UALR Launches Arkansas's First Professional Dance Program

UALR’s Department of Theatre Arts and Dance will begin in the fall offering a bachelor of fine arts degree in dance – the only one of its kind in Arkansas. 

Jay Raphael, chair of the theatre arts and dance department, said there was an urgent need for a BFA in dance.

“A statewide survey of graduates, potential students, and teachers in the large network of studios throughout Arkansas indicated strong support for the development of a dance BFA at UALR,” he said. “Donor interest and students lining up to enroll before the degree was approved reached numbers comparable to those of fully established programs in peer institutions.”

The new degree will emphasize contemporary techniques, but students will learn techniques at every level in ballet, modern, jazz, and tap. The BFA is an open enrollment major; admission is based on acceptance to the University.

“Technique levels in all areas will be assessed every semester in order to develop a growth program for each individual dancer. Overall, the goal is to train graduates who can dance,” Raphael said.

The 83-credit major will also offer courses in kinesiology, dance history, choreography, pedagogy design and production, and prepare students for a number of potential career options.

“As students participate in a department of both dance and theatre, it is our aim to integrate the disciplines and aesthetics in order for all of our students to benefit from mutual influences and to develop patterns of collaboration and creation,” Raphael said.

Dance students will participate in a full production program and the activities of the American College Dance Festival; will be exposed to professional guest artists on a regular basis; and receive instruction in the use of cutting edge production technology and videography.

Earlier this year, UALR established the Joel Ruminer Endowed Scholarship for dance majors. Proceeds for the endowment were raised at a benefit performance honoring Ruminer’s career as a dancer and a nationally-renowned teacher.

For information about the BFA in dance, contact Raphael at (501) 569-8350 or at

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