National Ranking Shines Spotlight on UA Theater, Dance and Design Programs

UA Dance Ensemble members Maxwell Foster and Lydia Marbach.

UA Dance Ensemble members Maxwell Foster and Lydia Marbach.

(Photo: Ed Flores)

The University of Arizona is home to exceptional Bachelor of Fine Arts programs in dance, musical theater, and theater design and technology, according to the 2018-19 rankings from OnStage.

"The UA is the educational and cultural epicenter for southern Arizona, and a world-class destination for creative thinkers and performers. In this rapidly changing world, it is more important than ever that we appreciate and nurture the contributions they bring to our university and our community,” said UA President Robert C. Robbins. “We are very proud that some of the nation's most promising young artists choose our highly ranked fine arts programs for the training and experience they need to launch their careers."

The UA School of Dance, which placed No. 9 overall and No. 2 among public universities, was the only dance program at a land-grant university to appear in the top 10. The UA musical theater program finished No. 15 overall (No. 5 among public universities), and the theater design and technology program placed at No. 16 overall (No. 8 among public universities).

Founded in 2015, OnStage extensively researches the nation's top dance, design/technology and performance programs in the country for prospective students interested in pursuing careers in the entertainment arts.

OnStage ranks degree-granting institutions on the basis of facility quality, cost/scholarship opportunities, faculty quality, admissions/auditions/selectivity, performance opportunities, curriculum quality, and career and alumni support.

Earlier this month, the UA earned its highest overall mark since 2011 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, placing 46th among public institutions and 106th overall in the Best Colleges 2019 guidebook.

"These are outstanding results in what are regarded as important measures of quality and excellence in the field," said Andrew Schulz, dean of the UA College of Fine Arts. "Credit goes to our outstanding faculty in these areas and to our dedicated, visionary donors. Private investment fuels our ability to enhance programs and to create groundbreaking initiatives that have become major differentiators for the college."

The UA's emphasis on dancer's health was among the main factors in the university's top 10 ranking. Since 2013, UA dance students have had access to specialized on-site musculoskeletal care through a weekly dance medicine clinic run by Dr. Daniel Latt, an associate professor in the UA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and a specialist in foot and ankle surgery.

In addition, the School of Dance was named as one of Backstage's "10 College Dance Programs You Should Know," due in part to the program's abundant performance opportunities and its "triple-track" curriculum with equal emphasis on ballet, modern and jazz.

Founded in 1960, Backstage serves as a resource for actors and performers seeking employment and career advice, as well as casting professionals and talent seekers looking to find performers for their projects.

OnStage praised Danny Gurwin, co-chair of the UA's musical theater program, citing his extensive Broadway experience, including starring roles in "Little Women," "The Full Monty," "The Scarlet Pimpernel," "A Little Night Music," "Kismet" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." 

OnStage added that theater design and technology programs at the UA "are supported with large, well-equipped shop spaces," and described the assembly space and dedicated paint shop among its best features. In addition, OnStage highlighted the costume production labs with fitting rooms, a crafts shop and a dye room, and the extensive stock kept in a large off-campus warehouse.

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