Dance Major

Program Requirements

  • Total units required: 34-35 units, with a minimum of 20 units at the 300 level or above

Required Courses

Dance courses at Washington University integrate praxis and the study of the historical, cultural, scientific, and aesthetic dimensions of dance. Although course work is required in all aspects of the dance major, students may individually choose to tailor their study to emphasize any one of the four areas — Embodied Practice, Creative Process, History/Theory, or Movement Science & Somatics — through the capstone and through electives.

Creative Process: 8-9 units

Dance 203Composition I3
Dance 212EIntroduction to Theatre Production3
Plus 2-3 units chosen from the following:
Dance 303Composition II3
Dance 3101Dance Improvisation: Spontaneous Composition & Performance Techniques2
Dance 305ZMusic Resources for Dance2
Dance 312Accompaniment Techniques for Dance2
Dance 4032Introduction to Screendance Composition and Performance3

Embodied Practice: 8 units

Students must complete work in at least two dance genres, and at least 6 units must be at the 300 level or above.

Dance 221Fundamentals of Classical Ballet2
Dance 222Fundamentals of Classical Ballet2
Dance 321Classical Ballet: Intermediate I2
Dance 3221Classical Ballet: Intermediate II2
Dance 415High Intermediate Ballet I2
Dance 416High Intermediate Ballet II2
Dance 4281Classical Ballet III2
Dance 4291Classical Ballet IV2
Dance 4300Contemporary Ballet2
Dance 201ETheory and Technique of Modern Dance I2
Dance 202Theory and Technique of Modern Dance II2
Dance 240Afro-Modern Dance (Dunham Technique)2
Dance 301Theory and Technique of Modern Dance III2
Dance 3021Theory and Technique of Modern Dance IV2
Dance 401Theory and Technique of Modern Dance V2
Dance 4021Theory and Technique of Modern Dance VI2
Dance 297Fundamentals of Jazz Dance2
Dance 300Jazz Dance II2
Dance 403Jazz III2
Hip Hop
Dance 2040Beginning-Intermediate Hip Hop: Culture and Movement2
Dance 4040Intermediate/Advanced Hip Hop2
West African
Dance 343West African Music and Dance in Context2
Dance 407Topics in Dance Techniques3

History/Theory: 6 units

Students must choose two courses from the following list:

Dance 316Histories of Theatrical and Concert Dance3
Dance 331Movement and Meaning: Dance in a Global Context3
Dance 3033Music, Sound, and the Body3
Dance 3222Rethinking Ballet in the 21st Century: Decolonizing Narratives and Embracing Diversity3
Dance 426Performing the Political in American Dance3
Dance 430Dance Pedagogy2
Dance 433Performing Gender and Sexuality in America3

Movement Science and Somatics: 3 units

Options for this requirement include the following:

Dance 3270Experiential Anatomy and Kinesiology3
Dance 363The Neuroscience of Movement: You Think, So You Can Dance?3
Dance 453Presence in Performance: Alexander Technique and Mindful Movement for Performing Artists3

Elective Courses

Students must complete 6 units of elective courses. They may choose any L29 dance courses at the 200 level or above in any of the categories (Embodied Practice, Creative Process, Movement Science & Somatics, or History/Theory). Students may also take in-person dance and somatic studies (U31) courses, at the 200-level or above, in the School of Continuing & Professional Studies (per Arts & Sciences policy, online courses may not be applied to an Arts & Sciences degree). Students may also select from specified drama courses.

Drama 304Makeup for the Stage2
Drama 3081Costume Rendering and Design3
Drama 309Stage Technology3
Drama 310Stage Lighting3
Drama 361Stage Management3
Drama 396History of Western Costume3


The 3-unit capstone is an opportunity for students to integrate what they have learned in the dance major throughout their time at Washington University. It is also an opportunity to go further in-depth into a particular aspect of the field of dance, whether that be performance, choreography, movement science/somatics, or history/theory; overall, it is a culminating experience for the major. There are four primary options for the capstone, which must be completed during the student's senior year:

  1. Dance 499 Study for Honors: an honors thesis
  2. Dance 493 Senior Project
  3. Dance 457 Dance Repertory or Dance 458 Dance Repertory: a significant role in a performance in WUDT, WUDC, or the MFA Concert, with a post-production analytical essay evaluated by the Artistic Director. The essay examines how the performance represents a culmination of the student's growth and experience in the dance major. In addition, it incorporates background research on the aesthetic influences of the choreography and offers dramaturgical reflections on the performance: how well it worked in communicating its messages to audiences.
  4. An additional course at the 300-level or above, not already taken as a requirement or as an elective, in Creative Process, Movement Science & Somatics, or History/Theory categories that the student designates as a capstone. The intention to use the course to fulfill the capstone requirement will be made prior to the first day of class in consultation with the instructor. For a Creative Process course, the student devises a final creative project above and beyond the requirements for the regular course, culminating in a live performance and a critical response. For either a Movement Science & Somatics or History/Theory course, the student takes on a significant final research project beyond the normal assignments for the course, culminating in a 15+-page research paper and public presentation. 

Additional Information

Study Abroad

Washington University students can pursue dance studies abroad during the academic year at the University of Auckland, New Zealand; the University of Ghana, Legon; and Roehampton University, London. With approval from the dance program, courses at these institutions may fulfill dance major and minor requirements. Courses in other disciplines taught at these institutions may also be accepted by Washington University.

A maximum of 12 credits earned outside of Arts & Sciences at Washington University (e.g., through transfer credit or study abroad) may be applied to the dance major, with permission from the Dance Overseas Programs Advisor.

Minimum Required Grade

Students must earn a grade of C- or better in all required and elective dance courses in order for them to apply toward major requirements.

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