History & Mission

Our faculty and staff are committed to creating an inclusive, student-centered community where you will discover educational pathways that reflect and expand upon your creative potential, intellectual curiosity and career aspirations. We offer a holistic approach to the study of dance that integrates coursework in dance history and ethnography, dance science, design and production, and pedagogy with dance-making, physical training, and an array of immersive creative and research opportunities. Through these experiences, our faculty seeks to equip each of our graduates with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to engage in the dynamic field of dance and to contribute to its vitality as artists, scholars, educators, and advocates.

CSULB was the first university within the California State University system to offer a B.A. in Dance degree.  Today it is the only CSU campus to grant the Master of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts (professional degrees), as well as a Master of Arts degree specifically designed for dance educators.  CSULB Dance has enjoyed steady growth since its inception in 1970 and has approximately 160 undergraduate dance majors, 10 M.A. candidates, and 6 M.F.A. candidates.  Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD) since 1982, CSULB Dance is a community of engaged practitioners/scholars. Working alongside Department Chair, Colleen Dunagan, the full-time faculty includes Tsiambwom Akuchu, Zakiya Atkinson, Rebecca Bryant, Keith Johnson, Lorin Johnson, Rebecca Lemme, Danzel Thompson-Stout, Andrew Vaca, and Brooke Winder. Our highly skilled staff and part-time faculty contribute to multiple areas of the undergraduate and graduate curricula:

  • performance
  • technique and somatic practice
  • dance science
  • dance composition
  • lighting and costume design
  • history and ethnology
  • film production and sound design
  • pedagogy

CSULB Dance strives to create well-rounded dancers by offering a diverse curriculum that includes modern/contemporary forms, ballet, street and club dances, jazz, contemporary African dance, tap, dance composition, improvisation, anatomy, physical conditioning & Pilates,  dance history/ethnology, lighting and costuming design, music for dance, pedagogy, and senior capstone courses.  Multiple performance and choreographic opportunities are offered each year including main stage concerts in the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater and several informal studio performances. Master classes and guest artist residencies occur each term to allow students to work closely with renowned teachers and choreographers.  Additionally, there are abundant opportunities to study and view professional dance artists and companies at the many performance venues in the Los Angeles and Orange County area. CSULB Dance also participates annually in the regional festivals of the American College Dance Association and has been selected to perform at the national festival held at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. several times. Active participation in department activities and dance student organizations enhances classroom instruction and brings our community of artists closer. 

CSULB Dance is housed in the 90,000-square-foot Dance Center. Designed specifically for dance instruction and production, the Dance Center includes seven large studios, an instructional classroom, a state-of-the-art dance clinic, a Pilates training facility, a computer and video lab, a large costume design shop, a sound production studio, and the intimate Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater.  Nowhere in the United States will you find a larger or more all-embracing facility dedicated to the study of dance.

CSULB faculty and staff stand in solidarity with our BIPOC students and commit ourselves to creating a space where BIPOC artists are empowered to fulfill their artistic and educational goals. To do so we must first acknowledge that the history of dance in US higher education is rooted in curricula, policies, and practices that have systematically restricted and excluded BIPOC bodies from participation. We commit ourselves to creating policies and procedures that are anti-racist, just, and humane, as we continue the work of creating aesthetic equity in our curriculum, audition practices, and pedagogies.