College Close-Ups: What students need to know about college and university dance programs Beloit College With about 1,300 students, Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, may be small, but it has a thriving dance program. Since 2001, Beloit dances have regularly been selected for the gala concerts at the American College Dance Association regional conference, alongside…Read More
The BFA program in contemporary dance at Indiana University provides students with the disciplined dance training, artistic integrity, and academic rigor necessary to become creative artists and successful dance professionals.Read More
The Emory University Dance and Movement Studies Program focuses on contemporary modern dance, emphasizing improvisation, choreography, and performance through a somatically based curriculum.Read More
by Tamsin Nutter
What are the qualities of a good children’s dance teacher? After a semester of hands-on experience, the college-student interns in University of Montana’s children’s dance class program have clear ideas on the subject.Read More
In Sweet Briar’s dance program, students explore creative expression while gaining practical experience. For more than 40 years, the program has drawn on traditional and modern dance techniques and newer styles such as aerial, with an emphasis on and intensive training in choreography.Read More
The school offers two undergraduate and three graduate degree options; all students have the option to pursue K–12 licensure. There are many opportunities to perform in a variety of concerts, both through the School of Dance and in musicals and other UNCG productions. Both undergraduate and graduate students have opportunities to showcase their choreography.Read More
The University of Utah School of Dance, in Salt Lake City, offers separate degree programs in ballet and modern dance and attracts students from across the world. While honoring the legacies of these two dance forms, which the University began offering more than 60 years ago, the school maintains an environment of open inquiry that encourages questioning, risk-taking, and sensitivity.Read More
Located only 45 minutes from New York City, Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts provides a personal approach to dance education with extensive performance opportunities and access to a wide range of guest artists. The Dance Department offers an intensive, conservatory-style BFA degree that trains students to be well-rounded performers and choreographers. The BFA curriculum includes a strong theoretical base in a variety of dance studies and required liberal arts courses.Read More
Established more than 80 years ago, Florida State University School of Dance provides students with a high level of dance training and encourages intellectual exploration through a comprehensive liberal arts curriculum. The school offers BFA and MFA degrees with a focus on performance and choreography, MA degrees in studio and related studies as well as American dance studies, and a new, combined BFA/MA five-year degree. Graduates have become leaders in the field as performers, choreographers, artistic directors, teachers, and scholars.Read More
Hannah Wiley has been educating Seattle dance audiences for more than 25 years, and she’s doing it in a way unlike anyone else in U.S. academia. As the director of the University of Washington’s MFA program in dance, and its associated Chamber Dance Company (CDC), Wiley, a former ballet dancer, has made it her mission to present, record, and archive works of historical and artistic significance. The current trend in the modern dance world is to pay homage to the past. Since 1990, Wiley and her company have honored the pioneers who forged the way, and nowhere else can this unique collection of archived works be found.Read More
The University of Michigan (U-M) offers a world-class dance education within a leading public research university. First offered in 1909 as a course in aesthetic dancing, dance is a vibrant and celebrated part of the U-M School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. The current faculty includes active performers, choreographers, scholars, screendance artists, and former members of such companies as Urban Bush Women, Martha Graham Dance Company, and Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians. Alumni have distinguished themselves as performers, choreographers, scholars, and leaders in higher education.Read More
Thousands of dancers, choreographers, and dance intellectuals dream of teaching at the college level, and why not? A job in higher ed means working in their chosen field, often with inspiring young artists and creative colleagues. To sweeten the pot, a full-time position can translate into a month off during the school year, summers free, a workweek seemingly shaped by a handful of classes, grants for travel to conferences, additional funds for research and/or choreography, and a living wage with real benefits. At a time when most people are lucky to get two weeks of paid vacation, medical coverage, and a consistent salary, what could be rosier?
That depends. Like the pretty settings of British TV mysteries, where lilacs bloom and hedgerows are always tidy, the allures of college teaching can be deceiving. For example, teachers who lack career security (adjunct faculty) now represent the majority of higher-ed instructors, and they can earn as little as $20 an hour despite advanced degrees and a lifetime of dance training. These at-will dance instructors typically get no benefits of any kind, teach at an hourly rate regardless of how many courses they have, and can find their classes cancelled in a flash if enrollments don’t meet the increasingly high quotas set by college administrations. Some are excluded from the workings of their departments and rarely know what changes are coming until they arrive. As a result, adjuncts can be written out of the curriculum as easily as characters are killed off in Midsomer Murders.Read More
The University of Minnesota–Twin Cities campus covers more than a thousand acres in Minneapolis and St. Paul; the campus’ East and West Banks, straddling the Mississippi River, are conveniently close to Minneapolis’s downtown, government, and cultural districts. The Twin Cities is home to a thriving and diverse dance community, and the location of the campus expressly facilitates collaboration with local arts organizations.
