Dance Your Way to Your BFA
In studying dance at USM you will experience dance as a technician, artist, performer, teacher and dance maker. We offer many performance opportunities for our majors, and all incoming students are guaranteed a performance opportunity in their first semester. You will be exposed to dance as an art form with a history of its own.
The Southern Miss British Studies in dance program is an outstanding opportunity for students to travel to the UK and experience live dance concerts, art and culture.
The University of Southern Mississippi is an accredited, institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Dance.
What Will I Learn?
Students learn diverse dance techniques, improvisation, composition, and choreography, performance, dance studies, dance history, teaching dance, music for dance, dance anatomy, dance and technology, and other electives.
Our degrees require an internship that serves the professional interest of individual students.
Upper-level coursework in dance choreography and a written thesis are the culminating projects for Performance and Choreography majors. Dance Licensure majors student teach in their final semester.
- Freshman Company: As a "Freshman Company" member students will rehearse with a faculty member and set a new modern dance with the Company. Students will be exposed to the collaborative nature of modern dance choreography—preparing them to successfully audition for the Repertory Dance Company. The Freshman Company performs excerpts of their dance at High School Dance Day and the entire dance at the December Informal Dance Concert.
- Repertory Dance Company: The USM Repertory Dance Company (RDC) provides an opportunity 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 (professionalism) required. RDC performs in all major program concerts and works with faculty, student, and guest choreographers.
- Repertory Dance Company II: If students are eligible to audition for RDC and do not make it, then they may enroll in RDC II. This will include learning, collaborating, and performing in faculty or senior dance major’s choreographic works. The works are featured in the the Informal Dance Concert in the spring semester—as a stepping stone into RDC.
- 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: 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. 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, Dance Educator, Service Awardee, Production, and Thesis. The Outstanding Freshman Award includes $100 deposited into your student account. These awards are announced at the department picnic at the end of the spring semester.
On British Studies, London becomes the students' classroom as they experience dance and movement sciences abroad first-hand and conduct research supervised by their professor. Learn More
All dance audition dates for incoming Fall 2020:
- Saturday, October 19, 2019
- Friday, November 15, 2019 (auditions will begin at 3:30 p.m., immediately following High School Dance Day)
- Friday, February 7, 2020 (auditions will begin at 3:30 p.m., immediately following High School Dance Day)
- Saturday, March 14, 2020
Application/Audition ProcessTo apply for acceptance into the undergraduate BFA program in dance at Southern Miss, you must apply to the University AND audition as part of the application process.
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 materials to schedule an audition. You must also audition as part of the application process.
Submitting materials to schedule an audition
To schedule the audition, you need to complete an audition form and two letters of recommendation—one on academics and one on dance technique. If you are interested in auditioning for a scholarship you must also submit an essay along with the requirements discussing why you want to study dance at USM.
You may audition live at one of our scheduled audition dates or via a video link. Live auditions are preferred and include a ballet barre, several contemporary dance phrases, a showing of a one-minute performance piece, and an interview.
Online video auditions are an option for students who are unable to attend on-campus auditions for various reasons – departmental approval for this option is required. If approved, online applications for acceptance in dance include the following:
Email video link to Sandra Whittington at Sandra.WhittingtonFREEMississippi
- All videos must be received no later stated University deadlines for undergraduate admissions.
- Applicant must wear a well-fitted dance attire where the body is fully visible.
- Your video must be taped in a theatre or dance studio with good lighting and the recording must be in focus. Incomplete or poor quality videotapes may result in the student’s submission not being considered.
- Introduction: Look at the camera and state the following information at the top of your audition video: 1) Name, 2) Where you are from, 3) Your goals in dance, 4) Why you would like to attend the University of Southern Mississippi dance program
- Dancing: No more than ten minutes in total length, this section can include combinations from dance classes, a performed dance piece, improvised movement, etc. Movement can be in any dance style, a variety of dance styles, and be self or instructor choreographed (or a combination of both). We encourage applicants to make choices for this section that highlight their strengths as a dancer and allow us to see their passion and potential as a dancer.
High School Dance Day
Are you a sophomore, junior or senior interested in majoring in dance after high school? High School Dance Day, held on Friday, February 7, 2020 is your opportunity to see what dance at Southern Miss can offer you for FREE!
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.
- 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
"Throughout my time as a Dance major at USM, I was inspired by the progressive approach to education that is promoted at Southern Miss. In particular, my studies in performance and choreography with an emphasis in dance education, developed my foundation as an educator to teach in public and private institutions." -Falon Baltzell'09
The 2019-20 Season line-up promises artistic performances featuring our student dancers and renowned USM Dance Companies including the Hub Dance Collective (featuring USM Dance faculty members), Freshman Company, Repertory Dance Company, featured guest artists and more!