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Your program of study at Cornish will include stimulating classes, discussions and performances that will broaden and deepen your understanding of dance as an art form. You will spend an average of 6 to 8 hours each day in dance courses, with a minimum of 16 hours of technique classes per week.

Intensive daily ballet and modern dance classes form the core of our technique curriculum, with elective courses offered in pointe, partnering, men’s technique, jazz, hip hop, tap, world dance, vocal skills, martial arts, conditioning and somatic techniques. Due to this variety of dance styles, our students have versatile performance skills. Our technique classes emphasize anatomically-sound technique based on efficient movement mechanics and the understanding of personal physical facility. Accompanying courses in anatomy and injury prevention teach you to make the most of your physical potential.

The Dance curriculum at Cornish places equal emphasis on physical mastery and creative expression. A three-year sequence of courses in choreography and improvisation develops your knowledge of choreographic craft and fosters the development of your personal voice. You will progress from simple movement studies to fully developed works as you learn choreographic structures and forms. As part of your choreographic training, you will learn to collaborate with students from other artistic disciplines, sometimes using digital tools to blend dance with video and sound.

In pedagogy courses you will learn how to apply your broad dance knowledge to teaching dance technique and community-based creative movement. Dance history and theory courses provide you with an academic foundation that stimulates artistic growth and allows you to see your present and future work in a historical context. Subjects such as music and movement analysis offer a broader understanding of the world of dance, while courses in stage production give you a working knowledge of the backstage aspects of dance performances. You will learn to create your own career opportunities by studying the business of dance: grant writing, fundraising, and concert production.

Coursework in the Humanities and Sciences Department supplements dance classes, giving you an opportunity to study the philosophical, literary, and historical contexts in which art takes place. This program gives students a general foundation in academic skills, such as research and writing, which will complement your education as an artist. You will also explore the full range of your creative interests by taking College Elective courses in the other Cornish artistic disciplines.

A senior project is the final requirement of your BFA program. You will select a specific area for study, working with a faculty member to develop the scope of your project. Most often this will involve an advanced level of choreography and a performance open to the public; however, senior projects may also explore video production, dance photography, teaching internships and historical research.

You will emerge from the Cornish Dance program with a broad knowledge of the practice, theory, and history of dance, ready to contribute your own innovations to the arts world of the 21st century.

Performance & Choreographic Opportunities

The Dance Department offers students performing experience in a variety of settings. Cornish Dance Theater, the department’s performing ensemble, presents bi-annual concerts with choreography by faculty and professional guest choreographers, including re-stagings of historic masterworks. CDT also performs site specific dances in cultural venues and environments around Seattle.The annual New Moves student choreography concerts and BFA senior project concerts provide additional performance and choreographic opportunities. Dance students also participate in interdepartmental productions such as musicals and collaborate with students from other departments on special projects.

Visiting Artists

Classes with visiting artists enhance the curriculum and expose students to aesthetic perspectives not represented among the permanent faculty. The Dance Department sponsors visiting artist residencies and master classes each year with some of the nation’s leading dance artists, including recent choreographic residencies with Robert Battle, Camille A. Brown, Patricia Lent, Danny Buraczeski, Donald McKayle, Bill Evans, Lynn Simonson, Sean Curran, David Dorfman, Bebe Miller, and Joe Goode. Other recent guest artists include Ron Brown, Danielle Agami, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Liz Lerman, Alonzo King, Twyla Tharp, Elizabeth Streb, Glen Eddy, Donald Byrd, Steve Paxton, Brenda Buffalino, Gregory Maqoma, Lisa Race, Jennifer Tipton, Carla Maxwell, Abby Yager, David Gordon and Rhonda Miller. Dance students also participate in master classes with touring companies that perform in Seattle.


In your senior year, you are invited to pursue internships with Seattle dance organizations, facilitating your transition from student to professional dancer. Dance interns have the opportunity to learn firsthand the challenges of professional life by apprenticing with major dance companies, assisting dance teachers in public school creative movement classes and helping dance company administrators.

Study Abroad Options

Cornish College of the Arts maintains consortium agreements with Arcadia University and Butler University through which students in their junior year may pursue up to one year of study abroad. Through this program, Dance Department students have studied at prestigious institutions such as London’s Trinity Laban. More information is available in the college catalog.

Pilates Matwork Teaching Certificate

The Cornish Pilates Matwork Teaching Certificate prepares students to teach Pilates mat classes in studios and gyms. The program requires an intensive workshop in Pilates matwork in addition to existing Dance coursework in anatomy, kinesiology, somatics and pedagogy.  The Certificate Program is taught by core faculty Michele Miller who studied under the direction of Romana Kryzanowska and has been teaching Pilates for 20 years.

Pilates Mat Teacher Certification Intensive Registration Form 2014

Gyrotonic® Trainer Preparation

Cornish Dance majors have the opportunity to complete the initial two stages of trainer preparation in the Gyrotonic® conditioning system while earning credits toward their degrees. Studying at Seattle’s Gyrotonic Movement Center under master trainer Karen Mullin, students can complete the Progression 1 and Pre-Training courses, qualifying them for the Gyrotonic® Foundation Teacher Training Course.

Dance Wellness Program

The Dance Department emphasizes training healthy dancers who have both the self-confidence to enter a challenging field and the physical understanding that leads to professional longevity. The department supports students’ personal growth and development by providing a nurturing environment that encourages self-reflection and the self-knowledge that helps you to balance your artistic and personal dreams. Strength and flexibility exercises are incorporated into all technique classes to prevent injuries.

A physical therapist serves as a consultant to the department, advising faculty and students on injury-related concerns and providing treatment on campus. The physical therapist conducts a Performance Enhancement Screening for all new students that leads to an individualized corrective exercise program designed to enhance technical proficiency and reduce the risk of injury during your Cornish education and in your subsequent professional career.


The Dance Department has four large, naturally-lit studios, all with sprung floors, barres and mirrors. Showers and lockers are available in the dressing rooms. All technique classes have professional accompanists. Sound and video equipment is available for your use. Most Dance Department concerts take place at Broadway Performance Hall, a 295-seat proscenium theater.

Seattle: A Regional Dance Hub

At Cornish your education isn’t limited to the classroom. In Seattle, a city which leads the Pacific Northwest in artistic innovation in dance, you’ll find a vibrant arts community. You’ll be in the center of this flourishing environment, with many of Seattle’s leading dance professionals on our faculty.  As a student at Cornish, you will use the professional dance community as your classroom: attending performances, performing works by leading choreographers, presenting your choreography on professional showcases, and interning with companies.  By the time you graduate, you will be well acquainted with Seattle dance professionals, and they will know you as well.

International companies ranging from classical ballet to cutting edge performance art tour regularly to Seattle. Through our partnerships with presenting organizations, you will attend rehearsals and participate in master classes with these prestigious companies. Cornish dance students have observed company class with the Netherlands Dance Theater and dress rehearsals of the Bolshoi Ballet and American Ballet Theater;  they have also attended master classes taught by members of the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, American Ballet Theater, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Trisha Brown, Stephen Petronio, Bill T. Jones, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and Black Grace Dance Companies.