Department of Dance

Chair: Jennifer Pontius (936) 294-1300 shsudance@shsu.edu

Website: Department of Dance

"The dance is the mother of the arts." — Curt Sachs

Mission

The Department of Dance at Sam Houston State University delivers a dynamic, challenging experience that integrates creativity, performance, and scholarly pursuits designed to prepare each student for a 21st-century career in dance.

Academic Programs

The BFA program provides intensive study in modern, ballet, and jazz techniques; multiple performance opportunities; exciting guest artists and choreographers; opportunities for choreographic exploration, which include the integration of media into the creative process; and a solid academic grounding in coursework, which ranges from dance history, to criticism and analysis, to dance and technology.  Admission to the BFA program is by audition only. The audition schedule is posted on the dance department's website. Dance majors are required to meet with dance faculty for advisement prior to each semester.  

Highlights

The Department of Dance at Sam Houston State University:

  • was identified as one of the ten top dance programs in the country by Dance Teacher Magazine;
  • is housed in the beautiful James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center, which includes four large studios with sprung floors, a state of the art dance theater, a 19-station Mac lab, a fully-equipped Pilates/conditioning studio, and spacious dressing rooms with showers;
  • is an active member of the American College Dance Association;
  • has its choreography created by students and faculty regularly selected for gala presentation;
  • has been selected to present both student and faculty choreography at The Kennedy Center National ACDA conference, most recently in the spring of 2016;
  • has alumni of the program performing with diverse professional dance companies, including Pilobolus, The Houston Met, Hopestone, NobleMotion Dance, and Blue Lapis Light;
  • regularly hosts a wide variety of guest artists, which have included Dominic Walsh Dance Theatre, Paul Taylor II, Houston Ballet II, The Dance Gallery, Jane Weiner, Ben Stevenson, Bill Evans, Rennie Harris, Marlies Yearby, Astrid von Ussar, and Manuel Vignoulle.

Career Opportunities

  • Choreographer
  • Dance educators at all levels
  • Public high school teachers
  • Studio owners and teachers
  • Performing artists in dance
  • Artistic directors of dance companies
  • Performing arts presenters and administrators

Suggested Minors

The BFA in Dance does not require a minor. Many of our majors, however, choose to pursue a second area of study to broaden their education, either as a second major or as a minor. Depending on a student's career goals, pursuit of a minor in business, secondary teaching, biology, or another academic discipline will be appropriate. 

Student Organizations

Chi Tau Epsilon, the prestigious national dance honor society, recognizes, supports, and promotes superior achievement in dance and in the performing arts. Membership in the society is recorded on the student’s transcript. Each year, Chi Tau Epsilon is an active student organization, sponsoring the student choreography showcase, Dances @ 8; conducting recruitment workshops for the department; and sponsoring community support activities that include Adopt a Highway, food drives, and participation in the Special Olympics. Chi Tau Epsilon also awards annual scholarships for outstanding choreographic and academic achievement.

Scholarships

The Department of Dance awards numerous scholarships ranging from $500 to $ 3,000 per academic year. Approximately $20,000 in performance-based scholarships is awarded each year. In addition, the Mary Ella Montague Endowed Scholarship is awarded to the outstanding returning dance major each year, and the Kelley Barber Award is given annually to a dance major for outstanding performance. Dance majors may also qualify for the Theatre and Dance Endowed Scholarship and the Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Scholarship. For scholarship consideration, all students must apply through Scholarships4Kats.

DANC 1101. Dance Workshop. 1 Hour.

This is a practical workshop in support of Dance Program concerts and activities. Duties include costume construction, backstage and front of house support, and audio/ video recording and dubbing. Special seminars in areas such as diet and health, auditioning and career opportunities and options are also addressed.

DANC 1201. Pilates-based Cond for Dance. 2 Hours.

This is an introductory course in Pilates-based body conditioning. Designed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th Century, Pilates is a movement-based exercise method that stretches, strengthens, and balances the body. Much of its popularity today is due to its regenerative effects on the body-its ability to encompass and connect the mind, body, and spirit with result of health, wholeness and a highly refined overall movement system.

DANC 1204. Folk Dance Forms. 2 Hours.

Dances indigenous to Europe, Mexico and the United States are studied in relation to their cultural derivations. Special consideration is given to dance as a cultural and recreational activity.

DANC 1206. Theater Dance Forms. 2 Hours.

Specific theatrical dance forms such as ballet, jazz, modern dance, and Hip Hop are studied in specially dedicated sections.

