The theatre and dance program at Keene State marries creativity and artistic discipline to the solid foundation of a liberal arts education. Students are an integral part of creative study and public performances from the outset, gaining practical experience and confidence in all facets of production and critical interaction under the guidance and tutelage of an experienced faculty.
The curriculum provides immediate engagement with the formation of a cohort of first-year students. In addition, upper-level performance majors intersect with incoming students in Ensemble, Voice, and Movement. The pedagogical approach establishes an inclusive major-to-major mentorship and environment that not only supports but also nourishes student scholarship.
With the rehearsal and performance facilities of the Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond as their laboratory, students participate in faculty-directed productions, attend master classes and workshops with visiting artists, and present their own work to community and scholarly audiences. A caring, dedicated, and experienced faculty welcomes students as an integral part of the department’s creative scholarship and performances. The faculty is active in two important national organizations that foster student excellence: the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and the American College Dance Conference.
Faculty members also encourage student participation in the annual Academic Excellence Conference on campus, which showcases student creativity and research. The department brings in a wide variety of master classes, visiting artists, and exciting road productions that cover the spectrum of the performing arts.
The Department of Theatre and Dance grants a talent scholarship to one incoming student annually. This scholarship, awarded through audition, video-screening and/or portfolio presentation, contributes $3,000 each year towards the recipient’s college tuition and is renewable for a total of four years as long as the holder remains in good academic standing. Auditions for actors, dancers, designers and technicians are held annually in the spring semester.
Actors, dancers, designers and technicians work together and learn from each other, sharing a common core curriculum. Alumni of the program – in academia, on and off Broadway, and in many other settings – demonstrate that graduates are prepared for participation, employment, and advanced study in the performing arts.
The dance program welcomes all interested dance students, no matter what genre their experience. Students will immediately find the connection between their dance training and our modern and contemporary program.
With careful advising, students can integrate dance with other academic majors and minors to pursue careers in performance, choreography, education, movement therapy, arts management and arts criticism.
The Dance curriculum is based on modern and contemporary dance, focusing on technique, choreography and performance. Courses in K-12 Dance Teacher Education, ballet, jazz, and dance history round out the dance major’s studies. Each year students perform and present their choreography in our fully produced main stage dance concert, in student-choreographed productions, and in class presentations. Additional experiential opportunities include master classes and performances with visiting professional artists and dance companies as well as yearly participation in The American College Dance Association Conferences.
Dance specializations include Choreography & Performance (leading to a BA degree), Dance Education (leading to a BA degree), K-12 Dance Education Certification (leading to a BA in Theatre and Dance and a BS in Elementary Education or Early Childhood Development).
Auditions for all of our productions are open to the community with priority given to majors. All of our Theatre and Dance department productions are completely staffed by students who build scenery and costumes, hang lights, run the sound board and organize the run of the show as stage managers. Theatre Arts majors also benefit from The Redfern Arts Center’s role as a road house for professional companies.
Not only will you have the opportunity to see professional theatre, dance and musical artists, but students will be able to work side by side with professional technicians and learn first hand about “life on the road”. Master classes in acting, design and dance given by these professionals add another dimension to your educational experience.
Keene State Theatre Arts students who have excelled in their work attend the annual regional festival of the American College Theatre Festival where they attend workshops and full length productions, audition for scholarships and other awards, show off their portfolios, meet with professionals in the field, and network with other students from New England and Northern New York.
If you are interested in going farther afield, check out our exchange program with the Theatre Department of the University of Ireland in Galway. Keene State Theatre and Dance regularly welcomes Irish scholars to study and work with us. Our students have an amazing opportunity to study theatre in Ireland.
Within Theatre Arts, students may specialize in acting, directing, or design and technical theatre.
- The acting and directing specializations offer advanced performance work in drama and musical theatre, from Shakespeare to modern playwrights and student-created productions. You will be introduced to the basics of the Stanislavski System, from intention play to scene scoring to character creation to playing moment-to-moment, and expand your acting technique through classes that focus specifically on the physical and vocal demands of the art form. You will be able to practice your art through a wide variety of scene and monologue work spanning improvisation, new playwrights, Shakespeare, and Musical Theatre. Directing students delve into the role of artistic leader discovering the challenges of leading a collaborative effort to opening night. Classroom experience is put to the test in the crucible of live performance. Through this performance experience you will discover the importance of ensemble as you and your classmates create new worlds.
- Design and technical theatre majors study design and production technologies for costumes, scenery, lighting and sound in close relationship with faculty mentors. The sophisticated facilities of the Redfern Arts Center are our laboratory. As a design and technical theatre major, you will work closely with design faculty as they explore a script through the design process from research to drawings, through construction and performance. This apprenticeship approach leads to an opportunity to collaborate with faculty directors as a designer on a main stage production. As an advanced technician, you may expand your skills as a stage manager, a cutter/draper, a master electrician, a sound designer, an assistant technical director, a properties master, or a scenic artist.
BA, Arts Management Specialization Do you have a knack for leadership and a love of theatre and dance? The Arts Management specialization may be for you. The major provides students with the skills necessary to provide quality leadership in the business aspects of arts organizations, including theatre and dance companies, entertainment venues, and more. Through an interdisciplinary curricular approach, students gain a broad perspective, discipline-specific knowledge, and practical hands-on experience in arts management.
In this Section:
Career and Other Opportunities
Theatre and dance alumni have received Emmys and Oscars, designed the Super Bowl halftime show with Madonna, made Christmas windows for Bonwit Teller in New York, and danced around the world with Pilobolus. They work as producers and actors in Hollywood, wardrobe crew for TV and Broadway, and as technical directors for Regional Theatres, high school drama coaches, teachers and administrators. Our graduates are professional dancers, dance company directors, public school teachers, high school dance specialists, university professors, health workers, and dance/movement therapists. They have opened their own businesses from dance studios and theatre companies to a children’s theatre touring company, a solar energy company, and a gym, and they support other industries as bank managers, store managers and salespeople.
The Theatre and Dance program enables students to develop a range of knowledge, skills, and competencies expected of those holding a liberal arts degree in theatre.
I worked or oversaw practically every event that went on in the Mabel Brown Room or the Night Owl Café that required a sound or lighting system for all four years. Academically, it was a good, solid time for me. I did better as a student in college because I was doing things that I liked.
-G. Benjamin Swope '99
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