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School of Dance

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The BFA is a professional degree, emphasizing both the studio and performance experience.  The primary focus is to offer technical training that optimally prepares dancers for future professional careers in dance upon graduation. In meeting these demands, the unique triple-track design affords students the opportunity to study ballet, modern and jazz with strong and equal emphasis. The BFA degree in dance places an emphasis on technique and performing, yet students are also assured of receiving a well-rounded education, housed within an institution nationally lauded for scientific discoveries and research.

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. The core curriculum for dance majors includes history, research in world dance, biomechanics, improvisation, kinesiology, choreography, a music course for dancers, musical theatre vocal training, a course in sound editing, production, and career planning.  In the junior year, majors may choose to emphasize ballet, modern or jazz dance in their technical classes and in performance.  A senior project may be in the areas of performance, choreography, teaching or production.

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 BFA and MFA 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 per year.  Guest artists who have performed with the UA Dance Ensemble include Broadway stars Ben Vereen and Liz Callaway.

There are three levels of technique in each discipline. Upon entering the BFA program, dancers are carefully placed into classes by the faculty according to each dancer’s technical competency and in consideration of the body of knowledge and skill already mastered. While advancing through the curriculum, dancers, in consort with the faculty in each discipline, design a program of study targeting levels most appropriate for the dancer at any given juncture. This ensures that each semester dancers will receive ample challenges, confidence building and maximum progression in technque and virtuosity. Studying with and being mentored by a faculty, all of whom are nationally/internationally distinguished figures in the dance world, ensures that dancers will have a stimulating environment in which to learn and to make professional connections as they approach graduation.

BALLET:  Deeply rooted in the classical traditions found in the teaching methods of the great Italian, Russian and American ballet masters, this comprehensive approach to training enables dancers to transfer technical knowledge to both established and contemporary repertoire. Two levels of pointe work are offered as well as men’s technique, ballet repertory, and supported adagio partnering. Clarity of foot work is featured and plasticity of the upper body is developed which complements a dancer’s performance in modern and jazz.

MODERN:  With instruction from faculty who have extensive and personal references to traditional vocabularies such as Humphrey, Weidman, Graham, Limon, Cunningham and Lewitzky, as well as contemporary methodologies, dancers receive diverse exposure to the past and present styles of movement. Particular focus is designed to increase stamina, maintain body awareness and stimulate the imagination. Dancers are expected to embrace and become fluent in a broad range of material as part of their foundation, leading them to find their own unique voices and versatility as performers.

JAZZ:  The jazz dance faculty have extensive professional performing backgrounds with diverse jazz influences, most notably, Gus Giordano Dance Chicago. Individually, they have worked in professional musical theatre, corporate industrials, fashion and managed and directed their own companies. By infusing jazz dance training with ballet and modern sensibilities, as well as a variety of commercial applications, dancers become fully prepared to pursue a variety of professional pursuits in the performance industry at large.