DANC 1221. Intro to Ballet Dance Techniqu. 2 Hours.

(Previous SH course id: DNC 121); This course introduces the theory and practice of ballet. No previous experience in dance is required.

DANC 1222. Intro to Modern Dance Techniqu. 2 Hours.

(Prior SH course id: DNC 122); This course introduces concepts of modern dance and gives students practice in self expression through movement. No prior experience in dance is required. *Pending approval by University Curriculum Committee.

DANC 1223. Jazz Dance Technique I. 2 Hours.

(Prior SH course id: DNC 123); This course introduces students to the dance vocabulary and movement of jazz technique. No prior dance experience is required. *Pending approval by University Curriculum Committee.

DANC 1228. Tap Dance Technique I. 2 Hours.

(Prior SH course id: DNC 128); In this course, tap technique is introduced and practiced. No prior dance experience is expected. *Pending approval by University Curriculum Committee.

DANC 1229. Hip Hop Dance Technique. 2 Hours.

(Prior SH course id: DNC 129); This course gives students practice in forms of hip hop dancing. No previous experience is required. *Pending approval by University Curriculum Committee.

DANC 1333. Ballet Dance Technique I. 3 Hours.

(Prior SH course id: DNC 133); This course establishes the fundamentals of ballet, including alignment, technique and vocabulary. It is designed for students admitted to the dance program as well as theatre and musical theater majors. *Pending approval by University Curriculum Committee.

DANC 1334. Modern Dance Technique I. 3 Hours.

(Prior SH course id: DNC 134); This course introduces the concepts and practices of modern dance technique. It presumes no previous modern dance training, but requires acceptance into the dance, theater, or musical theater program.

DANC 1372. Dance As Art. 3 Hours.

This course is a video survey of the vast range of theatrical dance that has taken place in the twentieth century. Forms and styles covered include ballet, modern/postmodern, jazz, musical theater, tap, contemporary dance, and dance for music video.

DANC 2223. Jazz Dance Technique II. 2 Hours.

(Prior SH course id: DNC 223); This course expands on the basic dance vocabulary and movements offered in DNC 123, Introduction to Jazz. Students should have basic experience in jazz dance. *Pending approval by University Curriculum Committee.

DANC 2228. Tap Dance Technique II. 2 Hours.

(Prior SH course id: DNC 228); This course builds on the basics of tap offered in DNC 128, Tap Dance Technique I. Students must have prior experience in tap dancing.

DANC 2331. Pilates Body Conditioning II. 3 Hours.

The focus of the course is to develop a solid personal matwork practice at all levels from pre-Pilates through intermediate work, with a strong application of the principles of the Pilates method of body conditioning. Experiences with classical Pilates apparatus will supplement and enrich the matwork exercises.
Prerequisite: DANC 1201.

DANC 2332. Social And Folk Dance Forms. 3 Hours.

Social and folk dance forms of ethnic and social significance are studied and performed in relation to their cultural derivations and historical perspectives and their use in period theatrical/concert production. Special emphasis is placed upon the importance of ethnic art forms to contemporary society.

DANC 2333. Ballet Dance Technique II. 3 Hours.

This is a ballet technique class designed for incoming dance majors. It presumes no former ballet training but requires well-developed movement skills. Students who are not dance-majors must have permission of instructor or program coordinator to register. May be repeated for credit.

DANC 2334. Modern Dance Technique II. 3 Hours.

This is a modern dance technique class designed for incoming dance majors. It presumes no former modern dance training but requires well developed movement skills. Students who are not dance-majors must have permission of instructor or program coordinator to register. May be repeated for credit.

DANC 2337. Beginning Aerial Dance. 3 Hours.

This course introduces students to aerial dance technique. The course activities include conditioning exercises targeting core strength building, learning basic aerial dance vocabulary, and practicing fundamental aerial climbing techniques.

DANC 2372. Dance History. 3 Hours.

A chronological survey is made of the history of dance from the 1700ís to the modern period. Special emphasis is placed on the philosophic relationship of dance to the various cultural epochs.

DANC 2373. World Dance:Exploring Cultures. 3 Hours.

In this course, students re immersed in the dances of one world region for half a semester, and of another world region for the other half semester. Although comparisons between two cultures will become evident, the primary objective of the course is to expose the student to two different dance styles and to use dance analysis to identify and study cultural characteristics. Guest artists lead classes and demonstrations, which include live music, costumes, and terminology. Each time the course is offered, a different set of cultures is examined. Prerequisites: Junior level standing or permission of the instructor.
Prerequisite: Junior level standing or permission of the instructor.

