"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. program has garnered praise for its emphasis on artistic exploration, self-expression, and technique-building through intensive study of ballet, modern and contemporary dance, jazz, 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.
What It Takes to Succeed
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 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, modern dance, contemporary dance, and partnering, as well as elective classes in jazzdance, African dance, hip-hop, and repertory. 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, collaboration, communication, and leadership. The Creative Component also includes classes in dance composition, improvisation, and collaborative creation.
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, Pilates, Gyrotonics, 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 ballet, modern, jazzdance, pedagogy, and creating performance. 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 one mainstage concert 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.
Each semester, the Conservatory welcomes revered guest artists to campus to train students. Recent residencies include:
- Dwight Rhoden, artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet
- Darrell Grand Moultrie, choreographer for Beyonce and Witness Uganda
- Doug Varone, artistic director of Doug Varone and Dancers
- Andrea Miller, artistic director of Gallim Dance
- Larry Keigwin, choreographer, performer, and artistic director of Keigwin + Company
- Karole Armitage, artistic director of Armitage Gone! Dance
- Sidra Bell, artistic director of Sidra Bell Dance New York
- Brian Brooks, choreographer and performer
- Omar Carrum and Claudia Lavista, artistic directors of Delfos Danza Contemporanea
- Doug Elkins, artistic director of Doug Elinks Chorography, Etc.
- Zoe Scofield, choreographer and co-artistic director of Zoe/Juniper
- Francesca Harper, choreographer and performer
- Robert Moses, artistic director of Robert Moses's Kin
- Keith A. Thompson, artistic director of danceTactics
- Danny Buraczeski, professor at Southern Methodist University's Meadows School of the Arts
- Doug Elkins, artistic director of Doug Elkins Choreography, Etc.
Boston Conservatory's Dance Division has established partnerships with renowned institutions including Central Academy of Drama, Royal Academy of Dance, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and Holland College. 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:
- Kurt Douglas (B.F.A. '02, dance), former member of Jose Limon Dance Company, guest artist with the Thang Dao Dance Company, Ballet Hispanico, and Sean Curran Dance
- Ebony Williams (B.F.A. '05, dance), former member of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet company, featured dancer in Beyonce's hit “Single Ladies” music video, tour and commercial engagements with artists Beyonce, Rihanna, Fergie, and Ciara
- Charles Patterson and Kylie Jefferson (B.F.A. '16, dance), current members of Complexions Contemporary Ballet