Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.


Chair, 2014-15: Sherry Saterstrom, dance/movement technique, somatic studies, performance improvisation, The Rhythm Project

Faculty, 2014-15: Jennifer Bader, ballet; Heather Klopchin, ballet, modern dance, dance history, Companydance™ (on leave); Anthony Roberts, modern dance, dance technology, senior seminar, Companydance™; Janice Roberts, modern dance, choreography, improvisation, Companydance™; Anne von Bibra, dance ethnology, ballroom, international, Veselica International Dance Ensemble™

The Department of Dance is committed to engaging students in the study of dance as a personal art, a cultural art, and a fine art, as it prepares dance majors for a wide range of life and career options.

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

overview of the major

Movement-intensive and language-intensive classes present dance as a vital form of embodied awareness, personal expression, and physical communication. The St. Olaf College B.A. in dance guides students toward lives and careers with strong physical, creative, and analytical skills at their foundation. As a result, dance majors come away from St. Olaf College with the ability to perform with professional companies or as free-lance artists; to pursue graduate study in choreography, performance, teaching; or move into areas such as dance therapy, the healing arts, and somatic studies. They enter related fields such as arts management, psychology, environmental studies, media, and more.



Dance 100, 124, 150, 201, 231, 246, and 399 are the required language-intensive courses (theory courses) in the dance major. In addition, students select the equivalent of two credits in movement-intensive courses (technique courses) in consultation with dance faculty. One of these movement-intensive courses must be Dance 212: Articulate Body. Each student also designs an individualized area of specialty derived from their own interests and investigation. This area of specialty consists of at least two credits selected from within and or outside the department. The dance major's area of specialty leads to the creation and implementation of a Senior Dance Capstone Project, which is completed in conjunction with Dance 399: Senior Dance Seminar (must be taken fall of senior year). Sample areas of speciality have resulted in 1) the creation of a children's book teaching dance with a global perspective; 2) a piece of choreography that asks the question, Do numbers possess humanistic qualities?; 3) the performance of a solo dance that explores prejudices against the Latino immigrant community; and 4) a research paper presentation that examines gender in ballet and African American spectacle dance. The dance major curriculum is compatible with other majors.

Majors are required to participate in one of the dance companies (Companydance™ or Veselica™ International Dance Ensemble) in both performance and production roles. Participation must be planned in consultation with the dance faculty.


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

Performance and Creative Opportunities

Companydance™ offers students a range of dance creating, performing and producing opportunities and is open by audition to ALL students. The company's primary aesthetic is grounded in the modern dance tradition, but is by no means restricted to it. Auditions for Companydance™ are held during the first week of the fall term. Veselica International Dance Ensemble is open by audition to ALL students. The company exemplifies a global perspective that strives to spread awareness of dance forms from around the world. Veselica™ (pronounced veh-SELL-eet-sah) translates as "celebration." Artistic Director Anne von Bibra founded the international dance ensemble in the late 1980s. Auditions for Veselica are held during the first week of the fall term and sometimes during the spring term.



Courses in which moving is the primary mode of learning. These courses might resemble a traditional dance technique class or a class in which movement exploration and invention is emphasized. All movement-intensive courses taken for 0.25 credit in the Dance Department are repeatable up to a total of eight times. Students receive numeric but not GE credit for a repeated course. GE credit is granted only once. Students ready to take an upper level movement-intensive 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 body and vocal percussion, clogging, drumming, and tap dancing. Investigate how physical rhythms are established as students 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 one's own rhythms. Join the beat! Offered periodically.

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. Ticket/transportation fee required. 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. Ticket/transportation fee required. Offered most semesters.

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 permission of instructor.

115 Power Play (0.25)

Play is powerful in learning and creating. It engages, energizes, and enlightens. This 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 organizatio n and alignment while challenging students' imagination and creative sensibilities. Tumbling, terraining, contact improvisation, and ball play represent a few of the included activities. Offere d annually in the fall semester.

121 Ballet I (0.25)

This course provides students with an introduction to ballet technique, vocabulary, proper body alignment and body awareness. Outside work includes practicing, reading, writing and concert attendance. May be repeated with permission of instructor. Offered each semester.

130 (0.50), 131 (0.25) Advanced Beginning Ballet

This course offers an expansion of ballet technique, vocabulary, proper body alignment, and body awareness beyond the beginning level. Prerequisite: Dance 121 and/or permission of instructor. Offered annually.

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. Ticket/transportation fee required. 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, DANCE 124, or permission of instructor. Ticket/transportation fee required. Offered occasionally.

