The School of Dance at the University of the Arts is made up of 300 talented, self-expressive students, and a faculty of exceptional and accomplished professionals whose abilities and experiences are diverse and far-reaching.
A bold new vision
An emerging curricular approach that brings young dance artists as close as possible to the professional world that they will, eventually, help to define.
UArts’ innovative Dance curriculum is designed to prepare students for the 21st century world of professional dance.
Under the guidance of Director Donna Faye Burchfield, the first two years (Foundation Series) of study include intensive studio training in traditional study of ballet, jazz and modern techniques, as well as the study of emerging and contemporary forms that include hip hop and improvisation. The Foundation Series also includes Body Pathways, Thinking, Making & Doing Workshop, Expanded Field and Extended Practice Labs, as well as a capstone experience titled the Sophomore Project.
In the junior and senior years (Research Series), students begin to hone their own directions and emphasis of study within the disciplines of ballet, jazz and modern, while leaving room for new and exciting directions to emerge. The Research Series leaves time and space for in-depth creative processes to unfold on campus and within the community at large, as well as abroad.
An interdisciplinary system, known as PODS, is designed to help students recognize the tools and methodologies used in their own creative work through varied approaches and perspectives on dance and performance. Senior Project/Critique and Seminar are designed as capstone courses.
The School of Dance believes in moving students closer to the professional world of dance. Apprenticeships and internships in the Research Series years are encouraged and supported within Philadelphia, across the U.S. and abroad.
Extensive performance opportunities
Performance and choreography are at the heart of the Dance program, with ensemble productions, student composition concerts and student-staged senior dance concerts throughout the year in venues like the historic 1,800-seat Merriam Theater.
Dancers train in 14 fully equipped studios and the vibrant Philadelphia dance scene provides extensive opportunities for students to work with top-level companies. Guest choreographers and visiting artist from all across the globe are on campus each year to set both new and historically repertory works.
UArts students have performed on Fox TVs “So You Think You Can Dance” as well as CBS TVs “Live To Dance.” Three were the first Americans ever accepted into the Arsenale della Danza at the Venice Biennale, and several danced in an original production performed in a refurbished train station in Santiago, Chile, as part of an international cultural exchange.
Who are UArts Dance alumni?
Graduates of the School of Dance are professional dancers, choreographers, artistic directors and distinguished teachers. Notable alumni include Judith Jamison, Renee Jaworski of Pilobolus, Beyonce and Usher lead dancer Ashley Seldom, Gary Jeter of Complexions Dance Company, as well as recent Broadway stars Pamela Otterson, Rhea Patterson and Jeffery Page. They perform with such prestigious companies as the Joffrey Ballet, David Parsons Dance Company, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Momix, River North Chicago Dance Company, Jose Limon, Gus Giorando Jazz Dance Chicago, Donald Byrd’s Spectrum, Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence, Urban Bush Women, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Cirque de Soleil and Philadanco. Broadway credits include “Fela,” “Movin’ Out,” “Cats,” “Wicked,” “Westside Story,” “Oklahoma,” “Brigadoon” and most all of the productions for “The Lion King.”