College of Fine Arts


Modern Dance

B.F.A. in Modern Dance

Program Purpose

Program Purpose The mission of the BFA program in Modern Dance is to promote the growth and development of students as dance artists, critical inquirers, and engaged community members who advocate and promote dance and the arts as an essential part of society. The BFA additionally prepares dancers for the many opportunities and challenges of the profession, the foundation of which is rooted in the creation and performance of dance. Students’ technical training and creative investigations are integrated with coursework in theoretical, pedagogical, and scientific aspects of the art form. Students gain movement literacy as performers, choreographers and teachers through a rigorous, broad based, and in-depth curriculum that develops competencies and expertise in dance as a physical, aesthetic, intellectual and cultural practice. The quality of faculty instruction, the discipline of the curriculum, the facilities available to the students, and the national/international reputation of the program all contribute to the high standards set by the department. As mandated by the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD) standards for all undergraduate degrees in dance in the nation, the University of Utah undergraduate dance majors perform in public regularly and in multiple contexts. Students become familiar with and develop technical and expressive competences in numerous dance techniques through daily physical practice in Modern and Ballet and an exposure to West African dance, Jazz, and other diverse cultural dance forms. Students additionally have rigorous upper division coursework in cultural and historical studies of dance. They are given tools and experiences to understand and evaluate contemporary discourse through critiques and verbal discussions throughout the four-year curriculum. The ability to form personal beliefs and to articulate, describe, interpret, evaluate and contextualize dance in relation to other art forms and to society at large, is an essential part of students’ learning. This is supported by a curriculum that includes: Physical Practice - Technique, Improvisation, Composition Scientific and Somatic Study - Kinesiology, Movement Fundamentals, Conditioning Pedagogical Practice - Teaching Methods (where students have practicum experience in the public schools K-12) Community and Socially Engaged Learning – Dance & Community, Internships and study abroad opportunities Theoretical Practice - Contemporary Views, Dance in Culture, Dance History as well as course work in music, technology, media and theatrical production. Assessment: All undergraduates must audition for entrance into the Department. Following acceptance, the Department has a grading policy which requires all majors to meet a minimum standard of theoretical and/or performance competency in all of their Departmental courses. The BFA is a 78 credit degree in the field of dance. If a student performs below departmental expectation in a modern dance course, she/he will receive a substandard grade in that course (D+ or lower for undergraduates) and be placed on Departmental probation. Two substandard grades in dance department courses could result in the student’s dismissal from the program. Students are always issued a written course syllabus (which includes grading criteria) from each of their instructors. Students are given ample opportunity to meet with their instructors one-on-one concerning their progress and potential in each of their courses.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding and embodiment of advanced and diverse technical, choreographic, performance and teaching skills.
  • Develop a personal aesthetic, belief system in dance and clear sense of self as a developing artist thereby able to effectively articulate a philosophy contextualizing the essential role of dance and the arts in society in written and verbal discourse.
  • Be aware of the breadth of the field, its myriad career possibilities and ways in which one may be involved in dance, and to develop a sense of one’s own place in the field.
  • Be prepared to successfully enter the profession in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors, and/or undertake graduate study in a top level academic program.
  • Develop working artistic communities through collaboration and interdisciplinary activities.