Starting this fall, the University is taking steps to accommodate students’ growing interest in the field of dance.
The administration is expanding outreach initiatives geared towards students interested in pursuing dance at or after Yale, ranging from prospective applicants to outgoing seniors. The new initiatives include the opportunity for applicants to the Yale Class of 2018 to submit a dance portfolio as an arts supplement, as well as a new associate director position at the Undergraduate Career Services office which focuses on providing resources for students aiming to pursue arts-related professions, including careers in dance. The University has also continued to expand its curriculum in dance studies — an academic division of the theater studies program — by offering two new dance-related courses this academic year.
“We are focusing on incoming and outgoing students,” director of Yale’s dance studies curriculum Emily Coates ’06 GRAD ’11 said. “We want to help prospective students with admissions to Yale as well as graduating seniors with finding careers in the arts.”
Katie Volz, the associate director for creative and performing arts at UCS, assumed her current position in August and is the first career advisor at the office to specialize in the performing arts. With the assistance of Elena Light ’13, who currently works as a marketing associate for Gibney Dance in New York City, Volz has been compiling a database of resources for students interested in summer internships and careers in dance, film and theater, which she said will likely be available by the end of October. Before such a system of information existed, Volz explained, most students had to discover dance-related opportunities by exploring on their own or through the help of faculty members.
“What I don’t want is students choosing to not pursue the arts because we weren’t being helpful enough,” Volz said. “I believe and hope that [the] arts faculty will still support students but now the students will be supported holistically with help from UCS.”
Volz highlighted the unique needs of students looking to pursue the arts professionally as a major impetus for UCS’s increased involvement in the creative and performing arts. She said that professional performers are often unable to support themselves solely on their starting sallaries after graduation, adding that UCS also offers opportunities for these alumni to supplement their income through jobs such as academic tutoring. The financial challenges faced by performers stem partly from the fact that many opportunities in arts are short-term projects that do not provide the level of financial stability that more permanent positions do.
In addition to expanding resources for current students and alumni, Coates said the University is trying to make prospective applicants to Yale who show interest in dance aware that “[dance] is fully embedded within the liberal arts curriculum here.” Coates explained that college applicants have historically assumed that peer institutions such as Harvard and Princeton have more substantial offerings in dance studies. The goal of the increased outreach, Coates said, is to let these students know that they can find the same artistic breadth and vigor at Yale that they can find at other schools.
Associate Director of Admissions Jessie Hill added that most students interested in pursuing dance as more than an extracurricular activity in college would not have applied to Yale eight years ago. Hill said the Admissions Office has begun to allow dance portfolio submissions on applications primarily due to growing student interest in dance on campus. She noted that though students who are truly passionate about pursuing dance as a profession typically attend conservatories, there exist students who are looking to simultaneously pursue their dance education and other academic subjects.
“We are responding to the integration of dance into the liberal arts curriculum,” she said. “As there are more opportunities to pursue dance at Yale, that will be reflected in our applicant body.”
The dance studies curriculum at Yale was established in 2006.