Elon’s Department of Performing Arts is recognized for providing conservatory-style training in a liberal arts setting. Elon offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance performance and choreography. The program features a unique and intensive course of study designed to give you the knowledge, experience and professional exposure you need to build a successful career as a dancer, choreographer or graduate student.
At Elon, dance students receive 21st century dance training with a focus on technical training, creative exploration, choreographic skills, body-mind centering knowledge and collaborative dance-making. You will grow and develop with dynamic professors who teach you to sharpen your dance technique, hone your creative skills, cultivate your dance artistry and deepen your understanding of all aspects of dance.
Dance students don’t have to wait in line to perform on stage. Beginning your first semester, you will have many opportunities to participate in a variety of concerts, showcases and stage productions, and you will make valuable professional contacts by participating in festivals, workshops, master classes and auditions.
“The BFA Dance Program encourages you to set aside expectation and anticipation, and instead, creates a community where your ideas are fostered, molded, and given life. My dance education at Elon has allowed me to carve out a space in the professional world where I feel confident in my ability to be a present, powerful, moving being, capable of endless exploration."
Elon’s dance curriculum is a performance and creative-based program designed to prepare students for a professional performance or creative career in dance. Students refine their technical dancing by completing the required advanced levels of ballet and modern dance while choosing studio electives from jazz, tap, world dance and musical theatre dance. They also learn the latest concepts and techniques of somatic-based movement, such as structural yoga for dancers, classical Pilates and experiential anatomy.
You will be immersed in the creative dance process through improvisation courses and two levels of choreography. You will study the history of dance, design for dance (costume, lighting and set), makeup techniques and dance electives such as partnering, dance and video, dance education, dance philosophy, dance science, contact improvisation, Fosse and other topics.
Along the way, students receive expert guidance in preparing professional résumés, mastering auditions, making industry contacts and other skills necessary to translate their talents into professional contracts. Dance students leave Elon as mature, versatile performers and choreographers ready to make their mark in the professional dance world.
"The [dance] program introduced me to an extraordinary world of discovery where my creative knowledge, ability, and sense of self were encouraged, cultivated, and most importantly, refined. The personal attention I received, the bond that was formed among the students and the breadth of experience and dedication from the faculty encouraged all of us to master our artistry. Elon is a home and the Dance Program is a family!”
The dance program produces two mainstage dance concerts each year featuring the Elon Dance Company, a student dance company. Dancing in the Black Box is held in the fall semester and features experimental faculty and student choreography. The spring dance concert centers around a specific theme chosen by the director and highlights faculty and guest artist choreography.
Additional performance opportunities include Dance in the Landscape, a site-specific dance concert held each September; Tapped Out!, held each January; and the senior dance thesis projects, held each February. Student choreographers have many opportunities to present their work including the Choreography Salon, DanceWorks, Tapped Out, NC Dance Alliance Conference and the American College Dance Festival Conference.
Elon’s dance faculty are working professionals dedicated to their art and trained educators committed to your artistic development. Accomplished visiting artists and part-time faculty members enhance our full-time faculty.
Lauren Winslow Kearns, associate professor and coordinator of the dance program, is a professional choreographer having choreographed more than 50 professionally produced dance pieces nationally and internationally. She is the award winning artistic director of the kearns dance project, a professional dance company that premiered at the 2007 American Dance Festival. She holds an M.F.A. in dance and an M.A. in dance education from UCLA, a B.A. in theatre arts from Long Island University and national certifications in Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Alignment Yoga, and in Classical Pilates.
Cherie Bower, assistant professor, holds a B.F.A. from the North Carolina School of the Arts and an M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She worked extensively with Agnes de Mille as a member of the Agnes de Mille Heritage Dance Theater and in the Broadway revival of “Brigadoon.” She has served as artistic director/choreographer for two studios, taught ballet for the North Carolina Dance Alliance and performed for the North Carolina Dance Festival.
Lynne Kurdizel Formato, associate professor, is a professional director/choreographer and a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. She has more than 30 years of experience and 300 productions to her credit, including shows at Tennessee Repertory Theater, Artpark, Dollywood, Studio Arena Theatre and Arkansas Repertory Theatre. She has been a guest artist/presenter for numerous organizations.
Jane Wellford, professor, teaches dance and movement education courses. She received her B.F.A. in theatre from St. Andrews Presbyterian College and her M.F.A. in dance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is a member of the North Carolina Dance Alliance, Sacred Dance Guild, American Dance Festival and is a former dance mistress for the Alamance Civic Dance Company. Wellford directs the Moving Liturgy Dance Ensemble, a professional company that performs nationally.
As a dance major, you will learn and perform in spacious dance studios with mirrored walls and state-of-the-art sound equipment. You will perform in the intimate Black Box Theatre and McCrary Theatre, a large, fully equipped theatre and concert hall in Elon’s Center for the Arts.
All dance majors gain valuable real-world experience before graduating. Each year, students and faculty have the opportunity to attend major conferences, including the North Carolina Dance Festival and the American College Dance Festival. Students also are encouraged to complete internships to enhance their resumes. In the past, dance students have worked with the prestigious American Dance Festival at Duke University, Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Mark Morris Dance Group, Parsons Dance Company, Boston Ballet, City Dance Ensemble, and have served as performers and choreographers for summer stock and community venues.
Elon’s job placement rate among performing artists is excellent. Recent graduates are dancing with New York, Seattle, and Washington D.C. companies as well as regional companies in the Southeast, showcasing their own choreography and performing in national tours. Other graduates continue their training in graduate school. Elon students have been accepted at institutions including Smith College, Lesley University, Philadelphia University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.