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dance program frequently asked questions

If you have a question that is not answered below, please contact the Dance Coordinator, Hilary Peterson, at 573-986-7492.

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Campus and Departmental Visits

How do I arrange a visit to the Conservatory of Theatre and Dance?

The most effective way to select a program that is right for you is to visit the Department and see us in action for yourself. We encourage all prospective students to schedule an appointment with our faculty, staff, and students, to participate in classes for a day, and to see a dance production.

The best way for a prospective student to experience our dance program is to participate in our annual Dance Day held each November. This event is an opportunity for interested high school dance students to participate in free Master Dance Classes taught by the Conservatory of Theatre and Dance’s professional faculty. Dance Day attendees will also have the opportunity to tour the River campus, speak with current dance students, and receive two complimentary tickets to the Fall for Dance concert that evening. Current Dance Day information and registration forms can be found on our website.

University campus tours are available Monday through Friday and on Saturday. Visitors and prospective students are encouraged to schedule visits at least one week in advance, so any requested appointments may be scheduled. To learn more about the Southeast visit program or schedule your campus visit today, call the Office of Admissions (573) 651-5945.

Can I observe or participate in a dance technique class during my visit?

Yes. We encourage all prospective students to observe or participate in any dance technique class they prefer during their scheduled visit. This is an excellent way to get a sense of the type of dance styles we teach, the approach to learning our faculty members emphasize and the level of training we expect from our students.

Is it possible to meet with a dance faculty member during my visit?

Certainly. This meeting can be arranged when you schedule your campus visit and is an excellent opportunity to discuss the details of our dance program.


Do you have to audition before you are accepted into the program or declare a major in dance?

In order to be admitted into the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) major programs in Dance, students may audition and apply in either the Fall or Spring semester of their senior year in high school during our annual Departmental BFA Program Admission/Scholarship Auditions. Students who are accepted during their senior year will enter the dance program as a fully admitted first-year student. Students who choose not to participate in the BFA auditions during their senior year of high school may participate in the Departmental auditions during their freshman year at Southeast. These students would be considered general Dance majors and, after the audition process, declare the degree (BFA or BA) into which they have been accepted.

The audition consists of both a performance element and an interview with the faculty. Students will be evaluated by members of the dance faculty on the basis of previous technical training, body alignment, movement mechanics, expressivity and individual artistic potential. The interview will include a discussion of your technical training, your previous dance experience and your goals regarding the discipline of dance

How many people are accepted annually into the dance program?

The number accepted will vary from year to year depending on several factors. The total number of dance majors (BFA and BA) will remain at approximately 60 students in order to provide each student the appropriate advising and mentoring necessary to help him or her succeed in the program and in the professional world.


What about scholarships? Are there specific procedures or applications?

The scholarship application and audition is in conjunction with the auditions for program admission. All new students interested in pursuing a major in dance (BFA or BA) are eligible for a departmental scholarship. The departmental scholarship application and requirements can be found at the following link:

University Scholarship information can be found at the following website:

What is the scholarship audition process?

There are two on-campus audition dates each year for program admission and scholarships (usually one Saturday in late November and one in late February). Prospective students must attend and participate in one of the auditions in order to be considered for a scholarship. Participants will take a dance master class with our faculty AND present a one-minute prepared solo in the dancer’s style of choice (their own choreography or someone else’s). Current dates and times for the auditions can be found by following the link above.

What should I wear and bring to the audition?

Students should wear a leotard (any solid color) and tights (black or pink) and hair should be pulled up in a ponytail or bun. Ballet and jazz shoes should be brought for the master class plus any additional dance footwear needed for the solo presentation. Students must also bring a CD that contains ONLY the music for the solo.

Do you have to apply to the University before you can audition for a scholarship?

No, but it is recommended. Important Note: In order for the Department to offer a student a scholarship, he/she must have been accepted into the University as a declared dance major.

University Admissions Information:

Are current students eligible to apply for Theatre and Dance scholarships?

