Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.


Chair, 2009-10: Janice Roberts, modern dance, choreography, improvisation, Companydance

Faculty, 2009-10: Jennifer Bader, ballet; Susan Bauer, movement analysis; Heather Klopchin, ballet, modern dance, dance history, Companydance; Anthony Roberts, modern dance, dance technology, Companydance; Sherry Saterstrom, dance/movement technique, somatic studies, improvisation ensemble; Anne von Bibra, dance ethnology, ballroom, Veselica International Dance Ensemble

Dancing is moving, exploring, creating, knowing ourselves as whole people. Since time began, dance has threaded itself through the fabric of personal, social, cultural, and religious traditions. It excites, invigorates, and entices us, echoing our life experiences. Dance reflects our human desire to shape feelings, ideas, and images with an aesthetic sensibility.

Creating dance opens up new connections within ourselves, with others, and with entire communities. At St. Olaf we lace together a dance experience which emphasizes the American modern dance tradition in its technical training, while encouraging study and performance of styles and dances from world cultures. Performance opportunities range from main stage productions to informal showings, from chapel services to off-campus events.

St. Olaf is a charter member and an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Dance.

overview of the major

In combining studio and theory work, the dance major prepares students for a variety of life and career possibilities. Recent graduates perform with professional companies or as free-lance artists. Others pursue graduate study in dance therapy, teaching, choreography, performance, or the somatic disciplines. The emerging fields of dance medicine and dance technology will beckon many in the future, as will careers in arts/dance administration, dance in the church, or teaching in public schools, private studios, or community service agencies.



Dance 100, 124, 201, 231, 232, 246, and 399 are the required core courses. In addition, students select the equivalent of 1.5 courses in technique in consultation with dance faculty. Each student also designs an individualized area of specialty related to a core course and consisting of at least two additional courses selected from within and/or outside the department. A senior project completes the area of specialty. Sample specialties include performance, choreography, body-mind studies, history and ethnology. The dance major curriculum is compatible with other majors.

Majors are expected to participate in Body Lab and one of the dance companies (Companydance or Veselica) in both performance and production roles. Participation must be planned in consultation with the dance faculty.


St. Olaf offers a K-12 teaching license in dance. Contact Dance faculty member Sherry Saterstrom for further information.


Details about the distinction process can be found on the Dance Department web page.


All students are eligible to audition for membership in the dance companies of the college: Companydance and Veselica International Dance Ensemble. Companydance offers students a range of dance performing and production opportunities. The company’s primary aesthetic is grounded in the modern dance tradition but is by no means restricted to it. Veselica seeks to introduce both student performers and audiences to dance as a global art and gives students an opportunity to develop skills in performing international dance forms.



All technique courses taken for 0.25 credit in the Dance Department are repeatable up to a total of eight times. Students ready to take an upper level technique course MUST have instructor approval.

105 The Beat Goes On (0.25)

Explore pulse and rhythm through a range of dance and movement activities, including African dance, tap dance, Latin dance, drumming, body percussion, and voice work. Investigate how body rhythms are established as we shift body weight, manipulate time, and emphasize a pulse. Explore the connections between rhythm, the innate instinct to follow rhythmic patterns in life, and the predisposition to generate our own rhythms. Join the beat!

106 Ballroom I (0.25)

Ballroom classes are taught from a social/aesthetic perspective. In this course, students learn fundamental steps, rhythms, and styling in foxtrot, slow waltz, Viennese waltz, east coast swing, and cha cha. Offered each semester.

108 American Dance: Native and Immigrant Traditions (0.25)

This course presents dances derived from immigrant and native traditions and includes Cajun, clogging, contras, hula, squares and vintage dance forms such as Charleston, among others. Offered periodically.

109 International Dance I: A Survey (0.25)

International dance classes emphasize dance in its varied cultural contexts. This course surveys dance from around the world with emphasis on European and Near Eastern forms. A ticket/transportation fee will be collected. Offered most semesters.

110 Fundamentally Dance (0.25)

Why dance? What is fundamental about dance in the life of any culture? Students explore such questions by moving, by dancing, and by creating dances together. Fundamentals of body organization based in "developmental movement patterning" provide the movement foundation for this class.

