Dance Major, B.A.
MSU Denver with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance
The MSU Denver's Dance Major is distinctive in its versatility and its partnership with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD). CPRD is recognized worldwide for its dynamic cross-cultural curriculum, community engagement, innovative choreography, and promotion of American dance heritage. In this exciting program, CPRD’s mission of social transformation through dance and MSU Denver’s academic rigor and focus on real world experience converge.
The dance curriculum includes coursework in African dance and drumming, ballet, belly dance, hip hop, jazz, modern, tap, world dance history and culture, community-based dance practices, somatics, pedagogy, improvisation, choreography, contemporary dance and interdisciplinary performance, dance entrepreneurship, movement analysis, dance production and administration.
The program is exceptional in its flexibility, enabling students to tailor their majors according to an area of emphasis that reflects their specific educational and career goals. This flexibility is supported through a generous number of electives that allow students to combine courses from departments across MSU Denver, take additional dance electives, and participate in individualized field experience and internship projects that give them hands on experience in preparation for their careers.
Dance majors choose an area of emphasis that is tailored to their individual needs and goals. They can develop their emphasis in consultation with an advisor, or choose from the following: Social Transformation Through Dance/World Dance and Culture, Dance Pedagogy, Dance Organization, and Performance and/or Choreography. They are encouraged to combine courses from departments across the University to enhance this focused study.
Areas of Emphasis
- Social Transformation Through Dance/World Dance and Culture: This emphasis provides a space for critical inquiry into the many ways dance serves as a reflection of culture around the world. It is ideal for students looking to integrate dance into the community and/or arts programming, as well as those interested in being dance scholars or critics.
- Dance Pedagogy: This emphasis is designed for students interested in directing, managing, or teaching in a dance studio, as well as those aiming to become dance educators in the public schools and other settings. Coursework and field experiences associated with this concentration will explore an array of pedagogical concepts through readings, discussion, outreach experiences, student teaching, and research projects.
- Dance Organization: This emphasis is ideal for students who aim to work within the realms of dance administration, non-profit management, studio ownership, artist management, dance production, grant writing and fundraising. Students develop the skills necessary for the successful management of a variety of dance and arts organizations through both academic inquiry and hands-on experience.
- Performance and/or Choreography
- Dance: Focusing on technique, athleticism and artistry, students will cultivate skill and passion for contemporary performance and fusion practices. Course work facilitates injury prevention through the kinesthetic experience of anatomy and alignment, promoting efficient and expressive movement. Through the CPRD partnership, students have the opportunity to study with a range of elite dance artists, connecting them to the professional dance world that they will navigate throughout their performance careers.
- Choreography: Students will develop strong skills in the art and craft of choreography, gain confidence in composing dances, and explore movement as a vehicle of expression for thoughts, ideas, and emotions. They will be given consistent opportunities to share creative work in both formal and informal contexts. The program encourages interdisciplinary exploration and supports students in developing collaborative relationships with other artists, which greatly benefits their careers.
Benefits of Earning Your Degree at MSU Denver
The flexibility of the major is coupled with invaluable access to a world-class dance organization, afforded by the program’s partnership with CPRD. CPRD is recognized as a leader in its culturally diverse programming and community engagement, evident in the company’s repertoire, the international guest artists that make their way through its facilities, the student and professional performances in the theatre, and the work the company does in its academy, public schools and through community events. The focus on individualized, high-level experiential learning, both in management and artistic realms, along with extensive access to CPRD, is unique amongst other dance programs.
Course offerings, such as Advanced/Professional Company class and MSU Dance Ensemble, in addition to Student Development Grants and Service Learning opportunities in Dance Administration, Pedagogy, and Community-Based Dance will add to students’ experiential learning opportunities. Several dance program technique classes take place at CPRD. In addition, students are able to attend professional company rehearsals, engage in Field Experiences and paid Internship programs, and can earn credit by participating in the International Summer Dance Institute. Students have multiple performance opportunities in the CPRD theatre each year, including Senior Concerts, the CPRD Showcase in the spring, and the MSU Dance Program Production in the fall. MSU Denver also has many performance spaces students have access to through DTAPP, the student-run dance organization on campus.
Multiple dance faculty are MSU Denver Entrepreneurship Fellows, where they work as part of a cross-disciplinary cohort to develop entrepreneurship curriculum across campus. In her book, Creative Cross-Disciplinary Entrepreneurship, internationally renowned scholar and cohort trainer, Dr. Dianne Welsh, defines entrepreneurship as being “creative and innovative in all you do that creates value.” The entrepreneurial focus in the dance program requires students to put Welsh’s definition into action each day, enhancing their abilities to utilize their skill sets and create opportunities for themselves to thrive as leaders and valuable contributors to their communities through arts-based entrepreneurship.
