"Progress defines my experience at the Conservatory. Every class pushes me intellectually and physically. I have seen my body transform and my movement improve. Here, I have the opportunity to work with amazing choreographers and teachers, including Ebony Williams and Uri Sands. These experiences are an enormous source of artistic growth and inspiration as I move toward the next step in my career." —Demetrius Burns (B.F.A. '16, Contemporary Dance)
Consistently recognized as having the best contemporary dance program in the U.S., Boston Conservatory at Berklee has set the standard for contemporary dance education nationwide.
The dynamic B.F.A. in Dance: Contemporary Dance program has garnered praise for its emphasis on artistic exploration, self-expression, and technique-building through intensive study of ballet, modern and contemporary dance, jazzdance, improvisation, hip-hop, composition, and pedagogy. In addition, the school hosts renowned guest choreographers each semester, who visit campus to create new works for Conservatory dancers or to reconstruct masterworks, teach classes, and provide career advice and support. Connecting students to today's leading artists gives young dancers invaluable insight into the creative process, and offers an opportunity to work closely with the artists who are shaping the field.
The Conservatory offers students an ideal environment in which to learn and grow. Not only is the school set in the heart of the culturally rich city of Boston, it also boasts a multidisciplinary campus where dancers and choreographers interact daily with musicians, actors, singers, and composers. In addition, the school's recent merger with Berklee will give students access to the college's state-of-the-art technologies and allow them to take advantage of Berklee's leading courses in entrepreneurship, career skills, and professional development.
The Conservatory's contemporary dance program is designed for students who possess strong technical abilities, but also understand that artistry comes from drawing on every aspect of the whole person. They are self-directed learners who desire new experiences not only as dancers, but also as choreographers, teachers, and scholars. Most importantly, Conservatory dance students are open-minded, imaginative, and bold, driven to become not only the best artists they can be, but also the best individuals they can be.
The Conservatory's contemporary dance program is designed to expand students' understanding of both the physical and intellectual dimensions of dance, as well as their knowledge of themselves and their unique artistic voice.
The innovative curriculum includes core courses, which are classes required of all dance students at the Conservatory, as well as an optional area of emphasis, which students choose in their junior year based on the area of dance that interests them most. This emphasis informs elective course choices during the final two years of the program, allowing students to explore the many facets of dance.
The core curriculum is composed of five areas, each of which supports and reinforces the others:
Movement Training immerses students in daily classes of ballet and modern dance, as well as classes in partnering, jazzdance, African dance, hip-hop, heels, salsa, repertory, and more. This studio training builds physical strength and endurance as students refine their technical skills and ability to perform at the highest level possible. It also teaches an embodied understanding of the aesthetic traditions, somatic methods, and choreographic approaches that are explored in the other four core areas.
The Academic Component provides context around dance theory and influential works, develops awareness of the field, strengthens skills in writing, speaking, analysis, and critical thinking, and equally values innovation and tradition.
The Creative Component develops a student's individual artistic voice and understanding of choreographic theory and process, communication, and leadership. The Creative Component also includes classes in dance composition, improvisation, and collaborative creation. Additionally, student-created work is featured on two mainstage concerts per year, offering student choreographers the opportunity to present their work at a professional level.
The Body Knowing Component supports deep awareness and investigation of the body as an essential aspect of the dance artist's training and lifelong practice. These courses include studies in Alexander Technique, Experiential Anatomy, Gyrokinesis®, Conditioning for Dancers, Stretch & Strengthening, Yoga and Floor Barre®.
Cross-Conservatory Studies incorporate elements of music and theater into the dance curriculum, encouraging students to take full advantage of the Conservatory's unique multidisciplinary learning environment. Classes available to Conservatory dancers include voice, acting, and music appreciation.
In their junior and senior years, students further explore their artistic and professional goals through a senior capstone project, a self-produced collaborative senior concert, and concentrated course studies in an area of emphasis, which can include pedagogy or dance composition. At the same time, they continue to refine their technical abilities and artistry in their core technique courses.
Throughout their four years, students perform in semesterly dance productions on the Conservatory's mainstage, which is a central focus of the dance curriculum. These performances provide students with invaluable experience, as they work directly with nationally and internationally acclaimed artists on the creation of new works and the reconstruction of iconic masterworks. Additionally, student-created work is featured on two mainstage concerts per year, offering student choreographers the opportunity to present their work at a professional level.
By the completion of the program, Conservatory dancers will be prepared to take on any role in the field of dance. They will leave the program as confident performers, collaborators, and creators who are ready to meet the challenges of a lifelong career as a dance artist.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance: Contemporary Dance requires students to complete 120 credits, consisting of the course requirements listed below. View the Sample Curriculum by Semester for additional details.