DANC 2376. Choreography I. 3 Hours.

The student learns to analyze the various components of design and to create basic dance studies which demonstrate understanding of dance as a craft and as an art. A minimum of intermediate standing in ballet or modern dance, or permission of the instructor is required to register for this course.
Prerequisite: DANC 1301.

DANC 3301. Pilates Teaching Methods I. 3 Hours.

Students will become familiar with the foundational principles and concepts behind the Pilates Method of body conditioning in preparation for teaching its matwork component. Course work will address breath, core activation, neutral spine, and lumbo-pelvic stability as they apply to the proper execution of beginning to intermediate-level exercises. An essential aspect of the course is observation of professional Pilates teachers in practice, with both individual clients and in a group instruction setting. Course requirements include regular class meetings, a minimum of 15 documented hours of teacher observation, a journal of observations, and written and practical evaluation.
Prerequisite: DANC 1201, DANC 2331, and either DANC 3374 or BIOL 2401.

DANC 3333. Ballet Dance Technique III. 3 Hours.

This is an intermediate level ballet technique class which presumes substantial exposure to ballet dance training. Open by audition only.
Prerequisite: DANC 2333 or permission of the instructor.

DANC 3334. Modern Dance Technique III. 3 Hours.

This is an intermediate level modern dance technique class which presumes substantial exposure to modern dance training. Open by audition only.
Prerequisite: DANC 2334 or permission of the instructor.

DANC 3335. Jazz Dance Technique III. 3 Hours.

(Prior SH course id: DNC 335); Intermediate Jazz dance is designed for the dancer with sound foundations in jazz technique. The course will focus on developing technical skills, increasing strength and flexibility, and developing performance quality in jazz dance. *Pending approval by University Curriculum Committee.

DANC 3336. Improvisation & Partnering. 3 Hours.

Through the study of improvisational and partnering techniques, students will epxlore a wide range of movement and develop spontaneous problem solving skills. Additionally, students will learn proper body mechanics that will assist them in various parterning techniques.
Prerequisite: DANC 2333, DANC 2334, Junior standing.

DANC 3337. Intermediate/Advanced Aerial Dance. 3 Hours.

This course further develops skills learned in Beginning Aerial Dance by expanding aerial dance vocabulary and exploring aerial dance as an expressive art form. The activities include intermediate to advanced conditioning exercises targeting core strength building, and applying thoughtful artistry to the performance of aerial dance.
Prerequisite: DANC 2337 and permission of the instructor.

DANC 3373. Laban Movement Analysis. 3 Hours.

This course provides an overview of Laban Movement Analysis emphasizing the areas of Body, Effort, Shape, Space, and components necessary to understand and support non verbal communication. Theory, supported by experiential activities, provides the student the opportunity to better understand human movement as well as a means of acquiring efficient, expressive movement. A brief history/application of LMA is included in the curriculum.
Prerequisite: PHYS 1305 and BIOL 2401.

DANC 3374. Principles Of Dance Technique. 3 Hours.

This course provides the student with an overview of the movement system emphasizing the subjective control experience in dance. Methods of tuning the system including body therapies, conditioning regimes, body awareness techniques, and dance training will be reviewed and compared.
Prerequisite: PHYS 1305, PHYS 1105, BIOL 2401.

DANC 3376. Choreography II. 3 Hours.

The student develops extended dance works which demonstrate advanced understanding of dance as a craft and as an art.
Prerequisite: DANC 1201, DANC 2376 and/or permission of the instructor.

DANC 4092. Special Topic. 1-3 Hours.

Opportunities are offered for thorough study of a variety of topics which students may choose in dance. Such topics as Historical Period Dance, Ethno-cultural Studies, Choreographic Projects, et cetera, are illustrative.

DANC 4093. Independent Study. 1-3 Hours.

Opportunities are offered for individual study of an approved problem in dance. May be repeated for credit. Credit 1-3.

DANC 4301. Pilates Teaching Methods II. 3 Hours.

Students will gain a greater level of expertise in the Pilates Method of body conditioning as they prepare to teach its mat work component. Using the foundational concepts and principles learned in DANC 3301 they will further explore the integration of the musculo-skeletal system in movement by way of the Advanced and Super-Advanced exercises. In addition they will address the conduct of a group instruction setting over a period of time to become familiar with the process of bringing students to a more advanced level in their individual practice. An important aspect of the course is the actual teaching of both private lessons and group classes to gain practical experience as teachers. Course requirements will include regular class meetings, a minimum of 35 documented hours of student teaching, and written and practical evaluation.
Prerequisite: DANC 1201, DANC 2331, DANC 3301, and either DANC 3374 or BIOL 2401.

