The School of Dance is a vital component within the College of Fine Arts as well as the University of Arizona.
The vibrant ten-member faculty has extensive expertise in both the professional and academic worlds. Three of the faculty has been recipients of the prestigious Irene Putnam Award for Excellence in Teaching. Faculties are in demand nationally and internationally as teachers and scholars at festivals, workshops, schools and conferences world-wide. Recently the School of Dance was honored as the top department for undergraduate education within the University of Arizona, due in part to the highly interactive approach linking undergraduate students and dance faculty members. The School of Dance is unique in its equal emphasis on ballet, modern and jazz dance training. The school has an enrollment of 125 BFA students selected from an audition process of over 500 applicants as well as 10-16 masters program students at any one time.
It is through performing that students are fully able to integrate and apply what they have learned in the classroom. With the extensive number of performances each season (and a large number of season subscribers in the audience), students grow increasingly more comfortable, spontaneous and free to take risks on stage. The UA Dance Ensemble is comprised of B.F.A. and M.F.A. students, privileged to perform in the state-of-the-art performance facility: The Stevie Eller Dance Theatre. Dancers enjoy a large performance season, averaging over 30 main stage concerts a year. Guest artists who have performed with the UA Dance Ensemble include Broadway stars Ben Vereen and Liz Callaway.
The dance technique curriculum is designed to prepare students for careers as performers, choreographers, movement specialists and teachers and develops scholarly foundations for specialized and advanced degree work. It approaches the study of dance as an art form and as a means to understand society, history, the human body, and other areas of scholarly endeavor. Unique among universities, The University of Arizona School of Dance offers ballet, modern and jazz dance with strong and equal emphasis. Dance majors are required to study all three disciplines and have the opportunity to experience working closely with outstanding faculty, all of whom are nationally and internationally known teachers and choreographers. The core curriculum for dance majors includes history, biomechanics, kinesiology, choreography, a music course for dancers, production, and career planning.
Music, Dance and Collaboration
Musicians work closely with dance faculty in technique classes to provide music that supports the artistic development of each dancer. Dance musicians provide musical support for all major and non-major ballet and modern dance classes. LIVE music for performances is an integral part of both faculty and student work. The UA Dance Ensemble has appeared with world-class musicians from the School of Music and the Tucson community as well as ensembles such as Harp fusion, Arizona Choir, UA Symphony Orchestra, UA Jazz Ensemble, and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Faculty and students frequently collaborate with other departments on campus, including Music, Theater, Art, Media Arts, Architecture and the Sciences to create work that transcends the traditional choreographic realm.
A large number of BFA Dance Majors also engage in other academic pursuits while in college and therefore manage to earn two degrees simultaneously. Providing students seek out major advisors in both degree programs early on in their time at the university to learn about the time line of achieving the required courses in each area, it is entirely feasible to earn two undergraduate degrees. Popular combinations with the BFA in Dance include Business, Marketing, Physiology, Nutritional Sciences, Psychology and Anthropology. Getting an additional minor to the BFA in Dance has also become popular. The number of BFA Dance Majors declaring a minor in another subject area is increasing. This is definitely achievable in four years. Some areas of interest for an additional minor often include subject areas from the above list as well as Foreign Language, Art History, Creative Writing and Religious Studies, to name just a few.
The University of Arizona’s School of Dance is considered one of the top programs in the United States and England. Carol J. Everett, Director of Admissions at Juilliard, listed the UA’s dance program as one of the best 20 in “The Performing Arts Major’s College Guide” and Dance Spirit Magazine listed UA Dance among its “Great College Dance Programs.” In addition to being internationally recognized, in 1995 the program was selected for the top department award at the University of Arizona. In awarding the School of Dance the University-Wide Teaching Award for Meritorious Departmental Achievement in Undergraduate Education the School of Dance was lauded, “for sharing (your) vision, your art and inspiration across cultural, educational and disciplinary bounds.” The UA School of Dance is a charter member of the National Association of Schools of Dance.