Starting this fall, Pace University is offering a program that caters exclusively to commercial dancers, providing specialized training for dance careers on the stage or silver screen. The BA in Theater/Commercial Dance program is the first of its kind in the nation, says Rhonda Miller, founder of L.A. dance studio The Edge, who is spearheading the audition-only program. “Pace is known for being a business school, so this blends right in with its philosophy,” she says. Miller has been a full-time dance lecturer at Pace since 2008 and has been working with the university to create this degree for the past year. “The program teaches students how to make a living for themselves and how to develop themselves as a product,” she adds.
Classes include ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop and dance history, focusing on keeping students both diverse and current. “Being in New York City is a very important factor of our program—every teacher on the faculty is currently working in the business,” says Miller, who will teach jazz, choreography, theater dance and tap. Other faculty include Mike Schulster (tap), Janice Barringer (ballet), Lauren Gaul (contemporary and jazz) and Joshua Dean (modern dance and ballet).
Why should commercial dancers choose to pursue a college degree? “The key word is longevity,” says Miller. “The best way to sustain a career in dance for your whole life is to educate yourself.” Info: www.pace.edu/performingarts
Photo: Pace University dancers in Shine On Your Shoes (by Danicah Waldo, courtesy of Pace University)