A degree in dance can pave the way to a variety of careers in the performing arts, including performing, choreography, education, private teaching, and in related areas such as arts management, technical theater, or dance and physical therapy.
Dance students at Iowa enjoy multiple performance opportunities. Earning the degree involves course work in choreography, dance technique, human anatomy, and history as well as the broad liberal arts education provided for all University of Iowa students.
Why Study at Iowa
Iowa's dance program is widely considered to be one of the top 10 in the country, and it has an outstanding national reputation for its high standards and tradition of excellence in teaching and creative productions.
The late choreographer Alwin Nikolais described it as: "one of the best (programs) in the United States ... broad, yet professionally detailed, and handled with very experienced skill."
Dance students enjoy opportunities to perform in 10-12 productions each year and frequently collaborate with students in Iowa's music and theatre arts programs to present operas and theatrical performances coordinated by the Iowa Division of Performing Arts.
Faculty members in the Department of Dance include accomplished performers and internationally recognized professionals. Guest residencies bring outstanding artists in the field to campus for instruction through workshops and lectures.
Non-dance majors are eligible to take courses in ballet, jazz, modern, tap, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian Carnival, improvisation, and yoga.
Iowa offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in dance.
The BA program emphasizes a rigorous studio curriculum combined with a broad liberal arts background. You'll meet the degree requirements through course work, concert productions, and independent projects. The degree encompasses technical and creative practice, body science, theoretical studies in dance, and other areas of inquiry.
Students in the BFA program, which has more extensive admission requirements than the BA program, experience deeper immersion in choreography, performance, and technique. BFA students must show outstanding commitment, advanced technical ability, and exceptional creativity, and must maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.50 in dance courses.
Students in both programs take these courses:
- Human Anatomy
- Introduction to Dance Studies
- Dance Production
- Production Run Crew
- Music Essentials for Dance
- Dance and Society
- Dance Kinesiology
- Dance History
- Choreography I–II
The curriculum also includes technique courses in ballet, modern dance, ballet pointe, jazz, Brazilian Carnival, Laban Movement Studies, Introduction to Alexander Technique, and/or Afro-Cuban Dance, depending on your degree objective (BA or BFA).
See Dance in the UI General Catalog for information about course work for each degree program and graduating with honors.
Minor in Dance
See Dance in the UI General Catalog for more information.
BA students must meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. BFA students must first apply and be admitted to the BA program. Requirements for admission to the BFA program include earning 30 semester hours at the University of Iowa and showing exceptional academic and professional promise.
All students must audition for acceptance to the minor, BA, and BFA programs in dance. Auditions are offered four times per year for entering students.
Admission Requirements Tabs
Dance majors may enjoy living in the Arts Living-Learning Community in the residence halls with other students majoring in performing arts.
Dance students have frequent opportunities to perform, including during annual student and faculty productions staged at Space Place Theater in North Hall; through Dancers in Company, the university’s dance touring company; and in the department’s annual Dance Gala concert.
The Undergraduate Dance Organization plays a vital role in supporting and generating student participation in departmental events.
Faculty, Facilities, and Resources
Iowa's dance faculty members engage in regional, national, and international dance activities by teaching, staging their choreography, and presenting papers.
Eight full-time dance professors specialize in various teaching areas. In the studio area, ballet and modern dance training are emphasized equally.
Students work closely with faculty members and may dance in faculty dance works. Students also receive individual attention from faculty through performance coaching and student project advising.
The department’s home in Halsey Hall features six technique studios, a media library and classroom, music studio, Pilates lab, and student lounge. Space Place Theater in North Hall is the department’s 220-seat performance space.
Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.
Careers for Iowa dance majors include professional work in performing, choreography, education, private teaching, and related areas such as arts management, technical theater, or dance and physical therapy. Many graduates from our program are currently working in arts organizations throughout the United States.
The discipline and creative challenges of dance training transfer well to other careers. Students have combined dance with a second major in another field, such as business or communication.
Application Process Tabs
Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.