- D-ST 01xx Ballet (16 credits total, 2 credits each)
- D-ST 0111 Deconstructing Gender Identities in Classical Ballet: Ballet Partnering 1 (1 credit)
- D-ST 0112 Deconstructing Gender Identities in Classical Ballet: Ballet Partnering 2 (1 credit)
- D-ST 1201 Modern Technique 1 (2 credits)
- D-ST 1202 Modern Technique 2 (2 credits)
- D-ST 1203 Modern Partnering (1 credit)
- D-ST 2201 Modern Technique 3 (2 credits)
- D-ST 2202 Modern Technique 4 (2 credits)
- D-ST 2204 Modern Partnering 2 (1 credit)
- D-ST 3201 Modern Technique 5 (2 credits)
- D-ST 3202 Modern Technique 6 (2 credits)
- D-ST 4201 Modern Technique 7 (2 credits)
- D-ST 4202 Modern Technique 8 (2 credits)
- D-ST 73510 JazzDance Technique (1 credit)
- D-ST 73511 African Dance (1 credit)
- D-ST 73515 Hip-Hop (1 credit)
- D-ST 73519 Salsa (1 credit)
- D-ST 7x5xx Movement electives (12 credits total, 1 credit each)
The Academic Component
- D-LT 1601 Introduction to Dance (3 credits)
- D-LT 1603 Dance History (3 credits)
- D-LT 1703 Music Foundations for Dancers (3 credits)
- D-LT 799xx Topics in Dance Academics (9 credits total, 3 credits each)
- D-PD 2901 Introduction to Dance Pedagogy (3 credits)
- D-PR 4905 Professional Seminar 1 (1 credit)
- D-PR 4906 Professional Seminar 2 (1 credit)
- L-CM 1301 Introduction to College Writing (3 credits)
- L-CM 739xx Liberal Arts elective: Arts & Humanities (3 credits)
- L-CM 749xx Liberal Arts elective: Social Sciences (3 credits)
- L-CM 759xx Liberal Arts elective: Math/Science (3 credits)
- L-CM 7x9xx Liberal Arts elective: any (3 credits)
The Creative Component
- D-EN 0909 Performance Repertory (6 credits total, 1 credit each)
- D-PR 0991 Topics in Professional Performance (2 credits total, 1 credit each)
- D-SK 4701 Acting for Dancers (1 credit)
- D-SK 4705 Dance Theater (1 credit)
- D-ST 1204 Improvisation 1 (1 credit)
- D-ST 1205 Improvisation 2 (1 credit)
- D-ST 1401 Dance Composition 1 (1 credit)
- D-ST 1402 Dance Composition 2 (1 credit)
- D-ST 2403 Dance Composition 3 (1 credit)
- D-ST 2207 Creative Process: Postmodern Approaches (1 credit)
The Body Knowing Component
- D-PR 2501 Alexander Technique for Dancers 1 (1 credit)
- D-PR 2502 Alexander Technique for Dancers 2 (1 credit)
- D-ST 1501 Dancer’s Toolkit (1 credits)
- D-ST 1502 Floor Barre® (2 credits total, 1 credit each)
- D-ST 1503 Gyrokinesis® (2 credits total, 1 credit each)
- D-ST 2505 Experiential Anatomy (2 credits)
- D-ST 75515 Conditioning for Dancers (2 credits total, 1 credit each)
- D-ST 75516 Yoga (2 credits total, 1 credit each)
- C-PR 1001 Introduction to i-Pad Media Technology (1 credit)
What You Will Learn
Upon successful completion of the B.F.A. in Dance: Contemporary Dance program, students will:
- demonstrate a high level of technical skill in both ballet and modern dance, complemented by training in other dance forms, through the completion of a four-year course sequence in movement techniques and regular participation in mainstage productions;
- demonstrate artistry and skill in performance developed through participation in the creation of new works by accomplished artists as well as the reconstruction of a wide range of both classical and contemporary masterworks;
- exhibit a unique artistic voice honed through the completion of courses in composition, improvisation, and an individualized senior seminar/capstone project;
- demonstrate a broad knowledge of the field by completing academic coursework that provides history, context, and theory which informs their work as dance artists;
- draw from a wide range of skills, in addition to performance, to support a lifelong career by completing coursework that includes pedagogy, choreographic practice, and movement analysis; and
- demonstrate a deep understanding of the human body and the development of a personal movement practice by completing coursework that includes somatic theories, anatomy, and individualized movement research.
