Swan Lake


Bachelor of Arts | Bachelor of Fine Arts

Artistic expression; technical excellence; transferable skills.

If you dream of performing, choreographing, teaching, running a studio, or engaging with your community, a degree in dance can help you set the stage.

The Mercyhurst Department of Dance is a classical ballet program rooted in the liberal arts tradition. Mercyhurst University is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance.  Our Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts offerings emphasize the development of professional dancers, teachers, choreographers and scholars.

The rigorous programming emphasizes high quality training in a supportive environment from a faculty of experienced professionals, with the mission to generate leaders in the dance field.

In addition to numerous performing opportunities (regionally, nationally, and internationally), our diverse curriculum (which includes an array of dance techniques, history, choreography, pedagogy, theory, and dance-related sciences), offers enough flexibility to accommodate the pursuit of a minor or even a second major. With leadership development as a goal, our department houses three clubs and offers service opportunities, internships, and study abroad programs.

Through our program you will gain experiences and cultivate skills that are necessary for the dance field, and are also applicable and transferable to a wide variety of careers.

Fast Facts

  • Students can choose between a more rigorous BFA track, or the B.A. track with options to minor and double major in other areas.
  • Each year the dance department brings in between five to eight guest artists to work with majors in masterclass and residency formats.
  • The Dance Department is home to four different performance ensembles including the Mercyhurst Dancers, The Liturgical Dance Ensemble, SoMar Dance Works, and Dance Outreach. 
  • Dance majors will have the opportunity to perform between two to four times a year in our mainstage performances at the beautiful Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center, regardless of year or age. 
Degree Options

    Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, the classical and contemporary ballet focused program is designed to offer a wide range of mandated curriculum in dance that will include courses in a diverse array of dance techniques, history, choreography, pedagogy, dance sciences and most importantly, numerous performance opportunities.  Leadership development opportunities are abundant for performing ensembles that tour regionally, nationally, and internationally as well as three clubs, service, internships, and study abroad programs. 

    Before students graduate, they are offered a variety of main stage performance opportunities, including faculty and guest artist concerts, full length ballets, musicals, student choreography concerts and performances with SoMar Dance Works (by audition only) and The Mercyhurst Dancers.  Students are regularly introduced to renowned guest teachers and choreographers, and are encouraged to participate in theatre and opera where dance opportunities are available. To extend their academic and dance achievements, the program also boasts a collection of student run organizations including Dance Club, Liturgical Dance Ensemble, and the National Honors Society for Dance Arts.



    This degree is targeted to students who aspire to a career in professional concert, commercial performance and/or choreography with long term goals set on leadership following their performance career. The degree mandates additional curriculum in dance techniques, performances and choreography to support professional experiences and leadership in these areas of the field. It can also accommodate some dual majors.

     Download Degree Requirements (PDF)

    This program is intended for the student who wishes to pursue a rigorous degree program of combined general and dance studies. The degree allows a student to complete a dual major or minor that complementary to the field and/or a concentration in pedagogy or to complete accelerated programming. Emphasis is placed on the development of transferable skills that will support transitions inside or outside the dance field.

    Download Degree Requirements (PDF)

    Consists of 12 credits as follows:

    DANC 475 Internship (3 credits)

    3 additional credits from the following:

    DANC 180 Intro. to Labanotation  (3 credits)
    DANC 200 Intro. to Arts Administration (3 credits)
    DANC 380 Choreography II (3 credits)  
    DANC 485 Senior Seminar (Pedagogical Research) (3 credits)

    3 additional Dance Technique Elective credits (1-3)

    3 additional from the following:
    DANC  291, 292 Company Ensemble (1 credit), Co-req. Ballet, Modern and/or Jazz Technique
    DANC  391, 392 Company Ensemble (1 credit), Co-req. Ballet, Modern and/or Jazz Technique
    DANC  491, 492 Company Ensemble (1 credit), Co-req. Ballet, Modern and/or Jazz Technique


    PSYC 101 Introduction to Psychology (3 credits)
    EDEC 101 Early Foundations (3 credits)
    ESPE 101 Psychology of Diverse Learners (3 credits)
    EDEC 105 Health and Wellness (3 credits)
    ESPE 201 Inclusive Practices (3 credits)
    PSYC 235 Sports Psychology (3 credits) Offered in 2020
    EDEC 301 Early Childhood Methods (3 credits)

    Those interested in teaching adaptive dance might also consider a minor in special education or art therapy.

    Consists of 21 credits as follows:

    ACCT   101 Principles of Accounting (3 credits)
    MGMT 120 Principles of Management (3 credits)
    MKTG  162 Principles of Marketing (3 credits)
    DANC  200 Intro. to Arts Administration (3 credits)
    DANC  475 Arts Management Internship (3 credits)

    2 electives of the following, at least one 300 level course.