Career Opportunities for Our Graduates
Dance training develops transferable skills such as critical thinking, creative problem solving, collaborative teamwork, organization, discipline, time management, presentation skills and tenacity. The dance major will prepare students to undertake a variety of careers, undergo professional training in the pursuit of specific dance-related or therapeutic careers, or continue studies in graduate school.
- Artistic Director for Professional Dance Company
- Dance Company Rehearsal Director
Teaching and Outreach
- Professor of Dance (Requires a Master’s degree or PHD in Dance)
- Dance Educator
- Dance Outreach Coordinator
- Founder and/or Director of Non-Profit Arts Organization
- Dance Studio Owner
- Dance Education Coordinator/Dance School Director
- Dance Company Business Manager
- Community Theatre or Arts Center Manager
- Grant Writer/Fundraiser/Finance for arts organization
- Booking/Tour Manager
- Public Relations Coordinator/Marketing Manager
- Web design/Social Media Management for an Arts Company
- Development Director
- Talent Coordinator/Artist Manager
- Dance Workshop/Festival Director
- Special Events Planner for a Dance Company or Arts Organization
- Box Office Manager
- Law (related to arts, intellectual property or entertainment)
- Arts Councils/Cultural Organizations
Documentation, Research, and Writing
- Dance Writer/Critic/Editor
- Dance Notator (Requires training in Labanotation or Benesh Movement Notation)
- Dance Photographer
- Dance Videographer
- Dance Historian and/or Author
- Dance Archivist
- Production Manager
- Stage Manager
- Front of House Manager
- Lighting Designer
- Technical Director
- Costume Designer
- Dance Technologist (Cinematography, video & sound editing, projection design, etc.)
- Dance Therapist (Requires graduate study)
- Massage Therapist (Requires additional training and licensing)
- Personal Trainer (Requires additional training and certification)
- Group Fitness Instructor (Requires additional training and certification)
- Yoga/Pilates/Gyrotonics Instructor (Requires additional training and certification)
- Somatic Practitioner – Alexander Technique, Feldnekrais, Skinner Releasing Technique, Klein Technique, Laban Movement Analysis, Barteneiff Fundamentals, etc. (All require additional training and certification)
Common Graduate School Options for Dance Majors
- MFA (choreography, performance)
- MA or PHD (dance therapy, dance history, dance education, dance scholarship)
Some students choose professional programs such as law or business, often with relationships to the arts, among others.
Dance faculty have been presented with Community Engagement Awards and selected as Entrepreneurial Fellows through MSU Denver. The dance student organization, DTAPP, has received generous student travel funding to attend multiple American College Dance Festival conferences, and has been nominated for various student involvement and leadership awards.
Cleo Parker Robinson has won numerous awards, including MSU Denver’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Award, the Colorado’s Governor’s Award for Excellence, the Denver’s Mayor’s Award, a Kennedy Center Medal of Honor, the NEWSED Civil Rights Award, and the King M. Trimble Community Award for service to the Denver community, among many others. She was the 2017 Dance/USA Honoree, and has also been inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame and the Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame.
Leslie Merrill is a Co-Coordinator of the Dance Program and has been teaching dance for over 20 years. She holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Colorado and has performed professionally and presented her choreographic and video work nationally and internationally in places such as British Columbia, Mexico, and Germany.
Nicole Predki is a Co-Coordinator of the Dance Program. Nicole teaches because she believes that everyone can dance and create and strives to give students the confidence and tools to do both. She has an MFA in dance from the University of Colorado Boulder with a focus in somatics and multidisciplinary performance and graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Science from Columbia University in NYC.
Alumni at Work
MSU Denver Dance students are working or have worked in the field in the following capacities:
- Colorado Ballet Employee
- Disney Performer
- Dance Studio Owners
- After-school dance instructor at a public school serving primarily refugees
- Instructors at private dance studios
- Working with professional companies such as Quixotic
- Choreographers, rehearsal directors, and dance captains for various theatrical productions
- Dance and Theatre Teacher at a Colorado Charter School
Sharing the healing power of dance with women in prison through Dance 2B Free
As a Dance major at MSU Denver, some of the core classes you will be required to take are:
Skills & Methods of Teaching Improvisation and Choreography
Skills & Methods of Teaching Dance Technique
World Dance History and Culture
Experiential Movement, Somatics & Injury Prevention for Dance
Dance and Inter Perform in 20'" Cent & Beyond
Community Based Dance and Social Change
Dance Technique: African Dance and Drumming, Ballet, Belly Dance, Hip Hop, Jazz, Modern, Tap
MSU Dance Ensemble