Frequently Asked Questions

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the Program of Movement and Dance not answered below.

Prospective Students

Are there opportunities for student choreographers?

There are many opportunities both within the curriculum (choreography and creative expression courses), within the program in the mentored concerts, and within the student groups. (See the miscellaneous section below)

I have had intensive dance training for years. Will this program challenge and teach me new things?

We honor the experience students come in with, but also add to that knowledge by introducing technical theories, anatomical information and dance science, context and history, movement analysis, creative process, and a variety of styles of dance and movement from all over the world. We can guarantee that you will be introduced to new and exciting possibilities in your own physical practice and in your artistic and intellectual pursuits related to dance and movement and their interdisciplinary connections.

I have never danced before, but I am interested in starting. Are there classes for all dance levels?

Many of our classes are designed for the beginner, or are open to both beginners and those with experience. This mix of dance and life experience enriches the whole group. You will feel right at home in classes with others who are experiencing dance for the first time, or at least in this way for the first time. 

Do you have to be a highly trained dancer?

You do not, but if you are, you will be placed with others like you, and you will be challenged physically, intellectually, and artistically. We have about a dozen fantastic student dance groups that are co-curricular. We have varying levels of technique classes, and some courses have a mix of skilled and unskilled dancers. Even those who are trained have generally not experienced our somatic, Laban-Bartenieff approach. Our program is great for dancers with diverse interests. We are not a conservatory that churns out dancers and pipelines them into companies, but rather we are stimulating artistry, the love and appreciation of dance, the interdisciplinary applications of dance and movement in life, and the development of the thoughtful artist.

Are there opportunities to showcase my dance besides taking classes?

The Program of Dance and Movement hosts a concert weekend each semester that features choreography by faculty, students, and guest artists that is open to all for participation. Rochester also has about a dozen co-curricular student dance groups who practice diverse dance forms and put on student-run shows. These are just a couple examples of how you might be able to showcase work outside of classes.

Dance Major/Minor

Is there an audition for the program?

An audition is not currently required. Particularly because of the dance studies concentration, we do not want to exclude students due to lack of technique or experience. We do audition for two of the courses, and we have a placement class the first semester to help match you with the right instructor to suit your needs.

How many students are in the BA program for dance?

The program hosts two BA degrees that launched in 2016-17: a BA in creative expression and performance (a more typical dance major but with options for many global dance forms) and a BA in interdisciplinary dance studies (which can connect dance or movement with any other area of study). The major is growing each year and we currently have approximately 8-12 majors and 5-6 minors who dance alongside other students studying dance through clusters or electives. The program serves approximately 600 students per year.

Will I be primarily taking classes with other majors?

Our classes serve a wide population, so it depends on the class. Many of our embodied lecture classes and some of our styles classes serve majors, minors, and clusters. This open enrollment tends to bring a large diversity of backgrounds and cultures to the group which benefits all. However, some of the required courses and technique classes have larger numbers of majors in them. When students declare their major, the faculty try to work with every student on an individual basis to be sure they are taking classes appropriate for their individual needs, levels, and research interests.

How many dance classes should I take each semester?

Each semester will be different but aiming to take two to three dance classes per semester is a great goal. This might be challenging in some semesters, particularly if you have a second major, but for upperclass students, scheduling becomes easier. 

There are many ways to be sure you are satisfying your requirements each semester. There are one, two, and four credit classes in the Program of Dance and Movement, which allows for flexibility each semester.

My schedule is full but I still want to maintain my training. How can I do this?

Students often continue their physical practice with the two credit classes offered. These are classes that have a focus on physical practice with a bit less outside work than the four-credit classes. 

Additionally, students become engaged with the Confluence and S.E.E.D. concerts each semester, supplementing classes with rehearsals to keep them moving. Once you have declared your major, more non-credit dance opportunities are available in the program.

How do I decide on a track for my dance major?

Students don’t need to declare until their second year, so the best thing to do is to take classes and get involved in the program right away. Taking various classes and participating in events helps to clarify interests for everyone! When interested in a major, students meet with faculty to discuss interests in dance and other disciplines as well as course load and requirements.

Can you double major? If so, only with certain schools or across the board?

Definitely! You can double or even triple major within the School of Arts and Sciences or across the board with programs like engineering, but you will need to work closely with an advisor. The Eastman School of Music is also part of the University and is an amazing resource for collaboration and for crossover in the student body.

If I have been trained in a certain discipline for a number of years do I still need to start at the introductory level?

Every attempt is made to place you in a class that is suitable for your level regardless of class year. There is no mandatory level placement.

How can I explore the academic offerings in the Program of Dance and Movement?

