In step with the times

Dancers at Connecticut College find an overwhelmingly supportive environment for their craft, whether student, guest artist or professional performer. Student and faculty dance concerts captivate audiences, as do the world-class performances brought to us by the onStage performing arts series.

Internationally renowned dancers and choreographers comprise our faculty: David Dorfman, Shani Collins Achille, Heidi Henderson, Lisa Race, Shawn Hove, Rosemarie Roberts and Marya Ursin. The centerpiece of the dance department is the recognition of the importance of an individual's interaction with the world as a whole person, not just as an artist.

Once home to the American Dance Festival, from 1948-77, the College provided an environment for many well-known American artists, nurturing the development of contemporary dance in America, with 173 new works premiered. Works by notable 20th century American artists like Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Eric Hawkins, Sophie Maslow, José Limòn, Merce Cunningham, Helen Tamaris, Paul Taylor, Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, Laura Dean and Trisha Brown, among others, first came to life at the College. In years since, our forward-focused dance department has facilitated international projects and other activities that support the curriculum:

  • David Dorfman Dance was permanently named company-in-residence at Connecticut College in 2007.
  • Dance students have the opportunity to perform in at least 4 dance productions each year.
  • Each semester, a guest artist works with students in a two-week residency, where they teach classes and choreograph works with students to be performed in department concerts. Recent guest artists include: Alexandra Beller, Doug Elkins, Jeremy Nelson and Eddie Taketa.
  • Each year students participate in the American College Dance Festival Association's New England Conference. The Connecticut College dance department hosted this event in 2008 and 2012.
  • The multi-faceted, multi-year Yunnan-Mekong Project to research, support and present the cultural traditions of Yunnan China and the Mekong countries culminated with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in the summer of 2007.
  • In 2006, the department received the Dance/USA National College Choreography Initiative Grant, where students worked with guest artist Eddie Taketa on a restaging of Doug Varone's, "Of the Earth Far Below."
  • Two TRIPs (Travel, Research, and Immersion Program) to Asia involved the dance department: In 2000, a 21-day tour to Shanghai and Yunnan Province in China, in 2002, a 19-day border-crossing TRIP from Vietnam to China collaborating with the art history and government departments.
  • The 1998 International Dance Festival took place at the College.