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Dance Technique Proficiencies

Via the use of the accompanying “Dance Technique Evaluation” forms for each dance style—ballet, jazz, modern, and tap dance—the following technical and artistic skills are required at their corresponding levels. With some flexibility inherent in the subjective assessment of such abilities, the range of progress and achievement is rated as follows:

  • Level I Basic (Beginning)
  • Level II Adept (Intermediate)
  • Level III Technically & Artistically Accomplished (Advanced)

Dance training is progressive and sequential in ways that should clearly build upon earlier foundations. Therefore, moving on to each subsequent level requires a satisfactory and consistent, demonstrated fluency in the previous level(s) AND a grade of B or higher. In consultation with the dance technique faculty, if a student is not progressing properly in the artistic and technical elements of any particular level, s/he must continue studying at the same level at least once more in subsequent semesters in order to develop satisfactory and consistent fluency in those elements.

In order to determine technical and artistic competency, all students must audition/be adjudicated the previous semester for placement in the appropriate dance technique level.

Due to the length of summer break, fall semester technique placement will be re-assesed by individual course instructors on the first day of class. Students are encouraged to continue their training and technique work throughout the summer months.

In order to maintain proper artistry and technical skill and continue to progress in level at a particular style, the student must enroll in the level in which they were placed as well as continue taking class in that style at least once per year.

If a student a) does not take a particular style at least once per year and/or b) does not make the required progress in the level of placement, that student may be moved down in level in order to better address the skills and competencies required of that particular technique and level. It is highly recommended that BFA Dance majors enroll in ballet, modern and jazz dance techniques every semester.

BFA Dance majors must participate in at least one daily dance technique class every semester they are enrolled as a student. This requires students to enroll in at least one MWF dance technique course and one TR dance technique course.

All BFA Dance majors are required to advance to and attain technically and artistically accomplished skill at Level III (Advanced) in at least one dance technique (ballet, modern, jazz) prior to graduation.

All BFA Musical Theatre majors are required to advance to and attain adept skill at Level II (Intermediate) in at least one dance technique (ballet, modern, jazz, and tap) prior to graduation.

Level I

In addition to the artistic and technique-specific skills for each dance style, all students at Level I in any style—ballet, jazz, modern, and tap—must be able to demonstrate the following skills in order to move on to Level II:

  • Understanding of the proper balance in the five feet positions (not Tap I)
  • Understanding of the proper balance and body alignment in turned out and parallel position
  • Understanding and ability to perform the basic ballet vocabulary (plié, tendu, dégagé, rond de jambe,45 degree developpés…) with proper body alignment (not Tap I)
  • Ability to accurately pick up at least 16 counts of movement quickly and reverse it to the other side
  • Familiarity with and ability to perform all positions of the leg: coup de pied, arabesque, attitude, etc. (not Tap I)
  • Ability to properly balance with stability and strength on one leg in alignment
  • Awareness of the body in space, ability to control the body in space, and an understanding of directing and projecting energy of the body into space
  • Ability to investigate movement qualities such as elevation, groundedness, transference of weight, etc.
  • Demonstration and understanding of basic rhythms such as 4/4, ¾, and 2/4
  • Development of a committed and motivated work ethic and healthy principles of conditioning, nutrition and lifestyle habits

Level II

All students at Level II in any style—ballet, jazz, modern, and tap dance—must be able to demonstrate the following skills in order to move on to Level III:

  • All of the above for Level I, plus the following (see below):
  • Understanding of more complex and sophisticated rhythmic patterns (3/4, 6/8, etc.) and phrasing
  • Clear technical and artistic musicality
  • Ability to accurately pick up at least 32 counts of movement within a short period of time and reverse it to the other side
  • Ability to perform to various musical styles and rhythms with the appropriate movement qualities and dynamics
  • Good control of the body in space and increased drive through space
  • Knowledge of basic anatomy for dance injury prevention
  • Continued practice of good work ethics and health principles
  • Increased ability to adapt to new teaching methods and styles

Level III

In addition to the artistic and technique-specific skills for each style, all students at Level III in any form—ballet, jazz, modern, and tap dance—must be able to demonstrate the following skills in at least one style in order to graduate as a BFA in Dance Major:

