NSU approved to provide dance degree

Students concentrating or minoring in dance will soon be able to major in this field at Northwestern State University. The University of Louisiana System and the Louisiana Board of Regents approved NSU’s letter of intent on Feb. 23 for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, making it the only public university in the state to provide such a program.

A December 2017 NSU press release summarized the proposal co-written by Director of Dance and Associate Professor Kirstin Riehl and Assistant Professor Brett Garfinkel.

“The goal for creating the degree is to prepare students for professional careers in the dance industry,” Riehl said.

Some of the program’s goals are to teach students about different techniques for practice and performance, cultural and historical aspects of dance and appreciation for the technical side of performance, such as lighting and costuming.

“This is only the beginning of the process,” said Dr. Greg Handel, dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. “We likely won’t begin offering the degree until fall 2019.”

The program is still in the planning stages to determine specific classes to offer, how many new hires are needed and how much additional space is needed.

Alphonse Engram, currently a freshman with a dance concentration, is looking forward to the new program.

“I just danced before I got here,” Engram said. “It’s been kind of hard to do theater and dance and get accustomed to everything else that’s not in my comfort zone.”

This new program, Engram said, will allow him to focus on his craft. Akin to music theory classes, dance students will soon be provided with a well-rounded course lineup so they can enter any field related to dance.

Zoe Almaraz

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