The Bachelor of Arts in Dance is designed for students who are interested in a broad general academic education and who wish to advance their dance training at a high level alongside their chosen academic focus.
The Bachelor of Arts in Dance program is suitable for students targeting a career in:
- Arts leadership and advocacy
- Critical/creative writing
- Health-related professions
- And other academic choices
Shenandoah University offers a broad range of courses that satisfy both your intellectual curiosity and career goals. The dance program provides a wealth of intensive dance training in a diverse, arts-saturated environment, allowing you to experience a variety of dance styles and ideas with faculty and fellow students.
Shenandoah University’s commitment to global learning offers multiple programs for you to expand your collegial experience. There are many benefits to studying abroad; most importantly these opportunities are designed to help create a better understanding of the world around us.
Working closely with faculty advisors, B.A. students map out course schedules to find suitable balance between dance and their academic emphasis, structuring a plan that appropriately fits the needs of the chosen degree focus. In their final year, B.A. candidates design and present a senior capstone project that integrates both dance and academic knowledge.
Shenandoah Conservatory encourages collaboration with colleagues in music, theatre and dance through the ShenCoSKILLS sequence, the ShenCoLAB student showcase and other opportunities with their conservatory peers.
In addition, we offer an exciting Performing Arts Leadership & Management master’s degree program that can be accomplished with just one additional year of study after you complete your undergraduate degree.
Alumni Spotlight: Ashayla Byrd ’21 (B.A. in Dance, B.A. in English)
During my time at Shenandoah, I felt so supported in my journey to explore what it means to be an interdisciplinary artist. My professors and advisors acknowledged the fact that I had several broad-reaching interests, and they encouraged me to dig into the many passions that drive my work. Shenandoah prepared me to advocate for myself as an artist, writer, scholar, and interdisciplinary thinker.” – Ashayla Byrd
Congratulations to Ashayla recently as she begins her new role as the manager of executive affairs for the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP). She will be working with the organization’s President and CEO Lisa Richards Toney and a wonderful team of passionate arts administrators to strengthen the field and advance careers through professional development, grant support, advocacy, networking and the annual APAP|NYC conference. Ashayla previously worked at Dance Place in Washington, D.C., in several capacities, and is grateful for the mentorship and care offered to her by that community. She is ecstatic to expand in her work as an arts administrator and looks forward to finding new ways to support artists, agents, presenters, touring companies and other arts administrators at large. During her time at Shenandoah, Ashayla served as President of Shenandoah Conservatory Student Council and President of the Dance Division’s Sigma Rho Delta Dance Fraternity. She was the first recipient of the Barzinji Scholar Award for her independent research and demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion. Follow Ashayla’s adventures on Instagram: @abyrdnyca.
Shenandoah Graduates Join the Innovative Dance Company Diavolo
Two graduates of Shenandoah Conservatory’s dance program are now thrilling audiences with the innovative dance company, Diavolo: Architecture in Motion, which tours extensively and has been featured on “America’s Got Talent.” Our alumni share their insights on what they learned through their multifaceted dance training at Shenandoah, how they’re utilizing that training now, and how they’re forging careers in the performing arts.
Learn More About This Program
Our dance majors are engaged in research studies with the Athletic Training and Physical Therapy graduate programs, and benefit from their availability of evaluation and care that is scheduled on campus throughout the academic year and backstage during performances.
Within Shenandoah’s caring dance community, your professional expectations are nurtured as you develop your personal excellence and strive to achieve your individual goals. Upon completion of your degree, Shenandoah’s Dance Division will have prepared you to contribute to your artistic and cultural community in an increasingly competitive market that demands diversity, collaboration and creative strategies.
You Will Learn:
- Diverse, integrated technical skills in ballet, modern dance and jazz techniques
- Nuanced performance skills in classical and contemporary styles
- Contemporary dance composition skills, including contact improvisation and partnering
- Professional lighting, costuming and technical theatre experience
- Historical, scientific and pedagogical foundations for building dance careers
- Professional career development strategies, including the use of web/media technology for creative and promotional purposes
Minor in Music, Theatre, Dance or Music Composition
Shenandoah Conservatory offers minors in Music, Theatre or Dance for all Shenandoah University students.
Shenandoah also offers a new minor in Music Composition for conservatory students who wish to build composition skills and enhance their creative music-making experience while pursuing other degree programs in the conservatory.
