The School for the Contemporary Arts offers a Dance program in contemporary dance training, creation, and performance that is uniquely interdisciplinary, intercultural, and that caters to today’s imaginative dance artist. We are looking for students interested in exploring multiple and creative ways of approaching contemporary movement and composition, and in expanding their versatility with the challenge of reshaping the landscape of the contemporary dance scene.
Our program is open to those who come from so-called ‘classical,’ ‘modern,’ or ‘contemporary’ studio training, as well as those with movement practices that fall outside those codified forms. Studio courses provide theoretical approaches to training using a variety of methods and techniques that are also integrated into courses on composition, improvisation, collaboration, and performance. Our lecture courses follow the same principle: they not only provide historical and aesthetic contexts for critical thinking based on our concept of practice-as-research, they also allow our students freedom to question those contexts with information from their own socio-cultural backgrounds and experiences. Collaboration is a key aspect of our program and we encourage our students to work across other disciplines in the SCA — Film, Music & Sound, Theatre Performance, Theatre Production & Design, Visual Art, and Art, Performance & Cinema Studies — to produce new, exciting cross-disciplinary projects.
For information about applying to the program, please follow the links at the Future Students section of our site.
BFA in Dance
Our BFA degree offers many exciting opportunities to make and perform original work through collaboration with other artists within the school. There are opportunities to work on research projects with graduate students, faculty, and professional dance artists from the community in courses such as Choreographic Lab and Making/Documentation.
Students have many opportunities to choreograph and perform their own works in addition to those choreographed by other SCA undergraduate and graduate students and faculty, as well as professional guest choreographers. Since we are located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, part of our objective is to nurture connections with the local, national, and international dance communities. Hence, internships with local dance companies and artists are encouraged. Internships serve to give students the skills necessary to enter the professional field, not only as performers, choreographers, teachers, and somatic practitioners, but also as writers, dance critics, and arts administrators. Our faculty of artist/scholars also prepare those interested in graduate study for further work in MFA, MA and PhD programmes.
For information about applying to the SCA's graduate programs, please visit HERE.
- To promote a deeper understanding of the numerous expressive possibilities inherent in the human body.
- To contextualize these possibilities through an understanding of dance as a research practice that also involves the history of art, aesthetics, and critical theory.
- To explore these possibilities through collaborative projects with other disciplines, including an engagement with new technology.
- To present the results of these explorations as complete creative works that foreground the expertise of the artist as researcher, i.e., performer, choreographer, thinker and scholar.
To see detailed descriptions of the program options in the Dance area, please see the Academic Calendar.
Major in Dance (BFA)
To graduate with a BFA, major in Dance, a student must complete 80 credit hours for the major itself, plus the 30 credit Faculty of Arts Breadth requirements within the total of 120 credits required for the degree.
Extended minor in Dance
An extended minor in Dance requires a minimum of 45 credit hours in dance and related areas in contemporary arts.
Joint Degree/Diploma program with the National Ballet School
This is a joint degree/diploma program with the National Ballet School Teacher Training Program. This five-year program allows students to initiate their studies at SFU or the National Ballet School (NBS). To obtain a BFA degree and a NBS Teacher Training Diploma, students must spend their first three years at SFU, then transfer to the NBS for the remaining two years. Students who transfer to SFU after three years of study at NBS, then complete two – three years at SFU.
Our curriculum includes:
- Contemporary Dance Training & Movement Systems
- Approaches to Composition
- Choreography as Research Practice
- Interdisciplinary Exploration & Collaborative Experimentation
- Repertory & Performance
- Improvisation Frameworks & Scores
- Choreographic Labs
- Experimental Anatomy & Body Conditioning for Dancers
- Movement Aesthetics/Context
- Dance History: 20th Century to the Present
- Dance as a Unique Cultural Practice
- Performing Black Identities in Diasporic Spaces
- Senior Projects
- Choreographic Intervention by Technology within the Field of Contemporary Art
- Spatial Perception, Body, & the Technological Body
- Dance & Nomadic Anthropology
The dance program is enriched with courses from the SCA's Film, Music & Sound, Theatre Performance, Theatre Production & Design, Visual Art, and Art, Performance & Cinema Studies areas, as well as by workshops and performances by visiting dance companies and by artists performing as part of programming by SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, DanceHouse, and other local and international festivals.