111 Modern Dance I (0.25)

This course introduces modern dance as a style of dance and a dance aesthetic. It explores at a beginning level a range of movement vocabulary, body awareness, and creative process. Teaching faculty bring their individual movement backgrounds to the class content. Offered each semester. May be repeated several times with instructor's permission.

115 Movement for the Performing Artist (0.50)

This studio course introduces students to the concepts, vocabulary, patterns, and application of dance and movement for the performing artist. The course develops movement observation and analysis skills with application to directing, conducting, character development, music performance (instrumental and voice), and choreography for theater and music. A ticket/transportation fee will be collected.

121 Ballet I (0.25)

This course provides students with an introduction to ballet technique, vocabulary, proper body alignment and body awareness. Can be repeated eight times with instructor's permission. Offered each semester.

201 The Body Moveable (0.50)

An introduction to Experiential Anatomy using a range of physical movement and embodied awareness practices. Exploring the human body's structure and function provides the foundation for moving in healthy, expressive, and creative ways. Emphasis is placed on living with awareness in daily life as a foundation for more specialized performance activities such as dance and sport. Prerequisites: Dance 105, 110, or 111 or permission of instructor. Offered most semesters.

206 Ballroom II (0.25)

This course provides instruction in basic steps, rhythms and styling for tango, rumba, west coast swing, and quickstep. Students learn advanced patterns in slow waltz. Emphasis is on styling and quality of movement. Prerequisite: Dance 106 or permission of instructor. A ticket/transportation fee will be collected. Offered annually, usually in the Spring Semester.

209 International Dance II: Selected Dance Cultures (0.25)

Students focus intensively on the dance forms and styles of selected cultures chosen by the instructor in consultation with the students. Prerequisite: Dance 109, 124, or permission of instructor. Offered occasionally.

The following technique courses are offered at both 0.50 credit (210, 220, 310, 320) and 0.25 credit (211, 221, 311, 321). Technique courses taken for 0.50 credit entail additional outside work and may be taken only once. It is recommended that students take technique courses for 0.50 credit first. Technique courses taken for 0.25 credit may be repeated.

210 (0.50), 211 (0.25) Modern Dance II

Students expand their understanding of modern dance by building on the components of Dance III, adding attention to movement qualities, elements of space, dance vocabulary and of technique with an emphasis on phrasing and sequencing movement. Open to majors and other students with instructor's permission. Prerequisite: Dance 111 and permission of instructor. 211 may be repeated with instructor's permission. Offered each semester.

215 Power Play (0.25)

Play is powerful in learning. It is engaging, energizing, and enlightening. This intermediate level movement technique class explores a range of physical activities designed to develop physical skill, confidence, and intelligence--all in the spirit of play. It incorporates activities for developing body organization and alignment while challenging student's imagination and creative sensibilities. Tumbling, terraining, contact improvisation, and Capoeira represent a few of the included activities. Prerequisites: Dance 105, 110, or 111. Offered annually in the Fall Semester.

220 (0.50), 221 (0.25) Ballet II

This course offers an expansion of ballet vocabulary and technique with an emphasis on movement quality, clarity and efficiency. Outside work includes practicing, reading, writing and concert attendance. This section is open to majors and other students with instructor's permission. Prerequisite: Dance 121 (at least twice) and/or permission of the instructor. 221 may be repeated with instructor's permission. Offered each semester.

301 Advanced Body Moveable (.50)

This course deepens and expands the body awareness focus of Dance 201, emphasizing the somatic perspective in which it is grounded. The somatic disciplines of Body-Mind Centering, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Ideokinesis, and Experimental Anatomy provide the theoretical foundation of this course. It includes exploration of the "attention-intention-action cycle" as life practice. Prerequisites: Dance 201 and Dance 111 or Dance 115. Offered every other year.

310 (0.50), 311 (0.25) Modern III

This course builds on the concepts and components of Modern Dance I and II. This course is open to majors and other students with instructor's permission. Prerequisite: Dance 210/211 (at least twice) and/or permission of the instructor. 311 may be repeated with instructor's permission. Offered each semester.

