Donna Faye Burchfield
Assistant to the Director
School of Dance Office
Terra Building 3rd Floor | 215-717-6110 | School of Dance Website
The School of Dance is dedicated to the education of aspiring professional performers, dance educators, and choreographers. It provides an intensive exploration of dance in its physical, intellectual, and creative aspects. The School provides an environment in which students may develop an individual artistic vision while being exposed to a variety of artistic styles.
The main studios of the School of Dance are located in the Terra Building at 211 South Broad Street. These spacious, bright, and well-lit studios are fully equipped with barres and mirrors, huge windows, pianos, and audio consoles. Their floors are constructed with four-inch, state-of-the-art suspension for the safest and most comfortable dancing surface available. Lockers, dressing rooms, showers, and lounges are found adjacent to the studios. The University has completely restored its historic Merriam Theater, which serves as the institution’s major performance hall for students, as well as “home” to a number of regional performing arts organizations, including the Pennsylvania Ballet. The UArts Dance Theater, a 180-seat theater, is used exclusively for student dance performances. The Albert M. Greenfield Library contains books, journals, DVDs, and videotapes devoted to dance, which are available to students for research and coursework.
Dance Technique Class
Regular, consistent presence in dance technique classes is essential to the student’s professional development. Dance technique classes meet up to five times per week, depending upon the course and level.
Physical Demands of the Program
To be a dance artist, students must be physically prepared to attend and participate in technique classes. Strength and stamina are key to the success of the education and training. Dancers are expected to maintain and support their technique through physical conditioning in and out of class. To this end, and if feasible, it is expected that students attend all classes and make up those missed due to illness or injury.
Unexcused absences must not exceed the number of credits per semester for the particular course, i.e., in a two-credit course, no more than two absences are permitted. Extensive absences, whether “excused” or “unexcused,” will adversely affect the course grade. If, after warnings, a student persists in not attending or participating in class, he/she will fail the course and be placed on departmental probation.
Policy on Injuries and Illnesses
If a student is injured and cannot participate in class, he/she is required to inform the faculty member and, if possible, attend the class. If the student is “sitting out” the class, he/she must first get the teacher’s approval. To be counted as “present” the student is expected to take copious notes of the class and/or write a research paper that is to be given to the teacher. If the injury is in the healing stage and the student feels able to participate in a limited way, he/she must again secure the approval of the faculty before the class begins.
In case of illness, the student should telephone the School of Dance to keep them apprised of the health situation.
- Short-Term Injury/Illness
If a student misses class due to illness or injury, medical documentation is necessary from one of the following sources: the University nurse, the University trainer, or a medical doctor. The School of Dance needs to have in writing the diagnosis of the nature of the injury/illness, specific dates of how long the student will be unable to participate in technique classes, what, if any, rehabilitation is being done, and finally, when reevaluation will take place.
If a student is unable to participate in class for two or more weeks, he/she must make an appointment with the Director or Assistant Director of the School of Dance to determine the course of action. If the injury/illness happens at the end of the school term or well after the midpoint, the student might be permitted to earn a grade for the course, or request an Incomplete, rather than withdrawing from technique courses. In this instance, the student will be permitted to make up the incomplete in the Summer World of Dance, or by doing additional work the following semester.
If the injury requires a student to miss or sit out in excess of four weeks, he/she will be required to withdraw from all technique classes. Under no circumstances may the student continue to remain on the sidelines for more than four weeks and expect to receive a grade for technique classes.
If the injury/illness requires abstaining from rigors of the class repeatedly, it may be necessary for the student to take a medical leave of absence or to leave the program permanently. In this case, the student should consult with the Dean of Students and note that medical documentation will be required for readmission.
The School of Dance requires the following attire for all technique classes:
- Women: black leotards with black tights for modern and jazz; pink or black or beige tights for ballet; ballet, jazz, character, and tap shoes
- Men: black tights with white tee shirts or black leotard and tights and black ballet, jazz, and tap shoes
Warm-ups are permitted only during the first 10 minutes of a class and must then be removed. Failure to adhere to the dress code will result in the student not being able to take class.
All students are expected to attend all classes and rehearsals for which they are registered. Outside commitments must never interfere with school work. If a student has an outside professional performance, he/she must ask the Director for special permission to be absent from school, and the school’s “Professional Engagement Form” must be completed and approved by the instructor and the Director of the School of Dance two weeks prior to the engagement. Only Junior and Seniors are eligible.
To fulfill the curricular requirement in performance, every Sophomore, Junior, and Senior dance major is required to participate in and register for at least one performance each semester in either faculty-directed ensembles, Senior student’s work, or a student choreography concert.
Scheduled concerts include end-of-semester performances in the Merriam Theater, Senior concerts, and Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior composition concerts in the UArts Dance Theater.
Sophomores are required to take a maximum of one ensemble or student choreography per semester.
All Junior modern, jazz, and ballet majors are required to take one ensemble or Modern Repertory.
Seniors may take a maximum of three ensembles per semester.
If a student wishes to drop the assigned ensemble, he/she will not be able to register (or take for non-credit) another ensemble, unless there is a class schedule conflict.
Senior Dance Concert
One of the School’s most important requirements for graduation is the creation of a Senior dance concert. The students are responsible for choreography, rehearsals, lighting, costume and sound design, and advertising.
Preparation for the Senior concert takes place during the two-semester course. A faculty advisor will assist in the choreographic and technical production of the concert. Performance dates are chosen in September. Concerts are shared by several Seniors.
Students should refer to the School of Dance Senior Dance Production Guidebook for details.
- Choreography — All majors must choreograph at least one group piece. In addition, students may choreograph either a second group work or a solo; however, the total must not exceed 10 minutes. All music must be approved by the faculty advisors.
- Performance — All students must perform in at least one work.
- Technical Assistance — Each student must fulfill a crew requirement in another student’s performance either as stage manager; lighting, sound, or video technician; or backstage assistant.
For those students devoted to the art of choreography, a select few seniors will be given an increased opportunity to develop new work in an advanced choreography course exclusively for them. The work will be shown in open-studio settings through the year.
A written proposal and submission of videotapes are required. Consideration will be given to those with a three-year documented body of work.
The University provides the theater, a technical director, and the basic technical facilities. Any additional support, special lighting, or sound needs must be provided by the student. All programs, flyers, and promotional materials can be duplicated by the dance office if presented well in advance of the production in a finished state.
Dance students view their Senior concert as the culmination of their four years at the University of the Arts and an extremely important aspect of their college experience. The faculty, too, judge this performance as a serious demonstration of the student’s ability as a dance artist. All Senior dance students must present their finished choreography on a date scheduled by the School to a jury consisting of three faculty members and the Director of the School of Dance. Evaluations of the content of the performance are offered after the performance.
The production aspect of the concert is graded by the faculty in charge of the course. The final grade thus reflects both the process and the choreographic end result.
Evaluation of Students
Juried examinations in each technique take place at the end of each semester. In addition, individual conferences are scheduled in December and May. At this time, the faculty and student explore the progress made in the program and review the student’s potential for future success.
The School of Dance recognizes that it is possible for a student to earn a passing grade in a course, yet not truly be able to perform on a professional level in the art form. In this instance, the faculty and Director will advise the student of this lack of promise for a future career and make suggestions for alternative career options.
Professional Standards and Behavior
Students are expected to maintain high standards of professionalism in studio, classroom, rehearsal, and performance commitments. Failure to follow directions, and absence from or lateness to rehearsals, performances, and related activities may result in Academic Censure including lowering of grade or course failure.