. Students have access to numerous opportunities to hone their skills and make a dent in the world of dance. Many of the schools have affiliations and partnerships with artistic and cultural organizations. They are uniquely placed because of the breadth and depth of the city’s cultural and artistic landscape.

The schools on this list were selected based on a combination of alumni accomplishments, faculty prestige, and access to professional opportunities. Admissions selectivity was another factor. The list presents a kaleidoscope of private and public schools, with small to mid-sized student populations. All rank highly in terms of diversity.

10. Queens College

Queens College
Faisal926, Rosenthal Library, QC, CC BY-SA 3.0

Dance students at Queens College receive a well-rounded education that combines rigorous study in the liberal arts and science and professional, technical training in ballet, jazz, Asian, African, Modern, and tap. Graduates have a gamut of career opportunities, ranging from choreography to dance therapy. To top off its dynamic, liberal arts and dance curriculum, the school is nestled in the most diverse zip code in the country.

Many dance performances are held at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts (KCA). Named as one of the “Best Places to Visit” by Lonely Planet, the KCA has been the setting for professional-level shows produced by Queens’ College students and world-class artists alike. It is also the incubator-site for the CUNY Dance Initiative, a residency program that supports artists from the five boroughs.

Admissions into Queens College is selective; applicants are expected to have a competitive, academic record. Prospective Dance majors are expected to audition and have a background in dance.

9. CUNY Hunter College

CUNY Hunter College
Beyond My Ken, West Building Hunter College CUNY, CC BY-SA 4.0

The mission of the Hunter College Dance Department is underpinned by a belief that dance is integral to a liberal arts education. Its alumni are the products of its comprehensive and diverse curriculum; many have starred in Broadway shows and worked with luminaries such as Liz Lerman. Dance faculty are accomplished and seasoned professionals in their own right. According to a recent ranking, Hunter College is among the top 20 Dance Schools in the nation and the 3rd best in New York.

For those who are impassioned about dance and teaching, the school has a strong Dance Education program. Students become versed in pedagogical theory, gain practical skills in classroom teaching, and hone their skills, enabling them to share their passion with the broader world. They gain hands-on training through field placements in NYC public schools.

In recent years, enrollment in the dance department has been increasing, making it an increasingly selective program— at a school that is already quite selective.

8. Barnard College

Barnard College
Beyond My Ken, Barnard College Lehman Hall, CC BY-SA 4.0

The dance department at Barnard College gleams on this list. It finds its home at one of the Ivies and one of the oldest and diverse institutions of higher education in the US, Columbia University. It has a vibrant, interdisciplinary curriculum that intertwines the art of dance with a robust, liberal-arts education.

Students work with accomplished artists and develop connections to the professional world of dance via a wide array of partnerships. One such partnership is Barnard Dance in Paris. The Barnard College Department of Dance partners with the University of South Florida’s Dance program that exposes students to the technical, cultural, choreographic, and historical aspects of dance in the City of Lights. This is an intensive summer program that runs through June.

The acceptance rate for Barnard College, in general, is a mere 11%. For admissions into the Department of Dance, prospective students are neither required to audition nor send audition tapes; applicants are evaluated in terms of their academic standing in Barnard College and Columbia University.

7. American Musical Dramatic Academy

American Musical and Dramatic Academy
Mx. Granger, American Musical and Dramatic Academy, CC0 1.0

With an acceptance rate of 31%, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) is one of the most selective schools on the list. Prospective students are required to submit the standard fare for a college application: an application, an essay, an audition, a letter of recommendation, and, of course, academic records and transcripts.

While the application process may be normal, AMDA’s dance program is unique. It is one of the only programs in the country specializing in dance theater offering a BFA, an Associate of Occupational Studies, and a Conservatory Certificate. Not only are the faculty outstanding in their instruction, they are also active professionals in the field. Alumni have earned nominations for Broadway performances or founded their own award-winning dance companies

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