BFAs for the Great White Way

Three college programs for aspiring triple threats.

 

Singing. Dancing. Acting. For college-bound students hoping to become the next triple threat, it’s often hard to find a dance program that nurtures all three—and few musical theater programs offer enough challenging courses for seriously trained dancers. Choosing the right school takes some digging and creative planning. For instance, dance majors can sometimes take advantage of a musical theater minor. Or, they can look for a musical theater major with a dance emphasis, such as Roosevelt University’s newly launched program. Below are three strong schools for aspiring triple threats to consider. —Amy Brandt

 

OKLAHOMA CITY UNIVERSITY

Located: Oklahoma City, OK

No. of dance majors: 193

Website: okcu.edu/dance

Degrees offered: BPA (bachelor of performing arts) in dance performance, BS in dance pedagogy, BS in dance management

Audition required: Yes (ballet, jazz, tap); voice presentations optional

Dance classes required: Tap, jazz, ballet, theater dance

Voice and acting classes required: Music fundamentals, class voice, private voice, acting

Performance opportunities: American Spirit Dance Company (2 main-stage shows, plus local performances and touring), 4 musicals (2 full-length), 4 operas, student choreography show

Opportunities for outside study: Students are encouraged to perform in summer stock theater/theme parks, including  Music Theatre of Wichita, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma and Busch Gardens. Summer internship organizations include Broadway Dance Center and Jacob’s Pillow.

Alumni: Broadway, Las Vegas, national tours, cruise ship productions, Radio City Rockettes, television, film, music videos

 

Above: OCU’s American Spirit Dance Company. Photo by John Bedford, Courtesy Oklahoma City University.

 

ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY

Located: Chicago, IL

No. of dance majors: 18 (22 incoming freshmen expected for 2014–15)

Website: roosevelt.edu

Degrees offered: BFA in musical theater—dance emphasis

Audition required: Yes (ballet, jazz, song, monologue)

Dance classes required: Ballet, jazz, tap, modern, hip hop, partnering, navigating song and dance, anatomy and kinesiology, dance pedagogy

Voice and acting classes required: Ensemble singing, piano, music theory, private voice, acting for the musical stage

Performance opportunities: 3 main-stage musicals, 3 main-stage plays, 4 freshman showcases, 4 musical theater showcases, 3 acting showcases

Opportunities for outside study: RU has internship programs with Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lookingglass Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Juniors and seniors may audition for outside productions.

Alumni: Broadway, off-Broadway, Chicago theater, national tours, film, television

 

Above: Roosevelt students in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Photo by Zeke Dolezaleck, Courtesy Roosevelt University.

 

POINT PARK UNIVERSITY

Located: Pittsburgh, PA

No. of dance majors: 240

Website: pointpark.edu

Degrees offered: BFA in dance, BA in dance, BA in dance pedagogy, minor in musical theater. Many musical theater dancers pursue a BFA (jazz concentration) and a musical theater minor.

Audition required: Yes (ballet, modern, jazz); audition for musical theater minor occurs sophomore year.

Dance classes required: Ballet, modern, jazz, anatomy, kinesiology, dance history, music fundamentals. Ballet concentrations take pointe/men’s class, pas de deux. Jazz and modern concentrations take contemporary partnering.

Voice and acting classes required: For musical theater minor: voice, private voice lessons, acting, musical theater techniques, piano/theory fundamentals, sight-singing fundamentals

Performance opportunities: 6 main-stage productions a year (including one full-length) plus The Nutcracker. Dancers can also audition for the theater department’s full-length musicals.

Opportunities for outside study: Dancers may pursue outside opportunities, but because of Point Park’s rigorous class and rehearsal schedule, they must be selective. Students may also study abroad for one semester.

Alumni: Broadway, national tours, Cirque du Soleil, ballet and contemporary companies, film, television

 

Above: Point Park University students in Oklahoma!. Photo by Jeff Swenson, Courtesy Point Park University.

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When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.

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