Yes. All current students are eligible for any applicable Theatre and Dance scholarship whether or not one has been previously awarded to the student. The application and audition process is the same as mentioned above.

Are scholarships renewable?

The only type of scholarship that does not require a renewal audition once received is a College of Arts and Media scholarship. All other scholarships require students to re-apply and re-audition each year

Is it possible to combine a Theatre and Dance scholarship with a University-wide scholarship?

Yes. When looking at what scholarships students have been awarded either by the Department or University-wide, the University compiles the best possible scholarship package for each student based on funds available and financial need.

Dance Program Components

Is your dance program modern or ballet-based?

Neither. We strive to provide our students with a well-rounded dance education; one of the program’s learning outcomes is for students to gain stylistically diverse performance skills. We offer ballet, pointe, modern, jazz and tap dance technique and place equal importance on training in ballet, modern and jazz, so that our graduates are able to perform any style they might be asked to perform. Today's professional dancers must be able to execute an eclectic range of movement styles in order to succeed in the profession, and the technique curriculum is structured accordingly.

How intensive is the program? Can I minor in another area?

The BFA in Dance degree is an intensive training program that currently consists of 83 credit hours in which you must maintain a 3.0 GPA to continue each year in the program. There are also production and professional development requirements for each student in the BFA degree. No minor is required for this degree; however, if semesters of study are carefully planned, a student may be able to minor in another area if desired.

The BA program is less intensive and is more of a “generalist” degree; a minor is actually required for that degree. Many students also choose to double major, seeking a BA in another subject along with the BA in Dance.

Does the program have an option of a Pilates or other dance therapy certificates?

Not at this time but we encourage our students to seek out those opportunities elsewhere.

Do you encourage dance majors to be on the University dance team?

We do not discourage students’ participation with the University dance team; however, we have found with previous students that it is very difficult for them to be successfully involved with both. Each program is very time consuming and the schedules of both aren’t easily compatible. We suggest that any prospective student who is considering both programs discuss this desire with the faculty advisor(s) for the dance program, current students in the dance program, members of the dance team, and the coach for the dance team. This will help students better understand the time commitment involved and what choices they will need to make for their individual plan of study.

What is an example of the average daily/semester schedule for a dance major?

The average day for a dance major consists of two technique classes, two academic classes and 2-4 hours of rehearsal in the evening. The average semester schedule for a dance major consists of 2 or 3 dance technique classes, 1 or 2 dance academic courses, and 1 or 2 general education classes (called “General Education” here at Southeast) totaling 16-18 credit hours. As a Southeast dance major, you will spend a minimum of 10 hours per week in active dance technique classes. In combination with other Dance classes and rehearsals, most students spend between 25 and 30 hours per week dancing. All Dance classes occur during daytime hours (9am to 5pm) Monday through Friday.

What are the career possibilities with a major in dance?

The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance provides an intensive professional training program within the context of a liberal arts education designed to prepare students for advanced educational programs, internships, and the professional performing arts market. There are numerous career options for students who major in dance. A BFA in Dance from Southeast prepares students for careers as performers, choreographers, and teachers in the dance field. Many alumni create interdisciplinary careers, combining work as dancers with related work in the field such as: performance production for dance (lighting design, costuming, stage management, etc.), dance photography and film, dance writing and criticism, arts administration, teaching somatic and conditioning techniques, and many other types of work. Like graduates of all liberal arts institutions, Southeast dance alumni are represented in a wide variety of careers, including administration, choreography, performance, teaching, writing, and design.

Do you encourage people to study abroad?

Yes. The experience of living and studying in another country is invaluable. If a student can find a program that allows him/her to continue their dance education and keep himself/herself on track for graduation, there is no reason why a student shouldn't study abroad.

More information about studying abroad can be found at

What do your students do during the summer?

