Nina Nelson, Chair
Main Office: 3107 Dalton Center
Telephone: (269) 387-5830
Fax: 9269) 387-5820
Western Michigan University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Dance. The Department’s website may be accessed at www.wmich.edu/dance.
Western Michigan University’s Department of Dance is nationally recognized as a community that values aesthetic breadth, student choice, and disciplinary excellence. In our mission as a dance community, we are committed to:
- The highest aesthetic standards,
- Being of service to our diverse cultural global community,
- Excellence in creative and scholarly research,
- Exemplary, experientially-based teaching.
The department goals and strategic action plan are aligned with the university and college strategic plans and focus on degree programs and co-curricular activities that are learner centered, globally engaged and discovery driven. These goals are:
- To recruit, retain, and graduate the finest students who are active contributors to the field of dance,
- To interface with the professional dance world and provide vibrant residencies; with comprehensive professional/student interactions,
- To expand our national and international recognition,
- To educate and serve our regional community,
- To secure the necessary resources to meet departmental goals,
- To advance innovation and discovery in all facets of faculty and student work.
The Department of Dance offers three programs in dance: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance (80 hours); Bachelor of Arts in Dance (53 hours); and a Dance Minor (18 hours). The BFA program emphasizes performance, choreographic and aesthetic training and is designed for the student seeking employment at the professional level. The B.A. program offers an opportunity to explore the diversity of the dance profession within a strong liberal arts component, and BA students individualize their program by choosing electives that support their dance career goals. The Dance Minor is designed for students who wish to continue their dance studies as an avocation. Dance courses offered include four levels of ballet, jazz, and modern dance, three levels of choreography, three dance history courses, dance science and analysis, conditioning, pedagogy and production. An audition is required for acceptance into all dance major programs. For additional information, please refer to specific Program Requirements.
Courses for General Students
Introductory dance courses are offered for general students. Dance technique courses open to general students without audition include: DANC 1010, 1020, 1030, 1040, 1250, and 1810.
DANC 1450, a dance survey course, may be elected by any student to satisfy Area I, Fine Arts of the University General Education Program.
Admission to the University is granted only by the Office of Admissions for undergraduate students. Applications are available by writing to the Office of Admissions, calling at (269) 387-2000, or via WMU’s website: www.wmich.edu/admissions.
Enrollment in dance major programs at WMU is contingent upon admission to the University and acceptance to the department via an audition. Auditions for acceptance into the dance department are normally held in October, November, and February. The audition consists of taking class in ballet, jazz and modern, including sections designed to showcase quick-study and improvisation skills. Prospective dance majors must place into the technique level I in at least two dance idioms to meet the minimum standard for acceptance. No audition is required for dance minors; however, prospective dance minors should contact the dance academic advisor to discuss program plans and to gain entry to dance courses which have prerequisites. There is currently a waiting list for entrance into the dance minor.
Prospective students may also elect to apply for scholarships via the October or November audition dates. In addition to the three classes, scholarship candidates write an essay on-site and have an interview with a member of the faculty. Candidates must submit two letters of recommendation, one of which must be from a dance teacher. Awards average $2,000 per academic year, some of which may be renewable. Limited scholarships may be available at the February audition; selected students will be invited to apply following the audition if funds are available.
Students interested in pursuing the Bachelor of Fine Arts program may petition for entrance after completion of: at least one semester each of ballet, jazz and modern major technique courses; DANC 1800: Choreography I; and at least one dance major theory course. The eligibility of transfer students to apply for the B.F.A. degree will be evaluated on an individual basis.
The results of all of the above are communicated in writing to the student within three weeks following the audition or petition. Further information is available by calling the dance department at (269) 387-5830 or contacting the department by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dance credit from other institutions transfers as a direct equivalent to a WMU course, as an unspecified dance credit, or as credit by department recommendation only. Transfer students should schedule an appointment with the dance academic advisor immediately after admission to the University to evaluate dance credits taken at other institutions.
