Get a taste of the professional world while earning your degree.
Your first dancing job after college can be a bit of a culture shock. But what if you already had firsthand knowledge of what professional life is like? College dance departments that have their own companies allow dancers to experience the ins and outs of being in a company, with opportunities to learn historic repertoire, perform around the world and work with top dancemakers. “Students learn the rigor of a professional artistic practice,” says Christal Brown, chair of the dance program at Middlebury College. “It prepares them to enter the field armed with the discipline, self-motivation and skills to be successful.”
OU’s Oklahoma Festival Ballet. Photo by Wendy Mutz, courtesy OU.
University of Oklahoma
Degrees offered: BFA in ballet performance, ballet pedagogy or modern dance performance; minor in dance history
No. of majors: 80
The companies: Oklahoma Festival Ballet and Contemporary Dance Oklahoma. Each has about 36 dancers, who must re-audition every semester. The companies hold two daytime and four evening rehearsals a week, plus six hours of class and rehearsal on Saturdays.
Recent repertoire: Carla Maxwell, Jock Soto, Francia Russell, Jessica Lang and Paul Sutherland have staged work, including José Limón’s There is a Time, Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, Balanchine works and new creations. Company members also have opportunities to choreograph.
Performance opps: There are about 20 performances per year on campus. The companies have toured to Austria, France, Japan and Mexico.
Alumni: Recent graduates are dancing with Ballet West, Nashville Ballet and Ballet Hispanico.
The Dance Company of Middlebury. Photo by Joshua Bisset, courtesy Middlebury.
Degree offered: BA in dance, minor
No. of majors: About 60
The company: The Dance Company of Middlebury, with 6–10 members. All Middlebury students can audition after their freshman year. The company rehearses at least eight hours a week during the fall, and travels during the school’s winter term.
Recent repertoire: A different artist teaches a pre-semester workshop each year. Past guests include Sara Procopio and Makeda Thomas. Others who have set work are Ayo Janeen Jackson, Paloma McGregor, and Joshua Bisset and Laura Quattrocchi of Shua Group.
Performance opps: The company performs on campus and tours every year. It’s traveled to New Orleans, New York City, the Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Alumni: Recent grads have performed with Mark Lamb Dance, and started their own companies and artist residencies.
UT Austin’s Dance Repertory Theatre. Photo by Lawrence Peart, courtesy UT Austin.
University of Texas at Austin
Degrees offered: BFA in dance or dance studies, BA in theater and dance
No. of majors: 75 BFAs, 20 BAs
The company: Dance Repertory Theatre. All BFA students are required to become members during their second year, and many BA students are invited to join. DRT is part of a larger course that meets Monday through Friday, two hours a day.
Recent repertoire: The company has performed Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, and works by Paul Taylor, Sidra Bell, Mark Morris and Kate Watson-Wallace. Faculty members and students also choreograph.
Performance opps: There are three major concerts on campus each year, and DRT performs at high schools, community colleges and the American College Dance Association.
Alumni: Graduates have danced with Diavolo, BODYTRAFFIC, The Foundry and LEVYdance. n