Program of Study
The Program in Dance welcomes all students to engage and experiment with dance. At the core of the program is the belief that dance fosters an integration of mind and body that allows for a greater connection to ourselves and our communities. To that end, we work to increase and expand the University’s exposure to and appreciation of dance through practice, performance, and critical conversation.
The program provides a depth, diversity, and flexibility of offerings that nurture beginners and challenge pre-professionals. While pursuing a liberal arts education, students have the opportunity to undertake demanding courses with professional choreographers, dancers, interdisciplinary artists, and scholars. The curriculum emphasizes expansive, rigorous training and the creation of original works of choreography, performance, and academic analysis. We support multiple creative and performance opportunities each year, ranging from productions in the Roger S. Berlind Theatre and the Hearst Dance Theater, with choreography by faculty and guests, to site-specific interdisciplinary projects and independent thesis work. Students with a special interest or career aspirations in dance can choose to earn a program certificate.
The curriculum is open to students of all backgrounds and areas of training. We focus on movement, the body, dance, and choreography as primary sites for exploration and as ways of knowing and experiencing. Our courses include: comparative approaches to training in modern and contemporary dance, hip-hop, ballet, diasporic African dance, and improvisational forms; repertory workshops that expose students to significant works from the choreographic canon and emerging choreographers; interdisciplinary and collaborative courses centered on embodiment, pedagogy, and choreographic research; and a range of seminars in diverse topics in dance studies. Many courses are cross-listed with other departments and programs including: Gender and Sexuality, African American Studies, Anthropology, Visual Arts, Theater, Music, American Studies, and Urban Studies.
Dance courses fulfill several distribution requirements. Most dance courses fulfill the Literature and the Arts (LA) requirement, and several courses may also fulfill the requirements of Epistemology and Cognition (EC), Ethical Thought and Moral Values (EM), Social Analysis (SA), Historical Analysis (HA), and Culture and Difference (CD).
With more than 20 dance courses offered per year, the curricular program serves more than 400 students annually, and a committed group of 10-20 students earn a Certificate in Dance each year. The Program in Dance resides in the Wallace Dance Building within the Lewis Arts complex, in close proximity to the Programs in Theater, Music Theater, and Visual Arts. Students have access to three spacious studios designed for dance and the Hearst Dance Theater, a 100-seat convertible studio/theater.
Additional co-curricular opportunities include drop-in classes in hip-hop, ballet and guest choreographer performance opportunities and workshops. With an active student-led Performing Arts Council, Princeton also supports more than 15 student-run dance companies, and many dance certificate students assume leadership roles and participate in these organizations. With this wide array of opportunities and resources, a dedicated student can dance for upwards of 30 hours a week while still pursuing a major and outside interests.
The Caroline Hearst Choreographer-in-Residence program provides professional choreographers with resources to develop their work, and performance opportunities that expose students to diverse creative practices. Princeton Arts Fellows, guest choreographers and visiting artists enhance program offerings through performances, choreographing original work, or teaching courses, workshops and seminars.
The Dance Program staff includes a music director and a stellar group of accompanists, who support and collaborate with faculty and students. Most classes integrate live music and student projects frequently feature original, live music, often coordinated with the Music Department. Students and faculty also benefit from engagement with professional costume and lighting designers and the support of staff in the areas of costume, scenery, lighting, and stage management. Dance students in performance courses receive support for injury prevention and have access to dance-specific physical therapy. Dance courses frequently include trips to New York City and Philadelphia to see a range of performances, studio visits, and meet artists.
Interested in a Dance Certificate?
I might want to pursue a Dance certificate at the Lewis Center for the Arts. What should I do in my first four semesters?
- Plan to take at least two dance courses.
- Get involved in performing, designing, or collaborating with senior thesis projects and the Princeton Dance Festival
- Take co-curricular classes, go to performances
- DAN Certificate Requirements: 5 courses, plus co-curricular opportunities and technical hours. Design your own path and choose a focus – Choreography, Performance, Dance Studies, Other.
Check out a helpful visual guide about pursuing a certificate in a program in the Lewis Center for the Arts »
A certificate from the Program in Dance will be awarded to students who successfully complete a substantial amount of work in the artistic and academic areas of the discipline. Students may choose to concentrate their studies on performance, choreography, dance scholarship, or create an interdisciplinary focus. Substitution of requirements, if necessary, will be based on faculty recommendation and in consultation with the program director. Students should enroll in the certificate program during the second term of the sophomore year, but no later than the start of the first term of the junior year. We recommend at least two of the required courses should be completed before enrollment in the certificate program.
For Performance and Choreography focus:
- 4 studio courses: two must be fall performance courses: DAN 319/320/419/420, and one must be a spring studio course, for example: DAN 401, DAN 402, DAN 408, DAN 431 or DAN 432
- 1 seminar course in dance studies, for example: DAN 321, DAN 215, or another course by approval of Director
- Performance and choreographic concentrations require two additional performances with a guest choreographer, in a dance-based Atelier, or in a senior thesis production
- 20 co-curricular classes over four years or an additional studio course, including introductory courses
- DAN 317 Choreography Studio for those intending to complete a Senior Choreographic Thesis
- DAN 420A Senior Piece for those intending to complete a Performance Thesis
For Dance Studies focus:
- 4 seminars in performance studies and dance studies
- 1 studio course, for example: DAN 207, DAN 211, DAN 221
For Independent focus:
- 5 DAN courses selected in consultation with faculty. One must be a studio course, and one must be a seminar course in dance studies, for example: DAN 215, DAN 321, or another course by approval of Director
- 20 hours of technical work assisting the dance program’s productions
Advanced Thesis Work in Choreography or Performance:
(Thesis work is not a requirement for the Dance certificate)
The program offers certificate students the opportunity to apply to create a performance or choreographic thesis project under the supervision of its faculty.
To qualify for a choreographic thesis, students must have completed two choreography courses (for example: Choreography Workshops DAN 319A, 320A, 419A) as part of their certificate requirements and enroll in DAN 317: Choreography Studio, in the spring of their junior year. Choreographic thesis projects encompass a broad definition of choreography and take place in the flexible environment of the Hearst Dance Theater.
To qualify for a performance thesis, students must meet the requirements for the performance certificate and commit to performing in the Senior Dance Project. Students who meet these requirements may also apply for an individual performance project which often involves commissions from emerging choreographers or the staging of existing repertory.
With permission of the student’s department of concentration, such projects may also be part of a student’s departmental major thesis work. For example, an anthropology concentrator chose as her thesis subject Sri Lankan dance; a comparative literature thesis explored links between poetry and dance theories; and other certificate students have looked at dance from the viewpoints of computer science, activism, mathematics, neuroscience, and music.
Certificate of Proficiency:
Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in dance upon graduation.
Admission to the Program
Dance Program courses are open to all undergraduates, and past experience in dance is not a requirement for admission to introductory courses. The program also offers advanced classes, as well as co-curricular opportunities, such that the serious student will, upon graduation, be prepared for advanced study in the field.