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Dance

Dance at the University of Michigan offers a winning combination: a world class dance education within a leading research university. An extraordinary breadth of resources enables our students to bridge knowledge across disciplines and communities, and to gain an understanding of dance as a significant mode of inquiry. U-M dancers excel within an inclusive learning environment that encourages deep engagement through the transformative experiences of dancing and dance making. Academic courses both within and beyond our discipline inform the studio.

We celebrate risk taking, engaged learning, and entrepreneurship. With an expansive approach to the relevance of dance within culture, our internationally renowned faculty provides a range of perspectives that integrate practice and theory, preparing dance artists for resilient and multi-faceted careers in a rapidly evolving field.

Undergraduate dance students forge their own creative voice, consolidate a range of technical skills, and enjoy extensive performance opportunities, from dancing in the first year Freshman Touring Company to performing onstage at the Power Center for the Performing Arts, where many of the world’s great dance companies also perform, such as those of Mark Morris, Meredith Monk, and Trisha Brown. Students also create multi-media collaborations in the Duderstadt Video Studio and present their work  in a variety of community settings.

Students develop discipline, independent thinking, creative problem-solving, leadership and team skills, technological competencies, and an appreciation for artistic, intellectual and social diversity. The fundamentals and finer points of dance technique, performance, and composition are stressed.

Beyond our studio dance courses, students gain a comprehensive education at U-M, the number one public research university in the country,* by enrolling in academic courses both within and beyond our discipline, with many students electing to pursue a joint degree program. Graduates of the program join the field as performers, choreographers, artistic directors, and more, graduating with a breadth of transferrable skills relevant to wide-ranging workplaces of the new millennium.

Our fully funded two-year MFA in dance provides world-class dance studies within a major research university, offering multiple avenues for investigating the permeable boundaries between practice and theory. The degree is aimed at outstanding recent dance graduates as well as returning professionals, particularly those seeking to move from careers at the national/international level in performance or choreography to working in higher education. The program builds upon a longstanding foundation of dance at the University while embracing new developments, preparing dancers for diverse opportunities within the field. Students engage in unique interdisciplinary research and performance projects, drawing upon the University’s breadth of resources.

All School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) students receive unprecedented entrepreneurial and career planning support through the school’s  EXCEL program (Excellence in Entrepreneurship Career Empowerment & Leadership), poised to become the nation’s top program for funding student entrepreneurial ventures in the performing arts.

The University of Michigan is renowned for developing excellence. Combining the focus and rigor of a conservatory with the academic breadth and depth of a major public research university, an SMTD education is a transformative experience. Dance students receive not only a comprehensive program of instruction, performance, and pedagogy, but also the inspiration and knowledge of a liberal arts course of study, instilling the values of innovation and inclusion. Our graduates excel as artists, scholars, educators, entrepreneurs, technologists, designers, and arts administrators, and also fully-engaged citizens eager to make a difference in their field and community.

*National Science Foundation

The Department of Dance prepared me physically and mentally as an artist, and gave me the knowledge, guidance, and passion to pursue my professional dance career. I received outstanding technical training in modern and ballet and thought-provoking coursework that developed me into a well-rounded artist. My professors and mentors gave me the support to achieve my goals as an artist who wanted to pursue many paths in the profession.

Dee Tomasetta (BFA '14, dance)

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Alumni

For over a century, Department of Dance alumni have been making their mark in the field as top performers and respected educators throughout North America and the world. Learn more about the achievements and recent activities of our successful graduates.

ALEX SPRINGER (BFA ’07) performed for NYC-based Doug Varone and Dancers (2009-2018) and is co-director of The Median Movement, a dance company created with his partner ALEXANDRA ‘XAN’ BURLEY (BFA ’07). Alex and Xan began dancemaking together in 2006. In April 2009, they converted a studio in a warehouse in Detroit into a performance space and presented Beginnings, Endings, + Other Events. They have now presented work at WAXworks, the Solar One Solar Powered Dance Series, the Williamsburg FreeFest at Triskelion Arts, the Under Exposed Series at Dixon Place, and the BAX Upstart Festival, among others. Springer and Burley were awarded SMTD Alumni Achievement Awards in 2016, and they returned to the U-M Department of Dance as Guest Artists in 2016-17.

Here are just a few of our celebrated alumni:

LIZ BERGMANN (MA ’63, education and Former Department of Dance Chair) Dance Director at Harvard University. Co-authored book Connecting with Creativity: Ten Keys to Unlocking Your Creative Process.

MARK BROOMFIELD (MFA ’96) is a scholar/artist who has danced with the repertory company Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, performing in leading works by some of the most diverse and recognized African American choreographers in the American modern dance tradition. Faculty at SUNY Geneseo.

ANITA CHENG (MFA ’91, dance) founder and choreographer of Anita Cheng Dance.

LIZZIE LEOPOLD (BFA ’06)  is founder and director of her dance company, the Leopold Group. She has advanced degrees from NYU (Performance Studies) and Northwestern University.

MICHAEL SPENCER PHILLIPS (BFA ’99) is a current member of NYC-based Rioult Dance, directed by Pascal Rioult.

DEE TOMASETTA (BFA ’14) is in the touring company of Finding Neverland as Peter Pan.

MARCUS WHITE (MFA ’15) is an American movement maker, educator, community engagement advocate and cultural WERKer. As Founder and Creative Director of Detroit-based performance company White Werx, he creates dance-driven work for the stage and screen. Faculty at Arizona State University.

Ways To Connect

Phone:

734.764.0593 (SMTD Admissions)
734.763.5460 (Dance Office)
734.763.5461 (Events Line)
734.764.2538 (SMTD/UMS Ticket Office)

Email:

smtd.dance@umich.edu or smtd.admissions@umich.edu

Address:

Department of Dance
3501 Dance Building
1310 N University Court
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2217