Each semester, the Conservatory welcomes revered guest artists to campus to train students. Recent residencies include:
- Kyle Abraham, artistic director of A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham
- Jennifer Archibald, artistic director of Arch Dance Company
- Aszure Barton, artistic direct of Aszure Barton and Artists
- Sidra Bell, art director of Sidra Bell Dance New York
- Brian Brooks, artistic director of Brian Brooks/Moving Company
- Jessica Castro, creator of League of Her Own and Lipstick Diaries NYC
- Thang Dao, artistic director of Thang Dao Dance Company*
- Tommie Waheed Evans, artistic director of waheedworks
- Jessica Franco, performer for Ariana Grande
- Kylie Jefferson, plays Neveah in Tiny Pretty Things*
- Christina Johnson, former principal dancer for Dance Theater of Harlem
- Bill T. Jones, co-founder of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
- Sekou McMiller, artistic director of SMc Dance Company
- Robert Moses, artistic director of Robert Moses’ Kin
- Darrell Grand Moultrie, choreographer for various dance companies, musical theater works, and commercial artists
- Shamel Pitts, artistic director of TRIBE
- Victor Quijada, artistic director of RUBBERBAND
- Dwight Rhoden, former principal dancer for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
- The Radio City Rockettes
- Elizabeth Roxas, former principal dancer for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
- Gustavo Sansano, former artistic director of Luna Negra Dance Theater
- Margo Sappington, choreographer for various dance companies and musical theater works
- Zoe Scofield, co-artistic director of zoe | juniper
- Bradley Shelver, artistic director of Joffrey Dance Concert Group
- Lesley Telford, artistic director of Inverso Productions
- Doug Varone, artistic director of Doug Varone and Dancers
- Sunny Walters, dancer in movies such as The Greatest Showman, dancer/choreographer for commercial artists such as Beyoncé and New Kids on the Block, and choreographer for many on- and off-Broadway productions
- Kate Weare, artistic director of Kate Weare Dance Company
- Wendy Whelan, former principal dancer and current associate artistic director of the New York City Ballet
- Ebony Williams, former dancer of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and dancer/choreographer for artists such as Rihanna, Fergie, Ciara, and Beyoncé*
*Dance Division graduates
Boston Conservatory's Dance Division has established partnerships with renowned institutions including the Royal Academy of Dance, the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, and the Radio City Rockettes. Learn more about these unique programs.
Alumni of the Conservatory's contemporary dance performance program are actively shaping the field of dance. They are choreographing and directing their own companies, performing with leading national and international dance companies, are master teachers, and advocates and administrators for the art form. Notable alumni include:
- Ryoko Kudo (B.F.A. '00, dance), Kurt Douglas (B.F.A. '02, dance), David Glista (B.F.A. '13, dance), and Tanner Huseman (B.F.A. '17, dance), current and former members of the Jose Limón Dance Company
- Ebony Williams (B.F.A. '05, dance), former member of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, featured dancer in Beyonce's “Single Ladies” music video, tour and commercial engagements with Beyoncé, Rihanna, Fergie, and Ciara
- Charles Patterson (B.F.A. '16, dance), former member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, currently performing with Dallas Black Dance Theater
- Larry Trice (B.F.A. '05, dance), former member of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, currently in The Lion King on Broadway
- Rebecca Rasmussen (B.F.A. '06, dance), Tsarra Bequette (B.F.A. '07, dance), Graci Meier (B.F.A. '10, dance), Catherine Jeager (B.F.A. '12, dance), and Evelyn Toh (B.F.A. '12, dance), current and former members of MOMIX
- Tyeri Morrison (B.F.A. '21), company member of BodyTraffic
- India Hobbs (B.F.A. '21), company member of Gallim
- Emmitt Cawley (B.F.A. '20), company member of Nederlands Dans Theater
- Rosario Guillen (B.F.A. '20), company member of Giordano Dance Chicago
- Taraja Hudson (B.F.A. '20), company member of Ballet Black
- Sadiya Ramos (B.F.A. '20), company member of Peridance Contemporary Dance Company
- Celeste Robbins (B.F.A. '19), company member of Compagnie Marie Chouinard
- Jazz Bynum (B.F.A. '18), company member of Ballet West
- Chris Kinsey (B.F.A. '18), company member of Gallim and creative director of Haus of Pvmnt
- Abby Whatley (B.F.A. '18), company member of Psychopomp Dance Theater
- Demetrius Burns (B.F.A. '16), company member of Ronald K. Brown’s EVIDENCE
- Joe González (B.F.A. '11), former company member with Complexions and current company member of Philadanco!
- Jennifer DePalo (B.F.A. '96), former member of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Ballet Hispanico, and Buglisi Dance Theatre
- Li Yin Chen (B.F.A. '01), former member of Le Grand Ballet Canadiens
- Brett Sjoblom (B.F.A. '12) and Gerald Watson (B.F.A. '12), currently performing with Nashville Ballet