The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance curriculum is designed to prepare both the student seeking a career in dance as a performing artist as well as the student seeking a career as a teacher and choreographer in a private studio setting.
An audition is required for entrance into the program. Through a comprehensive curriculum, students develop their ability to improvise and compose dance, use technology for the presentation of dance, and demonstrate dance technique in solo and ensemble performances. Students perform a variety of repertoire in a wide range of settings, and have numerous opportunities to attend diverse public performances and events.
Shenandoah’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance program offers a wealth of intensive training and performance experiences in a diverse, arts saturated environment while maintaining the close-knit community and “feel” of a dance company.
You’ll have extensive opportunities to perform in faculty, guest artist, peer and self choreographed work. The international focus of Shenandoah University also facilitates opportunities for you to study and perform in other countries.
Our Conservatory setting also facilitates collaborative experiences with colleagues in both music and theatre.
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.
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.
Learn More about Conservatory Minors
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.
Aubrey Lawrence ’15 made it to the America’s Got Talent Finale on NBC with her touring dance company DIAVOLO | Architecture in Motion! Dani Maloney ’18 graduated early to fly to Los Angeles to join Diavolo as well. The two SU alumni are performing at the Kennedy Center and are hoping for a chance to compete in America’s Got Talent again.
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.
View Full Dance (B.F.A.) Curriculum
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.
Shenandoah Conservatory Performances
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
Assistant Professor, DanceFull Biography
Associate Dean for Student Affairs; Professor, DanceFull Biography
Dance Accompanist; Musical Coordinator for Dance; Lecturer, 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 Associate Professor, DanceFull Biography
Robin Hart Schroth
Adjunct Assistant Professor, DanceFull Biography
Application & 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.
Meet Our Graduates: Class of 2022
Special thanks to Aidan Steinly for his beautiful photography for the ShenCo Phoenix concert photo shoots.
Claudia Boutwell ’22 (B.F.A. in Dance)
In the coming months, Claudia will be teaching at the Pembroke School of Performing Arts in Pembroke, MA, and audition as much as possible. Eventually, her plan is to get a master’s degree in dance in order to give back to the dance community in a university setting.
One highlight from my time here at Shenandoah was definitely ShenCo Phoenix’s Solo Concert. Not only did I love the opportunity to show how much I’ve grown technically and creatively over these last four years, but I loved being able to see each of my classmates shine as well!”
– Claudia Boutwell
Virginia “V” Cangelosi ’22 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Over the summer, V will be working for a refugee sanctuary here in Virginia and teaching dance summer camps for the Centerville Dance Academy. They will also be performing with Charlie Maybee in Geneva, NY, at the 8th annual Somatic Dance Conference & Performance Festival. Their duet “Protologism” was premiered earlier this spring in Washington, D.C., and V is excited to get to showcase it again!
Shelby Davila ’22 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Erin Friedersdorf ’22 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Trey Gregg ’22 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Trey is headed to Sandusky, Ohio, to dance at Cedar Point Amusement Park for the summer. Once that engagement is complete, he will be teaching at the Dance Conservatory at St. Paul’s School for Boys and Girls while investigating master’s degree programs with a goal of earning his M.F.A. in Dance. Highlights from his time at SU included being a teaching assistant for Daniel Padierna’s jazz classes, dancing in a restaged work with Ballet Hispánico, and all the amazing connections he made.
Being here for only 3 years and transferring into a new school and program was scary, but Shenandoah has become my second home. Everyone had open arms when I came in and it has felt like the full 4 year experience here at SU. I would like to personally thank all the faculty here at SU for believing in me and allowing me to pursue my dreams as a dancer and artist, as well as my family for supporting me through college and always coming and seeing me dance my heart out on stage. Thank you for an amazing 3 years ShenCoDance, love you always.”
– Trey Gregg
Abigail “Abby” Gronczewski ’22 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Abby will be working at Dance Place in Washington, D.C., this summer as a communications intern in preparation for launching into her final year of study with Shenandoah’s PALM program. She will graduate in May 2023 with her Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership & Management, after which she will be moving to Los Angeles to begin her dance career.
Dakota Matos ’22 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Following graduation, Dakota will be relocating to San Diego, California, to further pursue her career in dance performance.
I am so excited to graduate! Stay posted as I continue my audition journey on the west coast! Thank you to all the incredible faculty, mentors, family and friends that have supported me and made SU so special.”
– Dakota Matos
Cassidy Myers ’22 (B.F.A. in Dance)
In June, Cassidy will attend the Ballet Hispánico Dance Intensive in New York City and then be teaching younger dancers at Charlene’s School of Dance in the later part of the summer. In the fall she will make the big move to join her sister Marissa Myers ’19 (B.F.A. in Dance) in New York City for auditions and create the next chapter in her story as a dance artist!
Eve Stanley ’22 (B.F.A. in Dance)
After graduation, Eve will continue with her internship with Shenandoah Arts Council as the assistant executive director while continuing to explore her audition journey and discover the “next chapter” in her dance career. She will be working with Italia Performing Arts Studio on their “Peter Pan” show this summer and begin teaching for them in the fall. July 2022 Update >
I look forward to what is to come and to apply the four years of training that I have received from my talented professors here at Shenandoah University. Thank you SU for everything!”
– Eve Stanley
Kristina Tucker ’22 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Kristina is thrilled to be databased for both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines for the next year. This means that at any time, she could receive a phone call to join either cruise line!