Acceptance into conservatory minors must be approved by the Division/Department Chair, and some minors require an audition.
Declaring A Minor
Shenandoah students work with their Academic Advisor to declare a minor. Academic Advisors will continue to work with students to ensure that they fulfill all of the requirements to complete the minor.
Incoming students should not indicate their intended minor on their Shenandoah application; applications are for intended majors only.
The Career & Professional Development staff helps Shenandoah students search and apply for internships related to their major and career goals. Internships differentiate you as an applicant in your future job searches, provide hands on experience in your field, allow you to sample different career paths for your major, and help you find a specific position that fits your passion before graduation.
The program offers professional training for a wide variety of contemporary dance careers, including concert performance (contemporary modern and jazz companies), commercial work (including Broadway, touring, cruise lines and video/film) and studio teaching. The discipline and creative problem-solving skills readily transfer to a variety of careers related to the performing arts, including promotion, marketing and teaching. Students are also prepared to pursue advanced studies in health and wellness professions (including physical therapy, exercise sciences, massage and fitness training) with an eye toward providing arts-intelligent care for performing arts professionals.
Career & Professional Development Provides A Comprehensive Range Of Services And Resources To Assist Shenandoah Students In Their Career Search. Services offered include resume and cover letter building, mock interviews, and professional dining etiquette workshops.
I am the first from my family to graduate from college. Career Services helped my dream of becoming a professional dancer become reality. You really can get a degree in dance and make a career out of it!”
Chris Saunders | Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance ’17
Shenandoah Conservatory dancers are immersed in their art from the moment they arrive on campus. The intimate conservatory approach provides a focused environment for study, while the supportive atmosphere encourages individual growth and creativity. Technique courses in ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap, pointe & Pilates, deliver individualized attention and cultivate maximum progress. Facilities include two large studios, one of which is a 150-seat performance space. All ballet and modern dance technique courses have live accompaniment. Students are engaged in an intensive sequence of improvisation, solo and group composition, and partnering studies. Courses in dance history, dance sciences, theatre production, marketing and promotion techniques, music, and teaching techniques build a strong foundation for artistic expression and a scholarly awareness of dance as an art form.
The Dance Division presents three main stage concerts yearly in the 600-seat Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre, engaging students in performance beginning in their freshman year. Outreach activities and showcases for student choreography are frequent. Master classes and residencies with internationally acclaimed guest artists are scheduled throughout the year.
Learning support services are available to all students in every course at Shenandoah. Free peer tutoring with a student who has previously succeeded in the course is available for any course across the university. The Writing Center is available for every stage of the writing process from thesis development to proofreading and bibliography assistance. The Math Enrichment Center is available for math and science assistance. Professors and Academic Advisors across the university also have office hours and open door policies to ensure Shenandoah students succeed academically.
Performance Opportunities & Ensembles
Shenandoah Conservatory produces more than 300 performances each year. Enroll in a dynamic curriculum and start preparing for a meaningful career in the arts. You will practice your craft in front of audiences and develop a plan for your professional launch into the industry that focuses on your personal desires and aspirations.
Embrace extensive performance opportunities with top-tier facilities from theatres, concert halls and dance studios. Unite with fellow artists and join an alumni family that takes center stage from Broadway to the concert halls of Europe.
Ensembles & Performing Groups
Shenandoah Dance Ensemble is the performing outlet for students of the Dance Division at Shenandoah Conservatory. The ensemble performs extensively on campus and in a wide variety of nationally recognized venues.
Shenandoah Conservatory is home to more than 30 performing groups — including instrumental, vocal, and dance ensembles — that present numerous performances every year. These performances take place throughout Shenandoah University’s vibrant campus on its various stages, including a concert hall, recital hall, proscenium stage, black box studio, outdoor amphitheater and more, to venues and performance spaces in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and around the world. Ensembles constantly engage with Shenandoah’s dynamic faculty and an array of distinguished guest artists through residencies, workshops and unique performance opportunities.
Experience the world-renowned Shenandoah Conservatory. Study with master teachers – more than 100 professionals in music, theatre, dance and arts management.