Our academic offerings are truly diverse. See our course descriptions for more information and don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.

Are there scholarships specific to dance?

There are currently no arts scholarships specific to the dance department but there may be in the future. There is one scholarship administered through admissions that supports a student who is a dancer, an actor, or otherwise involved in the arts. Contact financial aid and scholarships for more information.

Incoming Students

How many dance classes should I take each semester?

Each semester will be different but aiming to take two to three dance classes per semester is a great goal. This might be challenging in some semesters, particularly if you have a second major, but for upperclass students, scheduling becomes easier. 

There are many ways to be sure you are satisfying your requirements each semester. There are one, two, and four credit classes in the Program of Dance and Movement, which allows for flexibility each semester.

Will there be opportunities for me to meet other dancers before classes start?

Yes, there are some engaging ways for first-year students to connect with other Rochester dancers before classes start, such as:

  • Choreolab!—Join other first-years and seasoned dance program students to connect, create, and move! Hosted by the Program of Dance and Movement, this fast, fun event will give you the chance to dance with students and meet faculty to kick off your time here at Rochester. Learn more about the program’s offerings, ask questions, and meet new friends. Open to all levels of experience and interest in dance.
  • Academic Fair—Come to the dance and movement table to meet faculty and student representatives. This is a great time to ask any lingering questions or get additional information.
  • Student Activities Fair—Get lots of information on student dance groups at this event at the beginning of the semester.
What dance classes should I start off with?

There are many classes that will suit your personal and academic needs in your first semester. The Program of Dance and Movement recommends anyone planning on majoring or minoring to take DANC 250: Contemporary Dance: Context and Practice in the fall of their first-year. This course is often taught in two sections and provides a theoretical basis that can be applied to many diverse styles or forms of dance and movement. A placement class is given with everyone to determine the class level best suited for each incoming student.

How soon do performance opportunities come along? Is there an audition process?

Preparation for concerts and performances starts in early September. The program presents a full dance concert each semester, Confluence in the fall and S.E.E.D. in the spring. Students and faculty are welcomed to present work in either concert.

Confluence is held the weekend before Thanksgiving break. There is no formal audition; however, on a Saturday in the early weeks of each semester, we hold a call for dancers. This event is not an “audition,” but it does enable students to learn what work is being made, and lets choreographers find dancers for their pieces. Once choreographers have found dancers, rehearsals are arranged by the choreographer. Typically, choreographers rehearse two to three times a week with their cast. 

Dates for the call for dancers can be found on the Program of Dance and Movement Facebook page. Additionally, you can find out about student group interest meetings and auditions at the Student Activities Fair. 

I’ve never danced before, what should I take?

If you want to start with an embodied practice of dance, DANC 102: Fundamentals of Movement, DANC 110: Beginning Dance, or DANC 181: West African Dance are some of the courses designed for students without any previous dance experience. If you are interested in how dance relates to cultures around the world, DANC 195: World Dance: Movement as Culture or DANC 190: Middle Eastern Dance are great places to start.  DANC 114: Introduction to Yoga will give you an introductory experience to the somatic relationship between mind and body, and DANC 160: Dance Improvisation is a great place to begin discovering your own creative energy. All 100 level courses welcome beginners.


What clusters are recommended for students that have never danced before?

Each of our five clusters are open to dancers of all levels, including brand new dancers, in addition to the performing arts appreciation cluster.

What if there is a class I want to take that is not in a specific cluster?

You would request a cluster exception and explain your reasoning. Logical cluster exceptions are approved by the director of the Program of Dance and Movement, Missy Pfohl Smith.


What resources are available for student choreographers?

In terms of courses, DANC 278: Choreography in the fall and the Choreographic Voice series in the spring are designed to give students foundational experiences in choreography. Advanced creative process courses such as DANC 273: Dance on Camera/Camera on Dance are also available.

Student choreographers can also choose to create and present their own work in the fall Confluence concert and/or the spring S.E.E.D. concert.

During these semester long processes, you will receive reserved studio space for two rehearsals a week, and you will be paired with a student or faculty lighting designer to prepare the production elements of your piece for the performance in Spurrier Dance Theater. Most spring semesters also offer the opportunity to collaborate with student composers from Eastman. All along the way, you will also be mentored by the faculty through a series of feedback showings.

Do I have to be a dance major in order to choreograph for S.E.E.D./Confluence?

No! Any undergraduate who wishes to choreograph for the fall Confluence concert and/or spring S.E.E.D. concert is welcome to. The only requirement is that you are committed to the full schedule of rehearsals, showings, tech week, and performances.