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Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Program in Dance

The BFA curriculum offers the serious and dedicated dance student professional training in classical ballet and contemporary modern dance, as well as an extensive curriculum in composition. Performance both on campus and on tour is an integral part of dance training at Purchase.

Our programs are designed to graduate individuals who will meet or exceed the prerequisites of the dance profession as a dancer and/or choreographer. Our curriculum and policies reflect a dedication to the development of your individual talent. A professional faculty provides a healthy learning environment in which you can feel safe and supported to take risks and reach toward your highest potential as an artist. Students bring the talent, discipline, and passion needed for personal growth and success. Our goal is to bring out the very best in technique, artistry, and creativity that our students can achieve.

BFA Concentrations

Students earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance. All students enter the conservatory program in the area of dance performance. If desired, students can apply to further focus their study with a concentration in ballet performance or composition. Concentration decisions are contingent upon Conservatory of Dance Board of Study approval.  Conservatory of Dance students in all concentrations are expected to maintain a grade of C or higher in all required Dance courses, excluding the Senior Project. A grade of C- or lower constitutes a failure to demonstrate successful academic or artistic progress. A student who receives grades of C- or lower for two or more semesters may no longer be eligible for scholarship funds and performance opportunities and may be dismissed from the Conservatory.

The Training Program

Performance is an integral and required part of the professional training program. The Purchase Dance Company (selected BFA students in the Conservatory of Dance) performs major concerts in the Performing Arts Center; student and faculty concerts in the Dance Theatre Lab; lecture demonstrations; and tours in New York City, New York State, and abroad. The program culminates in the senior project, for which each senior performs a solo or duet repertory piece, presents a choreographic project, completes a paper, and co-produces a concert as requirements for graduation.

New works and classics in both ballet and contemporary modern dance are prepared and rehearsed for performance each year. The choreography is licensed from major artists or created by faculty and guest artists.

Repertory for the Purchase Dance Company’s major concerts and tours has included George Balanchine’s Serenade, Valse–Fantaisie, The Four Temperaments, and Tarantella; Merce Cunningham’s Changing Steps, Duets, and Septet; Cynthia Gregory’s Solo; Lester Horton’s Beloved; Doris Humphrey’s The Shakers and Passacaglia; Bill T. Jones’ Spent Days Out Yonder and D-Man in the Waters; Lar Lubovitch’s Dvorak Serenade; Kenneth MacMillan’s Pas de Deux from Concerto; Dianne McIntyre’s Lyric Fire; Mark Morris’ Gloria, A Lake, and Grand Duo; Lin Hwai Min’s Crossing the Black Water; Stephen Petronio’s Lareigne; Paul Taylor’s Cloven Kingdom, Le Sacre du Printemps, Junction, and Company B; Twyla Tharp’s Sweet Fields; Doug Varone’s Strict Love, Possession, Rise and LUX; and The Nutcracker.

New choreography created for the Purchase Dance Company includes works by Matthew Neenan, Ori Flomin, Nicolo Fonte, Robert Hill, Loni Landon, Gregory Dolbashian, Jessica Lang, Helen Pickett, Claire Porter, Lauri Stallings, Pam Tanowitz, Shen Wei, Stanton Welch, and Luca Veggetti, as well as works by guest artists, emerging choreographers, alumni, and faculty.

Students receive advanced-level training in classical ballet technique. Emphasis is placed on correct body alignment, awareness of musical phrasing and performance, knowledge of classical ballet vocabulary, and understanding of training principles. Classes are taught on progressive levels of technical proficiency. In addition, there are partnering, pointe/variation, men’s classes, and concert repertory, which further develop specific skills required of the classically trained dancer.

Classical modern and contemporary dance techniques, originated by distinguished dance artists, are studied on progressive levels as a dynamic and developing art form. Technique is amplified by classes in modern partnering, improvisation and contact improvisation, the repertory of classic and current choreography, and collaboration with artists in other disciplines.

Dance Composition
The creative process of choreography is studied through a three-year program in dance composition preceded by one year of improvisation. Juniors present choreographic projects in preparation for their senior projects the following year. The program culminates in fully produced senior projects in composition, performed in the Dance Theatre Lab as a requirement for graduation. Student choreography is auditioned for student concerts, student/faculty concerts, and lecture/demonstrations.

The Conservatory of Dance has a strong commitment to the musical training of its students. This is reflected in the curriculum, which includes a historical survey of musical resources and courses that explore the shared elements of temporal arts (meter, tempo, rhythm, dynamics, texture, phrase, form, etc.), coaching for musicality, and score reading, together with extensive listening and analysis. Students receive hands-on percussion/rhythmic training and investigate the long relationship between music and dance history.

Dance History
In addition to training in technique and composition, students study the history of dance as an evolving form. Eight credits of dance history are a requirement for graduation and may be counted toward the liberal arts requirement (30 credits minimum) for the BFA.

Students supplement their movement practices with somatics courses designed to heighten their strength, stability, muscular balance, connection to breath, and neuromuscular connectivity. All students begin with course in Pilates and can complete their remaining somatics requirements in Alexander Technique, Pilates, yoga, massage, and continuum.

A course in anatomy helps students understand the biomechanical functioning of the dancing body. Students investigate the skeletal structure, muscles, tendons, and ligaments; movement range in joints; and injury care, cure, and prevention through the principles of Swedish massage.

Students’ schedules are rounded out with a wide variety of elective courses, allowing them to expand their knowledge of the diversity of the art form. Elective courses vary and may include dance styles (musical theatre, West African, jazz, text and movement, etc.), acting, documenting dance, and “Your Brain on Art.”

Undergraduate Core Curriculum

All BFA programs at Purchase College include core curriculum requirements.

Updated July 31, 2014

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For current majors:
Graduation Plans

In consultation with your faculty advisor, the
eight-semester plans can be used as a guide to assist you in your academic planning and progress toward graduation.

BFA Academic Requirements:
Dance Performance
Dance Composition
Dance Production

Student Learning Outcomes

DPB 1000–4999
DPC 1000–4999
DPD 1000–4999
DPM 1000–4999