Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance

Dance Theater Photos - SHSU - Fall Spectrum - 2018 - Photographer Lynn Lane - Hi Res-236

actors (in the flesh) by Guest Artist Sidra Bell; Photo by Lynn Lane

BFA in Dance Program Overview

The Bachelor's in Fine Arts in Dance program provides intensive study in modern, ballet, and jazz techniques; multiple performance opportunities; exciting guest artists and choreographers; opportunities for choreographic exploration including the integration of media into the creative process; as well as a solid academic grounding in coursework ranging from Dance History to Criticism and Analysis to Dance & Technology.

The BFA is a 120 credit degree in dance taking four years of residency in the Department of Dance. Graduates of the program go on to work professionally in various dance related fields such as: performing with dance companies and touring with entertainment industrial shows; teaching, directing and choreographing in university and high school dance programs; working in health-related fields, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic medicine and massage therapy; or are continuing with graduate work.

Admission to the BFA Program
Auditions are required for admission to the Department of Dance. 

The next auditions for the BFA in Dance are scheduled for the following:
December 6, 2019, February 21, 2020, & April 3, 2020 from 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM. Cancelled
Audition via video for Fall 2020 start.
Click here for Audition/Video Audition Registration.

Getting Started - What incoming BFA students need to know

Sam Houston State University is home of one of the oldest and most successful Departments of Dance in the state of Texas. The SHSU Department of Dance has had nearly 30 works selected for the American College Dance Festival Association Regional Festival Gala Concerts and has been invited to six of the eight National College Dance Festivals hosted by ACDA which showcase the best of American college dance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. In the fall of 1998, the program was listed as one of the 25 outstanding programs in the United States by Dance Spirit Magazine.


Opportunities for Dance Majors

Performance Opportunities - Performance opportunities in dance include: two faculty choreographed dance concerts (Spectrum) per academic year, graduate (ROYGBIV) & undergraduate (Dances @ 8 and Senior Studio) student produced concerts, MFA Thesis concerts, and regional and national dance festivals. Dance Spectrum auditions are held each semester on the first Wednesday of classes to determine casting.

Exciting Guest Artists and Presenting Series - The Department of Dance has a history of bringing guest artists, choreographers, and performances to campus. Since 2010, The Department of Dance has worked closely with The Dance Gallery Festival hosted by Astrid von Ussar out of New York City to bring a performance series to SHSU supporting emerging and established dance artists. The Dance Gallery: The Texas Experience cultivates relationships between students and professionals through a master class series, performance series, and guest artist commissions. Each year 8-12 dance artists/companies come to Sam to perform in the Dance Gallery Festival Texas and out of those participants, one-two artists are commissioned to set a work on the students at SHSU to be performed in Dance Spectrum. Learn more about The Dance Gallery Festival here.

Dance Gallery choreographic commissions include: Sidra Bell (NY), Rohan Bhargava (India), Mike Esperanza (Manilla, Philippines), Manuel Vignoulle (France), Astrid von Ussar (Slovenia), Enzo Celli (Italy), Maurice Causey (Netherlands), Stefanie Nelson Dancegroup (NY), somebodies dance theater (CA), Bliss Kohlmyer (FL), iMEE (RI), Jane Weiner (TX), Amy Cain and Dawn Dippel (TX)

Other Guest Artist Classes and Choreographic Commissions have included: Shen Wei Dance Arts, Joshua L Peugh (Dark Circles Contemporary Dance), Jarod Theoret, David Justin, Lauren Anderson, Sandra Organ, Teoma Nacarrato, Gregory Nuber, and many others

BFA in Dance Student Handbook - All Dance majors are required to follow the guidelines laid out in the BFA student handbook.

