Program and Philosophy

The Saint Mary's School Dance Program was established in 1938 and continues a legacy of giving girls the chance to explore and develop their creative and expressive potential through the study of dance.

At the core of Saint Mary’s School dance program is solid technical training in ballet and modern. In addition, a range of dance and movement classes combine to create an extensive program encouraging creative exploration and supporting physical and mental wellness. Performance opportunities are also a key component of dance at Saint Mary’s. Orchesis Dance Theatre, Saint Mary’s invitation-only dance company performs twice a year in historic Pittman Auditorium. A professional and experienced dance faculty provides exceptional training at every level.

Saint Mary’s dance program is designed to build a student's confidence, teach responsibility, develop expressive communication, foster an ability to work independently and collaboratively.

Choice is built into the scheduling of classes, allowing students to craft a schedule that best works for them. All dance classes are scheduled beginning at 3:15 p.m. daily, and fulfill the Saint Mary's School Visual and Performing Arts and elective requirement, as well as the PLUS program requirements.

Students receive an arts or elective credit for all dance courses, fulfilling Saint Mary's graduation requirements. For the most serious dance student Honors Orchesis is offered. This is a performance course available to the technically proficient student who has demonstrated an accomplished level of technique, a clear and active understanding of responsibility and communication, shows a committed desire to further their understanding of dance, and meets the specific dance requirements outlined in the honors criteria.

Saint Mary’s School has a long history of providing dance instruction dating back to 1938 when Jane Goss brought modern dance to the campus. All core dance students, (those serious about committing time to dance study at Saint Mary's), study both modern and ballet technique. Saint Mary’s dance faculty strongly support the core foundation both disciplines provide. For the student who wants to dabble in dance, the program’s structure allows for choice and reduced time involvement. This has traditionally worked well for Saint Mary's athletes who want to participate in both dance and sports.

Dance classes are conducted in one of three dance studios. All studios are equipped with sprung floor systems, “marley” covered surfaces and mirrored walls. When possible, modern dance technique classes are accompanied by a professional dance accompanist. Dance students are able to participate in master classes offered by area guest artists in disciplines such as jazz, hip-hop, ballet, modern, yoga, African, Indian, as well as general conditioning, kinesiology, nutrition and aerobics.

Saint Mary's School Dance Program strives to give any interested student an opportunity to dance - from a curious beginner to a serious advanced student. The program supports an overall physical and mental wellness of the student through its extensive course offerings.

The program's dedication to excellence and personal achievement supports the school's mission "to prepare young women for college and life.” The dance faculty at Saint Mary's are dance artists who are not only experienced educators, but who also have significant professional performing experience.

The Saint Mary's dance faculty know and appreciate that the benefits of dance go much further than the visible physical expression. The dance program at Saint Mary’s is designed to build a student's confidence, teach responsibility, develop expressive communication and foster an ability to work independently and collaborative. Dance also improves one’s physical and mental health, while promoting an overall understanding of one’s self and nurturing the need for creative expression. For those students wishing to pursue dance in a college or university, the dance program at Saint Mary’s offers a thorough and layered dance experience which prepares them for successful future study.

Finally, providing the opportunity for students to be confident, creative and expressive individuals, the Saint Mary's School Dance Program remains committed to establishing and nurturing a lifelong love for the art of dance either as an observer or a participant.

Saint Mary’s Dance Program 2017-2018 course offerings:
  • Elementary Ballet
  • Elementary Modern
  • Intermediate Ballet
  • Intermediate Modern
  • Advanced Ballet
  • Pointe
  • Advanced Modern
  • Dance Composition
  • Contemporary Ballet
  • Jazz
  • Hip Hop
  • Orchesis DanceTheatre
  • Honors Orchesis Dance Theatre

Pointe is offered for upper-level ballet students who come to Saint Mary's with pointe experience. Tap and other genres of dance may be offered as a series of master classes.