  • All of the above for Level I and Level II at the Intermediate level, plus (see below):
  • A sound balance of flexibility and strength based on body type
  • The ability to problem-solve particularly difficult movements and fulfill those movements spatially, qualitatively and musically
  • The ability to demonstrate complex rhythms and dynamics with seamless transitions and sophisticated phrasing
  • The ability to perform and interpret a variety of styles and genres (with professionally-ready technique and artistry in at least one style) in such forms as ballet, jazz, modern, and tap dance, including but not limited to sub-categories such as:
    1. Ballet: Romantic, Classical, Neo-Classical, Contemporary, etc.
    2. Jazz: Giordano, Mattox, Kidd, Fosse, etc.
    3. Modern: Graham, Limón, Horton, Release Technique, etc.
    4. Tap: Jump Rhythm Jazz, Glover, Bufalino, etc.
  • Ability to present through a full range and potential of all movement materials pertinent to the particular style, such as elevation, groundedness, efficient transference of weight, etc.
  • Based on the pertinent style, the ability to observe, learn, and accurately reproduce given material after being shown the first time (as in an audition)
  • Ability to commit to movement and follow through with clarity
  • Properly apply all feedback, whether personal or general
  • Be comfortable with the inherent strengths and challenges of one’s body but be willing to investigate new movement information
  • Ability to correctly reverse movement sequences on both sides
  • Ability to apply with personal investment proper technique and artistry beyond the classroom within a performance venue
  • Demonstrate mature work ethics and healthy lifestyle habits consistent with professional members of the dance field
  • Familiarity with and proper execution of the ballet barre exercises (plié, relevé, tendu, dégagé, rond de jambe par terre and en l’air, coupé, passé, fondu, petit and grand battements, etc.) set to simple tempos and beats (4/4, 3/4, 2/4)
  • Correct execution of and movement through the basic body positions (croisé, effacé, en face, écarté) set to simple rhythms
  • Properly executed single pirouettes (en dehors and en dedans) from 4th/5th position
  • Basic petit allegro/allegro (échappé, changement, jeté, glissade, sissone etc.) set to simple rhythms
  • Basic turns (chainé, piqué, waltz turns, balancé, etc.) in correct time
  • Traveling steps (chassé, assemblé, etc.) set to proper counts
  • All previous DA211 “Ballet I” skills to same tempos (4/4, 3/4, etc.) and more complex rhythms (syncopated, various time signatures, and musical styles such as classical, romantic, jazz, etc.), plus (see below):
  • Correct use of épaulement in all positions and to various rhythms
  • Fluency in presenting leg height up to 90 degrees in all positions
  • Intermediate petit allegro/allegro (entrechat quatre, brisé, etc.) set to more complex rhythms and musical styles
  • Clear understanding of batterie and reversing combinations
  • Properly executed double pirouettes (en dehors and en dedans)
  • Attitude and Arabesque turns
  • Understanding of fouettée turns and grand pirouettes
  • Correct alignment and placement during allegro
  • All previous DA211 “Ballet I” and DA311 “Ballet II” skills with proficiency in a variety of time signatures and musical styles, plus (see below):
  • Fluency in presenting leg height above 90 degrees in all positions
  • Advanced petit allegro, allegro and batterie to a variety of rhythms and musical styles
  • Properly executed double and triple (or more) pirouette turns
  • Properly executed double attitude and arabesque turns
  • Properly executed fouettée turns
  • Greater speed and brilliance in allegro
  • Basic isolations of the torso and extremities
  • Properly balanced and positioned flat back
  • Tendu and dégagé in parallel and turned-out positions to simple tempos such as 4/4, ¾, etc. and some variety of musical styles
  • Beginning adagio to proper counts and some variety of musical styles
  • Flat back arabesque
  • Single parallel pirouettes (“inside/inward” and “outside/outward”)
  • Successfully executed Grand jetés and fouetté jumps with strength and correct form
  • Barrel turns
  • Single touch (pivot), pencil, three-step, soutenu turns to correct tempo
  • Understanding of contraction-and-release
  • Knowledge of basic locomotor skills (pas de bourrée, triplet, sauté, chassé in all directions) in proper rhythm
  • Understanding of relationship between music and dance
  • All previous DA226 “Jazz I” skills with more complex rhythms, time signatures,and musical styles, plus (see below):
  • Clean body lines both a terre and en l’aire
  • Développées in the front, side, back, and side tilt positions with increased flexibility and control
  • Clean and Consistent double parallel pirouettes (inside and outside)
  • Turns in attitude, arabesque and forced arch
  • Pencil and Compass turns
