Performing Arts & Social Justice, BA


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 USF Dance program offers a rigorous course of study within the Performing Arts and Social Justice (PASJ) 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.

Major with Dance Concentration

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.

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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.

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Performance Opportunities

From the moment students enter our program, they are invited to audition for performances. For any performance ensemble, students can receive academic credit.

The Dance season includes two main stage concerts per year of original and commissioned works, as well as numerous performances in the Bay Area. The USF Dance Companies include:

  • 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. In the past, these guests have included nationally recognized artists, such as AXIS Dance Company, Robert Moses, Sean Dorsey, Erika Chong Shuch, Jo Kreiter/FlyAway, and Marc Bamuthi Joseph. In the spring, the USF Dance Ensemble works with current faculty choreographers in the Dance program, as well as Senior PASJ Dance students.
  • Dance Generators are a group of USF students and Senior Bay Area Adults, aged 18-90, who strive to create thought-provoking works of dance/theater. Through casting, content, and movement choices, they aim to stretch audiences’ definitions of dance. They perform in dance festivals, schools, and senior centers throughout the Bay Area. This group is selected by audition, but open to all students, regardless of level of dance experience.

There are also many informal performing opportunities, which give motivated students the opportunity to choreograph and perform their own work.

  • 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.

  • Our program offers a wide range of rigorous technical training in Hip Hop, Contemporary, Ballet, African Dance Forms, and a rotating roster of World Dance forms (Philippine, Folklorico, Dance Cultures and Subcultures). In addition, students focus on community engagement, choreography, performance, and a final senior project of their design in any of these areas.
    We are not a conservatory program and recognize that students come in with various backgrounds and experiences. Our strength is that we work to meet students where they are individually and design a program that works for them within a larger liberal arts educational context focusing on ethical practices.

  • 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.

  • 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 led to lasting and meaningful relationships that have yielded job and internship opportunities before and after graduation.

  • Our graduates have used their Performing Arts and Social Justice/Dance Concentration degree in various ways. A number of them are choreographers, performers, or artistic directors of dance companies. Some have opened dance studios and others 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. dance therapy, sports medicine, physical therapy). Others have used their degree as a springboard to launch into non-dance careers (e.g. law, architecture, medicine).

  • Yes, classes are open to all USF students. The Dance Program offers a wide range of classes providing rigorous technical training that can be taken for 1-3 units and appear on your academic transcript. Every semester the Dance Program also offers 4-unit courses that satisfy CORE F, Cultural Diversity (CD), and Community Engaged Learning (CEL) requirements. These courses include Dance in San Francisco, Hip Hop Dance and Culture, Folklorico Dance and Culture, Philippine Dance and Culture, Dance and Social History, and Dance in the Community.