DANC 4330. Repertory. 3 Hours.

The student is involved in rehearsals in which dance works by faculty and guest artists, as well as the great masters of choreography, are staged or reconstructed in preparation for major dance program performances.

DANC 4333. Ballet Dance Technique IV. 3 Hours.

This is a pre-professional level of ballet technique in which dancers will develop a high degree of technical ability and expressive range. Open by audition only.
Prerequisite: DANC 3333 or permission of the instructor.

DANC 4334. Modern Dance Technique IV. 3 Hours.

This is a pre-professional level of modern dance technique in which dancers will develop a high degree of technical ability and expressive range in the modern dance idiom. Open by audition only.
Prerequisite: DANC 3334 or permission of the instructor.

DANC 4335. Jazz Dance Technique IV. 3 Hours.

(Prior SH course id: DNC 435); Intermediate Jazz dance is designed for the dancer with sound foundations in jazz technique. The course will focus on developing technical skills, increasing strength and flexibility, and developing performance quality in jazz dance. *Pending approval by University Curriculum Committee.

DANC 4372. Dance Criticism & Analysis. 3 Hours.

Students will view outstanding examples of choreography, read the works of major dance critics, and further develop the tools needed to critically analyze choreography. Emphasis is on writing informed, insightful, analyses of the form, content, and effectiveness of choreographic works.

DANC 4376. Choreography III. 3 Hours.

TThe student develops extended solo, duet, and ensemble works for performance in formal and informal concerts presented by the Dance Program.
Prerequisite: DANC 1301, DANC 2376, DANC 3376 and/or permission of the instructor.

DANC 4377. Senior Studio. 3 Hours.

Dance and Technology introduces methods of integrating media technologies into the dancer’s experience in the areas of dance graphics, sound design for dance, and dance video. Students learn camera, computer and software skills that will facilitate their ability to expand creative expression, as well as enhance their ability to package and promote themselves as artists in a variety of media. *Pending approval by University Curriculum Committee.
Prerequisite: DANC 2376, DANC 3376.

DANC 4384. Dance Pedagogy. 3 Hours.

This course acquaints students in dance with methods for teaching ballet and modern dance technique, and examines the curriculum for dance established by the National Standards for Arts Education for Grades K-12. Students gain theoretical and practical experience, focusing on the use of anatomically correct and systematic approaches to developing dance skills. Class structure, design of exercises, effective communication with students, and selection of appropriate musical accompaniment are examined.

DANC 4388. Dance and Technology. 3 Hours.

(Prior SH course id: DNC 488); This course is a continuation of the choreography series and enables students to effectively pursue technology in their creative endeavors. It introduces methods of integrating media technologies into the dancer's experience in the areas of dance graphics, sound design for dance, and dance video. Students learn camera, computer and software skills that will facilitate their ability to expand creative expression, as well as enhance their ability to package and promote themselves as artists in a variety of media. Co-listed with DANC 5388.

DANC 4389. Career Resources in Dance. 3 Hours.

(Previous SH course id: DNC 489); This course is designed for the graduating dance student who is preparing to enter the job market. Emphasis will be placed on resume building, the job search, and the audition process. Students will create and package a portfolio that includes a resume, letter of application, video resume, an audition solo, and an artistic statement. Co-listed with DNC 589.

Chair: Jennifer Karen Pontius

Elijah Alhadji Gibson, MFA, Assistant Professor of Dance, Department of Dance, MFA, Univ of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; BFA, Sam Houston State University

Dana Eugene Nicolay, MFA, Professor of Dance, Department of Dance, MFA, Texas Christian University; BS, Texas Christian University

Andrew M Noble, MFA, Associate Professor of Dance, Department of Dance, MFA, Florida State University; BA, Univ of South Florida

Dionne L Noble, MFA, Assistant Professor of Dance, Department of Dance, MFA, Univ of Utah; BA, Univ of South Florida

Jennifer Karen Pontius, MFA, Associate Professor and Chair of Dance, Department of Dance, MFA, Florida State University; MA, California St Un-Dominguez Hil; BA, Univ of Alabama-Birmingham

Interim Faculty

David James Deveau, MFA, Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance, Department of Dance, MFA, Sam Houston State University; BFA, Sam Houston State University

Jennifer Marie Mabus, MFA, Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance, Department of Dance, MFA, Sam Houston State University; BFA, Southern Methodist University