Dance Education

BFA in Dance with a concentration in Dance Education

About the degree

Complete our rigorous four-year dance education program, and you’ll earn a BFA and qualify for the North Carolina initial A-level teaching license.

You’ll take challenging technique classes in ballet, modern and jazz, develop your skills as a choreographer, perform in mainstage and studio productions, and study kinesiology, pedagogy and dance history. In addition, you will complete several courses in education to learn teaching methods that will enable you to reach the diverse populations of students attending today’s schools. You will work collaboratively with faculty and other students to plan and teach creative lessons at our partner schools while building your teaching résumé. Finally, you will complete your program with a year-long internship, developing your own teaching voice under the guidance of a professional dance educator in one of eastern North Carolina’s quality K-12 dance programs.

Becoming a dance educator is a challenging process, and the dance education program requires a substantial commitment to regular physical practice, creative inquiry, leadership development and academic investment. Dance education students are supported by one-on-one relationships with faculty mentors and enjoy multiple opportunities for teaching, leadership and creative projects throughout their college careers.

Our degree is flexible, and to that end, you can pursue opportunities on stage as you desire.

You’ll have opportunities to perform faculty, student and guest artist choreography for appreciative audiences, both large and intimate.

While you master your craft with our dedicated and decorated faculty, we’ll enhance your education with guest artist residences, invite you to audition to learn the work of acclaimed guest choreographers and share performances by world-class companies with you.

In recent years, our students have enjoyed masterclasses in our spaces with Lane Alexander, Monica Bill Barnes, Sidra Bell, Mark Dendy, Michelle Dorrance, Irene Dowd, Mark Haim, Ellie Lazar, Gene Medler, Mia Michaels, Eddie Ocampo, Nick Pupillo, Robert Small, Colleen Thomas, Doug Varone, Edward Villela and Bill Young.

Recently, David Dorfman, Frank Chavez, Roni Koresh and David Parsons set their choreography on ECU dancers. We took the work to our mainstage and to national conferences.

In addition to performances produced by the School of Theatre and Dance, the College’s S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series remains committed to presenting contemporary dance companies in residence, with the long-term support of South Arts’ Dance Touring Initiative. In recent years, the series has presented performances by Ballet Memphis, Bodytraffic, David Dorfman Dance, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Dorrance Dance, Doug Varone and Dancers, Parsons Dance Company, Philadanco, River North Dance Chicago, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence: A Dance Company and Urban Bushwomen.

Student experiences

Our students are active in the East Carolina Dance Educators club, which hosts masterclasses and conducts service projects. You’ll be involved in practicum experiences prior to your student teaching experience, so you’ll be able to test the theories and strategies learned in class in an authentic environment. Students work frequently at Wahl-Coates Elementary, an arts magnet school located one mile from campus, to test guided lesson plans that, over the course of a semester, shift from professor-directed to student-led.

Students attend National Dance Education Organization and North Carolina Dance Education Organization conferences, as well as those of the American College Dance Association.

In the last several years, dancers have won Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity awards to support new choreography, multimedia performance and community-engaged work in alternative venues. Dancers use state-of-the-art equipment to learn about the human body in motion at ECU’s Innovation Design Lab and have the opportunity to study dance science and technique in London through our unique partnership with Trinity Laban Conservatoire, all while immersing yourself in the history and culture of vibrant European cities.


How do I learn more about the program?

Contact Marissa Nesbit at or 252-328-6325.


Teal Darkenwald, modern, jazz

John Dixon, modern

Tommi Galaska, jazz

Jayme Klinger Host, modern, dance history, Director School of Theatre and Dance

David Ingram, ballet

Dirk Lumbard, tap

Galina Panova, ballet

Marissa Nesbit, dance education/dance area coordinator

Important Note to Residents Outside of North Carolina:

Admission of applicants outside the State of North Carolina to an online degree, certificate or individual online course offered by East Carolina University, is dependent on ECU’s ability to secure authorization from the applicant’s state of residence, if such authorization is required.

East Carolina University delivers online education programs and courses throughout the United States and internationally. All programs have been approved by the University of North Carolina General Administration. Many states have prescribed an authorization process for out-of-state institutions delivering online programs to its state residents to ensure quality post-secondary education, to preserve the integrity of an academic degree, and to instill greater consumer protection for its student citizens.

East Carolina University has taken steps to protect its students and programs through nationwide compliance by participating in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA); obtaining authorization, approval, exemptions and waivers; or confirming that East Carolina University can operate without such authorization because the state’s laws do not pertain to a public institution, to an accredited institution, or to the ECU’s activities in that state.

On November 14, 2016, East Carolina University was approved by to participate in NC-SARA which is a voluntary, regional/national approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. Institutions that participate in SARA are authorized to provide online education to students from all SARA member states.  States and institutions that choose to become members of or participate in SARA operate under a set of policies and standards overseen by SARA and administered by the four nationally recognized regional higher education compacts.

ECU cannot confirm whether any of its courses or programs meet requirements for professional licensure outside of the State of North Carolina. ECU strongly encourages students to contact applicable licensing boards in states they wish to pursue licensure prior to seeking admission or beginning study in an academic program.

Professional Licensure Disclosure Statement:

All applicable ECU academic programs prepare students to sit for licensure in North Carolina.  In order to comply with U.S. Department of Education regulations regarding distance education and professional licensure ECU is required to make the following disclosure with respect to professional licensure outside the state of North Carolina.  ECU cannot confirm whether a particular program meets requirements for professional licensure outside of the State of North Carolina.  Please contact applicable licensure board(s) in any state you may want to pursue licensure prior to beginning the academic program in order to determine whether the program meets licensure requirements. It is the student’s responsibility to confirm program eligibility for licensure in any state outside North Carolina.

Upon successful completion of educator preparation program degree requirements and licensure requirements for the State of North Carolina, such as, but not limited to, testing and national assessments, candidates will be eligible for an ECU recommendation for an NC license.  However, final licensure granting decisions are the sole responsibility of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, not ECU. Candidates who graduate and seek out of state employment will have to meet the receiving state’s requirements for licensure. There is no automatic licensure reciprocity between states. ECU will verify the completion of an approved, accredited program for candidates who seek employment out of state, and those candidates will be responsible for working with the receiving state to complete any additional requirements needed to obtain the license for employment.