The Department of Dance at Bridgewater State University is committed to cultivating excellence, innovation and leadership in dance as education, as a performing art form, cultural practice, scientific inquiry, and interdisciplinary application. The dance program is dedicated to fostering scholarly artists and educators in dance, and developing arts-literate citizens.
Through diverse dance techniques and pedagogies, dance science, somatics, cultural dance forms, historical inquiry, dance composition, and dance production and performance, students gain comprehensive knowledge of dance forms and practices, critical thinking skills, and practical experience in a variety of dance applications.
Dr. Donald J. Running is an Assistant Professor of Music Education and conductor of the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band at Bridgewater State University. Originally from Minnesota, Dr. Running taught in the public schools of Minnesota and Wisconsin before receiving his Master of Arts degree and PhD in music education from the University of Minnesota. While attending the University of Minnesota, he studied conducting with Craig Kirchhoff, theatre with Kari Margolis, and educational philosophy with Dr. Paul Haack. Dr. Running served as conductor of the East Central Grad Band, assistant conductor of the Encore Wind Ensemble, and premiered his concerto for saxophones, Dre, with the University Campus Orchestra.
In addition to his university duties, Dr. Running is active as an adjudicator/clinician and pursues an active research and writing schedule, most recently finishing his dissertation on developing novice conductors' expressivity through dynamic muscularity. He has been published in Update: Applications of Research in Music Education and Minnesota Music Education Research Review in Gopher Notes. Material relating to the proposed workshop is currently under review with the Bulletin for the Council for Research in Music Education.
BME, University of Wisconsin-Superior
MA, PhD, University of Minnesota
Dr. Donna A. Dragon, CMA, SMT is Associate Professor and Dance Education Specialist in the Department of Dance at Bridgewater State University. She is currently the Coordinator for Part Time Faculty Development for all part-time faculty at BSU as well. Dr. Dragon’s doctoral research examines the utilization of embodied practices, historically and culturally, as they impacted the development of somatic education in U.S. higher education dance. Her current research and practices focus on the development, assessment and use of embodied education for transformation and social justice and culturally responsive teaching and learning for example her article, “Creating Cultures of Teaching and Learning: Conveying Dance and Somatic Education Pedagogy” in the Journal of Dance Education (2015). Dr. Dragon presents her research across disciplines regionally, nationally, and internationally where she asks participants to observe and investigate somatic/embodied practice--the intrinsic, intelligent, synergetic processes of body, mind, spirit and emotions—toward understanding individual, historical, cultural and behaviors.
Drawing from embodied experience, neurocognitive sciences and her training as a Somatic Movement Therapist, a Laban Movement Analyst, and a dance performer, Dr. Dragon specializes in developing pedagogy, curriculum, courses and workshops that utilize the body as a text for creating meaning and knowledge that can reflect, meditate, challenge and change individual and group motivations and values. She has developed and implemented somatic and embodied education paradigms for infants to elderly people and for beginners and professionals alike in public, private, urban and rural environments, corporate settings, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric facilities, and in K-12 and higher education.
Dr. Dragon is an entrepreneur. She has organized and operated businesses offering dance education and somatic movement therapy in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and North Carolina including, Donna’s School of Dance, and The Center for Movement Alternatives. Her choreography has premiered in many Northeastern and mid-Atlantic colleges and universities; regional and community theaters; and, has been seen on PBS television. Dr. Dragon’s recent choreography explores themes that integrate nature and human behaviors and conditions.
Renowned as a master teacher, she earned the prestigious National Dance Education Organization Outstanding Dance Educator Award (post secondary) (2014) for her contributions to higher education as an innovative educator, researcher, and practitioner in somatics and embodied education.
CMA, Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Students
MEd, Temple University
GC, Temple University
PhD, Temple University
Assistant Professor Jenifer Sarver received her early training at Ballet Hysell in New Orleans, and later studied at Houston Ballet Academy, Boston Ballet School and the Washington School of Ballet. She earned her BA in Dance Pedagogy from Butler University and her MFA in Studio Based Research from University of Utah Department of Ballet. Her MFA work included careful mentoring and extensive pedagogical training in the Vaganova ballet method from Professors Regina Zarhina and Maureen Laird.
