The Cornish BFA Dance program is a professional dance education proven to prepare you—body, mind, and soul—for the life of a dancer. When you complete the program, you’ll have a foundation of skills to benefit you and your community, wherever your future may find you.
Students develop digital dance projects independently, receiving feedback and guidance on composition and technology from peers and the instructor. The course addresses elements of dance composition for film including line of focus, spatial composition and framing.
Wade Madsen has been teaching in the Seattle area for over 37 years. He has taught at Cornish College of the Arts for over 31 years and premiered nearly 33 dances for Cornish Dance Theater. Wade currently teaches community classes at Velocity Dance Center. He finds new growth and stamina as a teacher with various workshops and performances throughout the country. He has taught at the Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop since 1982. Wade has produced and performed his own work with his company, Wade Madsen and Dancers, in Seattle since 1977, and has premiered over 200 works on his own company. A former member of the Bill Evans Dance Company and Tandy Beal & Company, Wade has received choreographic grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington State, King County, Seattle Arts Commission, Artist’s Trust, and Allied Arts. In 2012 Madsen was honored by Velocity Dance Center for his body of work as a choreographer and teacher. He has received the ‘Outstanding Teacher of the year’ award three times during his teaching career at Cornish. He has teaching ranges from all levels of modern technique, choreography, modern partnering, Repertory, collaboration study and his work on the College dance company. His work has been produced internationally and in Seattle by the Allegro! Dance Festival, Seattle Dance Project, On the Boards, Bumbershoot, Rockhopper Dance, d-9 dance collective, Dance Gallery and Bellingham Repertory Dance in Bellingham, Spectrum Dance Theater, and Seattle Opera. Wade has been a touring company member with the Dayna Hanson group since 2004 and was recently seen in ‘The Improvement Club’, a film base on the the 2012 touring production of ‘Gloria’s Cause’, by Dayna Hanson.
Absinthe Extatique, 2013 (Sophomore Ensemble)
Choreographer: Wade Madsen
Photo Credit: Chris Bennion
The Dance curriculum at Cornish places equal emphasis on physical mastery and creative expression. Students spend an average of 6 to 8 hours each day in dance courses, with a minimum of 16 hours of technique classes per week. In the Dance Department’s Accelerated Degree Program, select students can complete their coursework for a BFA in three years with some summer study.
Model Programs are updated at the beginning of each academic year. This PDF contains the current year’s model programs for this program.
Course descriptions are updated at the beginning of each academic year. This PDF contains the current year’s course descriptions for this program.
Graduates of the Dance Department at Cornish College of the Arts are expected to achieve the following learning outcomes:
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.
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. 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 the student’s time at Cornish and in their subsequent professional career.
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.
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 to stage the work of Crystal Pite, Ohad Naharin, Robert Battle, Camille A. Brown, Merce Cunningham, Jose Limon, Danny Buraczeski, Donald McKayle, Bill Evans and David Dorfman,. 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, Kristen Hollinsworth, Michelle Boule, David Leventhal, Summer Lee Rhatigan, Jennifer Tipton, Carla Maxwell, David Gordon, and Rhonda Miller. Dance students also participate in master classes with companies performing in Seattle.
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.
The Dance Department offers a four-year BFA in Dance. In addition to this standard degree option, the department offers two specialized BFA options: the Accelerated Degree Program and the Professional Dancers Program.
Through the Accelerated Degree Program, select students can complete their BFA in Dance in three years with some summer study. Technically proficient dancers with a strong academic record in high school are invited to apply to the ADP following their department audition.
The Professional Dancers Program awards up to two years of college credit for professional dance experience, enabling professional dancers to complete their BFA in Dance in a shorter time.
The Dance Department offers two specialized BFA options in addition to its four-year BFA degree: the Accelerated Degree Program and the Professional Dancers Program. In the Accelerated Degree Program, select students can complete their BFA in Dance in three years with some summer study. The Professional Dancers Program awards up to two years of college credit for professional dance experience, enabling professional dancers to complete their BFA in Dance in a shorter time.
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.
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.
The Cornish College of the Arts Dance Department does not offer a teaching certificate for the K – 12 school system. However, the department has entered into a formal agreement with the University of Washington Dance Program, enabling Cornish graduates to earn a Dance endorsement upon completion of the Master-in-Teaching degree through the University of Washington’s College of Education. Under the agreement, Cornish graduates who have earned a BFA in Dance and complete the University of Washington M-I-T program will qualify for a Washington State Residency Teaching Certificate with a teaching endorsement in Dance.
Cornish alumni work in many areas of the dance profession from performance, choreography and teaching to related fields such as body therapies, conditioning techniques (including Pilates and Gyrotonics), costume design, arts administration and technical production. Dance Department graduates and former students have performed with prominent companies including the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Mark Morris Dance Group, Shen Wei Dance Arts, Isadora Duncan Dance Company, American Ballet Theater, Ballet Hispanico, Milwaukee Ballet II, Ballet Nouveau, Malashock Dance, Peter Pucci and Dancers, Zoe Scofield, Lineage Dance Company, Silver Brown Dance Company, Scott/Powell Performance Group, Spectrum Dance Theater, Lingo Dance Company, and the Pat Graney Dance Company.
Our graduates have produced their choreography at Seattle’s On the Boards and Velocity Dance Center, and in New York at Dance Theater Workshop, Movement Research, Dance Space Center, Joyce Soho and other centers for innovation. The New Animals, Locust, d-9, the Three Yells, Dance Contemporary, Northwest Dance Syndrome, Coriolis Dance Collective, and Better Biscuit Dance are among the Seattle dance companies founded by Cornish dance alumni.
Cornish alumni have also succeeded in graduate studies at such respected programs as The Ohio State University, University of Arizona, University of Utah, University of California/Irvine, California State University/Long Beach, SUNY/Purchase and SUNY/Brockport.
For information about current Dance Department alumni accomplishments, please visit the Alumni section of our newsletter.