So you think you can choreograph? It takes a lot more work than you think to choreograph jaw-dropping numbers for Hamilton or the hottest moves for J. Lo’s next tour. You’ll start off perfecting your own dance technique before you make sure dancers in your pieces keep their toes pointed on every mark. And as you debate which dance program to turn to, you’ll need a university that lets you explore your creativity while building on your dance skill-set. These best schools for aspiring choreographers will give excellent dance training, facilities to explore your creative space, performances for you to showcase your latest work and incredible choreographers to learn from every day. Ready to become the next Gene Kelly?
Advanced dance students usually set their sights on becoming professional performers. However, dancers with the urge to stretch their creative wings might consider pursuing a career in choreography. Whether you want to focus primarily on choreography or integrate choreographic studies into your other dance training, you can find the choreography program that’s right for you at one of the top college dance departments in the United States.
Marymount Manhattan College
Located on the Upper East Side of New York City, the dance department at Marymount Manhattan College offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts program in dance choreography. Dance majors who choose choreography concentrations study the craft of choreography in addition to taking daily modern and ballet technique classes. Students compose both solo and ensemble dances and have the opportunity to showcase their work in various productions and showcases throughout the academic year. All students at the college must complete a core curriculum of courses in the liberal arts and take advantage of the many resources New York City has to offer.
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts dance program with equal focus on performance and choreography. The small program emphasizes a strong sense of community along with individual attention and instruction. Students take daily classes in modern and ballet technique, along with choreography and composition courses, contact improvisation, video choreography and dance history. The department offers master classes and workshops with prestigious guest artists throughout the year, along with multiple performance opportunities for dancers and choreographers.
Arizona State University
While Arizona State University does not offer degrees in choreography, the dance department emphasizes choreography and pedagogy within its Bachelor of Fine Arts curriculum. The interdisciplinary approach includes courses in the investigation of multicultural and contemporary dance forms, personal movement practices, and invention of movement. Students must also take six semester hours of pedagogy classes to explore the strategies and techniques of learning dance and movement practices. Students who wish to pursue careers in teaching as well as choreography may choose a concentration in dance education, culminating in a semester of student teaching.
A college of the State University of New York, Purchase College offers one of the most prestigious Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and choreography curricula in the nation. The program trains pre-professional and professional level dance students in classical ballet, contemporary and modern dance with an emphasis on dance composition and choreography. Additionally, dance majors take courses in music, dance history and the liberal arts. Students perform in campus productions as well as on tour as part of their training. The department strives to prepare dancers and choreographers to excel in the field of professional dance.
Boston Conservatory At Berkley
Contemporary choreographers thrive at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. The core curriculum for the Contemporary Dance Performance B.F.A. includes movement training, cross-conservatory studies, as well as components in academics, creativity and body-knowing. The Creative Component hones in an each dancer’s artistic voice to bring out their inner choreographer. The professors at the Conservatory help students develop their own artistic style through collaboration and leadership, plus a deep understanding of the choreographic process. The Conservatory hosts guest choreographers each year, including Darrell Grand Moultrie, choreographer for Beyoncé, and Keith Thompson, artistic director at danceTactics. Choreographers show off their stuff at three shows every year: the Senior Choreographers’ Concert, Winterworks and Limitless. At the Senior Choreographers’ Concert, only the best performances hit the stage. Between the historic, artsy city and dedicated teachers who produce cutting-edge artists, even your dreams will flood with inspiration.
Virginia Commonwealth University
Choreograph your way to the top of your graduating class at VCU Arts. Ninety of the 120 credits you need to graduate with a B.F.A. in Dance and Choreography will have you in the studio dancing. VCU dance and choreography majors must take two technique classes daily, either modern or ballet, throughout the four years. Or they can opt to take the Creative Track, where aspiring choreographers take seven semesters learning experimental and traditional processes. VCU brings in international guest choreographers from places like India and South Africa. This year, renowned choreographers Gregory Maqoma and Paloma McGregor will help students build their repertoire. Students develop their choreographic potential through taking classes in improvisation, composition and dance form. When they have shown proficiency in these areas, senior students use their newfound skills to showcase their choreography in the Senior Concert every fall and spring. By graduation, each student finds their individual voice as a dancer in both choreography and improv. And they’ll be prepared for any dance battle or workshop that comes their way.
NYU Tisch School of the Arts – New York, NY
Why we love it: Courses include “Production Crew in Dance” which offers working knowledge of lighting and sound equipment, stage management, crew work, programming, publicity, house management, wardrobe, multi-camera live production, and other technical requirements for dance production. All students, whether graduate or undergraduate, are required to participate each semester in production crew.
Butler University – Indianapolis, IN
Why we love it: Numerous performing and choreographic opportunities, including three fully produced, full-scale dance performances each year, including two full-length classical ballets performed to live orchestra in the stunning 2,200-seat Clowes Memorial Hall and one mixed repertory evening which includes the opportunity to perform contemporary, modern, and important works by major choreographers in the 450-seat Schrott Center for the Arts.
Temple University prides itself on transforming dancers into technically proficient choreographers. In their sophomore year, dancers dive into choreography technique with Dance Composition I and II classes. The program also highlights modern dance, ballet and African dance; optional classes include hip hop and improv. Classes like Movement Improvisation, Dance Composition and Creative Processes in Dance teach students cutting-edge choreography skills. Temple students display their best choreography in three different shows throughout the semester: the Student Dance Concert, the B.F.A. Dance Concert and the Endings Dance Showcase. These concerts incorporate only the best choreography selections, so students work hard to push the limits of their creativity. Through networking, dancers gain access to every performance and choreographer available in Philadelphia from Rennie Harris Puremovement to the Pennsylvania Ballet.
University of Memphis – Memphis, TN
Why we love it: UM recently introduced a brand new concentration in Dance Science. The Dance Science curriculum includes courses drawn from the B. S. in Health Studies, concentration in Exercise, Sport and Movement Sciences and the B.F.A. in Theatre, concentration in Dance. The scientific study includes anatomical kinesiology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, nutrition, and psychology. The dance study includes training in dance techniques, improvisation, composition, somatics, and performance.
University of Utah – Salt Lake City, UT
Why we love it: The School of Dance is housed in the beautiful Marriott Center for Dance, which f
eatures six large studios (one of which may be converted into a black box theater), classrooms, Pilates facility, and a 330-seat theater used for student and faculty productions including the Performing Dance Company.
Valdosta State University – Valdosta, GA
Why we love it: Pro-conn involves bringing theatre and dance professionals to campus to deliver to students workshops, master classes, and advice. Pro-Conn organizes a professional showcase at the end of each academic year. The professional showcase brings regional hirers to campus to respond to the work of the upperclassmen who audition or present their portfolios.