wide angle of dancer jumping into the air on stage

BFA – Dance

BFA Dance: The Big Picture

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance combines a conservatory-based approach to training within a liberal arts curriculum to prepare students for their lives and careers as performing artists. We are dedicated to a program that is welcoming and inclusive of diverse viewpoints and lived experiences, including gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and culture.

The Dance Division holistically educates its students by developing and cultivating a deep knowledge of dance in many facets. We seek to enhance the student’s mind/body connection and their technical facility; encourage their sense of play, creativity and critical thinking; deepen their appreciation/understanding of the historical and cultural relevance of dance in our global society; and promote their engagement as global citizens as well as their understanding of the democratic principles that enable them to be free-thinking artists. We continue to evolve our anti-biased, anti-racist stance to affect learning and teaching. We actively work to revise curriculum and course content to be inclusive of all people.

Dance is a powerful art form that encourages communication and helps us find our commonalities as well as celebrating uniqueness. In the many hours of dance classes and rehearsals, our dance majors come to know their classmates with an intimacy that very few people in other fields will ever experience. By participating fully in this spirit of team-consciousness, they develop humanity and citizenship in equal proportion to performance abilities. We believe that these qualities are absolutely vital in today’s world.

We offer ample opportunities to choreograph and perform on campus as well as off campus at locations such as the American College Dance Association conferences, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the Joyce Theater and the 92nd Street Y in New York City. All dance majors, including Freshmen, perform every semester.

Our proximity to Manhattan allows us to attract outstanding faculty and prominent guest artists who work closely with students each semester. With Manhattan just 30 minutes away, students connect with both world-class dance productions and numerous internship opportunities.

For 2022-2023, DanceUS.org has named Montclair State University as having one of the 25 “Best College Dance Programs” in the United States: https://www.danceus.org/news-trends/best-college-dance-programs-usa/#NEWJERSEY

What You Will Study

The BFA Dance curriculum consists of 86 credits in Dance, 28 credits in General Education, and 6 credits of Free Electives. Courses include:

  • Daily classes in Contemporary, Modern, Jazz, or Ballet
  • West African Dance
  • CambodianDance
  • Kathak
  • Latin/Ballroom
  • Capoeira
  • Health and Wellness
  • Improvisation
  • Choreography
  • Dance History of the USA
  • Somatics
  • Music for Dancers
  • Digital Technology and Dance
  • Dance Science
  • Pedagogy
  • A range of dance electives building on foundational dance courses
Many students pursue a dance major alongside a major or minor in another field of study.

Montclair’s reasonable tuition costs mean that you can pursue a major in dance and a concurrent major in any of our 250 fields of study. Or, you can major in dance and pursue a minor in another field.

BFA Dance Curriculum

Careers in Dance

Performance Opportunities

BFA Dance majors maintain extensive rehearsal and performance schedules that include opportunities to perform works choreographed by faculty and guest artists. Students also choreograph, produce and perform their own original works.

The Dance Division presents three annual dance concert series as well as several less formal productions. In addition, student dancers often perform off campus at schools and professional performance venues in New York City and beyond. Visit our Productions and Image/Media Gallery pages to see examples of current and past student performances.

Students learn by watching as well as doing. You will be able to attend more than 500 professional events on campus each year, including those presented by the Theatre and Dance Department as well as by Montclair’s Peak Performances program of theatre, dance and music productions. Students – who are sometimes cast alongside seasoned performers and renowned actors – are admitted FREE to these campus events.

Study Abroad Opportunities

The Dance Division offers study abroad opportunities once a year to various locations including Sweden, Spain, India, and Panama. Accompanied by dance faculty for these 10-16 day visits, students take classes at local universities and studios, attend performances, and visit major landmarks and museums.

