Twenty-first century dance training
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.
A challenging curriculum
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!
Excellent performance and creative opportunities
The dance program produces three main stage dance productions each year featuring the dance majors. Dancing in the Landscape is a site-specific dance production which takes place on campus during Family Weekend. The Fall Dance Concert 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 the Red Circle Showcase, the senior dance thesis projects and the Black History Month Concert. Student choreographers have many opportunities to present their work including the Choreography I & II Showing, Red Circle Showcase, the American College Dance Association Conference and with various student dance organizations.
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.
Jason Aryeh, assistant professor, teaches all levels of Modern, World Dance I and II and The Global Experience. He earned an MFA in Choreography and Performance from the State University of New York, College at Brockport and a BFA in Dance and African Studies from the University of Ghana. Jason was a featured soloist, ensemble dancer and choreographer for African Alive Dance Company, a professional, project oriented Afro-infusion dance company in Ghana.
Lauren Winslow Kearns, professor and chair of the Department of Performing Arts, 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.
Jen Guy Metcalf, associate professor, teaches Ballet, Pointe, Senior Seminar and Dance for the Camera. She earned an M.F.A. in Dance Choreography from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a B.F.A. in Dance with a concentration in Ballet from Point Park University. Jen performed professionally with Bodiography Contemporary Ballet, Playhouse Dance Company, The Kearns Dance Project, Greensboro Ballet and for many independent choreographers. Jen is founder and director of TERRANOVA Dance Theatre. Her choreographic work and dance films have been presented in the United States, Ireland, Sweden, Amsterdam, Turkey, Scotland, Brazil, Canada and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Jane Wellford, professor emerita of Performing Arts, 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 College Dance Association 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.
Renay Aumiller, assistant professor, teaches somatic-based modern technique, choreography, and improvisation. She has presented her dance works across the United States as the artistic director of RAD | Renay Aumiller Dances. She has performed professionally with Gerri Houlihan, Renée Wadleigh, Christian Von Howard, Thread Meddle Outfit, VECTOR, The Bipeds, and The Kearns Dance Project. Renay earned an M.F.A. in Choreography from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a B.A. in Dance Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is a certified Franklin Method educator.
As a dance major, you will learn and perform in spacious dance studios with mirrored walls and state-of-the-art sound equipment as well as a fully equipped Pilates Studio. 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. Scott Studios houses a fully configurable black box theatre with state of the art technology that includes LED lighting and a professional audio system.
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 Education Organization and the American College Dance Association. Students also are encouraged to complete internships to enhance their resumes. In the past, dance students have worked with the prestigious American Dance Festival, Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Mark Morris Dance Group, Parsons Dance Company, Boston Ballet, City Dance Ensemble, Los Angeles Ballet, LA Dance Project, Ate9 Dance Company, Diavolo Dance Theatre, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Royal Flux Dance Company, Urbanity Dance 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, Los Angeles, Chicago, 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 schools such as East Carolina University, Shenandoah University, Duke University, University of Kentucky, Smith College, Lesley University, Philadelphia University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.