Dance Program at USF

The dance program's small class sizes, range of courses, and dedicated faculty create an intimate environment that cultivates your technical and artistic growth.  The teachers sincerely strive for you to find your own voice.  They respect and encourage your artistic development and you can't help but be affected by their passion.

– USF Dance Student

Our academic programs:


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The Performing Arts & Social Justice Major: Dance Concentration

Located in one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the country and home to the largest dance community outside of New York City, the University of San Francisco’s Dance Program offers a rigorous course of study within the nation’s only Performing Arts & Social Justice major with a concentration or minor in dance. Supported by the university’s thriving liberal arts environment, our innovative program promotes technical and academic rigor, individual artistry, community engagement, and social action.

The Dance Concentration is open to all USF students. Students learn how to combine their passion for studying dance with their desire to make a positive impact on their communities. The program is built around the belief that the performing arts are an integral part of social change. By connecting artistic practice with academic theory, providing many performance opportunities on campus stages, and taking students off-campus to engage in community-based artistic projects, the PASJ Dance Major gives students a robust tool-kit to use to achieve their future artistic and social goals.

A PASJ Major: Dance Concentration requires completion of 48 units of coursework and participation in at least 2 USF Dance Productions.

PASJ 160-series: Body & Performance: Laban (1-2 units)
PASJ 170-series: Production & Design (2 units)
PASJ 180-series: Dance and Social History (4 units)
PASJ 280 Contemporary Performance Practices (4 units)
PASJ 380 Performing Arts & Community Exchange (SL) (4 units)
PASJ 480 Senior Project (4 units)

DANC 211/311 Modern Technique (6 units)
DANC 210/310 Ballet (2 units)
DANC 151 Contact Improvisation/Partnering (2 units)
DANC 141 Music for Dancers (1-2 units)
DANC 230 Composition I (4 units)
DANC 231 Composition II (4 units)
DANC 360 Dance in the Community (4 units) (Core F, SL)
DANC 200-300 series Electives (4 units)
Two semesters of USF Dance Ensemble (0-4 units)
Crew one Performing Arts production

The Dance Minor

The Dance Minor is open to all students and is compatible with any major course of study. The goal of the minor is to develop artists who are not only technically competent and versatile, but who have also explored the conceptual, compositional and creative processes underlying dance as an artistic form. Working closely with faculty and peers, students will develop the means to understand the body, stimulate the imagination, and challenge the intellect.

A Dance Minor requires the completion of 20 units of coursework and participation in at least two USF Dance Productions.

DANC 140 Music for Dancers (2 units)
DANC 161 Body in Performance: Laban (2 units)
DANC 181 Dance and Social History (4 units)
DANC 230 Composition I (4 units)
DANC 231 Composition II (4 units)
DANC 200-300 series Electives (4 units)
Participation in 2 USF Dance Ensemble Productions

Dance Course Offerings

Most dance classes are offered each semester. Check on Banner through USFConnect to see the current semester's dance course offerings, locations, and times.  Click here to view all dance classes in the general catalogue. All of our Core classes and DANC 110 level classes are open to any student, regardless of major or minor.

DANC 110 Courses (1-2 units):

  • Beginning Ballet
  • Beginning Modern
  • Dance for Musical Theater
  • Hip Hop
  • Ballroom, Latin & Swing Dance
  • West African Dance
  • Flamenco
  • Conditioning for Dancers

DANC 141 Music for Dancers (1-2 units)
DANC 151 Partnering and Contact Improvisation (1-2 units)
DANC 161 Body in Performance: Laban (1-2 units)
DANC 180 Popular Dance: Cultures and Subcultures (4 units) (Core F)
DANC 181 Dance and Social History (4 units)
DANC 195 Freshman Seminar: Dance in San Francisco (4 units)
DANC 210 Intermediate Ballet (1-2 units)
DANC 211 Intermediate Modern (1-2 units)
DANC 212 Intermediate/Advanced Jazz/Theater Dance (1-3 units)
DANC 230 Composition I (4 units)
DANC 231 Composition II (4 units)
DANC 310 Intermediate/Advanced Ballet (1-3 units)
DANC 311 Intermediate/Advanced Modern Dance (1-3 units)
DANC 360 Dance in the Community (4 units) (Core F, Service Learning)
DANC 390 Special Topics Dance Course (1-4 units)
DANC 180 Dance Appreciation (4 units) (Core F)
DANC 340 Balinese Dance and Culture (4 units) (Core F, Cultural Diversity)