SCA BFA dance graduates have performed with Le Group Dance Lab (Ottawa), EDAM, Noam Gagnon and Vision Impure, Ravin Spirit Dance, Judith Marcuse, Justine Chambers, Jennifer Mascall, Aeriosa, Thodos Dance (Chicago), Dancers Dancing, Compagnie Marie Chouinard (Montreal), Tans & Kunst (Switzerland), Le Patin Libre (Montreal), Serge Bennathan, Faye Driscoll (USA), Khambatta Dance Co. (USA), Tara Cheyenne Performance, Action at a Distance, Kokoro Dance, Company Erasga Dance Society, Kinesis Dance, Flowmotion Dance (Vienna), Emily Johnson/Catalyst Dance (USA), and many more.
Local choreographers who are SCA BFA dance graduates include Tara Cheyenne, Tony Chong, Desiree Dunbar, Vanessa Goodma, Sarah Coffin, Starr Muranko, Naomi Lefebvre, Mark Pillay, Mahalia Patterson-O’Brian, and many more. Performance collectives that developed out of the SCA dance area include Hong Kong Exile, Warehaus Collective, Con8 Collective, Triadic Dance Works, The Body Narratives Collective, and others. Our BFA students also teach at, run, and own dance studios throughout Vancouver and elsewhere – even all the way to the Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London, UK.
As well as performers and choreographers, our BFA graduates also work within dance in other ways as well as in other related fields, including: arts administration, K-12 Education, working with children, teaching body work/pilates/conditioning, physical therapy, community engagement organizations, arts festivals, arts related public policy, and more, as well as pursue MA, MFA, and PhD degrees.
Collaboration / Composition
The SCA emphasizes interdisciplinary pedagogy within and across the practice-based disciplines reperesented in the school – Dance, Film, Music, Theatre: Performance, Theatre: Production & Design, and Visual Art. CA 285: Interdisciplinary Studio – Composition/Collaboration, for example, is a core course requirement for all six BFA areas.
Students in CA 285 collaborate on compositional studies using movement, lighting, image-making, video, and sound. The experimental nature of the course produces inspiring works that push the boundaries of each discipline while opening up new ways of making and looking at performance. The relationships developed in CA 285 by students from across the SCA continue into their upper division coursework, encouraging great collaborations and partnerships that often last beyond graduation. The dance area not only encourages collaboration across the SCA, but also believes it to be integral to the education of all dance artists.
Dance Area Frequently Asked Questions
What's distinctive about your program?
1. Location: Our program is housed in a beautiful, state of the art faculty that is centrally located in downtown Vancouver – a rich urban center with a diverse cultural scene. This environment naturally impacts our school dynamic, our curriculum, and the work we produce. We have close relationships with the growing local dance community, as well as with the many national and international artists from different disciplinary fields invited to Vancouver.
2. Collaboration: Our program is rooted in an interdisciplinary artistic environment that offers a BFA, BA, MA, MFA, and a PhD, as well as in a set of core courses that run across the various artistic fields in the school.
3. Opportunities to create, perform and see new work: Our program offers many opportunities to make new work in pure dance as well as in collaborative, multi-disciplinary projects. Students have numerous opportunities to produce their own work through class projects, informal showings, concerts, and student-run productions. SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts is also home to SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, which brings in local, national, and international artists to perform and engage with the school. There is often a lot going in our building.
How is the program structured?
The first year includes a set of several required courses. As students progress through the program, there is more flexibility in terms of course requirements and the option to explore intensive work in performance and creation. A normal first year schedule features 16 hours of technique per week, with dance history, movement fundamentals, a moving image course, and improvisation/composition. Students also have opportunities to perform in the Dance Major’s Concert, a composer/choreographer production, and informal showings.
