Frequently Asked Questions
How much can I dance at Princeton?
How much students dance at Princeton in entirely self-determined. We are not a conservatory, but because of the flexibility in our classes, if you want to, you can dance for over 30 hours a week along with your academic course load. We offer dance studio courses—emphasizing repertory and technique—the opportunity to audition for guest artists and perform their choreography, daily ballet classes, extra-curricular modern classes, and a multitude of student dance organizations. If, for example, you were to take a ballet class, an afternoon modern dance course, rehearse with a guest choreographer, and go to a rehearsal with a student dance company, you could easily be dancing for 8 hours in a single day! Choreography components of technique and repertory courses as well as student dance organizations allow students to intensively explore choreography as well as technique and performance should they desire to do so.
I got into a conservatory but I really want a liberal arts education. What can Princeton offer me?
We believe that Princeton’s Program in Dance has a great deal to offer the student seeking out an intensive form of dance study while simultaneously pursing meaningful research in other areas of academia. Because our program is largely self-designed and can accommodate the needs of both advanced students and beginners, there are lots of ways to create the program you desire.
Technique: Courses in modern and ballet styles and techniques, daily, free, co-curricular ballet and modern classes, and master classes allow the advanced student to constantly maintain and improve upon his or her technique level. You have the ability to be in technique class for anywhere from an hour and a half to four hours per day. Ballet classes, should you desire, may be taken in pointe shoes. Furthermore, open classes and the pre-professional program at Princeton Ballet School can supplement the options at the University.
Performance: The annual Spring Dance Festival, various senior thesis productions, and student dance groups allow dancers to continue to develop and refine their performance skills. Performances in venues as disparate as the professional Berlind Theatre, the intimate Patricia and Ward Hagan ’48 Dance Studio, and the Princeton University Art Museum expose dancers to many sides and styles of performance.
Flexibility: Because we are not a conservatory, dancers are allowed the flexibility to dance more or less in a given semester. Many students will dance intensively for several semesters but are able to take time off to go abroad or spend more time studying for a specific class. This kind of malleability in the requirements allow dancers to explore other passions while maintaining a high level of dance education.
Dance Academics and Studies: Many students choose to bring dance into other areas of their lives by melding their dance studies with their other academic pursuits. While all certificate students must complete DAN 321: Special Topics in Dance History, Theory, and Aesthetics, many choose to push these sorts of ideas and issues further by blending their dance studies into their junior papers and senior theses. Neuroscience students have looked at movement potential from neurological and dance perspectives, comparative literature students have looks at poetics and dance aesthetics, and history majors have written on the role of ballet in war-time propaganda. The ability to intensely investigate dance with the support of both the Program in Dance as well as your home department often seems to lead to greater and new insight into both fields.
I've never taken dance before but I'd like to try?
Princeton's Program in Dance prides itself on its accessibility to students who have never danced before. As an old advertisement for DAN 209: Introduction to Modern Dance used to read: “If you’ve ever walked, skipped, jumped, run or fallen, you’ve danced! And DAN 209 is for you!” Several of our dancers who began dancing at Princeton have gone on to professional careers, including, most recently, Silas Reiner ’06 who dances for Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
Will I be able to balance dance studies with other academic interest?
Yes, because of the flexibility of our program, you are able to dance while pursuing a wide variety of other classes and interests. (Although we suggest avoiding night classes that sometimes conflict with rehearsals!)