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Theatre and Dance Frequently Asked Questions


 How big is the School of Theatre and Dance?

Approximately 280 total majors, and 100 minors; with approximately 150 Theatre majors, 80 Dance majors, 50 Musical Theatre majors, and minors in Dance and Theatre. Most major classes range from 10 to 20 students per class.

 How is a B.A. program different from a B.F.A. program?

The School of Theatre and Dance offers B.A. degrees in Theatre, Musical Theatre, and Dance.  We do not offer B.F.A. degrees. Our accrediting agencies have called our majors “intensive B.A.s,” meaning that we combine a liberal arts education with pre-professional artistic training. We feel strongly that undergraduate years are best balanced between skill development in your major and obtaining a broad base of knowledge about the world in which we live, and reflect as artists.

 Do I need to interview or audition to be a Theatre, Dance or Musical Theatre major?

Yes.  We call our audition/portfolio review process our "gateway process."  Please visit the following links for more information about the specifics of this years virtual audition process:

Dance Admissions
Musical Theatre Admissions
Theatre Admissions

 Can I audition for multiple programs in the School of Theatre and Dance?

Yes.  You'll need to complete the gateway requirements for each major, which means signing up for each individual virtual audition appointment separately and submitting all of the required materials for each major as a part of your supplementary application.

 How many students apply to the School of Theatre and Dance each year?

Acceptance rates differ for each major, but all majors are competitive.

 Do you offer scholarships?

Yes, we offer merit scholarships based on the strength of your presented artistic materials in the gateway process.  In order to qualify for all merit scholarships from the School of Theatre and Dance, we recommend applying Early Action to the University. You must also attend a virtual audition day in order to qualify for a merit scholarship, and in order to qualify for priority merit scholarship, we suggest attending one of the Fall semester or January virtual audition dates. For more information, please visit our college admissions website.

 Do you accept transfer students?

Yes. Transfers and current JMU students apply through the same gateway process as prospective first-year students.  Depending on previous coursework, transfer students can complete a Theatre or Dance major in 2 – 3 years or a Musical Theatre major in 3 years.

 When will I know if I am admitted artistically to the School of Theatre and Dance?

Typically, School of Theatre and Dance decisions are available by mid-March for Regular Decision applicants and between late December and March 1st for admitted Early Action applicants.  We only release artistic admissions decisions after you have received your official admissions decision from the university. Decisions are provided through MyMadison (the same portal where you are notified of your admissions decision from the university.) 

 If I am accepted to JMU, but not to the School of Theatre and Dance, may I re-apply later?

Yes. Transfers and current JMU students apply through the same gateway process as prospective first-year students.  You can also declare a Theatre or Dance minor without completing an audition, and there are many student clubs and organizations in the School of Theatre and Dance open to non-majors.

  How many productions do you do?

In a normal year, we produce three plays, two musicals and three dance concerts on our mainstage season;  five to eight student-produced full-length plays, musicals, or devised work in the Studio Theatre; three student-produced full-length dance concerts and two student choreography showings in the Earlynn J. Miller Dance Theatre; and eight to 10 staged readings of original student work in our workshop season.

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty are investigating and exploring creative possibilities to integrate
performance and production opportunities connected to the curriculum. This fall will offer students robust opportunities to continue their development and skills as artists through focusing on the process, connecting across the curriculum, and sharing the processes and creative outcomes with a wider audience through virtual performances, showings, technical and design installations, etc.  These performances may take the place of traditional, live audience attended events. This includes a combination of live-streamed, site-specific, outdoor and/or online recordings that can be shared with an audience.  We are still investigating live ticketed performances for Spring 2021.

 Can I be cast in dance or theatre productions as a first-year student?

Yes. Any JMU student (including first-year students) can audition for theatre and musical theatre productions, including mainstage, studio, and workshop productions. Dance concerts are reserved for dance majors. First-year Dance majors are required to perform in the Student Dance Concerts in the fall and spring and can audition for student choreographers (showcasing in the spring Student Dance Concert) and some guest artist work. Any first-year Dance major may also audition their own choreography for the Student Dance Concert.

 What performance opportunities are available for sophomore, junior and senior Dance Majors?

The dance program provides dance majors with numerous performing and choreographic opportunities.  In the sophomore year and above, dance majors participate in the Contemporary Dance Ensemble. This company offers majors the opportunity to perform, choreograph, work with a guest artist and/or faculty members as well as work with professional costume and lighting designers. Juniors and seniors may participate in the Virginia Repertory Dance Company (VRDC) is considered our pre-professional company. Students in VRDC work with guest artists and faculty and perform on-campus in the fall, and in the spring, this company tours regionally and sometimes, internationally.  And speaking of internationally, the dance program offers two short-term summer study abroad programs in London and Russia in alternating years.   

