Undergraduate FAQs

Undergraduate dance student Katelynn Malmstedt dancing on campus

Why should I major in dance?

Students with a BA in dance focus on the art of dance while gaining a broad liberal arts education within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students interested in teaching have taught in dance schools and studios, become artists in residence, and have gone on to work as guest teachers for companies, conferences, or open their own school.

Students have also combined their academic interests to become dance reviewers, dance historians, production assistants, or administrators/managers for theatres and companies.

Dancers interested in the science of the body have become physical therapists, massage therapists, Pilates or yoga instructors, and other numerous and various somatic practitioners.>

Students with a BFA in dance are prepared for positions in performing and choreographing. Those whose focus has been choreography have worked as guest artists, artistic directors of their own companies, or for theatre, dance, or opera organizations.

Is it possible to double major?

Many of our BFA and BA students are successful double majors. It is extremely important to work closely with academic and departmental advisors to plan each semester schedule in advance to ensure all course work for both majors is satisfied by graduation. Hear about what it's like to double major from Spring 2019 graduate Mikaela Mallin.

What classes are offered for dance majors?

Students who majoring in dance will acquire a strong liberal arts and sciences background while pursuing a comprehensive undergraduate dance education. Both the BFA and BA stress ballet and modern technique, performance and choreography, as well as dance theory, dance history, dance kinesiology, and dance production.

What is a typical day like for a dance major?

In addition to daily technique classes, schedules are filled out with classes to meet the requirements of the BA or BFA in dance, including: multicultural movement techniques, improvisation, choreography, dance theory and history, digital arts, kinesiology, and pedagogy. Students also typically enroll in one or two classes to fulfill General Education requirements.

8:00 - 9:20   Academic classes

9:30 - 10:50   Ballet technique

11:00 - 12:20   Contemporary Movement Practices

12:30 - 5:20   Dance and academic classes

5:30 - 10:00   Rehearsals and studying

What are majors level classes like?

All major level ballet technique and contemporary movement practices classes have two professors who teach on a seven-week rotation with live accompaniment. Class sizes range from 15 to 40 students depending on studio size and class demand. Technique classes are typically one hour and twenty minutes in length.

What is the difference between the BA and the BFA degrees in Dance?

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) emphasizes a rigorous studio curriculum in conjunction with multiple academic disciplines giving the student a depth of knowledge in dance that is connected to other humanistic endeavors. Students meet the degree requirements through course work, concert productions, and independent projects. The degree encompasses technical and creative practice, body sciences, theoretical studies in dance, and other areas of inquiry. The BA in dance requires a minimum of 120 s.h., including 53 s.h. of work for the major.

BA Students must complete 20 s.h. of technique classes, including 8 s.h. of ballet and 8 s.h. of modern dance. The program is designed for students who want to acquire a strong liberal arts and sciences background while pursuing a comprehensive undergraduate dance education. The degree stresses performance and choreography, as well as dance theory courses including dance history, dance kinesiology, and dance production.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) requires further immersion in performance, technique, and choice of choreography, pedagogy, or dance studies. The criteria for acceptance include outstanding commitment, academic capability, advanced technical level, exception creativity, and professional promise. The BFA in dance requires a minimum of 120 s.h., including 78 s.h. of work for the major. Students must complete 32 s.h. from these, including 14 s.h. of ballet and 14 s.h. of modern dance. In contrast to the BA, the BFA emphasizes choreography and performance through an additional 25 s.h. of choreography, performance, and technique. BFA students culminate their experience with senior projects in choreography or performance.

What performance opportunities are available?

Performances are cast by auditions according to the Department of Dance Audition and Casting Policy.

This policy is to encourage departmental casting practices that include as many dancers in the department as possible, thereby maximizing opportunities for both choreographers, to select and work with dancers who have varied strengths and experiences, and for students, including roles as performers, understudies, and/or assistants to the choreographer.

Dance Gala, a University of Iowa Department of Dance tradition is held during fall semester, along with two other notable performances: Collaborative Performance and the Graduate/BFA Concert. Spring performance opportunities include: the Faculty/Graduate Concert, Thesis concerts, BFA Concert, and Undergraduate Event and MFA Events.