Shenandoah Conservatory’s prestigious faculty is dynamic, creative, and passionately committed to the highest levels of artistic excellence. A deeply caring community, they mentor students with a wealth of professional expertise, balancing rigorous expectations with compassion and wisdom. At Shenandoah, you will study with, and perform for, award-winning composers, Metropolitan Opera singers, Grammy Award winning conductors and international competition winners. You will learn from leading scholars in music and premiere works created by accomplished dance artists and cutting-edge directors. Shenandoah Conservatory’s faculty embodies the highest levels of professional accomplishment and the deepest commitment to furthering the artistic growth and creative aspirations of students in every discipline.
Chair of Dance Division; Associate Professor, DanceFull Biography
Auxiliary Adjunct Assistant Professor, DanceFull Biography
Professor, DanceFull Biography
Dance Accompanist; Music Coordinator for Dance Division; Assistant Professor, DanceFull Biography
Erica M. Helm
Coordinator of Theatre & Dance Recruitment; Associate Professor, DanceFull Biography
Shylo M. Martinez
Assistant Professor, Dance and Musical Theatre; Coordinator of Musical Theatre DanceFull Biography
Adjunct Auxiliary Associate Professor, DanceFull Biography
Application and Audition Information
Shenandoah University works on rolling admissions. Applications are reviewed individually and holistically.
Submit your application, review required admissions materials, and find our admissions standards.
Admission to Shenandoah Conservatory is highly competitive. Not only must students be academically admissible, they must also complete and pass the mandatory audition/portfolio review and interview process. Audition dates are limited and may fill and close well in advance of the audition date.
Make studying abroad the highlight of your college experience! Whether you go for a year, a semester, or just a few weeks, you will never forget learning in another culture! The Center for International Programs is here to help you plan your study abroad experience. Start your planning early to ensure the courses you complete abroad count toward your degree and you graduate on time.
Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program
The Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program offers Shenandoah students a short-term, faculty-led, study-abroad experience for academic credit. These short-term, credit-bearing, faculty-led programs are offered winter break, spring break, and during the summer. If a course is not within your major, it might be used as an elective.
Shenandoah University is a member of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), a global network of 300 universities. This partnership allows students to study for a full semester or year at other member campuses abroad. By working closely with their academic advisors and the study abroad advisor, students can take classes taught in English abroad while receiving Shenandoah credit.
Shenandoah University also maintains direct partnerships with several universities around the world. These relationships allow students from SU to study abroad as exchange students and students from these universities to study at SU. All partner universities offer courses taught in English.
Fast-Track to Arts Management
Accelerated PALM Program
The Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management is designed to provide future performing arts executives and artistic leaders with the industry skills required in the 21st century. The accelerated program in Performing Arts Leadership and Management is available for current Shenandoah Conservatory undergraduates who, upon completion of their undergraduate degree, wish to obtain a Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management in just one year. Students who are accepted into the accelerated program will begin to take arts leadership and management courses during their undergraduate studies and register for internship during the summer between senior year and their final year of graduate study.
Congratulations to the Class of 2023
Congratulations to our newest dance alumni!
Special thanks to Aidan Steinly and Johnathan Hsu for their beautiful photography for the Labyrinth concert photo shoots!
B.A. in Dance, B.S. in Public Health
Mary Kate Cawley is thrilled to have completed her double major in dance AND public health! She was a featured dancer in works created by faculty and guest artists during her studies at Shenandoah. Mary Kate’s talents embrace a broad range of repertoire, including classical and contemporary ballet, modern dance and jazz, as well as commercial jazz styles. Her research, “Improvements in Dance Therapy for Chronically Ill Patients,” was presented as part of the 2023 Shenandoah University Research Expo (SURE) in April 2023 and recognized as a winner in the Undergraduate Performance – Individual category.
B.A. in Dance, B.F.A. in Theatre Design & Production (Scenic Design)
An interdisciplinary artist whose art is influenced by movement, Maggie performed in works by Roderick George, Danielle Sten-Guillermo, Kim Fields, Daniel Padierna, Tiffanie Carson and Ting-Yu Chen as a member of the Shenandoah Dance Ensemble, and was showcased as a soloist in a re-staging of Ballet Hispánico’s “Batucada Fantástica.” As a choreographer, DeFrees creates work that challenges the mind and body, drawing inspiration from her integrative arts. Her capstone project, MA.DE in Color, explores color theory and how designers/choreographers use color to enhance their message. DeFrees thrives on interdisciplinary collaboration and aims to further cultivate her passion for dance performance and enhanced production value. Post graduation, she will be sharing her love of dance and continuing her creative journey with her company, MA.DE Dance Collective. Follow her journey on Instagram: @ma.de_dancecollective.
