Frequently Asked Question from Prospective Dance Majors

What Programs in the School of Theatre and Dance are offered at James Madison University?
The School of Theatre and Dance (STAD) offers Majors in three programs: Theatre, Musical Theatre, and Dance.  With over 250 total students in STAD, roughly one-third major in Dance.

How many students does the BA Dance Major accept each year? 
In order for each student to receive maximum personal attention, we aim for a freshman class of Dance Majors of approximately 18-24 students.

What is the focus of JMU’s Dance Program?
The program’s aim is to develop each student’s abilities as a performer, choreographer, and teacher. We foster the skills necessary to create, perform, and produce dance, and to develop dance career strategies. The program offers progressive levels of contemporary modern, ballet, and jazz technique, dance improvisation and composition, and also offers extensive performance opportunities, dance history, dance pedagogy, anatomy and somatic studies, and an array of dance electives including community engaged dance practice. Professional companies and guest artists are brought in throughout the year to perform, teach, and set choreography on our three student dance companies.

What’s the difference between JMU’s Bachelor of Arts in Dance program compared to other Dance programs.
The National Association of Schools of Dance, our accrediting agency, has called our program “an intensive BA.”  We offer what is best from a BA—conceptual understandings, critical thinking development, exposure to different disciplines and perspectives on the world—as well as many of the most effective elements of a BFA program—extensive production opportunities, depth and range in “practical” studio course offerings, and hands-on experience.  We feel strongly that the undergraduate years are best balanced between skill development in the major and obtaining a broad base of knowledge about the world in which we live. We think that this broad base of knowledge makes for strong dance performers, choreographers, teachers and movement artists.

The Dance Program at JMU offers a depth of course levels within areas and a degree of practical experience that provide students with pre-professional preparation while still maintaining the well-rounded educational aspects and philosophy of the BA.  JMU's General Education program enhances the perspectives of developing artists whose future occupation centers on reflecting and illuminating the range of human experience.  The Dance Program at JMU encourages students to take classes and gain production experience in all areas of dance/movement studies.  Student Dance Concerts and special Dance Studio Theatre productions afford students up to 4 productions each year, in addition to two Mainstage dance concerts featuring student performers and student choreography, in which to gain experiences. Most go on to pursue successful careers in dance and movement related professions.

How many productions do you present in a year?
The School of Theatre and Dance produces a Mainstage season of three dance performances.  The Forbes Center for the Arts also presents dance companies each year. In the EJM Dance Theatre Studio we offer 3 student-produced full-length concerts and two produced student choreography showings annually.  Throughout the year we present guest companies in the EJM Dance Theatre Studio.

Can I audition and be cast in dances as a freshman, or am I required to wait?
In the School of Theatre of Dance we believe that experience provides one of the greatest learning opportunities.  Freshman majors are required to perform in the Student Dance Concerts for both fall and spring semester as part of their work within the Associate Ensemble.  They will also have the opportunity to audition for a guest artist work within that course. Occasionally, special projects with STAD guest artists will provide additional performance opportunities for freshman dance majors.   Many freshman majors will work with upper level composition students within their choreographic works in the spring, which are then auditioned for the spring Student Dance Concert.  Any freshman majors can audition their own choreography for the Student Dance Concerts.

Is it possible to double major?
Yes. The Dance Major credit requirements enable double majoring.  Careful planning of when to take courses in each program, with special attention to courses that are offered only once per year, is required to complete two majors in four years. Students who come to JMU with AP, IB, and Dual Enrollment credit and choose to pursue a double major (Media Arts and Design, English, and Communication Studies are popular ones) complete both majors most easily within four years.  The number of hours required by each major varies significantly, which can influence the length of time completing a double major can take.  The School of Theatre and Dance expects students to demonstrate their commitment to the major by declaring Dance as their first major.  Some students choose to minor in another area (Dance, English, History, and Non-Profit Studies are popular).  Minors require 18-21 credit hours, depending on academic discipline, to complete.

Can I Minor in Theatre?
Yes.  As a Dance Major you can minor in Theatre.  Some of our students have focused their studies in the Theatre Minor in lighting design, costume design, arts administration, and stage management.

Do students have opportunities to work with guest artists?
Yes.  We have an extensive guest artist program.  We bring in approximately 8 professional choreographers and other dance professionals to campus on a regular basis each year to work with students for extended residencies.  Recent guest artists have included, Attack Dance Theatre, AXIS Dance Company, Christopher K. Morgan and Artists, Christy Funsch, Claire Porter, Doug Varone and Dancers, Eisenhower Dance Company, John Dixon, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Monica Bill Barnes and Company, Netta Yerushalmy, Pam Pietro, Shannon Hummel/CORA Dance, Stuart Pimsler Dance and Theatre, and Vincent Thomas. We also bring many Dance Program alumni back to campus to work with our students and provide pathways for networking with our current students.

Students have additional opportunities to work on interdisciplinary projects with artists such as, Queen City Flash and Julian Boal, and special projects in arts and health.

 

VA Rep 2016 Richard Finkelstein

Student Success

Are your graduates successful? 
The nationally recognized dance faculty at JMU directs each dance major toward her/his own career path in dance, or a dance related field.  Recent graduates are directing and dancing in professional companies including Monica Bill Barnes and Company, Shannon Hummel/CORA Dance, Vicky Shick, Alexandra Beller, Sean Curran, Stephan Koplowitz, Punchdrunk Theatre’s “Sleep No More”, Isabel Gotzkowsky and Friends, Disney Entertainment, Carnival Cruiseship Entertainment, Diarakudakan, Ruth Zapora Action Theatre, Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company, Prometheus Dance, RVA Dance Collective, Jane Franklin Dance, Meisha Bosma Dance, Deborah Riley Dance Projects, Emily Cargill and Dancers, Danah Bella Danceworks, and Uprooted Dance Company. 