    ART   128 Graphic Design Basics (3 credits)
    COM 240 Digital Video Production (3 credits)
    COM 260 Intro. to Social Media (3 credits)
    ART   321 Intro. to Website Design (3 credits)
    COM 312 Communication & Social Responsibility (3 credits)
    COM 314 Global Communications (3 credits)
    COM 330 Web & Social Media Analytics & Strategies (3 credits) Requires COM 260 to be taken previously or concurrently.

Dancers perform on stage
Students working with young dancers
Students posing outside an ornate gate in an international location


Each year, students from the Mercyhurst Dance Department perform in two to four mainstage productions at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center.

Career Outcomes

Our graduates have performed with the St. Louis Ballet, Cleveland Ballet Conservatory, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Nashville Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Dance/USA and with touring Broadway and European stage productions.

Perform Globally

Students have studied and danced internationally in locations such as Ireland, Australia, Amsterdam, London, and Jerusalem.

Performance Schedule

    2024 Performance Schedule

    The Mercyhurst Dance Department strives to make an impact on the survival of high-quality classical and contemporary ballet and the building of future leaders in the arts. Experience the culmination of these emerging artists’ creative exploration and discovery as performers and choreographers.

    Choreography II Showcase

    danceSpace Palmer Studio

    Choreography II Showcase is free and open to anyone wanting to see interesting, new choreographed works from the Choreography II course.

    • Friday, March 15, 2024, at 7 p.m.

    National Water Dance Erie: The Ripple Effect

    Dobbin’s Landing, Erie Maritime Museum, H.O. Hirt Auditorium (Blasco Library)

    Join Mercyhurst's School of the Arts, as well as Schools of the Natural Sciences and Humanities as they collaboratively create the sixth National Water Dance Erie: The Ripple Effect. Featuring dance, music, art, and poetry, this traveling performance will respond to local and global water concerns and inspire greater collaboration, conversation, conservation, and water care. This performance will begin at Dobbins Landing, travel along the waterfront before entering the Erie Maritime Museum, and end in Blasco Library’s H.O. Hirt Auditorium (outdoor route weather dependent). All ages are welcome.

    • Saturday, April 20, 2024, at 4 p.m.

    Raw Edges XXVI 

    Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center, Mercyhurst University

    Join the Mercyhurst Dancers as they bring a fresh batch of artistic voices, exploring an array of themes, music, and dance styles to life on stage. “Raw Edges XXVI" is a beloved Mercyhurst tradition. Each year, it includes the opportunity to hear from student choreographers as they share insights into their creative process. It is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat!

    • Friday, April 26, 2024, 7 p.m.
    • Saturday, April 27, 2024, 2 p.m.
    • Saturday, April 27, 2024, 7 p.m.
    • Sunday, April 28, 2024, 2 p.m.

    Are you a professional dancer in transition? Now is the time to advance your career and apply your professional experience toward a baccalaureate degree at Mercyhurst University.

    There are many exciting and rewarding employment opportunities for those individuals who are educationally prepared. The Mercyhurst University Returning Professional Program features experienced faculty, a national reputation for excellence and the dedication, commitment, and hard work of the students.

    If you are a ballet dancer with three years of professional experience, Mercyhurst offers you the opportunity to turn your life experience into transferrable credits towards a baccalaureate degree in dance, or one of 40 other majors.

    In this win/win program, the university benefits from your experience, while you move more easily through your career transition. The Returning Professional Program emphasizes the importance of planning for the long-term future by offering a B.A. degree with a concentration in pedagogy or a BFA degree.

    Life Experience/Transfer Credits

    Based on a professional experience portfolio presented at the onset of admission, returning professionals who apply for our program have the option of petitioning the Dance Department to accept up to 24 elective transfer of life experience credits toward a non-dance major, or up to 37 transfer or life experience credits within the dance major. Credits could be a combination of the following:

    16 credits           Ballet Technique

     6  credits            Pointe/Men’s Technique

     4 credits            Modern, Tap, Jazz, Music Theatre

     3 credits            Dance History

    3-9 credits         Choreography I-III

     3  credits          Pedagogy

     3  credits          Kinesiology 

     6 credits            Company Ensemble

    If pursing a B.A. degree in dance, you would be required to enter and complete the program in applied theory (pedagogy).

    Admissions Requirements

    • A minimum of three years professional experience
    • The ability to reside in Erie, Pa.
    • A completed application form
    • Three recent letters of recommendation from directors, instructors, choreographers and/or colleagues to show evidence of leadership potential
    • A personal biography narrative, outlining your career path, aspirations and professional interests
    • Your résumé
    • Video documentation of performances, choreography and/or teaching
    • Support documentation: photos, programs, reviews, interviews, etc.
    • An on-campus interview with the faculty

    Transfer credits from other accredited colleges and universities are considered for acceptance. A limited number of scholarships, stipends, financial aid and work-study opportunities are available.

