What will I study to earn a degree in dance?
Congratulations! You are beginning a fascinating and exciting journey. During your four years as a dance major you will be introduced to new ways of thinking about yourself as an artist, and about dance and movement. In addition to the university’s general education requirements, your course of study will include:
GMU’s technique program focuses on Modern and Ballet. You may take a modern and a ballet technique class each day throughout your four years of study. Each semester you will explore a new approach to thinking about modern dance. However, each approach has in common its intent to develop your skills as a dancer and has at its core an understanding of the anatomical principles that underlie movement.
Each semester classes are offered in a global experience. Recent offerings have been in African, Afro-Caribbean, Spanish, Asian, Butoh, Uzbekistan, Indian and Hawaiian. Courses are also offered in jazz, and tap. In addition, you will have master classes from artists performing in the Concert Hall and visiting Guest Artists.
Each year the School of Dance presents five professionally produced concerts and two informal showcases in its three campus venues: the Concert Hall, which seats 2000; Harris Theater, which seats 500; and, the 100 seat Dance Performance Studio. Numerous guest artist, faculty and student choreographers set work on GMU dancers every season, and dance majors are expected to participate in every audition opportunity. Choreographers schedule two hour rehearsals twice weekly and most rehearsals are scheduled weekday evenings or weekend afternoons. Dancers who are cast may register for Performance credit .
The four semester study of making dances begins with Improvisation where you examine your movement preferences and expand these movement qualities through the exploration of effort, space and time. Composition I will focus on solo choreography, while Composition II focuses on group choreography. The course in Rhythmic Analysis, taken at the same time as Composition II, introduces basic music theory which supports your study of dance making. Choreography allows you the opportunity to hone your choreographic skills.
Once you have completed your dance composition requirements, you may show work in the adjudication process that leads to our concert programming (Directed Choreography).
The production series is comprised of three courses that introduce you to backstage production support. In the Fall semester (Orientation to Dance Production), you learn the basics of running the light board, sound operation, stage management and wardrobe support , and are given a production assignment back stage for our December Concert. You are also responsible for strike in Harris Theater your freshmen year. By the end of Spring semester (Dance Production), you and your classmates will be running an entire show in our Performance Studio. The last course in this series (Advanced Dance Production) introduces you to aspects of costume, sound and lighting design.
This course combines the study of dance with the writing of dance criticism and research projects. It is a two-semester course that includes a survey of dance from around the globe in its social, ritual and theatrical contexts. Western theatrical dance is studied in detail and students are required to attend and review professional concerts which take place at GMU and venues in the area. Dance is approached as an art form that reflects and predicts societal changes and students are taught how to analyze dance as artistic as well as cultural expression. Research projects give students opportunities to investigate more deeply areas of study that are of particular interest and relevant to academic and artistic pursuits.
Dynamic Alignment teaches you about the body. You will learn about bones, joints and muscles, but more importantly discover how the body moves and its subtle complexities. You will become aware of the uniqueness of each individual, as you understand the potential of your instrument. You will also learn developmental stages of movement. In Somatic Studies you will be introduced to various movement theories, including Pilates,Yoga, ideokinesiology, tai chi, Feldenkrais, and Alexander technique.
Methods of Teaching Dance (required of all dance majors) and Teaching Creative Movement (an optional course) are courses which develop your teaching skills. Field experiences in teaching emphasize community outreach and may include teaching classes for a beginning dance class at GMU, preschoolers, elementary and middle school children, as well as for a retirement community. Students interested in a teaching career in the public school system may consider applying to earn a licensure in dance.
The senior year capstone course, Synthesis, includes professional development, portfolio creation, and planning for your future in dance. The course culminates in a presentation for the department of artistic statements and career goals.
This program is approved by the Virginia State Department of Education and administered through the College of Education and Human Development which is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
To be considered for licensure in dance education, a student must successfully complete the requirements for a B.A. or B.F.A. in Dance and in addition:
- Be formally accepted into the dance education program by the departmental Dance Education Committee. Before requesting an interview with the Committee, a student must: complete 45 – 60 credit hours with a G.P.A. of 2.80 or higher; and submit passing scores for the Praxis I tests (Reading Writing, Mathematics). It is strongly recommended that students take the Praxis I tests as soon as ENGL 302 and a course in literature and mathematics have been completed.
- Earn no grade lower than a C in dance and in professional
- Maintain an overall GPA of 2.800 or higher in all coursework
in dance at George Mason University and all other institutions of
higher learning combined
- Complete World Dance (DANC118), Teaching Creative Movement (DANC453), and Jazz (DANC131 or 231)
- With committee approval, register for and complete EDUC 300, EDUC 302 and EDRD 300
- After completing all required coursework, submit passing scores on the VCLA (Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment), and, with committee approval, complete a full time, 15 week student teaching internship (DANC455) which includes experiences at both elementary and middle or secondary levels.
This course of study will require a post-baccalaureate semester.
School of Dance MS 3D4
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030-4444
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