320 (0.50), 321 (0.25) Ballet III

This course offers a further exploration of ballet vocabulary and technique for the advanced dancer with an emphasis on clarity, intention, and musicality. This ballet course is open to majors and other students with instructor's permission. Prerequisite: Dance 221. 321 may be repeated with instructor's permission. Offered each semester.


100 Introduction to Dance

This introduction to dance allows students broadly to experience and learn about dance. Students explore dance from the following perspectives: historical, cultural and social, creative and expressive, performing, critical and aesthetic, and kinesthetic. Lectures, experiential movement labs, group presentations, and viewing of both live and recorded dance performances are all components of the course. No dance experience required. A ticket/transportation fee will be collected. Offered annually in the Fall Semester.

124 World Dance Traditions

An introduction to world dance traditions, this course examines dance forms, functions, contexts, and differing aesthetics found in selected cultures of Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the South Pacific, and Latin America. The course includes lectures, discussions, video-viewing, and required field-trips to dance events, in addition to studio experiences where students learn dances from the cultures studied. No previous dance experience required. A ticket/transportation fee will be collected. Offered during Interim in alternate years.

150 Movement, the Camera, and the Creative Process

Integrating the human body, the digital video camera, and the computer, students explore the creation and performance of movement as artistic expression. Emphasizing conceptual and practical approaches, students learn basic artistic movement technique and composition, video production and editing, and computer animation of the human form. Students produce a number of individual and group movement projects. Students perform, view, describe, and analyze class projects. Students examine and discuss a wide variety of dances made for the camera. The class culminates with an evening public showing. No prerequisites or previous dance or computer experience required. Materials fee. Offered during Interim in alternate years.

231 Fundamentals of Choreography and Improvisation

A basic course in principles and methods for creating dances, this course focuses on the elements of dance composition and improvisation, the relationship of form and content, and the relationship of the dancer and the dance. It is appropriate for students interested in any or all forms of dance and for those interested in other forms of composition (music, visual art, etc.). Offered annually in the Fall Semester.

232 Movement Analysis

This introduction to Rudolf Laban's system of movement analysis provides a framework for observing, describing and analyzing human movement patterns and understanding nonverbal behavior and communication. This course is appropriate for all students for whom movement observation is important to their career objectives, e.g. dancers, therapists, counselors, anthropologists, journalists, nurses, and actors. A ticket/transportation fee will be collected. Offered annually in the Spring Semester.

246 Dance in the United States

Students trace and integrate the African-American and Euro-American dance traditions of the late 19th and 20th centuries and early 21st century, paying attention to their similarities and differences. The focus is on the theatrical dance genres of ballet, modern, and jazz (includes tap and some musical theatre dance). Students also examine social dance as the predecessor of some theatrical dance genres. At the same time, the course attends to the economic, religious, political, and social forces that have affected the development of dance in the United States. Extensive video examples supplement reading, live dance viewing, physical exploration, class lecture, writing, and discussion. Prerequisite: Dance 100. A ticket/transportation fee will be collected. Offered annually in the Spring Semester.

264 Movement and Dance as Cultural Expression

Students embark on a cross-cultural exploration of concert dance and pedestrian movement in religious and social contexts to increase intercultural sensitivity and competence. The emphasis is on discovering how movement and dance express and communicate cultural values, as well as developing the skills to perceive, describe, interpret, and evaluate movement. Includes studio, classroom, and field experiences. A ticket/transportation fee will be collected. Offered most years.

294 Internship

298 Independent Study

374 Advanced Choreography

In this advanced analysis of principles and methods for creating dances, students survey current trends in dance performance as well as choreograph new works. Prerequisite: Dance 231. Offered alternate years in the Spring Semester.

394 Internship

396 Directed Undergraduate Research: "Topic Description"

This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Prerequisite: determined by individual instructor. Offered based on department decision.

398 Independent Research

399 Senior Dance Seminar

This is the dance majors' culminating course. Students will prepare, develop, and execute their final senior project in their individual areas of specialty. Students also prepare for dance careers, looking at resume formats, grant writing, interviewing, and auditioning skills. Class discussion topics include the role and function of dance in the students' lives and in what ways they will participate. Offered annually in the Fall Semester.