Gilmore Theatre Complex, Room 2003
Upon admission to the University and acceptance into the dance program, each major and minor student should complete a declaration form with the dance academic advisor. It is the responsibility of the student to make an appointment with the advisor each semester in order to prepare for the next semester’s registration. Each student should meet with the advisor during his/her junior year to secure a Graduation Audit before registration for the final semester.
The dance academic advisor is also available to counsel students on selection of appropriate majors/minors, selection of General Education courses, and other University requirements. Matters which are beyond the advisor’s qualifications will be referred to offices, on- and off-campus, qualified to assist.
Graduation requirements must be completed as stipulated in the Undergraduate Catalog in effect at the time the student is admitted to the University. Requirements cannot be added during the student’s enrollment, but the student may take advantage of course and curriculum alterations if these changes enhance the student’s education. Each student is responsible for knowing the requirements of the degree and for taking the steps necessary for completion of these requirements. All dance students are urged to take advantage of advising services in the Department of Dance for assistance in making educational choices and for interpretation of requirements stated in the Undergraduate Catalog.
Dance majors should also reference the current edition of the Department of Dance Student Handbook found on the department website under the Student tab for current policies and procedures and other important information.
Focus of Major Technique Courses
Ballet courses emphasize technical and artistic skills based on a foundation of correct body alignment, placement and turn-out, musicality, vocabulary, strength, stamina, flexibility, and kinesthetic movement quality. Piano accompaniment is provided and a variety of international ballet styles are introduced. Students are exposed to a variety of modern dance styles such as Cunningham, Limon, Horton Release Technique, and contact improvisation as well as Bartenieff FundamentalsSM and elements of Laban Movement Analysis®. Courses emphasize understanding of the anatomical principles and movement theories that support these and other modern dance styles. Piano or percussion accompaniment is provided. Jazz courses support technique concepts used in ballet and modern, in addition to exploring rhythmic and dynamic qualities inherent in jazz and social dance styles. Recorded accompaniment is used in jazz courses.
Major Technique Course Progression
It is expected that the dance major/minor will spend at least two semesters in each level of technique. This is consistent with level advancement in professional schools. A passing grade in a technique class does not imply automatic progression to the next level. Faculty determine a student’s ability to move to the next level just prior to Registration for the coming semester.
Scholarships are available for new and current students. Awardees are selected by the faculty on the basis of outstanding achievement in the field, overall academic excellence, and specific individual scholarship criteria. Entering students who wish to be considered for scholarships must audition, submit two letters of recommendation, as well as have an interview with the faculty at either the October or November New Student Audition Day. Current students apply in November for the next academic year. For specific information, contact the Department of Dance or visit the website of the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships at www.wmich.edu/finaid or email the Office at email@example.com or call the Office at (269) 387-6000.
Department meetings are held during the first week of classes for the fall semester to prepare the student for the academic year. At these meetings, students will receive a calendar of events and information regarding department policies and procedures. Attendance is mandatory for all dance majors and minors. Juniors and seniors enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program will be required to attend an additional meeting regarding B.F.A. required projects.
Additional Study Options
Students are encouraged to study with dance professionals whenever possible and to afford themselves the opportunity for study with artists-in-residence on Western’s campus. Limited scholarships may be available for off-campus study. For specific information, contact the Department of Dance.
Performance and Choreographic Opportunities
Students have a variety of opportunities to perform in department concerts, informal showings, graduating presentations, special class-related performances, university musicals and operas, and the department performing ensemble. Students must be enrolled for credit in and regularly attending at least one 1000, 2000 or 3000-level major technique course during rehearsal and performance periods and be in good academic standing in order to perform in department concerts. Students whose cumulative GPA falls below 2.0 may not audition for or perform in formal dance concerts. The department is committed to publicly presenting the dances of students who demonstrate choreographic excellence. Special opportunities in performance and choreography are available on- and off-campus and are posted as they occur.