5 College Dance Programs You May Not Have Heard of—and What Makes Them Unique

University of Hartford. Photo by John Long, courtesy of Hartford

Today's college-bound dancers face a dizzying array of choices. How can you as a teacher help your students make the best decision? To narrow down options, it helps to reflect on their personal strengths and interests. Would they benefit from an emphasis on teaching? Do they have a desire to explore how dance can cross over into other topics? Hope for an opportunity to study abroad? Perhaps a dancer isn't ready financially (or in terms of maturity) to commit to a four-year program, but what if their circumstances change?

Every dancer is different, and when they find the right college dance program, it can feel as if it were designed especially for them. Here, for example, are five that cater to specific groups of students. They all provide intense technical training intended to produce well-rounded, employable dancers—and each offers a unique focus you may not have known existed.

Santa Fe Community College. Photo by Ani Collier, courtesy of SFCC

The Seamless Transfer

Santa Fe College

Gainesville, Florida

AA in dance

Many four-year institutions will ask a two-year transfer student to go backward—that is, to repeat coursework. But according to fine arts chair Alora Haynes, that's not the case with SFC graduates who transfer to the nearby University of Florida's four-year BFA. The two schools—which are both located in Gainesville—even share faculty. "We've been working together for so long that our students are highly sought-after," says Haynes.

Dickinson College students. Photo by Pierce Bounds, courtesy of Dickinson

Dancer As Activist

Dickinson College

Carlisle, Pennsylvania

BA in dance

Under the leadership of renowned New York–based dance artist Sarah Skaggs, Dickinson College pairs dance with social activism. Dickinson dancers have taught movement workshops for senior citizens with dementia and worked with local hip-hop groups to offer after-school classes in the community. Skaggs encourages her students to create choreography that is engaged with contemporary issues. "We attract students who want a tool set—students who are asking, 'How do I get engaged? What do I do?'" she says.

Ballet-centric BFA

University of Hartford

West Hartford, Connecticut

BFA in ballet pedagogy

In addition to its performance-focused BFA, The Hartt School Dance Division at the University of Hartford offers a rare ballet pedagogy BFA program. For that degree, students take seven semesters of pedagogical theory, complete internships and study movement analysis, music theory, anatomy and kinesiology, dance administration and human development in order to prepare for a career in dance education, whether at the studio, professional or university level.

Tulane University. Photo by Melisa Cardona, courtesy of Tulane

Multitalented MFA

Tulane University

New Orleans

MFA in interdisciplinary dance performance

The Newcomb Dance Program's three-year interdisciplinary MFA allows students to complete research in other disciplines, like gender and sexuality or Africana studies. With courses like Choreography and Media and Text and Movement Studies, the graduate program requires students to coordinate about a half of their three-year credits with other university departments.

Kennesaw State. Photo by Robert Pack, courtesy of Kennesaw State

International Exposure

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, Georgia

BA in dance

Kennesaw State's BA curriculum includes the option to enroll in a two-week study-abroad program with Israel's Batsheva Dance Company. Dance majors get to study company repertory, including Gaga, the ooey-gooey improvisational dance form introduced by Ohad Naharin.

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Courtesy of NUVO Dance Convention

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Sitting Stretch: For Stretching Turnout Muscles at the Back of the Pelvis

Sit on the edge of a chair with knees at a 90-degree angle and feet flat on the floor. Cross the right ankle onto the left knee. Lace your hands together and nestle them under the right knee, lightly pressing energy into your hands and toward the floor (though the knee should not actually move). Sit up straight—some may already feel tension here.

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