  • Properly executed larger leaps such as tour jeté, chassé tour, axles, etc.
  • All previous DA226 “Jazz I” and DA326 “Jazz II” skills, plus (see below):
  • Adagios and improvisations to a variety of complex rhythms and musical styles demonstrating nuances within personal phrasing
  • Triple (or more) parallel pirouettes (inside and outside)
  • Turns off balance and into the floor
  • Fouettée turns
  • Grand jeté in full split, side straddle jumps, leaps, switch leaps and other innovative contemporary jumps
  • Understanding of fundamental concepts of total body organization (head-tail; core-distal; upper-lower; body half; cross lateral)
  • Understanding of how to “go into” and “come out of” the floor
  • Initiating movement from the pelvis
  • Proper foot articulation
  • Familiarity with basic weight shifts, level changes and inverted movements
  • Curving all directions with the torso
  • Releasing weight in swings in simple meters
  • Use of flat back, undercurves and overcurves
  • Introduction to spatial pulls and tensions in all planes, dimensions, directions and levels
  • Use of parallel position in pliés and tendus
  • Use of momentum to propel body through space with simple meters
  • Comfortable going off vertical and finding it again
  • Awareness of relationship between breath and movement
  • All previous DA221 “Modern I” skills, plus (see below):
  • Ability to articulate the spine and body parts separately with a clear connection to the core
  • Increased use of compound meters and momentum on all spatial levels
  • Demonstration and understanding of movement initiation, sequencing and follow through
  • Proper performance of spiraling movement, hinges, inversions and aeriel work
  • Increased push through space with pelvis and legs with compound meters
  • Ability to sense one’s own weight and incorporate that weight in on- and off-balance movement
  • All previous DA221 “Modern I” and DA321 “Modern II” skills, plus (see below):
  • Hinge/Flat back turns
  • Ability to move into and out of floor with ease
  • Ability to consistently and easily move between clear parallel and turned-out positions within movement sequences
  • Large leaps that travel through space
  • An understanding of improvisation and the use of different movement qualities such as muscular, fluid, legato, staccato, etc. with compound meters
  • Freedom in and accessibility to three-dimensional movements and spiraling
  • Understanding/comprehending/physically being on the beat
  • Understanding anatomy by stabilizing and initiating placement through relaxed pelvis, soft knees, and relaxed ankles
  • Understanding musical concepts such as: downbeats, off-beats, duple & triple rhythms, staccato and sforzando accents, and basic music theory
  • Ability to make clear rhythms, sequences and rhythmic accents using the hands, feet, and vocal counting (i.e. ¼-notes, 1/8-notes, triplets, 1/16-notes, etc.)
  • Ability to use vocal sounds & counting rhythmically with the feet and hands
  • Ability to re-create previous learning of a rhythmic phrase using scat singing
  • Comprehending the idea of tap dancing as both communication and music
  • Ability to understand, articulate, and perform the basic fundamental movements of tap dance vocabulary (i.e. step, heel, toe, dig, toe punch, stamp, stomp, brush, spank, scuff, heel drop, toe drop, hop, leap, and jump)
  • Ability to perform beginner/intermediate time steps (i.e. military, shim sham, essence, waltz clog, traveling, buck, standard, B.S, and rhythm)
  • Ability to perform simple turn sequences, including clean and consistent single pirouettes
  • Ability to experiment with beginning level improvisational sequences
  • All previous DA 236 “Tap I” skills, with ability to enhance the following:
  • Understanding/comprehending/physically syncopating tap rhythms
  • Ability to resonate into the ground while being on the beat
  • Understanding and applying basic music theory to movement, though knowledge of basic forms (12-bar blues and 32 bar standard) and ability to follow a lead sheet
  • Understanding and applying anatomical knowledge to reinforce the idea of cross lateral and body half movements to stabilize the weight shifts in the body
  • Ability to perform more complex and intricate rhythms, accents, off-beats, etc.
  • Ability to strongly perform the expressive, dancing musical energy using the full body, in addition to the previous rhythm-making action ideas
  • Ability to perform complex tap steps/rhythms using pull-backs, wings, clean and consistent double pirouettes, along with one-leg drags, trenches and jumps
  • Ability to perform intermediate time steps and turn sequences
  • Ability to experiment with and perform intermediate level improvisational sequences


(573) 986-7492
River Campus Seminary, Room 463

Conservatory of Theatre and Dance
One University Plaza, MS7850
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701