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October 18, 2013
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

Dance program earns national ranking

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Slippery Rock University's dance program has been ranked in the top 45 dance programs in the country and among the top 250 college programs in the U.S. for creative students by "Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers."

Author Elaina Loveland reviewed hundreds of programs before selecting 250 art, theatre, dance, music and creative writing programs in arts conservatories and liberal arts colleges and universities to recommend to potential students. The book gives college-bound students information to pick the right school.

"It is a great honor for Slippery Rock University and the department of dance," said Ursula Payne, professor of dance and department chair. "It is a testament to how well we continue to fulfill the mission of our program.

"Our students are committed and talented creative thinkers, and the University has assembled a renowned faculty and staff of experts in the field," she said.

"Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers" offers students step-by-step instruction on how to find and get into the right college for the art field of their choice. Loveland provides advice on auditions, admission essays, artistic statements, artistic resumes and portfolios. She helps students prepare for taking the SAT and ACT exams and appraises financial aid opportunities.

The book includes real-life success profiles of students in each discipline, answers frequently asked questions and includes examples of artist statements, résumés and admission essays.

Payne said the recognition for SRU adds prestige for the thriving dance program, especially since more than 600 universities across the country offer a dance major. SRU offers a dance major, with 104 students enrolled, and a minor that includes 40 students. SRU launched the dance program 25 years ago. Six full-time and two part-time faculty teach classes.

Faculty offer personalized attention to students specific to performance, choreography and teaching, with additional components in wellness and dance technology.

One of SRU's distinctive options for students interested in dance is a dual degree program that enables them to earn a bachelor's degree in dance and a master's degree in adapted physical education in five years.

"This innovative program is designed specifically for dance majors who desire to expand their professional credentials," Payne said. "It also allows them to incorporate dance in health promotion practices and wellness programs for persons of all ages who have disabilities."

SRU offers a dance option for three-year degree completion for highly focused students and transfer students who want to graduate at an accelerated pace, she said.

Dance has also made great strides in incorporating technology, including multimedia, into classes and performances, she said.

"Through our curriculum committee, dance faculty have been engaged in dialogue about current trends in the profession and ways to continue refining the curriculum while expanding our offerings," Payne said.

Thom Cobb, associate professor of dance and 2013 recipient of the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching, helped launch the dance major in 1987 with Lucy Sack, professor emeritus of dance. Housed in physical education, dance became a separate department in 1989.

"Since then we have grown to over 100 majors, six full-time faculty members, two wonderful part time faculty and an exceptional musician, accompanist composer and we are an integral part of the College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts," Cobb said.

"As one of the "founding fathers" I am so proud of what our program has accomplished and the dedication of the students and faculty and am grateful for the national recognition which we have received."

Slippery Rock University is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Dance. The NASD is the official accrediting body for dance programs in higher education and professional studio schools.

Loveland, a professional writer and editor since 1999, is a former editor of the National Association for College Admission Counseling's "Journal of College Admissions." She authored "Creative Careers: Paths for Aspiring Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers" and has taught English in the Washington, D.C., area.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.