The Dance/Performance Program is offered by the Performing Arts Area to combine professional dance training within a framework of the liberal arts. The Dance/Performance Studies major is directed toward perfecting the professional abilities of its students within the structure of an academic program.  Final acceptance into the program is based upon one’s audition and creative potential. The faculty endeavors to develop a high technical level as well as an appreciation of what the performing arts world expects of its practitioners.

The curriculum offers a wide range of techniques from Elementary to Advanced levels in Ballet, Contemporary, Modern, Mime, Movement Theatre, Ethnic and Social forms.  Other courses include Choreography, Dance History, Pedagogy, Movement Analysis, Kinesiology, Performance Techniques, and other Special Topic courses to keep students on
 the forefront of emerging topics of the field.  The program stresses the development of strong technical and creative work from each student.  The faculty, all working professionals in the field, works as a team to offer a diverse set of experiences and perspectives to each student.  They also work to hone each student’s individuality so that the students will be able to distinguish themselves professionally.

Jenna Gross and Dancers

The dance faculty also guides students towards partnering the Dance/Performance Studies major with another major/minor for a broad range of career options in addition to performance and choreography; examples include Dance/Psychology towards Dance and Movement Therapy, Dance/Secondary Ed for a Teaching Certification, Dance/Biology for Occupational or Physical Therapy, Dance/Public Relations for work in the Communication field and Dance/Arts Management for non-profit or studio management.

Each semester the program welcomes to campus notable artists for teaching and choreographic residencies and performance collaborations. Artists have included Jean Abreu, Jason Aryeh, Jorge Crecis, Seán Curran, Hilary Easton, Doug Elkins, Molissa Fenley, Carl Fink, K.J. Holmes, TJ Lowe, Tiffany Mills, Meredith Monk, Neta Pulvermarcher, Christina Robson, Billy Siegenfeld, Takehiro Ueyama, and Kate Weare.  The program’s regular influx of visiting guest artists offers students additional styles, forms, and viewpoints through first-hand residencies and repertory work.

Layne Willis

In addition to offering one on one work with an eclectic range of dance artists, the program offers live accompaniment for each technique class and opportunities for students to collaborate with our staff composer.  This facilitates interdisciplinary collaborative skills often crucial in professional environments. 

Through the program’s technical, theoretical, and creative opportunities, students broaden their backgrounds in the related arts, foster perceptive appreciation and develop artistic discrimination.  An audition is required for acceptance into the Dance/Performance Studies program.

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The department of Dance/Performance Studies has long had a philosophy to develop highly trained, creatively active, and professionally oriented students.

In the early ‘70s, dance classes were developed to acquaint students with the art of dance, which also provided physical work on a campus that had, at that time, no athletic outlets for the student body. Classes drew large numbers and a broad range of men and women who found the dance experience challenging and exciting.

In 1978 a dance minor was offered, followed by an individualized major option. The Dance/Performance Studies major was open to students in 1988 by audition and the London Dance Component became an adjunct to the London Theatre Program the next year.

The program has participated in various regional and national festivals sponsored by the American College Dance Festival Association. At these festivals, dance departments from various areas across the country showcase works choreographed by students, guest artists, and faculty, adjudicated by a panel of noted professionals in the field. In 1982, the department participated in its first American College Dance Festival. The next year, Roger Williams was selected to perform at the prestigious National Festival Gala Concert at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. From across the country, there were only 9 works chosen from hundreds adjudicated and Roger Williams was one of the 9, an extraordinary accomplishment for a small program. The program has continued to be recognized with invitations to perform at the Regional and National Galas; students have received several scholarships and a Dance Magazine choreography nomination.

The Dance/Performance Studies area has distinguished itself regionally and nationally as a small, high-quality, unique program that challenges a student both artistically and intellectually with a curriculum having not only rich content but breadth and depth.

The program is different from the mainstream "generalist" approach of some university dance programs and has a strong, professionally based curriculum. A sound liberal arts environment strengthens the degree. The department offers a BA in Dance/Performance Studies, a Dance Minor, and a Core Dance Minor. The program offers the only Movement Theatre training within the context of a professional Dance curriculum.

Questions Most Often Asked by Potential Students and Parents

Isn’t being a Dance/Performance Studies Major impractical?

No, it is not!

The skills and degree acquired by our Dance/Performance Studies majors offer many opportunities in the work force both in and out of the field. In terms of paid positions for performers and choreographers, there can be no doubt that dance is a highly competitive field. For each position in a major Ballet or Modern dance company, there are hundreds of dancers auditioning. We feel our program prepares students well for these highly competitive positions. However, other opportunities for majors are both plentiful and varied.

What can I do with this Major besides Dancing, Performing and Choreographing professionally?

Dance Education
Private Studio, Public Schools, and University Instruction

There are successful studios, classes, and programs in thousands of locations throughout the country. A degree from our program offers a studio instructor significant credibility and increased chances in attracting and keeping students. Additionally, more and more public and private school systems are mandating Dance Education as part of their curriculum noting the extraordinary benefits for their students. Our majors may elect to acquire the PK-12 Dance Teacher Certification.
Health and Fitness Therapy

Health and fitness is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Opportunities exist for fitness instructors, supervisors, and teachers in a variety of public and private settings. For example, our majors can function as personal trainers, a highly lucrative field. Majors can apply their knowledge, talent, and skills to any number of other businesses and positions in the health and fitness fields.
Dance/Performance Studies majors with a few additional electives can prepare for advanced degrees in Physical, Occupational, and Dance Therapy. These fields generally require advanced degrees. Many of the prerequisites for admission into these graduate programs are already fulfilled by the Dance/Performance Studies and University Core curriculum. Majoring in dance is perceived by university therapy departments as excellent preparation for entry into these graduate programs.

Arts Management, Arts Programming,
Corporate Presentations, The Entertainment Industry

Dance/Performance Studies Majors are able to apply themselves to various positions in the arts community. Arts management positions require the kind of discipline, skills, and aesthetic awareness that our majors possess. These positions are available on community, civic, university and professional levels.

Retail establishments, industries, and corporations hire skilled and talented college graduates to organize and present trade shows and corporate functions.

The Entertainment industry including film, stage and television hire individuals who have knowledge of performance to work on productions in various capacities.

Opportunities in other professional fields

Dance/Performance Studies majors are successful seeking advanced degrees in major fields outside of dance including Law and Business. Acceptance into these graduate programs is not restricted to any particular undergraduate major. Individuals with degrees in Business, History, Philosophy, English or any other major have no additional advantage when seeking acceptance into these professional graduate programs. Dance/Performance Studies majors are on an equal footing. We are told by Law School Administrators that Dance/Performance Studies majors are perceived as disciplined and highly motivated individuals and are considered favorably in the selection process.
Our majors are having very successful careers in the business world of sales, advertising, and marketing. Their discipline and organization is highly desired in these areas.
There are many opportunities in the "real world" for Dance/Performance Studies majors. Though there are no History, English, Philosophy, nor Sociology "stores" in most towns, there are dance studios in almost every neighborhood. Around each one of these corners, there are many real possibilities and opportunities for the graduating Dance/Performance Studies major.