At BSU, Professor Sarver teaches Fundamentals of Ballet, Theory and Practice of Ballet, Advanced Ballet, Dance History to 1915, Dance Science and Ballet Pedagogy. She has developed a service learning course, “Ballet Repertoire in the Community”, which brings BSU students into local nursing homes and rehabilitation centers to perform classic and new ballet repertoire. She has been an assistant director of BSU’s Winterdance and regularly choreographs for mainstage dance and theater performances. She has previously taught and coached classical technique and repertoire at Ars Skola Baleta (the national theater school in Zenica, BiH) and Genesis Sarajevo (Sarajevo, BiH), and has been a guest instructor at several Irish dance academies. She has been a full time ballet instructor at Alma College in Alma, MI and has been a guest teacher at the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet Advanced Summer workshop for the past 10 years. She is currently on the faculty at Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theater of Boston’s Young Dancer’s Program in Cambridge, and Bridgewater’s local Matta Dance. Professor Sarver’s former students are currently performing in the National Ballet in Sarajevo, Bi, the Croatian National Ballet in Zagreb, Croatia, the San Diego Ballet, Arova Contemporary Ballet and the California Ballet.
Prior to her focus on pedagogy, choreography and research, Professor Sarver enjoyed an extensive and varied international professional performance career. She has been a member of San Diego Ballet, California Ballet, Utah Ballet, the ballet of the Opera na Zamku (Szczecin, Poland), and the Slovene National Ballet (Maribor, Slovenia). She has been a soloist with Ireland’s Cork City Ballet and was the first American hired as soloist in Poland’s Teatr Wielki (National Theater) ballet of Lodz. She has also been a guest principal dancer with Salt Lake City Ballet and Scotland’s Ballet West UK, headlining their inaugural Nutcracker tour through China in April-June 2010. Professor Sarver professional performance career has also included tours throughout Poland, Ireland, Austria, China and the western United States.
Professor Sarver’s professional performance repertoire includes: The Nutcracker (Clara, Grand pas de deux, Sugarplum, Snow Queen, Arabian Princess), Giselle (title role), The Sleeping Beauty (Aurora, Fairy of Delicacy, White Cat), Firebird (Tsarevna), Swan Lake (Odette/Odile, Polish Princess, Neapolitan Dance), Don Quixote (Kitri), La Bayadere (Pas de trois), Les Sylphides (Prelude), Paquita (Vetsalka variation), Coppelia (Swanilda, Dawn, Prayer), Le Corsaire (Grand pas de deux, Odalisque pas de trois), Snow White (title role, Lead Flower), The Promised Land (Lalka), and corps de ballet roles in: Cinderella, Bolero, Romeo and Juliet, Carmen, Beauty and the Beast, The Firebird, La Fille Mal Gardee, La Sylphide, La Ventana, Konservatoriat, Napoli and Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes. In her last year as a professional performer, she created the leading role in Edouard Toussiant’s Pour Mon Amour. In addition to the classical repertoire, Professor Sarver performed in a wide variety of operas, operettas and musicals, including Oklahoma! (Dream Laurey), Aida, La Traviata, Countess Mariza, The Hungarian Princess, Blue Castle, My Fair Lady and Beauty and the Beast.
Since 2011, Professor Sarver has been a critic for Dance Europe, the largest and most widely read dance periodical in the EU. She has contributed reviews and feature articles on ballet companies in Croatia (Zagreb, Split), Germany (Berlin), Romania (Bucharest) and Bosnia (Sarajevo). She currently reviews Boston Ballet. Her recent feature articles for Dance Europe have included “Soviet Resurgence”, “The New Ballerina”, “Ballet Partnerships”, “Youth America Grand Prix”, “Sarajevo” and “Looking East”. Professor Sarver regularly presents research at academic conferences, and recently presented “All in the Family: An examination of the relationships between pedagogues and pupils at the Vaganova Academy” at the CORPS de Ballet International conference in Sarasota in 2016. While at BSU she has twice received the university’s largest research grant, which has funded her research at the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg,, Russia, and England’s Royal Ballet School and White Lodge Archives. She has also received funding and thus conducted research at the National Ballet School in Bucharest, Romania and the National Theater of Opera and Ballet in Sarajevo, BiH. Her current research interest is the evolution of Russian and Eastern European ballet since glasnost, and how the societal and political changes in Russia, the Balkans, and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have impacted the opera and ballet in these nations. An amateur figure skater and a member of Skating Club of Boston’s Skating Academy and USFSA’s Basic Skills program, Professor Sarver is also studying the relationship of pedagogical practices used by elite figure skating coaches and instructors at professional ballet academies.