 If I am a Theatre, Musical Theatre, or Dance Major, can I take courses in any of the other two majors?

Yes. Our curriculum is designed for students to take courses across disciplines. Upper-level major courses may also be taken on a skill and space-available basis. Majors may also minor in another School of Theatre and Dance program.

 Is it possible to double major?

Yes. Some double majors, such as English, Kinesiology, or Media Arts and Design, are easier to complete in four years. More credit intensive double majors, such as Business, may require more than four years.

 Can I study abroad?

Absolutely. The Center for Global Engagement at James Madison University offers a variety of study abroad opportunities during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. There are several options, especially over the summer, that are geared towards programs in the School of Theatre and Dance. International travel is on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are working closely with the Center for Global Engagement to make sure that our programs are ready when international travel becomes feasible again.

 Do you offer teaching licensure?

Yes.  Theatre Majors may concentrate in Theatre Education through which students may receive Pre K-12 licensure.  Dance Majors may obtain a Pre K-12 licensure.  Prospective licensure students must be admitted to the teacher education program in the College of Education prior to enrolling in professional education courses.

 What kinds of minors are available?

Anyone may declare a Theatre or Dance minor through your student portal.  A gateway audition or interview is not required.  Musical Theatre does not offer minors.  Lower-level major courses are available to minors on a space-available basis.

 What coursework do I take as a Dance Major?

The dance program provides dance majors a challenging intensive study of dance and offers coursework in modern and ballet technique, dance composition, dance history, performance production, repertory ensemble experience, anatomy and somatic practices, teaching methods and teaching licensure. Other courses include jazz, tap, improvisation, and yoga, among others. There are many avenues that dance majors may follow and the dance faculty help each student create his/her individual path. 

 As a Theatre Major, can I specialize?

Yes. As a Theatre major, you may choose to interview/audition for a “concentration” in the spring of your sophomore year. Theatre offers four concentrations: Performance, Design and Technology, Theatre Studies, and Theatre Education (with or without Licensure). You can audition/interview for and be accepted into multiple concentrations.  Concentrations are not required.

 What coursework do I take as a Musical Theatre major (private voice lessons, music theory, dance, etc)?

Musical Theatre Majors are required to take one year of small group voice lessons (including a weekly performance lab) and two years of private voice lessons.  Students are encouraged to continue private voice study in their senior year. Musical Theatre majors take two semesters of Piano, and one semester of Music Theory and Ear Training. Students who enter with significant prior piano/music theory training may be allowed to test to place out of the requirement or into higher-level courses.  Some Musical Theatre majors choose to minor in Music, Music Industry, or Music and Human Services. Musical Theatre majors are required to take Dance to meet the major requirements.  Most Musical Theatre majors take one to two dance classes per semester (some taking three if their schedule allows). Students entering the major with a lot of dance experience may replace beginning-level classes with intermediate and advanced classes at the discretion of the dance instructor and the Musical Theatre Coordinator.  Some Musical Theatre majors choose to minor in Dance. Musical Theatre majors take their Theatre classes with faculty members from the Theatre department.  For more information about the specific classes that are a part of the Musical Theatre major, visit the JMU course catalog.

 What is the difference between the Musical Theatre Major in the School of Theatre and Dance and the Music Theatre Major in the School of Music?

The Musical Theatre Major in the School of Theatre and Dance offers different coursework from the Music Theatre emphasis in the School of Music.  You would earn a B.A. degree with the Musical Theatre major in the School of Theatre and Dance and you would earn a B.M. degree with the Music Theatre emphasis through the Voice area in the School of Music. These programs hold separate auditions. People typically choose the program that is most suited to their needs, although some students choose to audition for both programs and then determine (if accepted) which one is best suited to their goals.  For more information, visit the JMU course catalog to see the differences between the School of Theatre and Dance Musical Theatre major and the School of Music Music Theatre emphasis in the Voice area.

 Do you have a Senior Showcase for Theatre and Musical Theatre Majors?

Yes.  We produce both New York City and a Washington, D.C. Senior Showcases every spring.  In Washington D.C., Musical Theatre majors and Theatre majors from all specialty areas (including performance, design, technology, dramaturgy, arts management, theatre education, among others) have the opportunity to participate. The New York City Showcase is for Musical Theatre majors and Performance concentrators only. (Senior Showcase )

 What are your graduates doing?

Our alumni are successfully working in the professional Theatre, Musical Theatre, Film, and Dance worlds upon graduation. We have strong alumni networks in Washington DC, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, among others. Alumni are currently working on Broadway, in national tours, regional theatre, professional dance companies, cruise ships, and the film/TV industry.

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