We strongly encourage all of our students to seek summer employment in dance or to attend a professional company intensive in order to gain additional skills and continue to grow technically and artistically during the summer months. In the past our students have performed with the McCloed Summer Playhouse in Carbondale, IL, interned at Stages St. Louis, attended the six-week school at the American Dance Festival, participated in intensives with Hedwig Dances in Chicago and Pilobolus in Connecticut, and taught dance at local studios. We firmly believe that receiving outside professional training and/or experience during the summer is important to the growth of our students and their success after graduation.

Performance/Choreographic Opportunities

How many performances does the Conservatory present each academic year?

There are four dance performances each year: two main stage dance concerts (Fall semester and Spring semester) and two informal dance concerts (Fall and Spring). Both main stage concerts contain a mix of faculty, guest artist and student choreography, while the informal concerts contain mostly student work. We also present a New Student Showcase and a Senior Showcase that are performances specifically geared towards highlighting the talents of our new students and graduating seniors. There are also opportunities for off-campus performances. The Conservatory regularly performs three pieces annually at the regional or national American College Dance Association (ACDA) Conference in the spring and has also performed at "Grand Center Dance Fest”, an outdoor dance festival in St. Louis. We are always actively seeking out other performance opportunities for our students.

How do you choose who performs in the concerts?

Our dance concert auditions are open to all Southeast students regardless of their major area of study. Dancer auditions for Fall semester faculty/guest artist choreography is held the first week of the Fall semester. Dancer auditions for Spring semester faculty/guest artist choreography is typically held the first Saturday in December. No student is guaranteed a spot in any concert but all students are treated equally with no special preference given to returning students. Regardless of what concert a student is involved in, our four concerts per year allow all students cast to perform in at least one piece per year; most are cast in several dances. Important Note: If you are accepted into one or more dances, you must be enrolled that semester in at least one two-credit studio dance course.

Where are the performances held?

All four dance performances are held in the 950-seat Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall on the River Campus - a gorgeous, state-of-the-art theatre. The stage is sprung, covered in a Marley surface, and is fully stocked with the most up-to-date lighting and sound equipment.

What choreographic opportunities do you offer your students?

Each semester, our students are given the opportunity to cast dancers and create and audition work for inclusion in the main stage concert. Student Choreography Guidelines can be found in the Dance Program Handbook at the following link:

The Department also sponsors an informal dance concert each semester titled Last Chance to Dance in which any student can present work and/or perform.

Are there any outside professional performance opportunities for students?

Yes. Each year the Department submits work to be performed in the annual Grand Center Dance Fest and the National Dance Week celebration, both held in St. Louis, and for the regional American College Dance Festival conference. We believe that giving our students as many outside performance opportunities as possible will better prepare them for a career in dance performance

How many rehearsal studios are there?

We have two beautiful dance studios both complete with iPod- and CD-compatible sound equipment, sprung floors and Marley surfaces. The awe-inspiring view of the Cultural Arts Center studio (2000 sq. ft.) looks out over the Mississippi River and the River Campus Center studio is a brand new, very large space of approximately 2800 sq. ft.

Dance Technique Courses

How do you enroll in a dance technique class?

All students who wish to enroll in a dance technique course must be placed in the correct level by audition. For prospective students, this placement audition occurs during Dance Day in the Fall (usually in December), during the Spring semester audition date (late February or early March), or during a separately scheduled campus visit. After participation in one of these events, prospective students will receive a letter informing them of the technique levels for ballet, modern and jazz that they should register for when it is time to select their classes. Current Southeast students must participate in the Dance Proficiency Placement Class during the current semester in order to be placed in the appropriate dance technique levels for the following semester.

Is there a dress code for dance classes?

Although the professor determines specific requirements for each class, the basic dress code for all Southeast Dance Program classes is a solid-colored leotard and black or pink tights. Proper shoes are required for ballet, pointe, jazz and tap.

Does the department offer dance classes for non-dance degree seeking students and/or students who have no prior dance experience?



Sara Steffens
River Campus Seminary 458
Conservatory of Theatre and Dance
One University Plaza, MS 7850
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701