The programs of The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance give equal importance to technical excellence, choreographic creativity, artistic production and intellectual understanding. These four branches of study converge to cultivate a deep mastery of the elements of dance as a fine art within the context of contemporary society.
All faculty members are noted professionals actively working in the field of dance. Their wealth of real-world experience gives students a realistic perspective on the artistic and professional challenges of careers in dance. Students benefit from a strong one-to-one relationship with an individual faculty member who serves as an artistic and academic advisor, mentoring the student in his or her progress for the duration of the program.
The school's performance calendar includes 8-10 concerts featuring student and faculty work each year. These concerts include the Open House Dance Concert, the BFA II Solo Dance Concert, the Winter Dance Concert, the Student Choice Concert, the MFA Thesis concerts, the Spring Dance Concert, Next Dance Concert, and Last Dance Concert. This rigorous schedule provides students with regular performance opportunities at each stage of his or her development, and prepares students for the demands of professional dance productions. Over the course of the four year undergraduate program, students gain repertory experience with faculty, professional guest artists and fellow students.
The Sharon Disney Lund Dance Theater is a fully equipped and versatile space used exclusively for dance performances, rehearsals and classes. Other key facilities include two large dance studios and a body conditioning studio with Pilates equipment. The School's labs provide tools for audio and video production and post-production, and support multimedia performance applications.
CalArts benefits from close affiliation with The Herb Alpert Foundation who selected CalArts to administer and collaborate creatively in the establishment of the Awards Program. Inaugurated in 1994, the Alpert Award honors and supports artists respected for their creativity, ingenuity and powerful bodies of work at a moment in their lives when they are poised to propel their art in new and unpredictable directions. Each year, the recipient of the Alpert Award in Dance shares his or her expertise with the CalArts dance students through residencies, master classes or setting work on students. In 2007-08, New York artist Jeanine Durning was in residence for two weeks during which time she set her piece Heart on a cast of 14 students. Recent awardees who have been guest artists at CalArts include, Sarah Michelson, Donna Uchizono, Stephan Koplowitz and Rennie Harris. Additionally, artists presented at REDCAT regularly offer master classes to CalArts students. Recent guest artists include, Ronald K. Brown, Reggie Wilson, Faustin Linyekula and artists from the Slovinian dance company, Betontanc.
CalArts participates each year in the American College Dance Festival. Artists, faculty and students from colleges and universities throughout the country gather for extended weekends of classes and choreographic showcases and adjudication. Student choreographers and performers are selected each year to represent CalArts at these regional and national festivals. The school also provides financial awards to students to support participation in national and international summer festivals. Approximately 20 awards annually assist students in attending summer festivals such as American Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Bate’s Dance Festival, Alvin Ailey School and international festivals in Barcelona and Hong Kong.
The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance actively pursues unique opportunities to forge connections between professional artists and CalArts students. In 2007, CalArts was selected to be a participant in a national initiative to support the preservation of American Masterpieces. Artist David Gordon and his 1982 work Trying Times, were selected for this honor. The reconstruction and touring of this work in 2008-09, included residencies at CalArts involving the entire student body, and eight students were selected to join the cast for national touring. This project, made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces, a dance initiative administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts with Dance/USA, is indicative of CalArts strong commitment to forging professional partnerships that enrich the educational experience of our students.
Projects As America’s first conservatory to offer in-depth training in all the arts, CalArts is one of the most unique creative environments in the country. Students have the opportunity to collaborate with working artists from all disciplines. Students at both graduate and undergraduate levels regularly work with composers and present work with live music. Students regularly collaborate with costume designers, lighting designers, experimental film and animation artists and many choreograph for theater productions. All students are eligible to apply for annual grants specifically designed to support interdisciplinary projects. With the intimate proximity to the Schools of Music, Theater, Film/Video, Art and Critical Studies, dance students enjoy the opportunities for course work and collaborations with each of these disciplines.
Two upper-division undergraduates are selected each year to study at the London Contemporary Dance School during the fall semester. This excellent opportunity provides students with the experience of a comparable, conservatory style training in the heart of London. Each fall semester, two students from the London Contemporary Dance School attend CalArts, enriching the student body with their international perspective. This exchange provides a European foothold for CalArts graduates wishing to explore opportunities in Europe. Additional Exchange Programs in Europe and Asia are being explored and planned.
Integrated Media (IM) is a supplemental concentration available to advanced MFA applicants who wish to combine the art of dance with an exploration of digital and interactive technologies. IM is designed specifically for advanced students whose creative use of technology--in particular digital media--goes beyond their primary areas of study in art, dance, film/video, music, theater, and writing. The Center for Integrated Media supports all IM students across CalArts, enabling them to apply new technologies and integrate mulptiple media and disciplines into new forms of expression.
REDCAT, a nationally recognized venue for contemporary art, is CalArts' downtown Los Angeles center for the presentation of innovative visual, performing and media arts. Housed inside the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles, REDCAT presents performances by leading dance companies from across the United States and around the world. Many of the artists who perform at REDCAT also come to the CalArts campus as visiting artists. REDCAT also hosts the CalArts Winter Dance Concert and the Next Dance Company each year. Its programming runs throughout the academic year, allowing students to experience a wide range of experimental work by regional, national and international artists.
CAP is an award-winning, nationally recognized program that links CalArts and the diverse communities of Los Angeles County through free, after-school and school-based arts programs for youth. Select students from The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance teach CAP workshops and classes, organize and present public performances, and redefine the role of artists, arts education, and the arts in society. CAP offers students the opportunity to share their knowledge and abilities with teenagers and work directly with faculty artists to create innovative pedagogical approaches. CalArts students taking part in CAP gain valuable teaching experience and benefit from real-world engagement programs with local communities.
The Summer Study Program is an important part of the School of Dance’s educational experience. Through the Summer Study Program, students are awarded stipendsfor additional training and professional exposure at dance companies, festivals andintensives around the world. Granting on average twenty-nine awards annually, theSummer Study Program gives students an opportunity to take classes, participate inchoreographic showcases and work alongside professional dancers both nationally andinternationally.
Directed by acclaimed choreographer Stephan Koplowitz, dean of the School of Dance, The Next Dance Company draws together CalArts' most accomplished performers and choreographers (all members of the graduating class of BFA students). In addition to the choreography of the BFAs themselves, Koplowitz invites guest artists and graduate students to choreograph work on the company, and sometimes he choreographs on the students himself. The Next Dance Company performs annually at REDCAT at Walt Disney Concert Hall and at the Sharon Disney Lund Dance Theater at CalArts.