    The Dance programs offers a variety of internship opportunites. Listed below are some of the internsips our dance students have been a part of. 

    The Dance programs offers a variety of internship opportunites. Listed below are some of the internsips our dance students have been a part of. 

    • American Ballet Theatre
    • Arts Council of Erie
    • Ballet Concerto
    • Ballet New England
    • Ballet Theatre Midwest
    • Graphic Design
    • Boston Dance Company
    • Broadway Dance Center
    • California Ballet School Inc.
    • Count Basie Theatre
    • Dancenter
    • Disney College Program
    • Erie Bayfront Dance
    • Erie County Historical Society
    • Erie Dance Conservatory
    • Erie Dance Consortium
    • Erie Philharmonic
    • Hersheypark Entertainment
    • Hilton Head Dance School
    • Interlochen Center for the Arts
    • Lake Erie Ballet School
    • Macfadden
    • Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre
    • Mercyhurst College Dance Department
    • Mercyhurst College Summer Dance Experience
    • Mercyhurst University Center for Arts/Culture
    • Morriss Center (The)
    • NWPA Collegiate Academy
    • Paige Conservation, Inc.
    • Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School
    • Pittsburgh Youth Ballet
    • SoMar Dance Works

    Each year, dance department presents internationally acclaimed guest teachers from companies such as American Ballet Theatre, Bad Boys of Dance, Ballet Hispanico, Ballet Jazz de Montreal, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Cuban National Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, MOMIX, New York City Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Pilobolus, Paul Taylor Dance Company, STREB Extreme Action, Trey McIntyre Project, Royal Danish Ballet, and Jin Xing Dance Theatre Shanghai.  Below is a list of some of our master classes, guest artists, residencies, and other opportunities that have been affiliated with the Mercyhurst University Dance Department in the past:

    Robert Barnett   JumpStart Former Artistic Director of Atlanta Ballet
    Shannon Lee West   JumpStart Resident Choreographer-Missouri Contemporary Ballet
    Kara Jones   JumpStart Rockettes
    Amanda Edge   Master Classes Residency New York City Ballet, Current performer with “Phantom” on Broadway
    Matthew Prescott   Master Classes/Guest Artist Chat Instructor for Joffrey NYC, Interlochen Arts Academy, Former dancer with Joffrey Ballet, Current performer with “Phantom” on Broadway
    Maria Caruso   Master Classes Bodiography Contemporary Ballet
    Ursula Payne   Master Classes/Residency Slippery Rock University Dance Department Chair
    Compagnie Käfig   Master Classes Performance in MIAC
    Moscow Festival Ballet   Master Classes Performance in MIAC
    Diego Salterini   Master Classes Co-director and Co-founder of DANCE!Now Ensemble
    Bad Boys of Dance (Rasta Thomas)   Master Classes Performance in MIAC
    Laura Alonso   Master Classes

    -Performed with Ballet National de Cuba for 25 years

    -Stages classics for London’s Royal Ballet School and The Royal Danish Ballet

    Vivi Flindt   Master Classes -Originated many roles with The Royal Danish Ballet
    Bill Evans   Residency

    -Undergraduate program director at the College at Brackport & State University of New York

    -Professor of Dance at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque

    -Artistic & Executive Director of the Bill Evans Dance Company

    -Creator of the Evans Modern Dance Technique

    Maria Caruso   Master Classes -Artistic Director of Bodiography Contemporary Ballet
    Lisa de Ribre   Master Classes


    -Former dancer with New York City Ballet and Soloist with American Ballet Theater

    Chita Rivera   Guest Artist Chat  -Original Broadway Cast of West Side Story, Chicago, Bye-Bye Birdie
    Tim Veach   Master Classes -Director, Columbus Dance Theater
    Amanda Dunster   Guest Choreographer

    -Ballet Mistress for Pennsylvania Ballet

    -Stage La Fille Mal Garde on The Mercyhurst Dancers

    Eddie Tovar   Guest Artist

    -Past principal of Texas Ballet Theater

    -Past company member of Orlando Ballet

    Bruce Marks   Guest Artist

    -Internationally acclaimed dancer, teacher, choreographer, artistic director, consultant, and competition judge

    -Metropolitan Opera Ballet, ABT, Royal Danish Ballet, Boston Ballet, Ballet West, etc

    Nancy Jordan   Guest Choreographer

    -Stage Limon repetoire as member of Jose Limon Foundation

    -Previous ballet mistress of the Juilliard School

    Wei Wu   Masterclass/Guest Choreographer -Liaoning Ballet Academy of China
    Daniel Lewis   Guest Choreographer -Jose Limon Foundation