Professor Sarver’s choreography has been performed in Sarajevo, BiH, Indianapolis, IN, Salt Lake City, Ut, San Diego, CA, Brooklyn, NY and locally in Boston and Bridgewater. Her works tend towards themes of social justice, and she has created student-performed works that highlight the Siege of Sarajevo (Sarajevo: May 27, 1992), the Vietnam conflict (My Only One), the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (My Love) and the life and work of Hans Litten (Die Gedanken Sind Frei). Die Gedanken Sind Frei was recently performed at the Marie Christine Giordano Salon Series in Brooklyn, NY. While at Alma College, she choreographed a new version of The Nutcracker and a historically based socialist realist ballet, The Happy Young Pioneers. Professor Sarver is currently at work on a new piece, Menasche and Rachel, which retells the classic Isaac Bashevis Singer story through ballet and hip-hop. An excerpt of this work was performed in Cambridge’s Third Life Choreographic Series, and the full piece was performed in April 2016 in Boston’s Danza Orgánica We Create! Women in the Arts festival. In addition to the creation of new works, Professor Sarver is an expert re-stager of the classical repertoire. For her university students, she has re-staged Anton Dolin’s Pas de Quatre, and excerpts from Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Harlequinade, La Fille Mal Gardee and Giselle.
BA, Butler University
MFA, University of Utah
Dr. Jody Weber received a BFA from SUNY Purchase in 1988. She was deeply influenced by teachers Sarah Stackhouse, Kevin Wynn, and Mel Wong. In 1992 she received an MA from American University focusing on dance history. At American University she was a recipient of a full teaching fellowship. In addition to teaching and graduate school studies, she continued to participate in the professional community through the works of Debra Riley and Beth Davis. In 2005 she completed her doctorate in dance history at Boston University.
Her professional company, Weber Dance, has been presented through numerous local outlets including Boston Center for the Arts, Green Street Studios, Mobius, Central Square World’s Fair, Cambridge Access TV, Somerville Artbeat, Boston First Night, Casco Bay Movers, Salem State University, Framingham State University, Bates College, The College of the Holy Cross and Boston University. The company has also worked nationally with projects in Juneau, Alaska, The Dance Place in Washington DC, Spoke of the Hub in Brooklyn, Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco, and with Yow Dance in Florida. They have also toured Montana, British Columbia and Colorado. In the 2001, 2005, 2009, 2011& 2013 seasons, Dr. Weber received Artist Fellowship Grants from the Somerville Arts Council to support her choreography. She has also been awarded a Somerville “Artist of the Month” honor. She is a two season recipient of residencies at the Workspace for Choreographers in Virginia, a Boston Center for the Arts residency, and the recipient of a Boston Dance Alliance Retreat and Residency Award among others.
In addition to performing and choreographing, Dr. Weber has an avid interest in dance history. She presented her original research as a selected speaker at the Dance History Scholars Conference held at the New York Public Library in 1993. Her work as a dance historian and guest speaker was also funded through the Hall of Black Achievement at Bridgewater State College. In June 0f 2001, she worked on the Boston Dance History Survey with Ruth Benson-Levin through the Boston Dance Alliance. This project established the foundation to build an archive on local dance history. Her first book, The Evolution of Aesthetic and Expressive Dance in Boston, was published in 2009 through Cambria Press.
Dr. Weber has worked as part-time faculty at Stonehill College, Bates College, Emerson College, Salem State University and The College of the Holy Cross. Currently, she is Chair of the Dance Department at Bridgewater State University. Dr. Weber also teaches classes for the community at Green Street Studios and the Dance Complex in Cambridge.
BFA, State University of New York at Purchase
MA, American University
PhD, Boston University
The department offers a BA in Dance, an honors program, an interdisciplinary minor and an education program for teacher certification in dance. The dance program offers a wide variety of dance technique training and a solid theoretical foundation for performance and choreography. In addition, the program offers an emphasis on dance pedagogy in either the private or public sector. Learn more about our curriculum and suggested course sequence.
The program of dance presents two mainstage productions annually in the 1300-seat Rondileau Campus Center auditorium. The productions usually include faculty, student and guest choreography. Any interested student is invited to audition for productions.
Several student clubs are actively engaged in cocurricular activities supportive of the academic programs in the department including the BSU Dance Company and the Student Chapter of the National Dance Education Organization.
Interested in auditioning for the dance major at BSU? Please visit our online audition site.