The following movement-intensive courses are offered at both 0.50 credit (210, 212, 220, 250, 310, 320) and 0.25 credit (211, 213, 221, 251, 311, 321). Movement-intensive courses taken for 0.50 credit entail additional outside work and may be taken only once. It is recommended that students take movement-intensive courses for 0.50 credit first. Movement-intensive courses taken for 0.25 credit may be repeated up to a total of eight times.

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

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

212 (0.50), 213 (0.25) Articulate Body

This movement intensive class is a blend of the art and the science of the body in dancing. It integrates an artistic approach to moving with a physical experience that deepens awareness of the body in motion and enhances understanding of body structure and function. This class also links to the content and focus in Dance 201 The Body Moveable and Dance 301 Advanced Body Moveable. Prerequisite: Dance 111 or Dance 121 or Dance 210/211 or Dance 220/221, or permission of instructor. Offered each semester.

215 Contact Improvisation (0.25 credit)

Contact Improvisation is a movement form that practices moving through space while sharing one's body weight with another moving person.Students practice movement skills that investigate their relationships with gravity and that increase their physical awareness, their understanding of body structure and function, and their comfort with movement invention. Students research the history of Contact Improvisation and explore its influence in contemporary dance forms. The course builds on skills developed in DANCE 115. Prerequisite: DANCE 115. Offered alternate years in the spring 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 and Dance 130/131 and/or permission of the instructor. 221 may be repeated with permission of instructor. Offered each semester.

241 Improvisation: Practice and Performance (0.25)

Students explore improvisation as a movement practice, a dance technique, and a foundation for performance. The course integrates a variety of approaches to improvisation including movement exploration, Authentic Movement, somatic attention, and Contact Improvisation. The class develops individual and group movement skills and increases students' level of comfort with movement improvision as a performing practice. Prerequisite: DANCE 115 and 215 or permission of instructor. Offered alternate years in the spring semester.

250 (0.50), 251 (.25) Modern Dance II: Technique Emphasis

Students further develop artistic, athletic technical skills in modern dance through concentrated work on movement sequencing and dance conditioning. Students learn, create, and perform movement patterns rich in attention toward actions and alignments of the spine, spatial pathways, dynamics of time and energy, expression of weight/gravity, and intricate foot and legwork. Prerequisite: Two terms of Dance 111 or permission of instructor. Open to dance majors and other students with permission of instructor. Dance 251 may be repeated with permission of instructor. Offered spring semester.

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 or 250/251 (at least twice) and/or permission of the instructor. 311 may be repeated with permission of instructor. 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 permission of instructor. Offered each semester.


Courses in which lecture, discussion, and writing are primary modes of learning.

100 Introduction to Dance

This introduction to dance course allows students to broadly experience dance. Students explore dance from the following perspectives: historical, cultural and social, creative and expressive, performing, critical and aesthetic, and kinesthetic. The intention of the course is to broaden students' perceptions about dance. Lectures, student presentations, experiential movement labs, and viewing of both live and recorded dance performances are all components of the course. No dance experience required. Ticket/transportation fee required. 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, discussion, 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. Ticket/transportation fee required. Offered in alternate years.

150 Movement, the Camera, and the Creative Process

Students learn, embody, and integrate elements of dance and film by engaging in the creative practice of making dance for the screen. Each student gaines experience as a director, performer, videographer, editor, and critic in this collaborative learning community. Students discuss and analyze live movement studies, screendances by peers and professionals, and relevant texts. Other technologies, such as 3D character animation and reactive/interactive technology, may be introduced. The class culminates with an evening public showing. Offered alternate years. Counts toward media and film studies concentrations.

201 The Body Movable (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 111 or DANCE 115, or permission of instructor. Offered annually in the fall semester. Counts toward biomedical studies concentration.

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.

246 Dance in the United States

Students trace and integrate the African-American and Euro-American dance traditions of the late 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries, paying attention to their similarities and differences. The focus is on the theatrical dance genres of ballet, modern, and jazz (includes social dance, tap, and some musical theatre dance). 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. No dance experience required. Ticket/transportation fee required. Offered annually in the spring semester. Counts towards race and ethnic studies, American studies, and women's and gender studies majors and race and ethnic studies and women's and gender studies concentrations. No dance experience required.

294 Internship

298 Independent Study

301 Advanced Body Movable (.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 212 or DANCE 213. Offered alternate years in the spring semester.

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 annually 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. May be offered as a 1.00 credit course or .50 credit course.

398 Independent Research

399 Senior Dance Seminar

In this culminating dance major course, students develop and execute their final senior projects in their individual areas of specialty, including planning for and promoting the presentation of their projects. Students prepare for dance and other career options by developing professional correspondence documents, learning and practicing interviewing skills, creating video samples of their work, and leading discussions on dance-related topics relevant to the individual student. Open to dance majors only. Offered annually in the fall semester.