Performance Opportunities

From the moment you enter our program you are invited to audition for performances. For any performance ensemble students can enroll for 0-4 units. The Dance season includes two main stage concerts per year of original and commissioned works. There are two performance groups, the USF Dance Ensemble and the Dance Generators. There are also many informal performing opportunities, such as the Student Cabaret production series, which gives motivated students the opportunity to write, direct, choreograph, compose, and perform work of their choosing.

USF Dance Ensemble is comprised of students who audition at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters to perform in the USF Dance Concerts. Choreographers in the Fall Concert are guest artists from the Bay Area who are aligned with the Performing Arts and Social Justice mission. Guest artists have included nationally recognized artists such as AXIS Dance Company, Sean Dorsey, Erika Schuch, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Tandy Beal, and Jo Kreiter. In the Spring, the USF Dance Ensemble works with choreographers who are on faculty in the Dance Program and Senior PASJ/Dance Concentration students. If chosen to be in a piece, you can receive credit through DANC 480-01. For more information about auditions contact the Dance Program Office at 415-422-3888.

Dance Generators are a group of USF students and Senior Bay Area Adults, aged 17-72, who strive to create thought-provoking works of dance/theater. Through our casting, our content, and our movement choices, we aim to stretch audiences’ definitions of dance. We perform in Dance Festivals, Schools and Senior Centers throughout the Bay Area.  This group is by audition, but open to all students regardless of your level of dance experience. Rehearsals are Wednesdays from 6:30-9pm in ED040. To enroll for units use course number: DANC-480-01. For more information contact the Dance Program Office at 415-422-3888. 

Dance Program Faculty and Adjunct Instructors

Amie Dowling (Dance Program, Assistant Professor, Dance Program Coordinator & Advisor): asdowling@usfca.edu, (415) 422-4888
Megan Nicely
(Dance Program, Assistant Professor & Advisor): nicely@usfca.edu, (415) 422-3318

Dance Program Office: (415) 422-3888
Adjunct Faculty Office: (415) 422-3880

Graciela Acedo (Beginning Ballet): gacedo@usfca.edu
Naby Bangoura (West African Dance): nbangoura@usfca.edu
Brenton Cheng (Partnering/Contact Improvisation & Body in Performance: Laban): bhcheng@usfca.edu
Jerry C. Duke (Ballroom, Latin & Swing): duke@usfca.edu
Katie Faulkner (Intermediate Modern & Intermediate/Advanced Modern): khfaulkner@usfca.edu
Natalie Greene (Beginning & Intermediate/Advanced Jazz/Theater Dance, Dance in the Community): njgreene@usfca.edu
Michelle LaVigne (Freshman Seminar: Dance in San Francisco): mrlavigne@usfca.edu
Sharonjean Leeds (Intermediate/Advanced Ballet): leeds@usfca.edu
Cathleen McCarthy (Conditioning for Dancers):cmccarthy@usfca.edu
Maureen Miner (Beginning Modern):  mrminer@usfca.edu
Eli Nelson (Music for Dancers):esnelson@usfca.edu
Jennifer Polyocan (Intermediate Ballet): jlpolyocan@usfca.edu
Rashad Pridgen (Hip Hop): rpridgen@usfca.edu

