From ballet and modern dance, to hip hop, jazz, tap, ballroom, and hula, we immerse our students in diverse movement traditions and techniques.
Our theory courses give students a historical and social context for understanding the ways dance communicates as a cultural, personal, and political expression. These courses empower students to think critically, speak articulately, advocate effectively and contribute substantially to the community.
Western Oregon University is the leading university in the Pacific Northwest to work with the latest technology including immersive fiber optics, dances with drones, and dance for the camera.
Nationally and internationally renowned guest artists teach a regular series of dance classes and workshops for our students. The guest artists choreograph works on our students that are performed in our annual Spring Dance Concert and on tour to the American College Dance Association regional conference.
We are interested in dancer wellness training and research. Each year we participate in an national dancer wellness screening and our students take coursework in conditioning for dancers, wellness for dancers, and kinesiology for dancers.
Our talented dance majors and minors have multiple opportunities to express themselves through the creation of choreographic work. We cultivate dance artistry with exciting and diverse programs of new works.
We offer the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills, understanding, and appreciation of dance as an art form. The curriculum is structured to develop well rounded dancers who are prepared for careers in dance or any field that requires creative thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and innovation.
WOU students who are working toward a degree in another discipline can choose to add a minor in dance to continue their dance training and to be part of the dance community including multiple performances each year.
The concentration in choreography and performance allows students to specialize their degree as performing artists. It focuses on dance composition and performance skills, musicianship and concert production, and provides several opportunities to choreograph and perform in independent projects as well as in our annual dance concerts.
The concentration in Dance Film and Technology allows students to focus on the innovative ways dance utalizes technology to enhance performance. This concentration focuses on choreography for the camera, and provides hands-on experience creating screendance works, and immersive trining in STEM technologies that support multi-media dance performance.
The concentration in Dance Education and Studio Management allows students to specialize their degree towards inspiring a new generation of dancers. Understanding methods for teaching dance as well as the busness savvy for successfully managing a dance studio or a dance company.
Selected students have the opportunity to earn a degree in dance while gaining professional experience by touring and performing with Rainbow Dance Theatre. This professional dance company performs nationally and internationally to places like: Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Taiwan. The company celebrates the diversity of its company members as well as the divers cultural influences in the choreography that fuses West African Dance, Haitian Dance, Hip Hop, Martial Arts with American Modern Dance.
As WOU’s resident dance company it offers our students a window into the life of professional dancers and current dance majors and minors are able to take company class and observe rehearsals on a weekly basis.
Additionally, many WOU dance alumni have found employment with Rainbow Dance Theatre after graduation.
Professor of Dance
Darryl Thomas is a Professor of Dance here at Western Oregon University and is Co-Artistic Director for Rainbow Dance Theatre. At WOU he teaches a range of classes from West African, hip hop, salsa, and hula, to dancing with drones and technology for dance. As a former dancer and artistic collaborator in the world-renowned Pilobolus Dance Theatre he brings a wide range of performance and choreographic experience to the WOU dance program.
Associate Professor of Dance and Dance Program Coordinator
Timothy Cowart teaches coursework in all levels of modern dance, dance partnering, contact improvisation, ballroom dance, dance in world cultures, and dance on camera. He performed nationally and internationally with the Bella Lewitzky Dance Company, the Pittsburgh Dance Alloy and Impact Productions. He is certified in Kaeja Elevations, a form of modern dance partnering work that utilizes momentum, dynamic tension and flight.
NTT Professor of Dance
Corrie Cowart is a certified DanceAbility instructor and a certified movement analyst. She teaches all levels of ballet and modern dance as well as dance composition, Human Movement Analysis, and dance teaching methods. She performed with the Pat Graney Dance Company, Mary Miller Dance Company, LABCO Dance, Minh Tran and Dancers, the Dance Theatre of Oregon, and the Pittsburgh Opera.
NTT Professor of Dance
Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner is a choreographer and dance educator committed to inclusion, representation and social consciousness in both pedagogy and creative practice. She teaches course work in all levels of modern, jazz and tap dance as well as Latin Dances around the World, Dance Gender and Society, dance production, and advanced dance composition. She has been commissioned to create numerous original works of choreography for colleges and professional dance companies across the United States.
Professor, Health & Exercise Science
Winner of the WOU Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award (2008), and the mario & Alma Pastega Award for excellence in Scholarship. She teaches coursework for both the Division of Health and Physical Education and the Dance Program. She offers classes in Wellness for Dancers, Conditioning for Dancers, and Kinesiology for Dancers. Her publications can be found in the Journal of Dance Medicine and Science; Medical Problems of Performing Arts; IMPULSE: the International Journal of Dance Science, Medicine, and Education: Kinesiology and Medicine for Dance; Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport; Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; and the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, among others.
NTT Professor of Dance
Les Watanabe performed as a soloist for such companies as: Donald McKayle’s Inner City Repertory Company, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Joyce Trisler’s Danscompany, Alvin Ailey II, Burch Mann Folk Ballet, Sachiyo Ito Japanese Dance Company, L.A. Jazz, and with Peter Gross Dance Company in Paris, France. At WOU he teaches all levels of ballet technique, choreography for the camera, introduction to dance, and dance in world cultures. He has performed extensively in theater and television including Hal Prince and Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway production of Pacific Overtures, and Alvin Ailey Presents Duke Ellington CBS special, Academy Awards, and Emmy Awards.
At Western Oregon University we understand that selecting the right university and dance degree program takes time and a little research. Incoming freshmen, transfer students, and graduate students who are ready to take the steps to begin pursuing a music degree with us are encouraged to visit campus, take a free lesson with your prospective applied lessons professor, make application to the university, and schedule an audition for program entry and scholarships.
Please email Tim Cowart (email@example.com) so we can get to know you better and direct your inquiries to the correct faculty member(s).
We encourage you to spend a day with us while classes are in session. Take a campus tour, visit our classes, and have a chance to dance in the studio. This is the best way to see if WOU is the right fit for you. Contact the dance program to schedule your visit. Campus tours can usually be scheduled on the same day through the admissions office.
Undergraduates will make formal application to the university through the admission process website. We accept applications throughout the year. We suggest, however, that you apply early so that you will meet eligibility requirements and deadlines for scholarships.