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Professional Engagement in UMass Dance Program

NYPOP | Performance Opportunities |   ACDA Festival  | Internships  |  Study Abroad  |  Domestic Exchange

UMass dancers

The UMass Dance faculty hails from diverse dance backgrounds and are dedicated to the value of your career in dance whether by performance, education, science or more.  Students who major in Dance will develop the skills, values and perspectives necessary to achieve sustainable careers as artists, educators, and scholars, learning to advance dance studies through their gained knowledge of dance theory, history, performance, cultural, scientific and cross interdisciplinary studies.

Dance Faculty: Tom Vacanti, Duane Lee Holland, Lauren Cox, Ann Biddle, Molly Fletcher Lynch-Clark
Tom Vacanti, Duane Lee Holland Jr., Lauren Cox, Ann Biddle, Molly Lynch-Clark

NYPOP: Professional Preparation (NYPOP webpage=>)

This course, designed as a lab, addresses the critical issues students face in their transition into the professional world. The underlying vehicle of the course consists of small group projects as well as individual case studies with work expected in and outside of class. The course culminates with each student compiling a personalized file of essential resources, ideas, trends, strategies, and people unique to their dance career aspirations.

Performance Opportunities

There are numerous choreographic and performance opportunities both at the University and in Five College Dance. Students may audition for any concert produced by a Five College institution. These include faculty and student concerts, graduate thesis concerts, and the Five College Dance Faculty Concert.

Senior Choreography Projects -  March 2022
When We Close Our Eyes: Senior Dance Concert, 3/2022

At UMass:  

  • Reflect & Respond: biennial concert on the UMass Fine Arts Center Stage featuring choreography by a legacy artist (ex. José Limón), with a choreographic response by a contemporary artist (ex. David Dorfman).

  • University Dancers: biennial UMass Faculty Concert in Totman Performance Lab.

  • Senior Thesis Concerts: These concerts are produced by the seniors and are a product of their creative research capstone. 

  • Junior Choreography Projects: This concert is made of works created by the juniors and comes out of the Integrative Experience course. 

  • Collaborative Concerts: The UMass Dance Program has a strong commitment to connecting dance with arts, humanities, and sciences across the UMass campus. Past concerts have included collaborations with Music, Art, Theater, and Technology.


With Five College Dance:  

  • Five College Guest Artist Repertoire Project: Past artists include: Bill T Jones, Camille A. Brown, Doug Varone, Ohad Naharin, Mark Morris, Pilobolus, Bebe Miller, Gallim Dance

  • Five College Faculty & Student Concerts: UMass students are able to audition for faculty and student concerts at Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Hampshire and Amherst Colleges. 

  • Five College Dance Department Faculty Concert: This concert takes place on a different Five-College campus each year with choreography by faculty and guest artists. 

  • Smith MFA Concerts: Five-College students can audition for the graduate level MFA concerts on the Smith campus. 


The American College Dance Festival

Provides extraordinary experiences for young dancers. The annual three-day, spring semester New England ACDA Festival includes master classes in various idioms, panel discussions, workshops, and formal and informal concerts with choreography by students and faculty from 50 or more institutions. Other regions throughout the United States also have festivals in the spring.



Dance Internship Examples

Two internships are recommended within your 4 years of study.  Link to UMass internships website

  • College Partnership program 

  • Jacob's Pillow
    Jacob's Pillow

    Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival via College Partnership Program- Mass.

    • The Jacob’s Pillow College Partnership Program exists to support dance as a means of research, discourse, and artistic expression for faculty, artists, scholars, and students – virtually and on-campus. At a time when many faculty members are being required to teach online, Jacob’s Pillow has essential resources to support curriculum and learning.

    • In partnership, this program supports academic research, curriculum development, dance-making, and dance pedagogy by promoting year-round engagement with the Jacob’s Pillow Archives and online resources, acting as a catalyst for discussion and action. The program builds professional networks and strengthens the professional pipelines for diverse scholarship, pedagogy, performance, and choreography, convening partners on critical issues in the field and engaging the next generation in the field’s collective history and current professional landscape. Learn more about the levels and benefits of partnership here =>.

Other Internship opportunities:

  • Bates Dance Festival- Maine

  • American Dance Festival- NC

  • Urbanity Dance- Boston

  • Boston Ballet Adaptive Dance Program 

  • Broadway Dance Center - NYC

  • Brooklyn Academy of Music- NYC

  • Dance Place, Kennedy Center- Washington D.C.

  • Millenium Dance Complex- L.A.

  • Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance - Austria 

Hannah Lieberman
Hannah Lieberman

Internship testimony from dance student Hannah Lieberman:
This past summer I had the opportunity to serve as the Public Relations intern at Jacob’s Pillow. As a member of the marketing team, I wrote press releases, created all of the Festival programs, chose photo selects for press, maintained press clippings, and contributed content to the Jacob’s Pillow social media platforms.

These tasks allowed me to communicate directly with the many companies, artists, and journalists that visit the Festival, and it was such an exciting role! I also had many opportunities to take classes with the visiting artists and companies and dance with my fellow interns and staff - we even produced a staff concert at the end of the summer.

I have been overwhelmed by the kindness, intelligence and creativity of the people I’ve worked with at the Pillow, including Five College Dance alumni Olivia Brown (UM ‘19) and Sienna Jessurun (MHC ‘20). Spending the summer there meant living, working and dancing within one of the historic centers of American concert dance, where some of the greatest dancers of the past century have lived and performed. I couldn’t be more grateful for my experience at the Pillow!


Study Abroad  ( UMass study abroad website

Brette Cronin in London
Brette Cronin in London

Dance majors may choose to study abroad if it supports their academic and career goals. Recently our students have traveled to diverse destinations such as Israel, London, Italy, and Spain (to name a few) in order to pursue interdisciplinary studies, engage in language immersion programs, and continue their dance training while taking advantage of all the unique opportunities their respective study abroad destinations had to offer. Students should contact the International Programs Office (413-545-2710, and work closely with the dance program study abroad advisor to choose the appropriate program and courses.


Study Abroad testimony: Rachel Marchica, Israel

Rachel Marchica
Rachel Marchica

Being a part of the Dance Jerusalem program was a wonderful experience. It opened my eyes to a much larger dance community. Through the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, I had the opportunity to connect with both students and faculty from around the world.

Specifically I was able to dive deep into the Gaga movement language, a form of dance created in Israel. During my time abroad I was able to uncover new aspects of my dancing both technically and artistically. Additionally, Dance Jerusalem students had the chance to learn repertoire from prominent companies within the Israeli dance scene including Batsheva and Vertigo.

I'd recommend all UMass Dance Majors take advantage of the study abroad opportunities at the university as they provide for an enriching educational experience.


Domestic Exchange Examples (in the U.S.)  

See UMass webpage =>

  • University of Hawaii
  • Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.