Degree Essentials


Faculty and Staff

Associate Professor Gill Wright Miller, Chair

Professor Sandra Mathern-Smith (MFA); Associate Professor Gill Wright Miller (PhD); Assistant Professor Stafford C. Berry, Jr. (MFA); Visiting Assistant Professor Megan Yankee (MFA); Resident Musician and Composer John Osburn; Production Assistant and Academic Administrative Assistant Susan Kosling

Mission Statement and Goals

The Department of Dance is committed to the liberal arts study of “dance as an art form” and the belief that such a study necessitates an integration of the kinesthetic (body), the intellectual (mind), and the emotional/internal (spirit). We see this trinity (body/mind/spirit) as the core concern of the discourse, the discipline and the department as we explore physical and metaphysical material both artistically and theoretically, exposing students to the principles of dance through the critical inquiries of movement practices and dance studies. We address these body/mind/spirit experiences as foundations for artistic, intellectual, and personal freedom.

Practically, we strive to balance breadth with depth in all aspects of our curriculum. To this end, each course blends physical and intellectual exploration. Early on in a student's career, we encourage the application of critical research and concert performance, emphasizing the use of technology and supporting collaboration through interdisciplinary work. Ultimately, our aim is to develop competence in a wide variety of approaches.


  • Students will be able to achieve, minimally, an intermediate level of proficiency in a combination of various aspects of embodied movement practices.

  • Students will be able to demonstrate (factual) knowledge and (reflective and analytical) understanding of the languages, syntax, historical developments, and cultural significances of dance's various bodily-kinesthetic forms.

  • Students will be able to select appropriately and employ various methods for describing, discerning, analyzing, labeling, and categorizing human movement.

  • Students will be able to use basic 21st century technology including digital equipment and software applications in order to access and document art work, and to use it appropriately to market or create within those media.

  • Students will be able to explore, shed limitations, reflect, and question within a process, and demonstrate their self-discoveries in independent and original theoretical and creative projects.

  • Students will demonstrate a fluency of critical methods both written and oral that is evident across course work and utilized within the body of their senior research.

Requirements for the Major in Dance (B.A. Degree)

36 credits minimum The Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance reflects a philosophy that integrates principles of theory and practice resulting in the development of an original voice. “Movement Practices” courses engage students in dance training and performance work, and in learning and applying physical skills to the creation and reconstruction of African/Diasporan, modern/postmodern, and (periodically) balletic dance forms. “Dance Studies” courses emphasize creating, moving, recording, reading and writing, exposing the foundational patterns of skilled movement acquisition, generating close textual analysis of specific movement forms, and contextualizing the diversity of dance forms. Advanced Studies courses provide opportunities to deepen and integrate through research and further study of topics of interest. The boundaries between practice and theory are purposefully blurred, indicating our commitment to a liberal arts curriculum rather than a conservatory model.

Movement Practices: All dance majors must take any combination of 12 credits in Movement Practices. Possibilities include:

  • African/Diasporan Level II or III, 2 credits (DANC 222, 322) or Performance, .5-1 credit (DANC 422/424)

  • Modern/Postmodern Level II or III, 2 credits (DANC 232, 332) or Performance, .5-1 credit (DANC 432/434)

Dance Studies: All dance majors must take one course in any three areas of inquiry, comprising 12 credits (4 credits per course) in Dance Studies. Our dance curriculum offers four areas of inquiry. Possibilities include:

  • Critical Historical and Cultural Inquires–Recent examples include: Modernism ReComposed; The African/Diasporan Aesthetic in America; Dance through the Lenses of Masculinity and Queerness.

  • Compositional Studies: Choreographic Investigations; African Movement Aesthetics; Improvisation and Performance; Site-Based Work; Text/Voice-Based Work

  • Human Movement Investigations: Somatics I

  • Movement Analysis: Labanotation; Labananalysis; Reconstruction

Advanced Studies: All dance majors must also enroll in a minimum of 12 additional credit hours (2-4 credits per course). These 12 credits shall be comprised of three requirements:

  • Any 4 credits of elective that allows a student to deepen their knowledge and experience in a chosen area of interest. This may be combinations of:

    • A Movement Practices course in technique or performance

    • An additional course in Dance Studies (Cultural Studies, Movement Analysis or Compositional Studies)

    • Somatics II (second semester continuation of Somatics)

    • Self-designed directed study in a topic of interest approved by the faculty

  • Senior Research 451 (Methodology and Proposal) (4 credits)

  • Senior Research 452 (Investigation and Presentation) (4 credits)

Requirements for the Minor in Dance (B.A. Degree)

24 credits minimum The minor is designed to accomplish two things: (a) encourage those new to dance to have access to this course of study, and (b) avail those interested in a narrow study of dance to design a minor that suits their interests. Beyond a reduced number of requirements, the main differences between the major and minor are these:

  • All 100-level courses are eligible for inclusion in the minor.

  • No “Senior Research” is required in the minor.

Movement Practices: All dance minors must take any combination of 12 credits in Movement Practices (any genre at any level). Possibilities include:

  • African/Diasporan Level I, II or III, 2 credits (DANC 122, 222, 322) or Performance, .5-1 credit (DANC 422/424)

  • Modern/Postmodern Level I, II or III, 2 credits (DANC 132, 232, 332) or Performance, .5-1 credit (DANC 432/434)

Dance Studies: All dance minors must take any three courses, resulting in 12 credits in dance studies (in any area).

  • Critical Historical Inquiries: Understanding Dance; Modernism ReComposed; Creativity and Courage; The African/Diasporan Aesthetic in America

  • Compositional Studies: Choreographic Investigations; African Movement Aesthetics; Improvisation and Performance; Site-Based Work; Text/Voice-Based Work

  • Human Movement Investigations: Somatics I; Somatics II

  • Movement Analysis: Labanotation; Labananalysis; Reconstruction

Additional Points of Interest

The General Education distribution requirements include two 4-credit-hour courses in two different departments in the Fine Arts Division. All Movement Practices courses, except Performance-Student (DANC 424, 434, 444) may accumulate credit toward a GE Fine Arts requirement. Any Dance Studies course fulfills one GE Fine Arts requirement.

When registering, please follow these guidelines:

  • It is expected that students might enroll in Movement Practices courses at the same level for more than one semester. Generally, a student remains at the same level for one year.

  • All 100-level courses assume no previous experience with Movement Practices or Dance Studies.

  • All 200-level courses assume a review of the fundamentals of the languages and practices of the sub-discipline will be necessary, including a review of library searches and technology. Level II Movement Practices courses are appropriate for students with significant previous experience in dance training, even if not in the genre being offered.

  • All 300-level courses assume the student has had prior experience with independent thinking and processing. Level III Movement Practices courses require permission of the instructor.

  • All 400-level Movement Practices courses are by audition or invitation only.