Dance Your Way to Your BFA
Southern Miss Dance offers two Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree options:
- Performance & Choreography
- Dance Education with K-12 Licensure
Both courses of study are studio-based and performance-intensive. Students learn how to create dances, teach dance, and develop their own artistry.
Dance faculty closely mentor students through the program, helping them determine and realize their career paths. Students are provided opportunities for internships which link their studies with the professional world. Individualized instruction is a hallmark of our program and guides students as they explore dance from both historical and contemporary perspectives.
USM Dance is housed in the School of Performing and Visual Arts, visit our School's site for our mission, upcoming performances, and other exciting news.
The University of Southern Mississippi is an accredited, institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Dance.
What Will I Learn?
Dance majors perform every semester, learn how to choreograph and teach, and select an internship tailored to their unique career interests. Students take courses in modern and ballet dance techniques, anatomy, dance history, and production, with opportunities to study somatics, dance conditioning, jazz, dance technology, yoga, floor barre, Pilates, etc.
The mission of the Dance Program at The University of Southern Mississippi is to empower students to define their artistic voice and acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue it professionally. Through individualized mentorship and attentive faculty-student interactions, we aim for our students to become capable and experienced performers, choreographers, licensed dance educators, artists, and advocates for the field.
Career readiness is at the forefront of our student-centered approach, incorporating research in teaching and dance, cultural and community engagement, experiential learning, internship opportunities, and guest artist residencies to supplement regular, rigorous training in movement practice and theoretical work.
As a program within the School of Performing and Visual Arts, we value collaboration, fostering belonging, and promoting active engagement in both the dance field and greater artistic community.
Students perform every semester, starting as incoming majors with the Freshmen Company where they experience the creation of a new work with a faculty member. Later opportunities include membership in the Repertory Dance Companies (I & II), Performance Project ensemble, Dance Gala concerts, screen dance, and more
- Freshman Company: As a "Freshman Company" member, incoming students will rehearse with a faculty member and set a new dance with the Company. Students will be exposed to the collaborative nature of modern dance choreography—preparing them to successfully audition for our other performance ensembles. The Freshman Repertory Company performs excerpts of their dance at High School Dance Day and the entire dance at the December Student Showcase concert.
- Repertory Dance Company I & II: The USM Repertory Dance Companies (RDC I & II) provide opportunities for dance majors to gain valuable performance experience and to become further prepared for professional careers in dance. RDC assessment standards are built on the rigorous expectations of the professional field in the areas of skills, knowledge and dispositions required. RDC I performs in all major program concerts and works with faculty, student, and guest choreographers. Members of RDC II perform in a variety of venues, and are formally mentored by a dance faculty member throughout the semester-long process.
- Performance Project: This course, offered every fall term, is led by a dance faculty member and often includes performance in non-traditional stage spaces and environments (site-specific work, etc.). Performance coaching for a proscenium setting is sometimes incorporated as well.
- An individualized internship in the professional dance world is a requirement for all majors. Internships are developed in conjunction with the student’s adviser with the purpose of furthering the education and exposure to an area of professional interest for the student.
- Recent internship opportunities include participating in: USM’s British Studies Dance Program in London, the American Dance Festival, Mark Morris Dance Group’s winter intensive, the International Association of Black Dance conference, lead intern for the Mississippi Dance Festival, and choreographing for summer stock musical performances. Additional opportunities in dance education, dance therapy, arts administration, marketing, and more are available.
- Service Awards: The dance program offers service awards to students who submit a successful application. Applications are accepted in the spring for the following academic year. Service awardees are assigned tasks within the dance program that include: managing social media accounts, collecting the mail, setting up the lobby display for concerts, cleaning out costume storage, coordinating the sale of USM dance t-shirts, assisting with duties for guest artist residencies, etc. These awards range from $100-$500.
- Foundation Awards: Foundation Awards are our named scholarships chosen by the dance faculty. These awards range from $200-$1000. Faculty decides on these awards based on need and talent. Apply for Scholarships
- Jim Clinton Award: This award is for summer study at a festival, conference, or workshop. Students apply for this award in the spring semester. This award ranges from $200-$800.
- Department Special Scholarships: Department Special Scholarships are awarded by the dance faculty for talented and needy students who apply. These awards range from $1,500-$8,000. These scholarships are exclusive and competitive.
- Outstanding This and That Awards: Outstanding This and That awards are faculty chosen awards to recognize the hard work of our majors. They include Outstanding Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, and Dance Educator. These awards are announced at the end of the spring semester.
A multi-arts event celebrating the artistic work of faculty and students in the School of Performing and Visual Arts at Southern Miss, which boasts over 50 events. Special programming of artistic and creative activities for the week include master classes, workshops, guest and visiting artists, family-friendly events, and formal productions. This multi-arts week has been an opportunity for the programs in the School of Performing and Visual Arts, including Art and Design, Dance, and Theatre, to collaborate and build community within the School and throughout Hattiesburg.
Dance Major Application/AuditionsOur Dance program is currently accepting dance major application materials via an online form, with an option to physically audition in person or via video submission. When submitting the audition form, please select if you are auditioning online (via video) or in-person.
Apply to the University. To apply for acceptance into the undergraduate BFA program in dance at Southern Miss, you must apply to the University.
Submit the audition application form. You may audition online or in-person. Please check the auditions page to prepare the supporting materials required when submitting the form.
Faculty Feature: Julie Hammond
Professor Hammond has launched a new website geared towards training teachers to integrate
dance into their curriculum. The website, Wiggle Genius, is the first of its kind with online tutorials presented by Hammond.
Professional Licensure Disclosure
Programs at the University of Southern Mississippi that prepare students for licensure in Dance Education (K-12) are designed to meet the licensure standards set by the Mississippi Department of Education. The University of Southern Mississippi cannot determine whether a particular licensure program meets requirements for licensure outside of the State of Mississippi. Students seeking licensure in another state are advised to contact the appropriate licensing board in that state to determine specific requirements of guidelines for reciprocity. For a list of the state departments of education that oversee professional teaching licensure, see the U.S. Department of Education website - State Contacts page.
For questions, please contact Julie Hammond at Julie.HammondFREEMississippi
- Dance Educator
- Arts Administrator
- Rachel Rizzuto, 2009
Company member with Mari Meade Dance Collective, dance writer with Dance Media Arts, independent choreographer
- Kellis McSparrin, 2010
Dancer for Marigny Opera Ballet’s world premiere of Giselle Deslondes in New Orleans, LA
- Tyler McCants, 2014
Performer with Gregory Hancock Dance, Indianapolis, Indiana
- Carrie (Culpepper) Brown, 2005
Dance educator, McComb, Mississippi. 2018 Arts Institute of Mississippi Award for Dance Education
Are you a sophomore, junior or senior interested in majoring in dance after high school? Participate in master classes and engage in conversations with faculty and students, so you get a taste of being a Golden Eagle!
The season promises artistic performances featuring our student dancers and renowned USM Dance Companies including the Hub Dance Collective, Freshman Repertory, Repertory Dance Company, and much more! You can attend while physically distancing. Come support the work of students who love to perform and who won’t be stopped by a pandemic!