The dance program focuses on contemporary dance in a global context through four curricular areas: technique, performance, composition, and dance studies. Faculty members encourage students to examine dance beyond its physical characteristics. The program’s motto is “Thought and Motion,” highlighting the idea of thinking dancers and dancing thinkers.Read More
The 15 colleges and schools of West Virginia University (WVU), in Morgantown, offer 193 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degree programs. Dance program director Yoav Kaddar considers it his mission to integrate dance into “the academic tapestry of the university. Everyone can find their niche in our bachelor of arts in dance program,” he says, “or they can enhance their primary academic program with a minor in dance.”Read More
“Feels like home” is the motto of Canyon, Texas, a thriving, intimate town in the Texas Panhandle that’s home to West Texas A&M University, or WT. Not far from Palo Duro Canyon State Park, home of the nation’s second-largest canyon, WT has a kindred adventuring spirit that also runs through its dance program. The program is committed to providing real-world experiences inside and outside the university setting.
The WT dance program is anchored by a performance-oriented BFA degree. Faculty aim to develop well-rounded performers with ample exposure to a range of styles and experiences, intellectually and physically, at home and abroad. National and international guest artists who visit each year have taught classes and choreographed for the program in numerous styles: ballet, modern, tap, jazz, and hip-hop.Read More
A public, research-intensive university in central Illinois, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) consists of 16 major academic colleges and instructional “units” and provides more than 150 undergraduate programs and 100-plus graduate and professional programs. Among these is the department of dance, Dance at Illinois, which offers BFA, BA (forthcoming in 2016), and MFA degrees, and a graduate dance minor.Read More
Goucher College seeks to offer the best of two worlds: intensive dance training for serious dancers and a superior liberal arts education. Goucher dancers live, study, and grow in a lively dance and academic atmosphere, and they design their own courses of study to support their passions in the dance field and develop their potential.Read More
Two years ago, Alabama State University (ASU) launched a new artistic endeavor: the Department of Theatre Arts’ BFA/Dance program.
Located in Montgomery, the state capital, ASU is one of only two Alabama institutions of higher learning to offer a BFA in dance. Helmed by dancer, educator, and choreographer Michael Medcalf, the program welcomed its first class in 2013. Only a handful of freshmen enrolled, but the numbers have increased steadily—32 majors and minors were enrolled in fall 2014, 47 this academic year, and 62 are projected for next fall—making it one of ASU’s fastest growing programs. Both majors and minors must audition.Read More
The Duke University Dance Program aims to provide excellent opportunities for interdisciplinary dance studies within a first-class liberal arts education. Its mission is to ensure that students don’t have to give up dance in order to pursue a rigorous academic education; most students in the program choose interdepartmental or double majors.Read More
Almost as ubiquitous as hip-hop clubs are breakdancing clubs that focus on b-girling and b-boying. As Geoffrey Kwan, this year’s logistics advisor for Synchronic Dance Team (loosely associated with New York University in Manhattan), explains, in breakdancing, “the individual dancer tries to make an image of his body in space, often in response to a piece of music.” In contrast, hip-hop clubs perform group choreography that emphasizes teamwork with room for individual expression. It’s sometimes described as “choreographed freestyle.”Read More
The dance program at Arizona State University (ASU) School of Film, Dance and Theatre offers a range of opportunities for creative expression, including classes ranging from urban movement to contemporary ballet, community partnerships, and public events focusing on new student work.Read More
Where do dancers go for training at the college level? In the past, they have typically chosen to attend conservatories like The Juilliard School, or colleges and universities known for their dance departments. Rarely would they choose Ivy League schools or universities like Stanford (called by some an “Ivy of the West”), which have not accorded dance much esteem. On these campuses, dance typically has been limited in terms of class offerings, performance opportunities, and funding.
All that is changing. Now students can choose to immerse themselves in dance—as well as philosophy, quantum mechanics, and comparative literature—at Harvard, Stanford, and Yale.Read More
The Dance Division of Shenandoah Conservatory, at Shenandoah University, is a dynamic program thriving in a private university setting in Winchester, Virginia, 70 miles west of Washington, DC. Conservatory majors—in music, theater, and dance—make up more than a quarter of the university’s full-time undergraduates. Dance Division graduates perform in companies around the country, on Broadway, in touring productions, and on cruise lines.Read More
Hollins University strives to create an environment in which dance students are challenged both physically and intellectually, and learn the skills to participate in, experience, understand, appreciate, and thrive in the contemporary world of dance.Read More