5 Top Dance Schools Across the Country

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Skidmore College
Skidmore College’s dance department emphasizes technical training in ballet and modern dance as well as academic inquiry of the field through compositional studies and historical research. The program has around 500 students; most dancers are double majors and study areas as diverse as business and government.

Programs: Classes are divided into four categories: Technique, Workshop/Production, Western Dance Forms, and Theory. Guest artists are frequently invited to the program to offer workshops, performances, and lectures.

Admissions: There is no audition requirement for the dance program. Skidmore uses the common application, which requires a 250- to 500-word personal essay on a topic provided by the school.

Juilliard Dance
Juilliard’s New York City–based dance program focuses on creating contemporary dancers who are equally trained in modern dance and classical ballet. Guest choreographers and teaching artists teach in conjunction with Juilliard’s faculty.

Programs: The department offers two tracks: a four-year undergraduate program that leads to a B.F.A. with liberal arts requirements or a diploma with no liberal arts requirements. Every year students in the dance department participate in roughly 15 public performances. In a typical year the program accepts around 24 students.

Admissions: Applicants must submit a one- to two-page essay on a topic provided by Juilliard. In addition, applicants are required to send a pre-screening video with their online application. The video must include an introductory, technique, and performance section. Suitable applicants will be asked to come in for an audition.

Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University
Located 45 minutes out of New York City on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers University, the Mason Gross School of the Arts dance department heavily focuses on the intersection of dance performance and research inquiry. Students receive instruction in dance techniques, somatic studies, performance, choreography, pedagogy, and theoretical studies.

Programs: The dance department is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Dance and offers such degrees as a B.F.A. in dance performance, a B.A. in dance, a five-year track B.F.A./Ed.M., an Ed.M. in dance education with or without state certification, and a minor in dance. Dance training opportunities include a range of courses, from dance for video to kinesiology.

Admissions: Prospective Mason Gross students are required to submit their application and fee through Rutgers University. They are also asked to submit a portfolio, audition, or interview to demonstrate their artistic talents.

Oberlin College & Conservatory
The dance program emphasizes producing well-rounded dance students with a focus on four perspectives: creation and performance, critical inquiry, physical techniques, and somatic studies. As students move through the program, they can personalize their course of study; they also have the option of combining studies in theater and dance for an interdisciplinary performance major.

Programs: Students who wish to major rather than minor in dance need approval by a dance faculty member, who will then act as the student’s advisor. Dance majors are required to take classes in all four perspectives of study, as well as classes that will create a focus to their major.

Admissions: Oberlin requires a common application, supplemental questions, and an Oberlin-specific essay.

University of California, Berkeley
The U.C. Berkeley program focuses on the practice and scholarship of dance. Students are asked to look at the field as a means of creative expression, a mode of critical inquiry, and a vehicle for public engagement. The program also offers major, minor, and graduate tracks.

Programs: The dance program is divided through course work, electives, and experiences into three foci: choreography, advanced dance technique, and history and theory of dance. A dance major can only declare the major after taking and passing two prerequisite classes in modern dance and performance studies. The graduate program is a five-year Ph.D. track.

Admissions: U.C. Berkeley requires the completion of an online application, which includes a personal essay with a prompt provided by the school.

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