The Department of Dance offers a non-major, elective course of study at Vassar. The faculty consists of three full-time and two part-time teachers. Dance’s resident lighting designer lights all dance department productions and oversees the department's technical crew in the Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater.Three adjunct artists serve as accompanists and compose, direct, and sometimes perform with the student company. Courses for academic credit are offered in modern dance technique from beginner through advanced, classical ballet technique from beginner through intermediate IV including pointe and adagio when suitable, and jazz at the beginner through intermediate II level. In addition, the department offers intermediate Graham technique/repertory. Academic credit is also offered to students who successfully audition for Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre (VRDT). VRDT annually performs repertoire including modern dance reconstructions, classical ballet divertissements, faculty pieces, and original student choreography. Additional courses for credit offered biennially are Dance Improvisation and Dance Comp/Craft of Choreography, and on an annual basis Movement Analysis. These three courses are open to all students. Please check the catalogue for those courses that are taken for a letter grade and those that are ungraded.
VRDT has a series of Works in Progress showings in the fall, a February Modfest performance in conjunction with the the Department of Music, winter galas at the 1869 Bardavon Opera House, and All Families Weekend performances in the spring. We also offer end-of-semester informal showings and an all-student production in late spring.
The master class program annually invites at least one ballet and one modern expert to campus in addition to two people in other areas of dance. This program attempts to broaden the dancers‘ experience in technique (master classes), choreography and improvisation (workshops), as well as their knowledge of dance history, dance criticism, physics and/or anatomy of dance (lectures). Some recent guest artists include Merrill Ashley, Alastair Macaulay, Merrill Brockway, Daniil Simkin, Peggy Lyman, Irina Kolpokova, Arthur Mitchell, Helene Alexopoulos, Gregory Hines, Anna Kisselgoff, Donald Byrd, Edward Villella, Ronald K. Brown, Irene Dowd, Allegra Kent, Gelsey Kirkland, Pilobolus w/Adam Battlestein, Suzanne Farrell, Mummenschantz, Eldar Aliev, Deborah Jowitt, Bill T. Jones, Pascal Rioult, Clinton Luckett of ABT, Bill Irwin, and Donald McKayle.
Vassar prospective students are welcome and encouraged to arrange consultations with our faculty in advance of visits and to participate in the classes offered during a stay.
In the spring of 2006, the Dance Department moved into its renovated facility in Kenyon Hall on the north side of the campus. Kenyon’s south wing houses the Dance Department. The facility includes three technique studios and a 236-seat theater for dance, The Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater, designed by Gluckman Mayner Architects of NYC. The five dance spaces including the green room have special Harlequin dance surfaces, and two have sprung floors. The Department of Dance sponsors lectures, dance companies, workshops and new works by guest choreographers in the the Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater as another means of providing a broad exposure to dance for the community.
A dancer interested in Vassar should know not only that Vassar is 78 miles north and an easy train ride from New York City, the hub of the best in international dance, but that the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center is located only 45 minutes north of Vassar in Tivoli, New York. Its goal is to foster new choreography as well as to further the training of dancers in ballet and modern. They present a comprehensive season including everything from classical ballet to cutting edge modern dance.
Please consult the catalogue for further information or feel free to contact the department or any of our faculty in order to discuss dance at Vassar in more detail.