What I value most about my time here at Shenandoah is the ability I have had to collaborate. I find so much inspiration from being surrounded by other passionate artists and truly do not believe I would have been able to do some of this work anywhere else. I am thankful for their willingness to support my double major and help me cultivate a path for myself that I never deemed possible.”
– Magen “Maggie” DeFrees
B.A. in Dance, B.S. in Exercise Science
Lainey is thrilled to be joining fellow alumni Eve Stanley’s Winchester-based contemporary dance company, ARTEINMOVIMENTO. The company will premiere at the ShenArts Fest in October 2023 and tour regionally with a new project, “Walking Artwork.” Some of her favorite memories at Shenandoah were the opportunities she had to bring dance to groups outside of campus, including performing for the Winchester community at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley and for American College Dance Association (ACDA) conferences, as well as assisting at the National High School Dance Festival. After graduation, Lainey is jumping right back in to graduate studies here at Shenandoah, where she will earn her Master of Science in Athletic Training and a certificate in Performing Arts Medicine.
What I most value about my time at Shenandoah was the vast range of things I got to experience. The opportunities I got from both the dance department as well as the exercise science department were incredible. The ways I was able to grow as an artist, an intellectual, and a leader in and outside of the classroom are unmatched and I will be forever grateful for my undergraduate time at SU.”
– Alaina “Lainey” Griffin
B.A. in Dance, B.B.A.
Following her graduation with a double major in dance and business administration, Emily has continued her path with Shenandoah University, beginning a full-time position with the Office of Career & Professional Development. She currently serves as the Career Educator and Marketing Outreach Coordinator, where she gives presentations and markets the department and their events. She is available for student appointments to help build and refine professional materials, explore career paths and graduate school options, and even gives mock interviews. Emily is excited to welcome everyone back for the fall semester and hopes to see students and alumni stopping by the third floor of Cooley Hall!
B.A. in Dance, B.S. in Sociology
Michaela J. Smallwood (she/her/hers) was born and raised in Hagerstown, Maryland, where she began training at the City Ballet School and attended Barbara Ingram School for the Fine Arts. A former dancer with SEED Dance Company, she also trained at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and recently graduated from Shenandoah University with a double major in dance and sociology. Her performance highlights include works by Tiffanie Carson, Maurice Fraga, Ting-Yu Chen and Erica Helm, as well as a performance at the American College Dance Association’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in March 2022. An activist and a creator, her goals for her dance career are to push the ideas of change, particularly when it comes to body image and diversity in dance, showing the world that dance is not one set “look.”
B.A. in Dance, B.S. in Public Health (Honors)
Throughout her years at Shenandoah, Allyson has gained an abundance of opportunities through experiential learning (Azores, Spain, France; Honors; GCP); performance, creation and teaching (Lucinda Childs; Natasha Lynn Davis; Ginger Cox; ShenCoLAB; SCAA) and has been recognized for her achievements on and off campus (Outstanding Student in Public Health 2022; Black Excellence Award 2020). She was the recent recipient of the Arts and Culture Youth Award 2023 in Barbuda, and was one of 100 participants selected across the Caribbean to take part in UNESCO’s Fondos Cultura Programme. Allyson looks forward to continuing her career in teaching, further developing programs for the community of Barbuda, and traveling to complete her Yoga Teacher Training certification.
Shenandoah University offers unique experiences and quality education for all of its students. Throughout my four years, I’ve grown as a leader, life-long learner, and have gained valuable skills applicable to my career goals. Thank you SU for offering me the very best! I’m beyond grateful for the gift of education you have granted me.”
– Allyson R. Trunzer
B.A. in Dance, B.A. in Data Science, B.S. in Mathematics (Honors)
April Ulrich is thrilled to have completed a triple major during her time at Shenandoah, combining her love for dance with an interest in mathematics and computer sciences! In addition to performing in numerous works choreographed by faculty, guest artists and her peers, April served as a mathematics tutor, a teacher’s assistant for pre-caluculus courses, and provided mentorship through several Christian organizations on campus. April presented her research in the Spring 2023 Shenandoah University Research Expo (SURE) and received a top prize for her work, “Understanding Fractals Using Newton’s Method.” After completing her internship at NASA, she will begin her STEM career at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory as a mathematician and engineer!
