Theatre and Dance

Prospective Students

Interested in majoring in dance or theatre at Winthrop University?

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Click on the links below for more information! 




Be our guest at our next production. Contact us for complimentary tickets for you and your family. 

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What is the practical use of a major in dance or theatre?

Serious study of any arts discipline develops creativity, increases intellectual skill, and provides specific insights and perspectives. Arts study is not just about art. It is about thinking, analyzing, and creating unique solutions for unique situations. A 2012 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the workplace now needs people who are adaptable and who possess strong communication, interpersonal, and problem solving skills.  Also, they need to be able to sort through information and develop novel solutions to problems.  Moreover, researchers have established that arts training creates achievement in a number of ways. First, students who pursue arts training show greater overall knowledge retention than those who do not. The College Entrance Examination Board reports that high school students who have had coursework or experience in the arts score almost 100 points higher on the SAT. Second, students who pursue arts training ultimately attain higher levels of employment than those who do not. Third, arts training promotes strategic planning and self-management skills. For more information, see the work of James Catterall, author of the National Educational Longitudinal Survey.
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What is the scope of the "creative" job market?

The arts occupy significant territory on the field of human action. They are multi-billion dollar enterprises, requiring vast numbers of talented, creative, and hard-working people. Individuals educated and trained as artists work in both commercial and not-for-profit settings. Some have executive and corporate responsibilities, some function in ensembles or on teams, others work alone. The basic components are creation and performance, education, and various support enterprises such as management, public relations, and fundraising. According to a recent study by researchers at the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, creative industries (for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, and self-employed individuals) in South Carolina contribute more than $9.2 billion to the state's economy annually and support more than 107,000 jobs. These numbers represent approximately 4.4% of the state's employment base. The South Carolina amusement tax (on all for-profit amusements such as theme parks, movie theatres, etc.) generate more than $33 million annually. The North Carolina departments of Culture and Commerce released a report in 2009 indicating that the creative industry represents about 6% of the state's total production. It supports more jobs in North Carolina than the financial industry. The creative industry brings in millions of tourism dollars, attracting visitors from 28 states and several Canadian provinces. A similar study in York County, SC, showed that the arts generated over $7 million of economic activity in the county in 2009 and sustained the equivalent of 210 full time jobs. Creative industries accounted for 3% ($1.4 billion) of all sales generated in the regional economy around Charleston, SC, in 2009. Creative occupations in the Charleston metro area generate an average hourly wage ABOVE the overall average for all occupations. A 2009 report by the North Carolina Department of Commerce found that the creative industry includes nearly 300,000 jobs in that state, representing more than 5% of overall employment and more than 5% of the annual gross domestic product. "Arts and Economic Prosperity," a 2012 study conducted by Americans for the Arts, investigated the economic impact of the arts in Guildford County (Greensboro and High Point), NC.  The study documented the non-profit arts and culture industry's annual economic contribution:  $118 million generated in annual revenue and support to 4269 full-time equivalent jobs.  The same American for the Arts study showed that arts organizations in Mecklenburg County, NC (Charlotte metro area), support 6200 jobs and contributes more than $18 million per year in tax revenue to local and state governments.  (The study was based on information provided by arts organizations that responded to a survey, so the figures do not include ALL economic activity generated by the arts.)  The arts, entertainment and cultural resources fields are BIG BUSINESS with many career opportunities.

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What can dance and theatre majors contribute to the world beyond their work in the creative industry?