In the second year, students continue with technical studio work while becoming eligible to apply for the Repertory Main-Stage Concert in the Fall and Spring terms. These concerts are structured within a course that meets three times a week and can consume a good amount of time, especially when it gets closer to the production/performance stage. Several other course options exist that contribute to the Dance Major, including the core course Collaboration/Composition, where dancers work with students in Film, Music & Sound, Theatre Performance, Theatre Production & Design, and Visual Art. Students will also take Movement Aesthetics/Context, a course focused on writing skills in relation to aesthetic theory and your own evolving ideas.
In the third year, students continue taking technique classes, along with Approaches to Composition. In that course, while learning approaches to making new work, students often collaborate with composers from the Music & Sound area and/or lighting designers from the Theatre Production & Design area. Many third-year students also apply for the Repertory option, such as CA 326: Repertory I, 327-4: Repertory II, or CA 425-4: Intensive Studies in Performance.
In the fourth and last year of study, two courses are connected across the fall and spring terms that are designed to prepare students for a senior project. A senior project is mentored by SCA faculty, sessional instructors, and guest artists. Many students use this year to take internships with local dance artists, collectives, and companies; they also maximise their opportunities to take the Repertory courses and to perform in the Main-stage concerts.
How successful are your students?
Our alumni successes come in a variety of categories. Some alumni get into professional dance companies, both locally and abroad; others start their own collectives, companies, or other dance institutions; and still others go on to graduate programs, becoming both artists and scholars in dance. Our curriculum provides a base for students to go into the somatic/dance science fields, dance education, arts administration, a graduate program, journalistic and academic writing, and to pursue arts funding programs at the local and federal levels, and much more. The key issue here is how students prepare themselves through what our extended program has to offer — and we have quite a lot to offer students within the University as a whole.
Please look above for a sample of some of our alumni.
Proudly, our BFA graduates also work within other dance and arts and culture related fields, including arts administration, K-12 Education, working with children, teaching body work/pilates/conditioning, providing physical therapy, working with community engagement organizations, running or working for arts festivals, helping to arts and culture related public policy, and much more. Many of our alumni also go on to pursue graduate degrees, both at the MFA and PhD levels.
How many people apply?
We usually get between 70 – 90 applicants a year for 25 spots.
What are auditions like?
Our auditions consist of a technique class and interview. The class is a combination of a ballet barre, contemporary dance technique/s, and a short improvisation. Dance faculty co-teach the class and conduct the interviews in small groups. In these interviews, students are asked general questions about their experiences with dance, why they want to enroll in the School for the Contemporary Arts, and about their interest in developing their practice within a multi-disciplinary environment. In very special cases (the pandemic for example, or those in distant countries), we accept video applications from students who are unable to audition/interview in-person.
What kind of students are you looking for?
We are looking for creative, highly motivated students with a range of experiences in dance and a hunger to learn more and to develop their own unique set of practices. A solid foundation in a movement technique is needed to enter the program, mainly to avoid injury in the intense technical training regime we offer. We also value diversity in every sense of that term, from gender and sex, to race, to cultural background to language, to social status, and to physique. The key question is: are you passionate about this field and willing to explore that passion in the rigorous, interdisciplinary environment that the SCA provides?
Presented as part of Dig: SCA Repertory Dancers, Nov. 20 – 23, 2019.
Choreography: Rob Kitsos and Performers
Performers: Howard Dai, Logan Hallwas, Brett Palaschuk, and Melissa Swatez
Music: Rob Kitsos and Mauricio Pauly
Lighting: Quiana Yang
Preview: March 20 | 8PM
Performances: March 21 – 24 & 27 – 29 | 8PM
Matinee: March 25 | 2PM
Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre
SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, Vancouver
For full credits, please see HERE.
APPLY TO: DANCE
Visit our Undergraduate information page to find out about the application process and timeline for the SCA Dance area.