Meet Our Graduates
Christine West ’22
B.A. in Dance, B.A. in Spanish
Christine’s B.A. in Dance capstone project, “The 5th limb – technology – and its existence within museum spaces,” was presented on Saturday, May 7, in Shingleton Dance Space. Working in collaboration with artist Deeanna Delcoco and quilter Cynthia West, Christine designed and curated a small scale museum installation as well as a new dance film, “those roots grew for themselves.”
I am so thankful for these past four years at Shenandoah University, with my highlights being the residency opportunities I have had with Sidra Bell, Roderick George and Ballet Hispánico. After graduation I am excited to continue my audition process with contemporary and modern dance companies around the country. I want to extend a big thank you to my faculty and peers that have guided me through these years, as well as my family and Jacob for their continued support in my academic success.
– Christine West
Erisa Sloan Flewell ’21
B.A. in Dance
Erisa was thrilled to perform in both dance and theatre productions during her years at Shenandoah Conservatory. She is excited start an online certificate program in functional medicine health coaching this fall!
Coming into college, I thought I had all my ducks in a row and knew exactly what I wanted out of my college experience. Boy, was I wrong! Because of that, I am so grateful to my SU dance and conservatory faculty for giving me the space to explore other interests and really broaden my horizons while spending the most concentrated four years of my life figuring out who I am and what I wanted from my educated by the time I graduated . . . all while giving me the most cutting-edge, top-tier training I could ask for! This is ultimately why I transitioned from being a B.F.A. track student to a B.A. track, so that I could get a more even balance of artistic (dance) and academic courses in my load. This kind of versatility in my dance and academic experience is what makes me feel ready to tackle the postgraduate steps of my career. Because of the B.A. track, I was able to credibly combine my two passions for the dancing body and human anatomy.”
– Erisa Sloan Flewell
Emily Tuck ’21
B.A. in Dance, B.S. in Psychology
Emily’s four years at Shenandoah were SUPER-packed with a diverse roster of studies and she graduated with her double major in dance and psychology, all the while performing in faculty, guest artist and peer-choreographed works! This summer, Emily began her studies for Shenandoah’s doctor of occupational therapy program.
Layna Lamons ’14
B.A. in Dance
Layna is is a behavior analyst in Winchester, Virginia, who currently practices at Grafton Integrated Health Network. She is working on her certification as a RhythmWorks Special Needs Dance Instructor and she teaches at Rhythm n’ Motion Dance Studio in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Nick Brock ’14
B.A. in Dance
Nick graduated from the Jefferson College of Health Sciences in Roanoke, Virginia, with his master’s degree in occupational therapy. He is currently working as a specialist at Atrium Health Carolina Medical Center, which is the only level 1 trauma unit in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Amanda Boyer ’11
B.A. in Dance
After graduation, Amanda went on to complete her Doctor of Physical Therapy in August 2014 and began her professional practice in the Martinsburg, West Virginia, area, where her clients have included dancers from Inwood Performing Arts Company and other local studios.
Funmilayo Ojikutu ’07
B.A. in Dance
Funmi is the assistant director of the Office of External Programs, Internships and Career Services for the Northwestern University School of Communication in Evanston, Illinois.
Laura Raffa ’05
B.A. in Dance, Psychology Minor
Laura Raffa, MS/BC-DMT/LCAT, completed her Master of Science in Dance Movement Therapy from Pratt University in 2010, and post-graduate training in authentic movement and multi-modality therapy. After an internship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where she worked with children on the autism spectrum, she took a position at the Montefiore Medical Center on an adult acute inpatient unit. Laura is currently a creative arts therapist at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, where she works with a forensic psychiatric population. She has continued to dance with several local companies, including Dean Street Foo and Carla Gallo Dancers, and is a member of the New York State Chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association.
Crystal Draper ’03
B.A. in Dance, Psychology Minor
Crystal is the owner and artistic director of Kinetic Expressions Dance Academy (KEDA) in South Daytona, Florida. As a member of Surfscape Contemporary Dance Theatre, she performed professionally and internationally from 2013 to 2018. She has recently started the Purpose Academy of Fine Arts, a pre-K- 12 private school for the academics and the arts!