Department of Dance

Department of Dance


The Department of Dance offers two degrees:

    • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Classical Chinese Dance
    • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Classical Chinese Dance

Both dance programs specialize in classical Chinese dance and are the first of their kind in the United States. No other institution in the country offers degrees or extensive course- work in this specialized dance form.

The BFA program is enriched by undergraduate general education requirements that help students develop communication skills; critical and creative thinking; information and technology literacy; as well as wisdom based on traditional Eastern and Western humanities and values that will enrich them as artists. Meanwhile, the MFA program includes graduate-level dance theory and history courses.

Brief Introduction to Classical Chinese Dance

Classical Chinese dance is one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world. As a general term, Chinese dance is made up of: 1) folk and ethnic dances and 2) classical Chinese dance.

Folk and ethnic dances are comprised of different regional and ethnic dance styles that feature the unique characteristics of each tradition. Classical Chinese dance, meanwhile, has its origins in the imperial court and ancient theater of China. As classical Chinese dance matured throughout history, it was enriched by the philosophical and cultural traits of each dynasty, resulting in an art form that expresses the essence of Chinese culture in its movements, postures, and aesthetics. In the modern era, classical Chinese dance has been organized into a formal dance system with methodological training.

Classical Chinese dance training is classified into four components: shen fa (form), shen yun (bearing), ji qiao (dance technique), and tanzigong (tumbling technique). Shen fa consists of poses and movements that make up the vocabulary of the art form. Shen yun is a way of expressing the dancer’s inner feelings and the style of classical Chinese dance. Ji qiao refers to a variety of jumps and spins, and tanzigong refers to different types of flips.