The University of Iowa’s Dancers in Company also performs and tours in the spring semester.

Please view Performance Opportunities for more information.

Do you have guest artists?

The Department of Dance provides its students access to invaluable cultural and educational resources provided by its guest artists in dance. Hancher Auditorium, along with artists sponsored by UI Arts Share and the Department of Dance, students have the opportunity to see live performances, observe rehearsals, and receive master classes from these touring companies. The following is just a short listing of some of the artists and companies who have visited the Department of Dance. See our Guest Artist Page for more information.

Where are University of Iowa Department of Dance alumni working?

Alumni of the University of Iowa Department of Dance have moved on to perform, teach, run studios, pursued graduate studies and a wide variety of work environments in dance related fields.  Below are just a few examples of employment that University of Iowa Dance alumni have undertaken:  

Dance Companies

  • Dancer: Contra-Tiempo-Los Angeles, CA
  • Choreographer:  Classical Ballet of Colorado, Denver, CO
  • Performer on Broadway and National Tours:  New York, NY
  • Dancer:  David Dorfman Dance – New York, NY
  • Artistic Director: Quad Cities Ballet- Rock Island, IL
  • Dancer:  Hubbard Street Dance Chicago- Chicago, IL
  • Dancer: The Joffrey Ballet- New York, NY
  • Dancers:  Cisne Negro Dance Company- New York, NY
  • Dancer:  Big Muddy Dance- St. Louis, MO>
  • Dancer:  Disney World- Orlando, FL and Tokyo, Japan


  • Dance Instructor: The Broadway Connection- Omaha, NE
  • Dance Instructor:  Nolte Dance Academy- Coralville, IA
  • Teaching Artist:  Contra-Tiempo- Los Angeles, CA
  • Educational Outreach:  Hubbard Street Dance Chicago- Chicago, IL
  • Teach for America:  St. Louis, MO
  • Personal Trainer:  Los Angeles, CA
  • Yoga Teacher:  New York, NY

Internships in Arts Management

  • American Dance Festival- Durham, NC
  • Hubbard Street Dance Chicago- Chicago, IL
  • Bates Dance Festival- Lewiston, ME
  • Hollins University- Hollins, VA
  • Thodos Dance-Chicago, IL

Related Fields

  • Physical Therapist- Chicago, IL
  • Occupational Therapy- Chicago, IL
  • TV Production Assistant- Honolulu, HI
  • Stage Manager- Chicago, IL

Post-Graduate Studies

  • Physical Therapy- University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Dance- University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Dance- University of California College of World Arts & Culture- Los Angeles, CA
  • Law School- University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Can I take class if I am not a dance major or minor?

Yes! The Department of Dance offers ballet, modern, and jazz technique classes to all students at the following 3 levels: beginning, continuing and intermediate.

Is there a dorm or residence floor designated for dancers?

Yes. There is the Arts Living-Learning Community for first-year and second-year students who are interested in the visual, creative, and performing arts. This community is open to all students, who intend to major in Dance, Music, Theater, Writing, Art & Art History, Arts Education, or Cinema as well as students who are active participators in the visual and performing arts at the University of Iowa. Non-major students who are enrolled in Band, Orchestra, Marching Band, Choirs, or UI courses in Art, Music, Theater, or Writing are also welcome in the community.   For more information on Living Learning Communities, please visit the University of Iowa Living Learning Communities webpage.>

How do I visit the Department of Dance?

Visitors are encouraged to arrange their visit to the University of Iowa Campus though the Office of Admissions. The Office of Admissions will schedule your visit to the Department of Dance, an Iowa Overview Session, campus walking tour, and lunch in one of our residence halls.

It is recommended that those interested in Majoring in Dance observe one or both of our Majors Level Technique classes. Majors Level Ballet Technique is from (9:30 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. and Majors Level Contemporary Movement Practices meets from 11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. Please contact the Department of Dance to arrange a visit.

Feel free to contact the Department of Dance Academic Coordinator, Molly Dahlberg  (UI Dance General Phone: 319.335.2228)

To schedule an official University of Iowa campus tour, please contact the Office of Admissions (admissions@uiowa.edu).