Students at Dixie State University can now dance their way to a diploma.
DSU administrators have announced the availability of a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree in dance beginning this fall. After the proposal for the degree was approved by the board of regents and multiple committees on campus, it finished the approval process on a state and national level in August. Previously, only a degree in integrated studies with an emphasis in dance was available.
Li Lei, a professor of dance and the director of the dance department, said it has been a long journey to get the dance program to where it is today.
Lei started at Dixie State College in 2000 as the first full-time dance professor and started the Dixie State Dance Company in 2001. She was the only full-time professor in the dance program for 12 years.
“I told the administration, ‘I expect in three years we can build a dance degree program,’” Lei said. “However, to handle all the coursework, we need more faculty.”
Thanks to years of her effort in expanding the dance offerings at DSU, there are now three full-time professors, several more adjunct faculty members, and student enrollment in the dance program has more than doubled.
Lei said having a bachelor’s in dance will not only be beneficial for students, but it will also propel the expansion of the university.
“It helps in recruiting and retaining,” Lei said. “A lot of dance students have to leave (and) transfer to other universities to pursue their degree.”
This new degree will also allow dance majors to more easily continue their education by pursuing a master’s degree after they graduate, which will bring more opportunities in dance-related professions.
Mikel Young, a sophomore dance major from South Jordan, said she is excited for the addition of the degree because it will bring more talent to the program.
“The dance degree will put [DSU] on the map,” Young said. “For dancers, this will make [DSU] more appealing. I’m stoked because one feature that all great universities have is an excellent dance program.”
Lei said she doesn’t have an exact number of students majoring in dance yet because students are still signing up. She said she is looking for as many students as possible. Students are required to audition before they start the program to place them in the right classes to build their technical skills, but Lei said even some students with minimal experience have decided to be dance majors.
“Everybody dances,” she said.
Students and community members can see the dance students’ accomplishments in person by attending the end-of-semester dance class showing and the Fall Dance Concert in November in the Eccles Fine Arts Center.