Accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Dance

Accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre

James Madison University,
School of Theatre and Dance
147 Warsaw Avenue, MSC 5601
Harrisonburg, VA 22807






About The Dance Program


The James Madison University Dance Program is part of the School of Theatre and Dance and presently offers a Bachelor of Arts degree. The focus of the Dance Program is to develop each student's abilities as a performer, choreographer and movement instructor. Developing critical and creative thought through written expression and discussion is also emphasized. Attention is given to the tools necessary to create, perform, produce and appreciate the art of dance. Faculty members work closely with each student in defining their individual path to a career in dance.


A combination of liberal arts curriculum and an intensive study of dance with many opportunities to perform gives the student a well-rounded education and the technical skills to pursue a dance-related career. The program offers progressive levels of modern and ballet technique, dance composition, history of dance, performance production and management, repertory ensembles and teaching methods. Other dance courses include jazz, tap, ballroom, improvisation and international folk. Included in the program is also a dance minor which can be combined with many academic majors offered by the university. For more information click here.


As a dance student at JMU, you will audition to be a member of one of the dance ensembles that perform both on and off campus. All freshmen will be part of the Associate Ensemble which works with a faculty adviser, student directors and guest artists on dances to be presented during the year. The Contemporary Dance Ensemble performs works by faculty members, guest artists and students in a formal concert in the spring. The Virginia Repertory Dance Company is a select pre-professional ensemble that works throughout the year with faculty members and guest choreographers to present a formal concert in the fall and touring performances in the spring.

JMU is consistently selected to perform in the gala concerts of the regional festivals of the American College Dance Festival and has been chosen to perform in recent National American College Dance Festivals. Other performance opportunities include numerous student showcases and studio concerts.


The JMU Dance Program invites professional companies and guest artists to the campus to perform, lecture, choreograph and teach. A Master Class Series is part of the advanced modern and ballet courses and gives students extensive exposure to different styles and methods. All performing ensembles commission guest artists for special residencies to set choreography. Previous visiting guest artists have included companies such as the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, Joffrey II Dancers, Mark Taylor Dance Company, Murray Louis Dance Company, Richmond Ballet, and solo artists Daniel Nagrin, David Dorfman, Remy Charlip, Li Chiao Ping, Kei Teikei, Mark Haim and Lisa Race.

JMU Dance Program graduates are able to pursue a variety of opportunities in the arts and in education. Some graduates find teaching positions in private studios, recreation centers and arts organizatio ns. Other graduates pursue professional performing careers, technical aspects of dance production, or go on to graduate school. Recent Dance Program graduates are working in dance companies, have organized their own performing ensembles and are directing private studios. They are also involved in stage management, arts administration, physical therapy and dance therapy.
The dance faculty consists of Suzanne Miller-Corso, M.F.A., Universtiy of Colorado, Boulder; Cynthia Thompson, M.F.A., University of Wisconsin at Madison; Kate Trammell, M.F.A., Temple University; and Shane O'Hara, M.F.A., Arizona State University. Suzanne Miller-Corso teaches a variety of dance forms as well as jazz, musical theatre and tap classes. She has performed professionally in the States and abroad in musicals such as "A Chorus Line" and "Phantom of the Opera." She has also performed with jazz and modern dance companies both in Maryland and Colorado. In addition, her choreography has been presented on both the East and West Coasts, including Maryland, Colorado and Virginia. Cynthia Thompson and Kate Trammell are co-directors of the thompson & trammell dance company which performs throughout the United States and in Europe. They have received both regional and national awards, including grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the NEA. Shane O'Hara is a Fulbright Scholar and has received recognition as a choreographer and performer from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the U.S.I.S. Each year the Dance Program hosts visiting guest artists and other talented adjunct instructors from the community.
Admission to the Dance Program is by audition. Students interested in studying dance must first submit an application for undergraduate admission to the Office of Admissions. Then they must contact the Dance Program office to make arrangements for an audition. Auditions will be held on specific dates during late fall semester and early spring semester.

Program Objectives for the Dance Concentration

  1. The student shall develop an articulate individual choreographic voice, through coursework in improvisation and composition, frequent feedback from faculty and peers, and substantial opportunities to present work in both formal and informal settings
  2. The student shall develop creative potential as a performer, through training which emphasizes the integration of technical and expressive skills.
  3. The student shall have opportunities to develop rehearsal and performance skills through participation in one or more of the following: the Associate Group Dance Repertory, Contemporary Dance Ensemble and the Virginia Repertory Dance Company in works by self, peers, faculty, and guest choreographers.
  4. The student shall demonstrate knowledge of the historical, philosophical, and cultural dimensions of dance past and present, including people, places, and events that have influenced the development of dance as an art form, and the varying roles of dance and dance artists in society and world culture through coursework, the Master Class Series, and guest artist residencies.
  5. The student shall demonstrate the ability to analyze, write, and speak about dance, creativity, and artistic processes in course assignments that require the integration of theoretical knowledge.
  6. The student shall exhibit knowledge of anatomical terminology and basic principles of human structure and function, and demonstrate application of that knowledge towards more efficient, expressive, and sustainable dancing.
  7. The student shall experience a wide range of dance perspectives through coursework, the Master Class series, workshops, seminars and lectures by visiting professionals, and the opportunity to view work in performance both on and off campus.
  8. The student shall gain a basic knowledge of the interactive nature of the design process through coursework, as well as practical experience with the choreographic/designer dialogue.
  9. The student shall gain theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience in technical dance production areas to include: lighting and sound technology, costume construction, make-up design and implementation, set construction, production management and arts administration.
  10. The student shall gain experience designing and/or implementing movement experiences for people of diverse ages, backgrounds, and abilities, through coursework and additional opportunities within the program and the community.
  11. The student shall develop individual career goals and gain experience in professional skills including grant and resume writing, approaches to marketing, creation of a digital portfolio, and employment placement strategies.