University of South Carolina


Dance: What to Expect

The Dance program at the University of South Carolina has had a history of excellence for thirty years. The program attracts a cosmopolitan enrollment of students from across the country and abroad. As a Dance major, you will be exposed to experiences that will help you develop professional training performance, technique, and pedagogical experiences. The Bachelor of Arts with a major in Dance offers two concentrations: Performance and Choreography or Dance Education.

Students who choose to concentrate in Performance and Choreography will choose a focus in ballet or contemporary dance. The program has a strong concentration in both classical ballet as well as contemporary dance. It is known for its world-class repertory including works by George Balanchine, New York City Ballet, Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, David Parsons, Lila York, and Lynne Taylor Corbett. You will be exposed to dance techniques including classical ballet, contemporary dance, jazz, musical theatre, and world dance. These techniques will move you to technical advancement in preparation for the professional world of dance. Through coursework, you will learn to develop your abilities in critical and creative thinking, oral and written communication, research, abstract reasoning, and interpretive skills in addition to a comprehension of dance science in relationship to kinesiology for dancers, a knowledge of bones and muscles in relationship to movement

Students focusing on Dance Education will undergo a four-year program that leads to teacher certification in grades K-12. The minor is through the College of Education.

The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Dance:

  • The Dancer’s Body or Inner Mastery Through Movement
  • Dance Improvisation and Composition
  • Laban Movement Analysis
  • Dance Analysis and Criticism
  • Choreography I
  • Production Design for Dance

Dance majors with a concentration in performance and choreography will take additional courses including:

  • Senior Capstone Concert
  • Courses in both ballet and contemporary techniques

Dance majors with a concentration in Dance education will take additional courses including:

  • Dance Education I
  • Dance Education II: Creative Dance for Children
  • Dance Education III: Dance Pedagogy for Middle and High School
  • Synthesis of Dance Education Constructs
  • Integrated Approaches in Dance Education
  • Teaching Internship in Dance Education
  • Schools in Communities
  • Learners and the Diversity of Learning
  • Physical Education for Inclusion
  • Interdisciplinary Relationships in the Arts

Your initial acceptance into the Dance Performance and Choreography concentration is dependent upon a qualifying audition in ballet. There is a 15 to 1 student-faculty ratio in major specific courses. A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. You may also choose to intern, volunteer, or conduct research abroad. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Web site for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. As a Dance major you can join the National Dance Education Organization, Youth America Grand Prix, and South Carolina Dance Association.  You also can pursue the opportunity to perform with the USC Dance Company. The USC Dance Company is known for its professional standards and performance excellence from classical ballet to the contemporary repertory. As a Dance major, you will also have the opportunity to participate in the American College Dance Festival, which includes aster classes, workshops, and dance competition for the final Gala Performance. If you pursue the Dance education track, you can attend the South Carolina Dance Festival and the National Convention for National Dance Education Organization. Getting involved in an organization that interests you can help you network, meet new friends, and develop leadership skills. You can also seek out volunteer opportunities that relate to your major. Find a student organization on campus that interests you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. Many graduates go on to pursue graduate programs in Dance Education; Performance, Choreography and Dance Science; and Dance Design. Dance majors may also go on to pursue a Ph.D. in dance related areas such as Dance Anthropology, Kinesiology, Education, Arts Management, and History.
Distinguished Faculty can help enhance your overall academic experience while at the University. The Dance program has countless outstanding faculty members who positively contribute to the students’ experience at the University. Susan Anderson, Director of USC Dance Company, is the recipient of the Governors Award Professor of the Year and the Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award. Dr. Mila Parrish is nationally and internationally recognized for her work in dance pedagogy, educational technology, and multimedia development. Stacey Calvert was a soloist and principal dancer with New York City Ballet and Myra Strasberg was a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet and is known for the artistry and human quality that she brought to the stage. Thaddeus Davis was featured in Dance Magazine’s January 2002 issue as one of the “25 to Watch in the World.” The premiere of his first choreographic work, “Once Before Twice After,” was named one of the top ten moments in dance for 2002 by the New York Times. Tanya Wideman-Davis has been noted by New York Dance Fax as “distinctive for the power of her secure pointe work and her personality” and has received the international acclaim and was given the honor of “Best Female Dancer of 2001-2001” by Dance Europe magazine.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding entering freshmen or current students. Each year the Theatre and Dance Department offers a variety of scholarships for Dance majors.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands-on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market. Dance majors at the University have had a wide range of exciting and unique internship opportunities.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Dance majors at USC have been a part of the Magellan Scholars Program that has a research component through Dance Education. Students also have the unique opportunity to intern in Dance Performance with USC’s professional Dance company residence, Wideman-Davis Dance. Ongoing research and internships occur through numerous grants such as the dance and community outreach program. The USC Dance Conservatory, the pre-professional dance training program for K-12 young dancers, provides opportunities to student teach and assist with professional teaching staff in ballet, contemporary, jazz, musical theatre, tap, and performance.

