Academic Programs


The Department of Theatre and Dance offers a well-rounded liberal arts approach in its curriculum. Theatre courses cover all the basic areas of theatrical endeavor, including acting, movement for the actor, directing, stagecraft, scene design, lighting, costuming, makeup, dramatic literature, theatre history, dramatic theory and criticism, and play writing. The dance program offers courses in dance techniques, choreography, improvisation, dance history and dance research methods. Selected topics offered from time to time range from a diverse menu of performance and technical offerings such as practical applications in theatrical control systems, sound engineering, arts in education, touring youth theatre productions, and movement-violence and the text. Dance offers hip-hop, Capoeira, dance for musical theatre as well as other contemporary styles.

The Department of Theatre and Dance offers two program options:

Bachelor of Arts, Theatre
Concentrations in Theatre Performance, Design & Technical or Dance
Minor in Dance

Theatre is the art of giving life in performance to dramatic literature. Production is at the very center of our award-winning theatre and dance program. Each season the department produces four plays and two dance concerts on its “modified thrust” Mainstage and in the Jerry Harper Studio Theatre, a fully-equipped black-box space. Student-directed scenes, one-acts and full-length plays are also presented yearly in the Harper. Department plays are cast at open auditions and on average more than 100 majors, non-majors and members of the community are involved in our productions each year. All theatre and dance majors are required to participate in Mainstage productions and/or related departmental activities.

Dance as performance and as theoretical discourse from a multidisciplinary and multicultural perspective is primary in the dance program. As in theatre, production is also at the heart of the program, with the UAA Dance Ensemble as the core performing group. Each year, we feature two dance productions either on Mainstage and/or at the Harper Theatre, and guest artist residencies are a staple of the program. All dance minors or theatre majors choosing the dance option are required to participate in Dance Ensemble performances and/or related departmental activities.

Examples of Theatre classes:

  • Acting 
  • Movement for the Actor
  • Stagecraft 
  • Scene design
  • Lighting Design
  • Costume Design
  • Makeup
  • Dramatic Literature
  • Theatre History
  • Stage Management
  • Playwriting
  • Directing

Examples of Dance Classes:

  • Dance Techniques
  • Choreography
  • Improvisation
  • Dance History
  • Dance Research Methods
  • Contemporary Modern
  • Hip Hop 
  • Salsa Immersion
  • Capoeira
  • Ballet 

History of Dance at UAA

The Dance Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage began in 1971 under the auspices of Anchorage Community College (ACC) with two ballet classes. Within a few years, many forms of dance technique were added to the dance curriculum.
In 1985, the Program began its guest artist residencies sponsoring Nina Wiener and Dancers in conjunction with the Anchorage Concert Association. By 1986, the first full time dance faculty member was hired within the University statewide system. In 1987, ACC was dissolved and the dance program joined the Department of Theatre at the University of Alaska Anchorage creating the Department of Theatre and Dance.
In 2004, the Department created and implemented a dance minor and a BA in Theatre with a dance emphasis. These are the first dance degree programs in the state. Today, the Dance Program maintains an active performance role within the community through its continued guest artist performance-teaching residencies.
Residency activities include creating new choreography, leading lectures and master classes within Theatre and Dance as well as lectures across academic disciplines (art, philosophy, foreign languages, anthropology). Past residencies have included: XSIGHT! Performance Group, Katherine Kramer, Erika Batdorf, Yin Mei Critchell, Heather Cornell (Manhattan Tap), Marianela Boan (DanzAbierta, Havana Cuba), Molly Shanahan (Mad Shak Dance Company, Chicago), Annie Arnoult Beserra (Striding Lion InterArts Workshop, Chicago), Billy Siegenfeld (Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, Chicago), and Valeria Pinheiro (Cia Vata, Brazil).
Community partners have included: Out North Contemporary Art House, Alaska Design Forum, Bunnell Gallery, Homer Arts Council, International Gallery of Contemporary Art, Alaska Dance Theatre, and the Anchorage School District.