In a 2009 editorial, the nationally syndicated columnist, Thomas L. Friedman, noted that "Those with the imagination to . . . invent smarter ways to do old jobs, energy-saving ways to provide new services, new ways to attract old customers or new ways to combine existing technologies--will thrive." He makes that statement after citing various scholars and commissions and business leaders who have observed that the global economy will depend more and more on a workforce that can bring problem-solving skills and innovative, imaginative thinking to growth industries like nanotechnology, renewable energy, agribusiness, finance, cybersecurity, alternative fuels, and information management. Daniel Pink argues in his several best-selling books on the changing world of work (Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us; A Whole New Mind; and Free Agent Nation) that America cannot boom economically by depending only upon left-brain assets of logic and analysis (what scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians do). Information gathered by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills tells us that our economy also needs the right-brain creativity that comes from seeing the big picture. The Council on Competitiveness released in June 2010 results of a survey. 400 CEOs from around the globe indicated that innovation--not the price of labor--is the most important factor that will determine a country's success in the marketplace, and research has supported this view.  A study at Michigan State University found that their graduates in the STEM fields who had arts experiences had the highest patent rates and the most successful start-up businesses among their peers. A 2010 study conducted by IBM confirms the importance of the arts. 1500 CEOs identified creativity as the most important "leadership competency" of the future. A Conference Board study found that 74% of business leaders identified the skills of creativity as critical or very important to professional success. (They defined "creativity" to include problem identification or articulation, identification of new patterns of behavior or new combinations of actions, integration of knowledge across different disciplines, development of new ideas, and comfort with the notion of "no right answer.") Those who major in the arts are uniquely trained and qualified to succeed in this twenty-first century world.


What does it mean to study at a liberal arts-based university?

Writing in a May 2011 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Carol G. Schneider (President of the Association of American College and Universities) gives many reasons why the liberal arts approach to higher education will best serve students and employers. She cites many national surveys of business leaders and employers who want colleges and universities to emphasize "cross-disciplinary intellectual skills and . . . the broad knowledge base necessary to understand the complex contexts in which they will work." She goes on to say that innovation requires employees to engage in continuous learning across new fields of endeavor, so it is gradates with "a full portfolio of skills, knowledge, and experience who will succeed . . . in helping create new jobs, new industries, and innovative products." Hart Research surveyed employers about the qualifications they seek in new hires. The results showed that nearly two-thirds said the best preparation was a "blend of broad knowledge and skills coupled with field-specific knowledge." In the recently published (2011) study of higher education, Academically Adrift, the authors found that students educated in a liberal arts college were more successful at analytical reasoning and communication than students who pursued a narrow degree program. 

So, what is the "value" of a liberal arts-based education? In an October 2010 essay the Canadian scholar, Henry Giroux, summarized the ideas of the great educator, Paulo Freire. Education should provide the ways of thinking that enable students to explore what it means to be citizens and deepen their participation in democracy. Freire believed that a university education was a place to affirm public values, to create a critical citizenry that reads, writes and thinks for itself. 

With all this in mind, it's worthwhile to mention that Winthrop University has identified four central kinds of learning that all its graduates should attain as a person with a university education. Regardless of a student's major, she or he will develop these attributes at Winthrop, and these attributes will make a Winthrop graduate successful and fulfilled in any career field.

1: Winthrop graduates think critically and solve problems.

Winthrop University graduates reason logically, evaluate and use evidence, and solve problems. They seek out and assess relevant information from multiple viewpoints to form well-reasoned conclusions. Winthrop graduates consider the full context and consequences of their decisions and continually reexamine their own critical thinking process, including the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments.

2: Winthrop graduates are personally and socially responsible.

Winthrop University graduates value integrity, perceive moral dimensions, and achieve excellence in their work. They take seriously the perspectives of others, practice ethical reasoning, and reflect on experiences. Winthrop graduates hold a sense of responsibility to the broader community and contribute to the greater good.

3: Winthrop graduates understand the interconnected nature of the world and the time in which they live.

Winthrop University graduates comprehend the historical, social, and global contexts of their disciplines and their lives. They also recognize how their chosen area of study is inextricably linked to other fields. Winthrop graduates collaborate with members of diverse academic, professional, and cultural communities as informed and engaged citizens.

4: Winthrop graduates communicate effectively.

Winthrop University graduates communicate in a manner appropriate to the subject, occasion, and audience. They create texts — including but not limited to written, oral, and visual presentations — that convey content effectively. Mindful of their voice and the impact of their communication, Winthrop graduates successfully express and exchange ideas.

