The Department of Theatre & Dance creates an environment that fosters artistic discipline, exploration, creativity, critical insights and interpersonal communication, and encourages production of student work and involvement in activities ranging from participation in productions to presentation of individual creative work.

In addition to enriching the cultural life of the university community, the department’s creative activities contribute substantially to the practice, appreciation and understanding of theatre and dance both within and beyond the boundaries of the state of Colorado.

The faculty of the Theatre Department at CU Boulder invited me into the work that I would make my life's career. Their invitation, which came in the form of constant encouragement, instruction and guidance, provided the foundation upon which I have built a professional career on Broadway and beyond. My degree in theatre has given me invaluable skills in communication, professional relations, leadership and public speaking, which serve me in my role as a changemaker and representative at the United Nations."

— Hayley Gocha (BA '15)

The Department of Theatre & Dance contains a number of research and performance opportunities in both theatre and dance, supported by world-class faculty, instructors, guest artists and facilities, including two Guggenheim winners, two Fulbright scholars and numerous Kennedy Center Awardees.

The department itself is actively committed to engaging students in the creation, performance and analysis of theatre arts, and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw from for theatre, art and dance direction, choreography and costume design.

The department is especially proud to be the home of the internationally renowned Colorado Shakespeare Festival, one of two university-based groups in the world to have completed the entire canon of 37 plays. Full-scale productions of the Bard's work are presented on campus each summer in the beautiful outdoor setting of the 1,000-seat Mary Rippon Theatre and in the 420-seat indoor theatre. Each year, actors, technicians, directors and designers are selected from national and local auditions to be in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival Company. 

During the academic year, the department offers ten to fifteen productions in its season, with a variety of presentations in drama, musical theatre and dance. In addition, there are many student-choreographed dance concerts and student-directed and designed theatre productions each year. These productions provide invaluable experience and exposure for aspiring performers, choreographers, directors and designers. The department brings in guest artists in both theatre and dance supported by the Roser Visiting Artist Program. Guests in dance are also supported by the Gail Pokoik Visiting Artist fund, and distinguished theatre artists are brought to campus, sponsored by the Roe Green Visiting Theatre Artist Residency. Professional directors, designers, actors, dancers and choreographers are brought to campus to teach classes, offer workshops, direct shows and choreograph dances for theatre and dance majors.

Facilities in support of departmental activities during the academic year include the University Theatre, where major productions are staged in a 420-seat house; the Loft, a theatre offering flexible staging and seating for between 75 and 150 people; the 150-seat Charlotte York Irey Studio Theatre for dance productions; and acting and dance studios. Scene and costume shop facilities accompany these spaces. Students have access to audio and video equipment, as well as a digital audio and video editing lab. 

For the undergraduate students pursuing a degree from the Department of Theatre & Dance and interested in research or scholarly work, there are a number of opportunities beyond just class work:

  • The Department of Theatre and Dance offers numerous off-campus and summer production opportunities. The CU Moving Company and CU Contemporary DanceWorks (graduate students), student-driven dance troupes, tour statewide. The Theatre Outreach Tour travels the state each spring. Students also work regularly with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival as actors, technicians and dramaturgs.
  • Independent studies on focused topics in scholarship and creative work are supported by regular faculty.
  • In addition, dance and theatre students are encouraged to seek training and development opportunities off campus in internships. Each spring, the senior showcase travels to NYC to audition for casting directors and agents.
  • As a theatre or dance major, you should not overlook the opportunity to study abroad during your undergraduate years, as your first-hand experience abroad can give you new insights into the performance of your craft. The university offers over 100 programs around the world. You may spend from a few weeks to a full academic year abroad, depending on the program selected. Credit counts as if you had taken the courses here, sometimes fulfilling core or major requirements. Language study is a prerequisite for participation in many programs, so early planning is essential. Further information about study abroad is available from the Office of International Education, which is located in the Center for Community, 303-492-7741, or on the study abroad website.
  • The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) offers students a chance to work alongside a faculty sponsor on original research. Learn to write proposals, conduct research, pursue creative work, analyze data and present the results. Further information about study abroad is available from Education Abroad, 303-492-7741 or on the education abroad website.

There are CU Boulder alumni working as theatre and dance professionals throughout the country and abroad. Graduates from the Department of Theatre & Dance may elect to pursue a career as full-time actors, playwrights, designers, technicians, directors, choreographers, teachers, and dancers.