Our Faculty

More than 75 permanent faculty members and visiting professionals – including internationally renowned celebrity guest artists and artists-in-residence – mentor our Theatre and Dance students each semester. These working professionals teach, choreograph and share insights (gleaned from their professional experiences in the “real world” of dance) with students in workshops and master classes. Faculty mentoring often leads to opportunities beyond the classroom.

Dance Facilities

Montclair State boasts exceptional performance facilities with impressive technical specifications. Students  perform in three well-equipped theaters, including the state-of-the-art Alexander Kasser Theater; the 946-seat Memorial Auditorium, and our Black Box Theatre. The Dance Division also has primary use of four rehearsal studios – one of which boasts a view of the NYC skyline.

This exceptional range of performance and rehearsal spaces reflects industry standards and prepares students for future performances in a variety of settings.

Awards and Accreditation

Montclair State Dance and Dance Education majors are recognized regionally and nationally for their accomplishments as performers. Nearly every year, Montclair students compete in the regional component of the American College Dance Association and often move on to compete at the national level at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. They regularly return home with awards recognizing their excellence in choreographic presentations, ensemble work, and performance.

Montclair State University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD): https://nasd.arts-accredit.org

We have been designated a 2023 DEL Lab School, through the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y in New York City. 

Apply Now

To apply to the BFA Dance Program, or to any Department of Theatre and Dance program, please visit Department Admissions.

For additional information about our programs, please visit us to tour our facilities and/or plan to attend one of our Arts Days and Open Houses.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dance at Montclair State

Entry into all programs begins with passing the Dance Audition.

What are your degrees/concentrations in Dance?

  • BFA in Dance — focus on choreography and performance
  • BA in Dance with two teaching concentrations:
    • Dance Education with PK-12 teacher certification to teach in NJ public schools
    • Dance Studio Teaching
      • Please note that BA in Dance students all enter as Dance Studio Teaching, and may choose to apply separately in their sophomore year for Dance Education after completing 2 prerequisite education courses and passing a Praxis exam.
      • BA and BFA students take most of their dance classes together.
    • MFA in Dance — low residency graduate degree for returning professionals

Are there scholarship opportunities?

  • We provide generous artistic merit, academic merit, and need-based scholarships to in-state and out-of-state students.
  • There are other scholarships administered through the College of the Arts that students may apply for once they are here at the university.

What are the advantages to attending Montclair State as a Dance major?

  • We nurture students in developing their unique voices as dancers, teachers, and choreographers in a supportive community that values each individual and also emphasizes teamwork.
  • We offer the best of both worlds in terms of city and suburbia — Montclair State is a sprawling suburban campus with trees and wildlife, yet we are also only 14 miles from Manhattan. A bus and train to and from NYC’s Port Authority and Penn Station stop on campus.
  • Being so close to NYC, many of our teachers and choreographers are working professionals in the city. This offers our students top-notch training and performance experiences while at the same time allowing them to create networks in NYC that will help them post-graduation. Here is a sample of choreographers whose work has been set on our students: Jennifer Archibald, Tweet Boogie, Camille A. Brown, Roderick George, Martha Graham, Pat Graney, Bill T. Jones, Larry Keigwin, José Limón, Michelle Manzanales, Susan Marshall, Donald McKayle, Earl Mosley, Alwin Nikolais, Ohad Naharin, Emmanuale Phuon, Helen Pickett, Ellenore Scott, Bradley Shelver, Anna Sokolow, Yusha-Marie Sorzano, Paul Taylor, Antony Tudor, and Doug Varone.
  • We have an extraordinary record at the American College Dance Association events, being chosen to present pieces at more national festivals than any other university.
  • We are ranked as one of the top 25 college dance programs in the USA: Best College Dance Programs for 2022-2023 in USA | DanceUs.org
  • We are accredited through the National Association of Schools of Dance (National Association of Schools of Dance)  which has high standards for dance programs and assesses programs every 10 years.
  • We have been designated a 2023 DEL Lab School, through the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y.

 May students double major?