“I am super excited to see where else the future may take me, but for now, I’m going to continue auditioning and putting myself out there in hopes to move to Los Angeles soon. I plan to work hard, save money and keep in shape in the meantime!”
Meet Our Graduates: Class of 2021
Special thanks to Fotos by Franco and Jonathan Hsu Photography
Madison “Maddie” Boone ’21 (B.F.A. in Dance)
This fall, Maddie will continue teaching at Visions Dance Company while also serving as the after-school Dance Program Director at The Hill School, a private prep school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. She will be offering jazz and audition classes at Steel River Playhouse, located in the historic district of Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
Lily Farrar ’21 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Lily is going into her second season with Odyssey Dance Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she is performing with the company and serving as their social media and marketing manager. This past spring, the company toured productions of “Chicago” and “Romeo & Juliet” in Germany for a month! Lily will also be performing with Wasatch Contemporary Dance Company, based in Provo, Utah, and with Atlas Dance Collective, with whom she has also secured the position of assistant director of the touring company, which is based in West Jordan, Utah. She continues to teach masterclasses and choreograph in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas.
Q: How did your Shenandoah Conservatory experiences best prepare you to meet the various challenges of your current position(s)?
As a professional dancer in a company, I dance 7-9 hours a day. The classes that I took at SU along with the various rehearsals in the afternoon set me up to be able to handle the long rehearsal hours needed to work in this industry. Learning how to work with the close knit group of dancers at Shenandoah has allowed me to really thrive in a small company setting. The additional responsibilities I had at SU like running my own rehearsals and planning concerts really gave me an advantage post graduation . . . companies are always looking for people who can contribute more than just their dance abilities, but also leadership and organizational skills.
Q: What advice would you give to a prospective dance major who is joining the Shenandoah Conservatory family?
Choosing to attend SU was one of the best choices I have ever made. I feel as though the people I met there are a support system for life. Not only did I receive excellent training that set me up for success in the industry, I grew as an artist within my 4 years. SU let me explore my artistry and creativity while making sure I was a technically trained dancer as well, which is a combination that I believe has brought amazing opportunities in my career so far.
Kathleen “Kati” Freeman ’21 (B.F.A. in Dance)
In June, Kati attended the Ballet X Dance summer intensive, spending 2 weeks immersed in technique, conditioning and repertoire classes with company members and Ballet X Artistic Director Christine Cox. It was an inspiring and challenging experience, especially the choreography work with company member Caili Quan, with whom Kati had worked last year during DanceWorks Chicago’s ChoreoLab. Following a callback for Disney Cruise Lines, Kati has an audition for Peridance Contemporary Dance Company coming up this fall.
Rachel Hock ’21 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Rachel is excited to be starting her Professional Studies Certificate Program for Health and Physical Education (preK-12) through Shenandoah University’s Division of Education and Leadership!
Jeneane Kraft ’21 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Jeneane is exploring dance opportunities in the mid-Atlantic region while continuing to complete her prerequisites for entry into a graduate program for physical therapy! She performed in “Young Frankenstein” at Street Lamp Theatre in Rising Sun, Maryland in May 2022.
Berkley Lipscomb ’21 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Berkley is currently working toward her graduate certificate in performing arts health and fitness through the Performing Arts Medicine program at Shenandoah University. Over the summer she was teaching young children at Genia Johnson Dance Company in Colonial Heights, Virginia , offering a Frozen Dance Camp and a Shining Stars 6-week session for 2 to 4 year olds. This fall, she will continue to teach the little ones, as well as Hip-hop for the older dancers, and work with the company’s competition team!
Donovan Mellon ’21 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Margaret “Maggie” Pekala ’21 (B.F.A. in Dance, B.S. in Psychology)
Maggie is excited to join the faculty and staff team at D.G. Cooley Elementary School in Clarke County, Virginia, as a behavioral specialist. She looks forward to continuing to perform and teach locally while starting her master’s degree in applied behavior analysis at Shenandoah University.
Nicolette Peron ’21 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Nicolette participated in this summer’s BARE Dance Intensive, working with New York artist Mike Esperanza and his company, which includes Shenandoah faculty member Tiffanie Carson. Other Shenandoah dancers at the intensive included alumni Rachel Shaver, Kelly Kline, Natalie Stys, Ashley Rivette and Abby Gronczewski. After the intensive, Nicolette had a great time hiking and exploring many beautiful places in Colorado with her fiancé, Taylor, including the Rocky Mountains, the Garden of the Gods, the Great Sand Dunes and the Red Rock Amphitheater.
Ashley Rivette ’21 (B.F.A. in Dance)
Ashley headed to Rüsselsheim, Germany, where she performed as one of the newest members of DanceWorks Chicago in their Hallo, Deutschland! 2022 Tour. She has performed as a part of the BARE Dance Intensive, working with New York artist Mike Esperanza and his company. During her junior and senior years at Shenandoah, she worked regularly as an apprentice/intern with Christopher K. Morgan & Artists in Washington, D.C., and had several performance opportunities through that engagement.
Cara Thomas ’21 (B.F.A. in Dance)
This summer, Cara participated in an intensive with Nova Linea Dance, a new contemporary company in Milwaukee and loved it! A stop in Chicago found her taking company class with DanceWorks Chicago as well. Now back home in Florida, Cara is preparing to make the big move to Los Angeles in the near future!