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I have to audition to be a Dance Major or Minor?
    No, you do not need to audition to be a PASJ Major with a concentration in Dance or a Dance Minor. You apply as a regular undergraduate at USF and declare your major or minor. Placement in correct technique level occurs the first week of classes.
  2. What style of dance will be the focus if I am a Dance Major?
    Our dance program is based in modern/contemporary technique. We also offer classes in many additional styles and forms to accompany this foundation, including ballet, contact improvisation, jazz/theater, traditional Balinese dance, and West African.
  3. Can I be a Dance Minor if I'm a Business, Nursing, Education, or Biology Major?
    Absolutely. We have had dance minors and double majors pursuing a wide variety of degree programs at USF. We work closely with students to devise a course of study that will work with any degree track.
  4. Will I have the opportunity to perform?
    Yes! At the beginning of every fall and spring semester, we hold auditions for all undergraduate students who would like to be a part of the USF Dance Ensemble concert at the end of the semester (December or May). Auditions for USF's intergenerational performance group, The Dance Generators, take place once a year at the beginning of the fall semester. Students will also periodically have opportunities to audition for other students' choreographic works as part of the student-produced Cabaret performances.
  5. Will I have the opportunity to choreograph?
    Yes! All majors and minors are required to take two levels of composition classes geared toward the generation and crafting of your own choreographic studies. In some cases, interested students may apply to produce a Student Cabaret, a facilitated program that supports students' self-produced performance works. Independent studies and Senior Projects are other forums wherein students may pursue the creation of their own choreographic work under the mentorship of one or more dance faculty members.
  6. Where can I see video of current or past USF Dance performances?
    Our USF Dance Program Youtube channel contains several videos that highlight both current and past programs and performances: http://www.youtube.com/user/usfdance. You can also track us on the USF Dance Program Facebook Page.
  7. What opportunities exist for students interested in interacting with the San Francisco dance community?
    Every fall the USF Dance program invites a few highly regarded dance artists from the Bay Area dance scene to perform or choreograph works for the USF Dance Ensemble dancers. We host monthly forums for our PASJ Majors/Minors that introduce students to a broad range of performance artists working to integrate content and/or practices that address issues of social justice. We also offer several courses and independent study opportunities that connect interested students directly with artists, organizations, and community groups currently active in the areas of Bay Area art and activism. In many cases, these introductions have lead to lasting and meaningful relationships that have yielded job and internship opportunities before and after graduation.
  8. What kinds of jobs does a BA in PASJ Dance Emphasis prepare me for after I graduate?
    Our graduates have used their Performing Arts and Social Justice/Dance Concentration degree in various ways. A number of them are choreographers, dance performers or artistic directors of dance companies. Some opened private dance studios and some teach dance in community settings including public schools and senior centers. PASJ/Dance Concentration graduates are employed in the field of arts management as arts administrators and others have gone on to become pilates instructors, yoga teachers and bodyworkers. Many have continued their education by attending graduate school in dance or dance related fields e.g. sports medicine or physical therapy. Others have used their undergraduate dance degree as a springboard to launch into non-dance careers e.g. architecture, medicine. Visit our Facebook page to find out what our recent graduates are up to.
  9. Can I take dance classes even if I am not a PASJ Major or a Dance Minor?
    Yes, classes are open to all USF undergraduate students. The Dance Program offers a variety of classes that will fit any interest. Some of our classes include: modern, ballet, hip hop, jazz/theater dance, Flamenco, ballroom, and West African. The classes can be taken from 1-2 or 1-3 units depending on the class, and will appear on your academic transcript. The Dance Program also offers 4 unit courses such as Dance in San Francisco, Dance and Social History, Popular Dance Culture and Subcultures, Composition I, Composition II, and Dance in the Community.
  10. What are the dance facilities at USF?
    Most classes are held in the Kathi Gallagher Dance Studio located within the Koret Health & Recreation Center at the corner or Parker and Turk Streets. Academic dance classes can be held in a variety of classroom locations throughout campus. We have two primary performance venues on campus:
    • Presentation Theater, in the School of Education on Turk Street, is an elegant 478 seat theater known for its acoustics and ornate Gothic Revival performance space.
    • The Studio Theater on Lone Mountain is an intimate and versatile black box theater space with a seating capacity of 110.