BFA Course Requirements

The BFA is a 120 credit degree in dance which requires a minimum of

  • 24 credits in upper level course work in residence
  • 30 credits taken in residence
  • 42 credits in Advanced Hours course work
  • 18 credits in Writing Enhanced (WE) course work
  • 42 credits in Core Curriculum
  • 78 credits in Dance course work

Curriculum - Four levels of ballet and modern dance technique are offered. The curriculum includes Aerial Dance, Choreography, Contact Improvisation, Dance History, Principles of Dance, Pilates, Criticism & Analysis, Dance & Technology, Career Resources, Repertory, Dance As Art, and Dance Pedagogy, as well as numerous popular dance forms, such as Jazz, Tap, and Hip-Hop. All dance majors are required to attend seven to twelve hours of technique each week in addition to rehearsal hours per week. Students must demonstrate an advanced level of proficiency in ballet or modern dance technique before graduating. The first Thursday and Friday each semester are placement auditions during modern and ballet to place dancers in their appropriate technique level.

Transfer Students - Most transfer student need a minimum of five semesters of study at Sam Houston State University to complete the BFA in Dance. If you have completed courses at another university that we recognize as equivalent to our courses, we will give you credit for those. We cannot waive requirements.

Sophomore Gate – Occurs in conjunction with DANC 3376, Choreography 2. This review of candidates for the BFA degree in dance is intended as an opportunity for the faculty to assess the student’s progress and potential for completion of the BFA program, and for the student to fully consider her/his own commitment to such pursuits.  In addition to assessing performance and choreographic skills demonstrated in the Sophomore Gate solo, the faculty will confirm that the student has maintained a minimum 3.0 GPA in dance classes and an overall commitment to the requirements of a Dance Major. Candidates will present a 3-5 minute solo, which they have choreographed under the guidance of their assigned faculty mentor and junior mentor.

There are three outcomes possible for The Sophomore Gate; passing and retention in the BFA program, not passing and student will be advised out of the program, and a probationary period of one semester where the student is asked to improve grades in dance classes or to repeat the gate process itself.

Degree Requirements

Bachelors of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Dance, 2017-2018 catalog
Course Number Hours Recommended Sequence
Core Curriculum – 42 hours required
Component Area I (Communication) 6 Freshman
Component Area II (Mathematics) 3 Freshman
Component Area III (Natural Sciences): Any lab sciences from core 8 Freshman, Sophomore
Component Area IV (Lang, Phil, & Cultural) 3 Freshman
Component Area V (Creative Arts) 3 Junior
Component Area VI (American History) 6 Freshman
Component Area VII (Political Science) 6 Sophomore
Component Area IX (Communication OR Lang, Phil, Cultural) 3 Junior
Select KINE 2115 or NGLI 1101 or ECON 1100 to meet 42 hours 1 Sophomore
Major Core – 78 hours required
DANC 1101 Dance Workshop, 4 semesters 4 Freshman, Sophomore
DANC 1201 Pilates-based Conduct for Dance 2 Sophomore
DANC 1333 Ballet 1 3 Freshman
DANC 1334 Modern 1 3 Freshman
DANC 2333 Ballet 2 3 Sophomore
DANC 2334 Modern 2 3 Sophomore
DANC 2337 Beginning Aerial 3 Junior
DANC 2372 Dance History 3 Junior
DANC 2376 Choreography 1 3 Sophomore
DANC 3333 Ballet 3, 2 semesters 6 Sophomore, Junior
DANC 3334 Modern 3, 2 semesters 6 Sophomore, Junior
DANC 3335 Jazz 3 3 Sophomore
DANC 3336 Improvisation & Partnering 3 Junior
DANC 3374 Principles Of Dance Technique 3 Junior
DANC 3376 Choreography 2 3 Sophomore
DANC 4333 Ballet 42 semesters 6 Senior
DANC 4334 Modern 42 semesters 6 Senior
DANC 4372 Dance Criticism & Analysis 3 Senior
DANC 4376 Choreography 3 3 Junior
DANC 4377 Senior Studio 3 Senior
DANC 4384 Dance Pedagogy 3 Senior
DANC 4388 Dance and Technology 3 Junior
DANC 4389 Career Resources in Dance 3 Senior
Total Hours: 120

More Information About the BFA in Dance


Department of Dance
815 17th Street, Suite 150, Huntsville, TX 77340
Phone: (936) 294-3342 or (936) 294-1875 | E-mail: