University of Rochester

Dance Grows as a Field of Academic Study at Rochester

April 29, 2011

Starting in the fall of 2011, the program of dance and movement will offer two accredited minors designed to develop students' understanding of dance both as an art form and as a cultural phenomenon.

According to the program's director, Missy Pfohl Smith, Dance and Movement is a unique program that currently offers students a wide variety of course options for both dance and movement as electives, as well as four options for a cluster. "Many national college dance programs with majors do not have nearly the diversity of offerings that we have," said Smith.

Over the past two years, Smith and Robert Loughridge, former interim co-director of the program, added several courses that focus more on dance technique and performance in order to provide students with more extensive training in areas such as contemporary dance, African dance, ballet, yoga, and more. According to Smith, the newly strengthened dance component in the program, coupled with the recently forged relationships with the 14 student dance groups on campus provided the department the opportunity to introduce the new minors.

"We already engage a significant number of students and believe we can attract even more within our courses and clubs interested in taking a more serious approach to dance," said Smith. Student enrollment has grown 47 percent over a period of three years from 397 students in 2007 to 584 students in the 2010.

The new minors are designed around the program's current offerings and Smith hopes to continue to increase courses through new partnerships with women's studies, theatre, African and African American studies, anthropology, music, religion, and other departments and programs.

"It is important that our students recognize dance as a scholarly endeavor," said Smith. "Regardless of a student's career path, a minor in dance will help enhance their appreciation for, and involvement in, the art."

Both minors consist of a minimum of 26 credits. Students who have taken previous dance courses can apply those credits toward the minors, but no more than two courses included in a major may be counted toward the minor. The minors were approved by the College Curriculum Committee and by the Faculty Council in Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. For more information about the minors, visit