Dance alumni are working in arts administration and technical theater positions including work for Paul Taylor Dance Company, Pilobolus Dance Company, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Warner Brothers, Lincoln Center, Jacob’s Pillow, Attack Dance Theatre, Dance/USA, Dance Place, Walnut School of the Arts, Shen Wei Arts, Dance, Mesa Community College, and Piedmont Virginia Community College.

Many graduates are teaching dance in universities including positions at North Carolina State University, Boston Conservatory, Kent State University, James Madison University, University of Virginia, Wilson College, Kennesaw State University, Spelman College, Brenau University, Ferrum College, Coppin State University and Davis and Elkins University.  Numerous graduates are directing programs and teaching in performing arts high schools, studios, and community programs.  These include St. Catherine High School, Collegiate High School, Henrico High School of Fine Art, Thomas Dale High School, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Mid-Maryland Performing Arts Center, and the Harrisonburg Community Center.  Other alumni are achieving graduate/post graduate degrees in dance, physical therapy, occupational therapy, arts administration and dance movement therapy.

Admission & Scholarship Questions

Is there an audition for admission to the Dance Major?
Yes. Applicants must attend an audition for the Dance Program.  There are four on-campus auditions held each year, two in November and two in February.  The audition consists of a ballet barre, contemporary center work, and a short improvisational exercise.  There will be a presentation for the applicant and their parents after the class and the audition process will end with a one-on-one interview with a dance faculty.  Details on the "gateway process" for admission to the major can be found athttp://www.jmu.edu/dance/thadmis.htm.

When will I know if I have been accepted into the Dance Major?
Prospective students who have auditioned will be notified of their acceptance to the Dance Major through MyMadison (the same portal as where you’re notified of your Admissions decision from the University). Dance Majors who plan to double-major will be encouraged to demonstrate their commitment to this intense course of study by making Dance their first-major.

Can I apply to the Dance Major before applying for admission the University?
No.  Although you may schedule your audition before completing the application for academic admission to the University, you must complete the application for academic admission BEFORE participating in the audition. Admission to JMU itself involves online application directly to the undergraduate Office of Admissions (http://www.jmu.edu/admissions/).

If I am not accepted into the BA Dance Major at JMU but am accepted to JMU academically and decide to attend, may I still re-audition for the Dance Major?
Yes. Students who do not receive acceptance to the Dance Major but who do receive admission to JMU can re-audition for the Dance Major during their first year during the scheduled prospective student auditions.

Do you accept transfer students or students from other majors into the BA Dance Major?
Yes.  Interested applicants from other schools, as well as, from JMU are given the opportunity to audition for the Dance Major during the regularly scheduled auditions?  Visit http://www.jmu.edu/theatre/thadmis.htm for appointment dates and admission information to the major.

Do you offer scholarships for incoming students?
The College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Theatre & Dance have partial tuition scholarships available for incoming freshmen.  The gateway process for admission to the Dance Major also serves as the interview/application process for scholarship consideration.  The School of Theatre and Dance also offers partial tuition scholarships for established students in the Theatre, Dance, and Musical Theatre Majors. Go to http://www.jmu.edu/theatre/tscholarships.htm  for more information. In addition to STAD scholarships,  JMU offers scholarships for incoming students. Go to  http://www.jmu.edu/financialaid/scholarships  and http://www.jmu.edu/centscholars/index.html for information.

 

Course Questions

Do you offer a teaching licensure in dance PreK-12?
Yes.  A student interested in the Teaching Licensure in Dance program must be a declared dance major. Students desiring PreK-12 teaching licensure in dance must complete additional course work in kinesiology, health science, education and psychology and 12 credits of student teaching. It is necessary to be admitted to the teacher education program in the College of Education prior to enrolling in professional education courses. Prospective students interested in the Teaching Licensure should contact Suzanne Miller-Corso, mille2sm@jmu.edu

If I am a Dance Major, can I take Theatre or Musical Theatre courses?
Yes, on a space-available basis. Within the curriculum of the Dance Major are required courses that provide the opportunity for integration with the School’s offerings.

 

Production Questions

What kinds of hands-on experience in productions are available to student?
Mainstage and Student-Directed productions offer professional supervision by faculty in the producing, rehearsing, and running processes of our concerts. All students in Dance Program are required to work concert-related positions as part of their ensemble requirements.

Would I be in competition with graduate students for performance, design, and technical opportunities?
No.  The JMU School of Theatre and Dance programs are entirely undergraduate. Undergraduates have unhindered opportunities, including performing, choreographic, and technical opportunities.

If I am a Dance Major, can I still audition for the plays or musicals?
Yes.  There are no restrictions on who can audition for School productions in Theatre and Musical Theatre.  Dance majors have also choreographed for Studio Theatre productions and served as assistant choreographer for faculty-directed productions on the mainstage.

 

Other Opportunities

What student theatre organizations operate within the School of Theatre and Dance?
JMU Dance Theatre is our student dance university organization. They sponsor a number of other activities such as guest artist appearances, workshops, community based projects and social events. 

National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA) is JMU's chapter of the National Dance Education Organization national honorary dance society.  This organization creates social, educational, and community service opportunities for dance students.

Is it possible to study abroad?  
Yes.  Students in the Dance Major often choose to study abroad either in the summer or during the regular academic year.  JMU’s Center for Global Engagement offers a number of study abroad opportunities.  The Dance Program consistently offers a summer month long performance intensive in London and a summer program in Russia focused on the arts and healing.

 

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