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Program Description

General structure:

Photo by Savannah Lee Sickmon

Photo by Savannah Lee Sickmon

A one-semester program, ARTS in NYC is tailored to be a gateway to the dance world. Everything dovetails together – classes, experiential activities, performances, and internships – to provide meaningful information about how to analyze the workings of the “dance ecosystem” and think about how to best fit in. ARTS in NYC is open to seniors and graduate students, and welcomes students from other arts disciplines, as well as other universities. Students learn the reality of arts administration (rather than theory), working in the trenches of arts organizations. Students learn practical business skills and fundraising strategies, along with how they are used by a company or in an organization. This has been especially beneficial for those who elect to remain or return to New York City. Post-graduation, 77% of program alumni remain active in the arts community, working as administrators, performers, and teachers while continuing to perform and make art. 68of ARTS in NYC alumni from the last four years return to the city to live and work.


Anchoring the program is a 6-credit course, “New York City as Arts and Resource” taught by Dr. Sommer. This seminar deals with how dance relates to the city, and, how the city becomes a partner in all the dance and art making – both historically and in the present day: 3 credits are scholarly seminars; 3 credits are experiential events (guests, tours, rehearsal visits) chosen to underscore what is learned in the classroom. Whether a dance is made or produced in NYC or any other city, the surrounding context shapes it – the neighborhood and audience, the money and the presenters, the theaters or specific sites. Learning how to analyze and understand this system is a useful survival skill in any dance environment.

Workshop/Lab and Technique Classes:

The 3-credit weekly composition lab is led by professional New York choreographers, crafted to allow students to be involved in their creative processes, to do their own production on a small budget and develop the marketing strategies for themselves. The budget and spaces reflect the reality of young artists breaking into the professional world. Two public site-specific student performances are presented each semester. Past locations have included The High Line, Chez Bushwick, A.R.T. New York/South Oxford Space, Arts@Renaissance, Fraunces’ Tavern and Niagara Bar. Students have also performed in other productions in the city and whenever possible this is encouraged.


Adjunct Faculty Michelle Fletcher with students at Gibney Dance preparing for Dance Composition. Photo by Savannah Lee Sickmon

Adjunct Faculty Michelle Fletcher with students at Gibney Dance preparing for Dance Composition.
Photo by Savannah Lee Sickmon

Sample units of academic seminar, NYC as Arts & Resource (from Syllabus, 2015)

Survival as NYC Urban Dancer Seminar: “Urban” or “street” styles enjoy worldwide popularity. Quintessentially American, vital and newly legitimate, these forms are subjects of scholarly research and university dance classes. Guests Ana “Rockafella” Garcia and Storyboard P. discuss life as professional urban dancers who also work in the commercial world. “Rok,” premiere B-girl, producer of the book We B Girlz, performer, choreographer and leader in the Hip Hop scene. “Storyboard P” is an extraordinary freestyler, flow-n-dubstep, 2015 Bessies “Emerging Choreographer” Award, star of Apple Watch commercial, and has been written about in major publications.

Experiential: Abigail Levine, site-specific choreographer, danced/studied in Cuba, is an editor for Critical Correspondence, travels with Hemispheric Project/NYU, and performed in Marina Abramovic’s show at Museum of Modern Art. Levine will discuss performances existing at the edges of dance, theater and art installation, museum dances, and dancing in the streets, and subway durational-performance. She will lead improvisation exercises in public space.

Current Dance Administration Seminar: Today’s dance companies, even a pickup company, exist project-to-project and are only as strong as the administrative infrastructure. Guest Robert Dorf, arts administrator, focuses on issues of running a company and the challenges facing mid-sized, small, and start-up companies and 501(c) 3 not-for-profits. He connects this information to internship experiences and queries students on how they might apply these to their company and work in the future. How does the administrative structure of a dance organization vary, constrain, and support its artistic activities?

Experiential: Panel and Q&A with recent FSU/SOD and ARTS in NYC graduates who work in the field with important arts organizations, while also continuing to dance and perform. They offer practical perspectives on the scene, and how they made it successfully in the city.

Sample unit of Workshop/Composition Lab

Part I: Brief discussion on what you observed and researched about High Line as potential performance site. Based on previously explored techniques, formulate a system for site exploration, utilizing tactics that focus on architecture, topography, history, cultural systems, and traffic patterns and tourists, to pull images and meaning from its components.

Part II: Workshop warm up (movement/technique).

Part III: Go to High Line with site-specific choreographer Abigail Levine to explore and use in-class exercises for creating site-movement; considerations in developing public works, including techniques for finding hidden meaning in a space and finding methods to amplify it physically.

2020 Application

FSU in NYC is Directed by Hannah Schwadron, Ph.D. For more information email