Theatre and dance graduates, however, have a broad liberal arts background that is sound preparation for a variety of careers, both related to the arts and otherwise. Those interested in arts-related positions should consider employment opportunities with repertory theatre companies, arts councils, dance troupes, schools, studios, service agencies, local opera groups and community festivals. Other students may decide to go on to professional study in theatre or dance, or to pursue certification in Pilates, Alexander Technique or other body therapies, or to work in areas such as business, law or medicine.

Career Services offers free services for all CU Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation, to help students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work by discussing major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation. 


According to the 2019-20 College Salary Report by PayScale Human Capital:

  • The average expected salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre is $52,000.


Theatre Payscale

The estimated median salaries, as reported on Tableau, for Theatre graduates for 1 to 5, 6 to 10, and over 11 years out from school.


According to the 2019-20 College Salary Report by PayScale Human Capital:

  • The average expected salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in Dance is $51,000.

Dance Payscale

The estimated median salaries, as reported on Tableau, for Dance graduates for 1 to 5, 6 to 10, and over 11 years out from school.

At CU Boulder, Theatre and Dance graduates earn more than the nationwide average of comparable majors as reported by PayScale. CU Boulder alumni in these disciplines earn an estimated annual salary of $79,891 and $66,294, respectively, based on a pool of 383 alumni (both BA, left, and BFA, right, for both) who graduated between 1989 and 2018. But both are lower than the average for all CU Boulder graduates with with a bachelor's degree, according to a survey by Esmi Alumni Insight of 25,000 alumni who graduated during the same stretch.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 2016-2026 job growth for actors will be 12%, compared to the 7% average for all jobs; job growth for dancers and choreographers will be 4%.

The Department of Theatre & Dance has an extensive list of alumni, working and performing in a variety of industries across the globe. Some alumni of the program include:

  • Carolyn D. Miller (BFA Musical Theatre '04) is producer at New York’s Creative Endeavor Office and in 2014 was director of audience engagement for the Broadway show, Allegiance. She is also an associate at New York’s Junkyard Dog Productions (Memphis, First Date, Vanities, Make Me A Song).
  • Stephanie Lee (BA Dance '11) is the co-founder and director of Trybe HK, a contemporary movement and performance space in Hong Kong. The space is the first multidisciplinary movement space in Asia, blending artistic and athletic training for humans of all practices and skill sets.She co-founded the Root & Risk Collective, an dance improvisation and performance art collective of five strong women and recently performed with Movement Research.
  • Millie Heckler (BFA Dance '15) is a lecturer in dance at University of Texas at Austin. She is also assistant choreographer and choreographer’s assistant to Rennie Harris, an original member and principal dancer for Rennie Harris Grass Roots, adjunct dancer for Rennie Harris PureMovement, hustle dance assistant at House Dance International NYC, resident artist at Gibney Dance NYC, a teacher at Millennium Dance Complex Denver, winner of In-The-Rounds Contemporary Dance Battle Colorado and winner of the Urban Renewal All-Styles Street Dance Battle at PMT Studios NYC.
  • Hayley Gocha (BFA '15) was co-chair of the Youth Assembly at the United Nations in 2016 is co-founder of Bee the Change. She is currently an Atlas Corps fellow with the ministry of education in Bogota, Colombia.
  • Anthony Alterio (BA Dance '13) is a choreographer and queer performance artist. Currently on faculty in the Theatre & Dance Department at the University of Kentucky, he explores representations of effeminate gay men in pop culture as part of a larger interest in how dancers present themselves. Anthony has performed and choreographed work at universities and venues in California, Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, and New York. He is also a company member of Interweave Dance Theatre, the resident company of the Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop. Anthony also obtained his MFA in Dance from the University of Michigan in 2016.
  • Chris Parnell (BFA Theatre '98) is co-president of Sony Pictures Television.
  • Danielle Colangelo (BFA Dance '11) most recently finished choreographing for renowned youth theatre, Random Farms Kids Theatre. She is currently the Members Coordinator and Rehearsal Assistant for the Broadway Youth Ensemle as well as a resident Associate Choreographer for The Children's Theatre Company in New York City. Danielle is also a resident choreographer on artistic staff at Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Camp each summer.