Officials to consider approval for new dance degree at Northwestern State

Updated: Dec. 6, 2017 at 3:07 PM CST
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NATCHITOCHES, LA (KSLA) - The first step for a new degree focused on dance may become a reality at Northwestern State University.

The letter of intent for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance was recently approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.

"We are excited that the letter of intent was passed through the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System," said Director of Dance and Associate Professor of Dance Kirstin Riehl, in a news release. "The BFA would be a professional degree program with a specialized emphasis in dance training and education. The goal of creating the degree is to prepare students for professional careers in the dance industry."

The degree program must now be approved by the Board of Supervisors and the State Board of Regents.

Riehl co-authored the degree proposal with Assistant Professor of Dance Brett Garfinkel.

A survey of high school dancers indicated that 91 percent of those questioned would consider applying to Northwestern State if the BFA in Dance were available.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of dancers is projected to grow five percent between 2016 and 2026, which is in line with the average for all professions.

The degree will further dancers wishing to go into performance, teaching or choreography. A Bachelor of Fine Arts program contains more courses in dance than a Bachelor of Arts program.

The program would meet a need within the state for K-12 dance teachers.

The state offers dance certification in grades K-12, but no public university in Louisiana currently offers a degree in dance.

Objectives for the degree are:

  • To develop technical mastery of dance techniques within both professional practice and performance;
  • To become knowledgeable about the cultural and historical dimensions of dance and apply these principals in choreographic and pedagogical environments to support student’s work;
  • To articulate critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills in theoretical and practical application in dance
  • To demonstrate an integral understanding of the principles of dance training as it applies to self-practice, pedagogy, anatomy and kinesiology;
  • To understand and apply techniques and principles of choreography, producing and creating work, directing dances and producing a concert
  • To cultivate an appreciation for the technical side of performing arts, working in the lighting, scene and costume shops.

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