Dance (BFA)

Dance (BFA)

At Columbia, we embrace a wide array of dance techniques and styles. You’ll take courses in modern/contemporary, West African, ballet, and hip-hop and related street dance styles. This broad approach will prepare you to enter a dynamic dance community that increasingly celebrates innovative, diverse styles and aesthetics. As a BFA student, you’ll pursue rigorous coursework that will include simultaneous projects in a variety of disciplines. You’ll dance often and with intensity. You’ll also engage critically with the many scholarly ideas and practical skills you’ll need for a successful career. For example, in a single semester you may perform in new faculty work, choreograph your own piece, research marketing strategies, edit video and sound, and take advanced technique courses. You’ll also regularly take workshops and see performances at the Dance Center, which brings renowned choreographers and companies from around the world to campus each year.

What to Expect Your First Year

When you arrive at Columbia, you’ll join an active community of students and faculty and will be welcome to share your unique perspective as a dancer, regardless of the kind of training you’ve had so far. Auditions will place you in the level of technique classes that’s right for you, and these will be coupled with dance studies courses so you can think critically about your experience in the studio. You’ll have the opportunity to audition to perform early on. You’ll also take core liberal arts courses with Columbia students from across campus. All students enter Columbia as BA students. You’ll audition for the BFA program during the second semester of your first year.

What to Expect Your Last Year

Your last year at Columbia will be immersive. You’ll be empowered to create, produce and market your original work. You’ll spend much of your last semester working on your senior capstone experience. You’ll collaborate with a faculty mentor to identify a project that speaks to you. This may be a research project, performance, choreography, or teaching experience. You’ll also build a professional portfolio and a powerful, diverse repertoire that will prepare you to audition for performance opportunities in Chicago and beyond. You’ll build strong relationships with Columbia faculty, who will help you make connections in the dance community. You’ll take in as much dance performance as possible, while also honing your own unique style as a dancer. You’ll leave Columbia ready to strike out on your own as an artist and professional.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

BA, BFA: What’s the Difference?

Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs feature flexible curricula that allow for exploration and the ability to tailor elective coursework beyond your major, while BFA programs feature more focused required coursework in the major.

Students who wish to pursue entry to the BFA program must first gain admission to Columbia College Chicago. Eligible students will be evaluated individually by the student’s academic department sometime during their first or second year of enrollment.

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

You couldn’t pick a more exciting dance community to join than Chicago’s. The city is home to hundreds of companies and choreographers, diverse in style and aesthetics. The world’s leading dancers and choreographers visit the city often. Chicago companies—many of which include or are led by Columbia alumni—develop innovative new work here every day. You’ll have the opportunity to not only engage with this rich community as an audience member, but also through workshops, classes and events. You’ll form deep relationships with your fellow students as you charter your own new contributions to the community. You’ll join the Student Dance Organization, a student-run group that provides free workshops, service projects and mentorship with upperclassmen. There will also be opportunities for you to choreograph and audition to perform in student and faculty work outside of your coursework. 

What are my internship options?

A career in dance requires more than performance skills. If you’re interested, you can pursue opportunities to learn grant writing, production, marketing and teaching. We encourage students to intern during their senior years. You’ll work with a faculty mentor to identify an internship that makes sense for your career ambitions. If you’re interested in performance, you might secure an opportunity with a company. Or, you might intern in arts administration or community engagement. Teaching is an important element of a successful career in dance, so we’ll provide ample opportunities for you to be part of lessons in a variety of ages, styles and venues. You might even be a teaching assistant for a faculty member in the program. Dance students have interned at organizations such as Audience Architects, Red Clay, Design Dance, American Rhythm Center and the Center for Community Arts Partnerships, as well as on Columbia projects such as the B-Series, a celebration each semester of underground street dance forms such as breaking, popping and house.

Which minors complement this major?

This program is credit intensive. If you pursue a minor, your academic enrollment may extend beyond four academic years. However, if you have a significant number of advanced placement or transferred credits, you may be able to complete the minor in a timely fashion. Please consult with the College Advising Center before officially declaring a minor.


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