  • Dance students have the opportunity to double major or pursue a minor in another area. Popular double majors and minors for our dance students are: Musical Theatre, Communication Studies, Psychology, Nutrition, and Business.

What is the audition process for transfer students?

A transfer student is anyone who has been enrolled in a regionally accredited college or university after graduating from high school.

  • Both internal and external transfer students applying to the dance division must register for an audition and submit a pre-screen video.
  • Internal students are not required to complete an application but must submit all other required materials.
  • Depending on the number of transferable credits, a student will enter as a freshman, sophomore or junior.

What kinds of work do your students do post-graduation?

  • Our students work in the performance field in dance companies such as: MOMIX, Limón Dance Company, Camille A. Brown and Dancers, Antonio Brown Dance, Buglisi Dance Theatre, Martha Graham 2nd Company, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Pilobolus, Company SBB, Freespace Dance Company, Nimbus Dance Works, Roxey Ballet, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Streb Extreme Action; on Broadway, on cruise ships, and at Disneyworld and other theme parks.
  • As teachers, they work in colleges/universities, public schools, private schools, studios, and community centers. Some own and operate their own studios.
  • They operate their own dance companies, such as Umoja Dance, Freespace Dance, five two Dance Company, and Padierna Dance Project. 
  • Our graduates also find work in arts administration and in production management.
  • Many graduates have pursued advanced degrees in higher education.

What are the performance and choreography opportunities for students?

  • We have 3 major concert series a year: Fall Dance (faculty and guest choreographers), Dance Makers (student choreography), and Spring Dance (faculty and guest choreographers). All students perform in Fall Dance and may audition to perform in Dance Makers and Spring Dance.
  • Our senior dance majors produce and choreograph their own concerts at the end of the fall and spring semesters, and all students may audition to be part of this performance opportunity.
  • There are also opportunities to perform off campus. In NYC, we have performed at the Joyce Theatre, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the 92nd Street Y, the Martha Graham Studio Theatre, and the Mark Morris studios. Each year, we perform at the American College Dance Association conferences.
  • All freshmen perform in Fall Dance and participate in our outdoor performance On Display at the end of the Spring semester. They may audition for other concerts, and many are selected. We believe performing on stage is vital in the development of a dancer.
  • Students may present their own choreography in our informal rawART showings or in our by-audition student concert Dance Makers performed in the Spring. There is also an advanced choreography course, Creative Collaborations, in which our students collaborate with writers and art majors from other universities.
  • Students may take the course Dance Performance in Schools in which students create and learn choreography and then go “on tour” to local K-12 schools.

How is the curriculum balanced between dance courses and liberal arts?

  • Our students take 8-10 modern, contemporary, jazz, somatics, and ballet classes a week. They have rehearsals in the afternoons and evenings. Over the course of 4 years, they take: dance improvisation; 3-4 choreography courses, American dance history; one or more of the following: West African, Capoeira, Latin Ballroom, Cambodian, or Kathak; dance science (study of anatomy and kinesiology); music for dancers; digital media for dance; production elements (the study of basic production concepts such as costume and lighting design); somatics and self-care (a course focused on building strong physical and emotional connections to help students with the rigors of a dance career); music for dancers; and 1-2 dance teaching courses. In addition, they take around 25-35 credits in General Education courses depending on the dance degree they are pursuing.
  • Dance majors also have the opportunity to take electives such as Dance Film, Pointe, Dance Performance in Schools, Black Dance in the USA, and Physical Theatre.

What is a typical day for a freshman?

  • Freshmen usually start their days with 2 technique classes in ballet and modern and then take other dance courses and/or academic classes in the afternoons. They have rehearsals in the late afternoons or evenings. Students take 1-2 non-dance academic courses per semester.

For more information, contact:

Elizabeth McPherson
Director of Dance Division

Susan Pope,
Program Coordinator, BA Dance

Maxine Steinman
Program Coordinator, BFA Dance

Christina Paolucci
 Audition Coordinator, Dance