New dance program approved for Northwestern


NATCHITOCHES – A Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at Northwestern State University has been approved by the State Board of Regents.

The new program will begin this fall and is the only one of its kind at a public university in Louisiana.

“This degree will focus on giving students the tools they need to be successful in the dance field,” said Director of Dance and Associate Professor of Dance Kirstin Riehl.
“As a dance major, students will prepare not only to develop the physical skills, but also to explore the history, theory and science of the art of dance. The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance will provide our students with the opportunities in the areas of performance, choreography and pedagogy.”

Riehl said Northwestern State’s Theatre and Dance department would continue to foster relationships with leading choreographers and cutting-edge guest artists in the dance community.

“This an extremely exciting time for the School of Creative and Performing Arts, said Riehl. “Without the continued support of our administration this degree would not have been approved.”

Riehl co-authored the degree proposal with Assistant Professor of Dance Brett Garfinkel.

The program is designed to prepare students to be well-rounded professional performers, educators and active leaders in the dance community who are skilled in both composition and performance of dance. A BFA program contains more courses in dance than a Bachelor of Arts program.

Objectives for the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance are to:

• develop technical mastery in dance techniques within both professional practice and performance;

• become knowledgeable with the cultural and historical dimensions of dance and apply these principals in choreographic and pedagogical environments to support student’s work;

• articulate critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills in theoretical and practical application in dance

• demonstrate an integral understanding in the principles of dance training as it applies to self-practice, pedagogy, anatomy and kinesiology;

• understand and apply techniques and principles of choreography, producing and creating work, directing dances and producing a concert

• cultivate an appreciation for the technical side of performing arts, working in the lighting, scene and costume shops.

The university is heavily invested in the dance world, recently hosting the Southern Regional Conference of the American College Dance Association. The conference drew more than 500 dance students, faculty and musicians to NSU and raised the university’s profile in the dance community. Riehl said the program could encourage Louisiana dance students to be educated in the state or attract out-of-state dance students to NSU while increasing the university’s visibility as a performing arts center.


NSU dance students perform for the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System at the board’s December meeting at Northwestern State.