The Major

How does the body speak? What physical, cultural and aesthetic principles inform the embodiment and skillful practice of different dance traditions? How is choreography inspired and developed and what are the key tools of its craft?

The dance major offers the opportunity to investigate these and other questions through a curriculum of core courses and areas of concentration emphasizing technical training, creative practice and critical/theoretical understanding.  The major is designed to prepare students for dance careers in choreography and performance; science, somatics and arts therapies; education and community engagement; and history, theory and criticism.  

The department is renowned for its extensive studio offerings in ballet technique, contemporary/modern technique, and repertory/performance, as well as its rotating offerings in West African dance, hip hop, tap, jazz, Indian classical dance, Tango, contact improvisation and musical theatre. Theory courses range from Scientific Foundations in Dance to Studies in Dance History, Analysis of Rhythm and Choreography. This range of courses is further augmented by more than one hundred theory and studio courses offered annually through the Five College Dance Department.

Requirements for the Major:

Majors, minors, and special majors are required to work backstage crew for two MHC dance concerts.


48 credits with 36 credits from the core curriculum and 12 credits from a declared area of concentration.The dance major’s program is designed in consultation with her advisor and approval of the department chair.

Core Courses

  • Dance 171: Studies in Dance History (4 cr)
  • Dance 241: Scientific Foundations (4 cr)
  • Dance 151: Elementary Composition (4cr)
  • Dance 272  Dance and Culture (4 cr)
  • Dance 287: Analysis of Rhythm from a Dancer’s Perspective (4 cr)
  • Dance 390:  Senior Seminar (2 cr fall and 2 cr spring)
  • Six 2-credit dance courses (12 cr) of technique in at least two idioms

Concentrations:  Dance majors may create their own concentration, supported by the Five College curriculum, with approval of the department chair.

Each concentration consists of 12 additional credits with a minimum of 8 credits at the 300-level.Planning for each concentration may include, but is not limited to, the courses listed below.In some cases, courses from other departments may be substituted for the concentrations and require the approval of the department chair.

Choreography and Performance:

  • Dance 252:  Intermediate Composition (4 cr)
  • Dance 309:  Repertory and Theory or Classical Ballet Variations (4 cr)
  • Dance 353:  Advanced Composition (4 cr)
  • Dance 387:  Rhythmic Analysis II (4 cr)
  • Two 2-credit 300-level technique or repertory courses

Dance Science, Somatics and Arts Therapies

  • Dance 285:  Laban Movement Analysis (4 cr)
  • HACU 247:  The Sustainable Self:  Resources for Body and Mind (4 cr)
  • Dance 342: Advanced Scientific Foundations of Dance (4 cr)
  • Dance 377:  Advanced Studies, Special Topics (4 cr)
  • UMASS Kin:  311 Anatomy of Human Motion (4 cr)

History, Theory and Criticism

  • UMASS Dance 273:  Dance Studies (4 cr)
  • Dance 368:  Writing About Dance (4 cr)
  • Dance 377: Advanced Studies: Special Topics (4 cr)
  • HACU: 311:  The Round Table: Research in Dance (4 cr)

The Minor

Requirements for the Minor

The dance minor is intended to provide a well-rounded and in-depth introduction to dance as an art form. All minors must be approved by the department chair. Additionally, minors must serve on crew for two dance concerts.


A minimum of 24 credits


  • Dance 171: Studies in Dance History (4 cr)
  • Dance 241: Scientific Foundations of Dance (4 cr)
  • Dance 151: Elementary Composition (4 cr)
  • Dance 272: Dance and Culture
  • A minimum of two courses of dance technique or repertory (Dance 305) (4 cr)
  • An additional 4 credits at the 300 level, either in theory or technique (4 cr)

Please consult the Five College Dance Department website at for up to-date listings, faculty, and guest artists.

Special Majors

Students whose interests cross department lines in an area where no interdisciplinary major exists may plan a special major incorporating work in two or more departments. Students are expected to work closely with their faculty advisors to create a plan that is academically and educationally rigorous.Each year, 30 to 40 students graduate with a special major. Recent examples include astrophysics, biomedical ethics, musical theatre, neurochemistry, political art, urban studies, and wildlife biology.

Teacher Licensure in Dance

Students interested in pursuing licensure in the field of dance can combine their course work in dance with a minor in education. In some instances, course work in the major coincides with course work required for licensure; in other cases, it does not. Students wishing to pursue teacher licensure should consult the dance department chair and schedule an initial advising appointment with Sarah Frenette, Coordinator of Teacher Licensure.