The liberal arts-based educational experience at Winthrop has proven its excellent quality in many measurable ways. Since 2004 Winthrop has participated in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), and the results indicate that "Winthrop first-year students and seniors self-reported higher than their peers [nationally] on level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interactions, and enriching educational experiences. Winthrop students also showed substantial increases in most of these areas from 2004 to 2007." Winthrop's NSSE results. Winthrop has been recognized as a top-quality liberal arts university by numerous professional surveys, rankings and higher education organizations. Get all the facts on the About Winthrop webpage

(Dr. Stephanie Milling, Winthrop students and state arts dignitaries with Rep. Clyburn
at his office in Washington, DC, during the National Arts Advocacy Day) 

What does our dance and theatre program have to offer you?

Our liberal arts-based curriculum requires majors to study ALL the dance and theatre crafts, so that our graduates are fully prepared to work successfully in the performing arts. This breadth of knowledge is important, because arts/entertainment is a major industry with many opportunities. The South Carolina Department of Education notes that a 2007 economic impact study indicated that South Carolina artists generated over $25 million in earnings per year. The motion picture industry paid over $32 million annually in wages and salaries in the state. The state's cultural industry overall generates $2.4 billion in economic output every year. The University of Texas Fine Arts Career Services Center provides excellent guidance about career prospects for theatre (pdf - 61 KB) and dance (pdf - 210 KB) majors. 

Our faculty includes a full-time accompanist, so ALL our required dance technique classes for the dance majors have a live accompanist to enrich the students' experience in the studio.

New York Trip 2011 
Dance Majors' trip to NYC, Fall Break 2011

You'll have plenty of performance and production opportunities here. Our season includes up to four student-directed full-length plays, two student-directed one-act festivals and two showcases of student choreography, in addition to our mainstage season of faculty-directed dance and theatre productions. Our students regularly design costumes, lighting and scenery for our faculty-directed productions and for the Music Department's opera productions.

In 2005 we installed new floors in our two dance studios, making them some of the finest spaces in the region. Both studios feature sprung floors by L'Air with StageStep floor covering. Additional new dance studios came on line in 2007 when the Lois Rhame West Health, Physical Education and Wellness Center opened next door to Johnson Hall. These are some of the finest dance studios in the region.

Our department has an internship program with Actor's Theatre of Charlotte, the only Equity theatre in the metro area. Our students work as actors and production crews alongside professional artists in a theatre that is committed to presenting the most important new works of the contemporary theatre in America. Our students also have completed internships in recent years with the Children's Theatre of Charlotte, the Charlotte Dance Festival, Theatre Charlotte, and Flat Rock Playhouse. 

We have scholarships auditions for new and continuing students in our program. The Admissions Office has many academic scholarships available.  

We're thirty minutes away from Charlotte, NC, the region's arts and cultural center that includes professional theatre, professional ballet, professional opera, modern dance, visual arts, children's theatre, music festivals, touring productions, dance festivals, film production, talent agencies, etc. Many of our students and graduates work with these area arts organizations and at nearby Carowinds Amusement Park.

The Winthrop campus is located in the heart of Rock Hill, close to many recreational, shopping and cultural destinations.

 Phaedra's Love Cast 
(The cast of Phaedra's Love with director, Dr. Laura Dougherty,
after the performance of their staged reading in March 2011.)

K-12 certification to teach theatre and dance.

We are the ONLY university in South Carolina that offers undergraduate degrees in both dance education and theatre education (the degree you would need to become a K-12 drama or dance teacher in the public schools).

Now is a great time to be a K-12 teacher
There are exciting possibilities for a career in dance education (pdf - 1.48 MB)

Transitions Dance Class  
Associate Professor Mary Beth Young teaches a class to students in the Winthrop
Transition to College program, Fall 2011.

Be our guest at our next production. Contact us for complimentary tickets for you and your family.