The School of Theatre at Penn State University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Musical Theatre. The dance training is designed to provide all BFA candidates with foundations in ballet, tap, and jazz techniques as well as abundant opportunities to develop your skills in the many styles required by musical theatre.
In your first year of dance training as a BFA candidate, you will study ballet for two semesters. Kinesthetic awareness, breath work, and the development of an anatomically sound and dynamic ballet technique are the core values of this class. This class meets three times a week, and has piano accompaniment. You will also have the opportunity to take an Intro to Jazz class in the second semester of your freshmen year. This class will introduce the the origin and basics of jazz dance, while building strength, stamina, and technique.
As a sophomore, you will study two semesters of jazz and tap, both meeting twice a week. Jazz in your sophomore year will focus on different qualities of movement with an emphasis on groundedness and use of resistance, in addition to musicality and incorporation of theatrical narrative. Tap in your sophomore year provides a strong technical foundation and introduces classic repertoire from the rhythm tap and musical theatre canons.
In your junior year, you will study two semesters of Musical Theatre Dance Styles twice a week. This course is designed to introduce you to the styles of choreographers like Jerome Robbins, Michael Bennett, Agnes DeMille, Michael Kidd, and Bob Fosse. As well as contemporary choreographers like Susan Stroman, Bill T. Jones, Andy Blankenbuehler, Rob Ashford, and Jerry Mitchell.
In your junior or senior year, you are required to take two more semesters of any dance style that you choose (for example: ballet, tap, jazz, modern, African or hip hop) at the appropriate level and/or the movement class equivalent recommended by the dance faculty.
Each year there are many performance opportunities for the BFA candidate, including the mainstage musicals and dance concerts. Also, at the end of each semester, a dance jury is presented to all dance and musical theatre faculty. This showing provides the faculty an opportunity to assess the progress of BFA candidates.
The BFA candidate is not restricted in enrollment to only the required dance classes. If your schedule allows, and with the permission of the instructor, you may register for more classes during a semester following your freshmen year. Many of the dance classes include students from the dance program, ensuring a diverse experience and vibrant atmosphere.