Starting this fall, students of Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, will be able to major in dance. This is the school’s first new major since 1998. The 46-year-old dance program has allowed liberal arts students to minor, with a curriculum that balances modern and ballet technique, composition, performance and theory.
Carol Dilley, director of dance, has been instrumental in the new major’s creation. “Part of the pressure to create this major has come from our students,” Dilley says. “Dancers are such driven people, and our students have taken everything we offer. We’ve been graduating minors with more credits in dance than they earn for their majors.” Even with the longtime dance program and the wildly successful summer Bates Dance Festival (now in its 29th year), the chief obstacle to getting the major running was hiring another full-time teacher. The plan is to add a new tenure-track position for fall 2012.
One immediate change in programming: Majors will be required to attend the Bates Dance Festival for a summer. And more long-term, Dilley hopes to expand Bates’ dance offerings. “We have many students who are in both dance and education, or dance and psychology,” she says. “We’d like to create a specific dance education program for them.”
Photo: Bates dance students perform a work by Niles Ford (by Ebbe Sweet, courtesy of Bates College)