Career Opportunities

Dance majors often seek careers as Dance instructors, choreographers and professional performers. Many also seek careers in dance studio management, college or teaching, management of an arts organization, work with fitness centers, dance therapy through dance science, writing and dance criticism, and historic work in dance history and cultural dance. Dance majors with a focus on Dance Education receive Teacher Certification for grades K-12 and are often placed in schools as dance educators.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

Alumni Spotlight

Katie Hilliger began dancing at a young age and continued her passion at the University of South Carolina as a Dance Education major. “Dance has had a tremendous impact on who I am, my work ethic, and my confidence,” she said. “From a young age I wanted to share this art with others and hopefully affect them in the same ways.” Katie has used her Dance Education major in a variety of capacities. She is currently working as the Dance Program Director for Tumble Tree After School Program, the Dance Team Coach for the University of South Carolina’s Carolina Coquettes, and a teacher and Tap Program Director for Columbia City Jazz. Katie wears several hats on a day-to-day basis. As the Dance Program Director at Tumble Tree, Katie is the sole curriculum writer for its programs, teaches classes five days a week, manages all dance employees, handles all parent communication, recruits new schools, and develops new programs for different age groups.  In her role as coach for the Carolina Coquettes, Katie trains the team in dance technique, choreographs their shows, designs and order costumes and all other apparel, schedules appearances, and coordinates fundraising events. With the Columbia City Jazz, Katie’s responsibilities include teaching technique and creating pieces to be performed at recitals and competitions throughout the year. “It is so exciting to teach others about my greatest passion every day,” Katie said. Not only is Katie in a career that she is passionate about, but she is able to enjoy perks such as visiting multiple SEC football stadiums and traveling to bowl games with the Carolina Coquettes. “It is incredible to get such great perks from a job that is already so much fun,” she said.

The Dance Education curriculum at the University of South Carolina helped prepare Katie for a successful career in the field. “Through this program, I was prepared in many different styles of dance, the choreographic method, the process of rehearsing and organizing shows, dance history, and the styles and background of choreographers. Katie also had the opportunity to complete practicums in public schools while a student. “This gave me an opportunity to practice different teaching strategies and disciplinary methods on all types of children. The Dance Education program is extensive and rigorous, but I found that all of the time and effort was worth it.” While at the University of South Carolina, Katie took several steps to help prepare her for a career in dance education. She gained invaluable experience as a work study student in the Dance Department, served as a cofounder and director on the first ever Tap, Jazz, and Musical Theatre Showcase at the University of South Carolina, and worked off campus at a local studio to practice her teaching and disciplinary methods. Katie encourages current Dance Education students to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. “You have to grow and learn, because once you graduate, inexpensive professional development is hard to find. Create a learning community with people you trust,” she said. “Stay positive about the amount of work you have to do because it’s only practice for your future career. Network early so that your name is already out there when it comes time to get a job. And lastly, update your resume frequently, because if you don’t, you’ll forget to record all of the incredible experiences you’ve had!”

About the Department of Theatre and Dance

The Department of Theatre and Dance offers a Bachelor of Arts with a major in theatre, and a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Dance with concentrations in Dance Performance and Dance Education. All undergraduate degrees require students to actively participate in departmental productions. The department maintains an active guest artist program bringing in professional directors, choreographers, actors, dancers, and designers from all over the world to work with students. The Department of Theatre and Dance at USC is the only school in South Carolina that offers a Masters of Fine Arts in theatre, the highest degree possible in the fields of design and performance. The Department of Theatre and Dance boasts outstanding facilities including the Longstreet Theatre, the best arena theatre in the southeast. The Department of Theatre and Dance is in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Points of Pride

  • The Department of Theatre and Dance has 19 full-time faculty members that have won awards for their ongoing research in playwriting, directing, choreography, and design for theatre and film.
  • A number of students have won Magellan Scholarships for research.
  • Many undergraduate students are working professionally in dance, theatre, and film.
Additional Resources.
Department of Theatre and Dance Website
College of Arts and Sciences Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin