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Director, School of Dance

The University of Arizona
Arizona, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Posted Date
Dec 29, 2021

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Position Type
Executive, Executive Directors
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
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The University of Arizona
Director, School of Dance

Position: Director, School of Dance
The University of Arizona (UArizona)
Location: Tucson, AZ
Reporting Relationship: Dean, College of Fine Arts & Vice President for the Arts

The Opportunity
The University of Arizona (UArizona) invites nominations and applications for a strategic, visionary, and collaborative leader to assume the role and responsibilities of Director for its School of Dance. Reporting to the Dean of the College of Fine Arts/Vice President for the Arts, the Director will serve as the administrative and artistic leader of the school and work collaboratively with other leaders in the College of Fine Arts, Arizona Arts, and the University to advance the quality and reputation of the School of Dance, the arts, and the University more broadly.

The Arts at the University of Arizona
The UArizona strategic plan, adopted November 2018, includes an ambitious and far-ranging arts initiative. “Making the Arts Central to the UArizona Experience” calls for “integrating the arts throughout the university experience and beyond” to “ensure that all students, regardless of major, have the opportunity for meaningful experiences in the arts and that the arts play an essential role in realizing the University of Arizona’s land-grant mission. These land-grant values will be carried beyond the campus as part of our identity in the work that alumni, faculty, staff, and the broader community do to realize transformative impact in the world.”

To carry out this ambitious agenda, the university created Arizona Arts. Launched in July 2019, this new division brings together the highly regarded academic units of College of Fine Arts—the Schools of Dance; Art; Music; and Theatre, Film and Television—with the University’s world-class arts presenting/engagement units. These include the Center for Creative Photography, the University of Arizona Museum of Art, Arizona Arts Live, and Arizona Arts in Schools. This groundbreaking integration of academic and non-academic units provides a platform through which to elevate the arts and maximize their impact.

UArizona and Arizona Arts seek to educate, inspire, and connect. Their distinctive location in the Sonoran Desert provides a rich context for rigorous engagement with the arts. Tucson’s confluence of cultures, its stunning topography, its vibrant arts communities, and its geographic position as a borderland coalesce to provide students and faculty an unparalleled context for exploring issues of global resonance.

Visit to learn more about the Arizona Arts and the arts initiative.

The University of Arizona
Ranked as one of the nation's top 40 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report, the University of Arizona (UArizona) is a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools. Established in 1885, the University is widely recognized as a student-centric university and is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education. As a leading Research 1 (R1) institution with $734 million in annual research expenditures, UArizona ranked in the top 20 in research expenditures among all public universities in 2019, according to the National Science Foundation. The University advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 66 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually.

UArizona offers students a wide range of activities and academic opportunities, with the University regularly recognized for its outstanding educational programs and exceptional value. Students collaborate with leading faculty to solve critical problems and make the world better through ground-breaking discovery. Whether leading space missions with NASA, discovering better ways to feed the planet, or exploring new forms of creativity and artistic expression, students receive preparation from UArizona for a rapidly changing world through a hands-on approach to learning.

As an R1 research institution, both undergraduate and graduate students participate in research projects at UArizona. The University boasts a wide range of graduate programs, including the Eller College of Management, the James E. Rogers College of Law, the College of Medicine, and, of course, the School of Dance for students to further their education. The student-faculty ratio at UArizona is 15:1, and the school has 35.8% of its classes with fewer than 20 students. UArizona currently boasts more than 300 majors and almost 47,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. 

UArizona's campus is in the heart of sunny Tucson, Arizona, a city that offers the Sonoran Desert's rich culture and breathtaking landscapes. In U.S. News and World Report's 2022 rankings, UArizona was ranked #103 in national universities, #62 in best colleges for veterans, and #122 in best value schools. 

Located on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples, the University takes its commitment to diversity and inclusion seriously. Arizona is home to 22 federally recognized tribes and strives to build sustainable relationships with sovereign Native Nations and Indigenous communities through education offerings, partnerships, and community service. The University was the first four-year public university in Arizona to be federally recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution. UArizona is proud to be comprised of and educate a diverse student body.

The School of Dance
The School of Dance has evolved from a physical education course in the 1970s, to a “Committee on Dance”—with 29 students studying ballet and modern dance in 1987—and then to a dance department in 1995 with 100 majors, five studios, and an increase of staff and faculty. That same year, dance was recognized as University of Arizona’s top undergraduate program. In 2003, following a successful fundraising campaign, the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre was built. The $9 million center—designed specifically for dance—has earned three awards from the American Institute of Architects and was listed as one of Arizona’s top 10 “Architectural Achievements.” In 2005, the dance department achieved school status, making it one of the few schools of dance in the country. 

The School of Dance (2021)
From its foundation as a physical education course in the mid-1970s, The University of Arizona’s School of Dance has grown into a nationally recognized dance program. Under the creative tutelage of Jory Hancock and Melissa Lowe, the program grew from a department within the School of Music to its current independent form as the School of Dance. The School of Dance is now one of four professional schools within UArizona’s College of Fine Arts—which is comprised of Art; Dance; Music; and Theatre, Film and Television. The four schools share the mission of preparing students to create, to teach, to participate in, to understand, and to value the arts. Offering an undergraduate (BFA) and graduate (MFA) degree in Fine Arts, the School provides rigorous professional training within the context of a comprehensive R1 University. The program offers studies in the art, teaching, and analysis of dance. It is repeatedly ranked in the top 100 dance programs in the nation. The student body is comprised of 165 undergraduate and 10 graduate students from the U.S. and around the globe. With collaboration being common across the institution, over 30% of dance majors double major or pursue a minor in other disciplines including health and wellness, business, and sports medicine.

The dance curriculum offers technique in ballet, jazz dance, modern dance, and choreography as well as ample performing experience. The School of Dance is known for its focus on repertory and performance elements as well as its “triple-track” undergraduate curriculum with equal emphasis on ballet, modern, and jazz. Tap, African dance, hip-hop, choreography, and improvisation classes are also available. The undergraduate program offers an emphasis in one or two areas during junior and senior years.

The School is proud to maintain an approximate 3:1 ratio of women to men: one of the highest ratios of gender diversity in a university dance setting in the U.S. This gender diversity allows for strong partnering experiences and eliminates the need for UArizona to be selective in choosing its performances based on the number of male dancers required by the choreography. The School also boasts significant collaboration and partnership between the BFA and MFA student body. Serving this student body are 16 faculty, 12 dance and production staff, an athletic trainer, a wardrobe supervisor, and several graduate and undergraduate student workers. This faculty and staff are dedicated to the success of the School of Dance and to ensuring the best possible opportunity for students to achieve career aspirations.

UArizona boasts an extraordinary number of performances (five productions and 40 performances) during its September through May season. Performances take place in the School’s own architecturally renowned theatre: the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre. The 29,000 square foot complex houses a 300-seat theatre with spacious stage, full-fly system, and full orchestra pit. Performances, well attended by a large base of deeply committed patrons, are supported by a costume shop, scene shop, Pilates studio, and ample dressing rooms. The theatre’s design—an integration of art, movement, and architecture—features second-story studios surrounded by glass.

UArizona School of Dance program’s recent accolades include being ranked:

  • #2 in College Gazette’s ranking of Best College Dance Programs among public institutions.
  • #7 in College Gazette’s ranking of “10 Best Colleges for Dance Performance.
  • #10 nationally for Top Colleges for Dance 2020 from College Magazine.
  • Among the top 30 Best College Dance Programs in the 2019-2020 rankings and #9 overall in the 2018-2019 rankings from OnStage (and #2 among public universities). OnStage ranks degree-granting institutions based on facility quality, cost/scholarship opportunities, faculty quality, admissions/auditions/selectivity, performance opportunities, curriculum quality, and career and alumni support.
  • Among Backstage’s “10 College Dance Programs You Should Know.” Backstage serves as a resource for actors and performers seeking employment and career advice, as well as casting professionals and talent seekers looking to find performers for their projects.
  • Among’s best degree-awarding college dance programs for 2020-2021. is the leading portal for dance professionals, learners, and enthusiasts. 

The School of Dance also sets itself apart by its focus on student health. Dance students enjoy direct access to the on-campus Sports Medicine team. This includes daily on-site access to services in the dance athletic training room by a licensed athletic trainer who specializes in dance-related care and injury prevention. During athletic training visits, dancers receive evaluation and treatment of any musculoskeletal concerns that arise. Visits may include soft tissue work, tailored exercises for the rehabilitation of their specific injury, and dance-specific taping and modalities as needed. Pre-performance treatments are also available to dancers.

UArizona’s commitment to its School of Dance students doesn’t stop there. Its various initiatives are dedicated to preparing students for life after graduation. For example, students work with faculty and guest artists on original works—within an impressive range of repertory—each semester, affording dancers a better idea of their career goals; rehearsals always operate in a professional setting; the performance schedule and academic rigor of the program mimics a company season; and students are exposed to career preparation as well as how to work with musicians and technical production skills. From this foundation, many students transition directly from graduation into varied careers with world-renowned dance companies; casts of productions on Broadway, in Las Vegas, or with vocal artists; Cirque Du Soleil; and/or teaching careers in universities, colleges, dance schools, and K-12 education.

Position Summary
UArizona seeks a deeply passionate and progressive leader to guide the School of Dance into its next chapter, employing strategy and innovation while acknowledging and incorporating its rich history. With a deep respect for the legacy of the School of Dance, the Director will have a keen awareness of emerging trends and new opportunities for the ultimate benefit of the School of Dance and for the University as a whole. The next Director will utilize their significant knowledge of the industry, innovative mindset, and passion for dance to craft and execute a strategy for the success of UArizona’s School of Dance for generations to come.

This leader will possess demonstrated excellence in a professional capacity within the dance industry and a track record in stakeholder interaction across a wide variety of individuals and sectors. This reputation will further the School’s standing and promote continued interest from prospective students, faculty, staff, and the community. 

The next Director will possess experience operating in an academic or similarly complex and interdisciplinary environment, financial and operational acumen, staff management experience, and a competency for building relationships and garnering stakeholder and donor support. They will endeavor to engage students, alumni, donors, and other constituents to benefit the growth, reputation, and revenue generation efforts of the School of Dance. They will have a record of inclusive excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, a dedication to encourage outstanding interdisciplinary research, and an ability to promote the School of Dance externally to develop diversified funding opportunities, industry partnerships, and increase philanthropic support to further benefit the School. They will build strong, lifelong relationships with University and School constituents, match donors' interests with the School’s needs and priorities, and secure the financial resources necessary for UArizona’s School of Dance to achieve excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship.

UArizona seeks a collaborative leader possessing superior communication skills; a demonstrated commitment to building, mentoring, motivating, and maintaining a culturally competent and diverse faculty and staff; and an ability to represent the School of Dance effectively to university leadership.

Key Responsibilities
The next Director will create and sustain excellence in the integrated areas of teaching, research/creative activity, and service. They will work collaboratively across and within the leadership structure of the College of Fine Arts, Arizona Arts, and the University. The Director will champion the School of Dance while also being willing to prioritize the interests of other Schools for the advancement of broader organizational objectives.

Ushering in the next era of UArizona’s dance program, the Director will chart a new course for dance education, scholarship, and research, which will—in turn—promote prospective student interest, engagement, and recruitment. With the goal of enhancing the reputation of the School and the University as a whole, the Director will identify transformational opportunities for artistic exploration and professional growth among students, faculty, and staff; for interdisciplinary collaboration; and for new and innovative curricula. This leader will act as the spokesperson for the School of Dance and will play a critical role in advancement and fundraising for the program and will be additionally responsible for supporting the larger division of Arizona Arts.

As the administrative leader of the School of Dance, the Director will oversee the business affairs of the School in relation to curriculum design and development; overall strategy; budget planning and execution; fiscal stewardship; philanthropic development; operations and facilities management; and all activities related to personnel policy and its effective implementation, including hiring, mentoring, and supervising staff. 

The ideal candidate will have extensive knowledge of—and endless passion for—the historical traditions and evolving trends of the field of dance. They will possess a record of advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in dance and will lead by example, leveraging their people and relationship management skills and experiences to move the School of Dance forward in a meaningful and impactful way.

First Year Opportunities and Success Factors

  • Adopt an immersive, listen-first approach to understanding and identifying strengths, challenges, and opportunities for growth for the School of Dance.
  • Lead in the integration of the School of Dance into the new division of Arizona Arts.
  • Inspire further collaboration and University-wide perspective across School of Dance focusing on engagement with key stakeholders.
  • Ensure the School of Dance continues to integrate itself into the larger university conversation.
  • Develop partnerships with other schools and presenting units in Arizona Arts, and beyond, to enhance overall excellence in teaching, research, and service.
  • Devise and implement strategies to foster collaboration, cohesion, and a demonstrated sense of shared purpose across the faculty and programs that comprise the school.
  • Work with faculty, staff, and students/administration to develop innovative curricular offerings and recruitment strategies to attract top students.
  • Promote a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion that includes recruiting, mentoring, and retaining faculty, staff, and students from underrepresented populations.
  • Continue to expand fundraising efforts to meet current and future needs of the School of Dance, its student body, faculty, staff, and programs.
  • Partner with the Dean, administrative leaders within the Arizona Arts division, and other university leadership as well as members of the development function to build relationships and increase awareness of UArizona’s School of Dance on and off campus.

Key Relationships

  • Reports to:
    • Dean, College of Fine Arts
  • Direct Reports:
    • Faculty, Lecturers, and Instructors of Dance
    • Dance and Production Staff
    • Athletic Trainer
    • Director, Costume Shop
    • Graduate and Undergraduate Student Workers
  • The Dance Advisory Board
  • The international, national, and local dance community
  • The local (Tucson) and state communities

Qualifications & Characteristics

  • Candidates should demonstrate a combination of academic accomplishments and/or career experience sufficient to qualify for appointment as full professor in either the tenure-track or practice systems at the University of Arizona.
  • Accomplished reputation in dance (either within a university setting, a professional company, and/or another complex creative organization).
  • A proven track record of administrative and artistic director experience in a university or an equally complex organization.
  • A track record of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion and an ability to engage diverse stakeholders across academic leaders, the dance community, prospective and existing students, the Dance Advisory Board, and the Tucson/broader Arizona community.
  • A track record in creating and implementing strategic plans reflective of—or translatable to—a respected, globally ranked, and innovative institution such as UArizona’s School of Dance.
  • Accomplished financial and budgetary oversight. An ability to represent the School of Dance to University leadership within financial and budgetary conversations.
  • National/International record of scholarly or creative leadership, specifically in the field of dance.
  • An advanced understanding of choreography and the interplay between all aspects of dance to serve as the School of Dance’s Artistic Director.
  • Success in fundraising and development and/or experience working with complex budget models and revenue streams.
  • A lifelong learner committed to the assistance and ultimate success of future generations of dancers.
  • High degrees of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, warmth, approachability, and humility.
  • An adaptable, nimble, and flexible leadership style to ensure the success of UArizona’s School of Dance.


  • A terminal degree (PhD or MFA) in a discipline related to dance is required.


  • A competitive compensation package will be offered to the finalist candidate.

Application Process

  • Interested and qualified candidates are welcome to submit a formal application (inclusive of CV and Letter of Interest) to



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