Dance at record enrollment

Freshman general studies major with a concentration in dance Madeline Aldana performed in “Cornered,” which was choreographed by Amber Whiteside as part of the Dance Performance Project’s “The Movement Project.” File Photo/The Lion’s Roar

The dance program has reached record enrollment with some classes filling up past full capacity according to Director of Dance Keith “Skip” Costa. Costa credited the growth during his five years on staff to marketing and branding the program.

Costa believes his experience prior to joining the staff at the university has helped him build the program.

“My specific expertise of what I’ve found along the way, through New York and all my other experiences, then coming back here and building a layer one by one and addressing the students needs, their passions about being a dance major,” said Costa. 

The program has seen a growth in both general studies with a concentration in dance majors as well as dance minors according to Costa.

“Our minors have grown to 30,” said Costa. “You can get the minor in 18 hours instead of 29, I think it was when I came here. We had to do a couple things to go down to the lower 20s, I think 21. Then we had to reduce it again, which worked out perfectly because some of our minors are getting their minors in two and a half years. It’s perfect.”

Costa credited his students in the growth by word-of-mouth marketing.

“I think because the momentum has started with people wanting to be invested in the program and being very professional in trying to get information out of the program, that spawned all this extra interest,” said Costa. “The students speaking about the courses. Coming to our concerts. Our concerts are growing in attendance now. I think it’s just evolved to this point.”

According to Costa, the dance program at the university is centered around contemporary dance and emphasizes choreography as a discipline.

“There’s a lot more people interested in doing choreography,” said Costa. “Last year, our choreography class was completely full. I had to make some overloads just to get them in. I felt the same way about this year. There comes a point where you have to put a cap on it. The philosophy of Southeastern, across the board, is small classes that cater to the students. So, it has to be in every discipline. I’m trying to follow that and be able to give the corrections and information that we need that students deserve.”

Costa is hopeful that the recent enrollment statistics will foster a change from the administration.

“We have one person on staff, that’s myself,” said Costa. “Director and full-time instructor, and I’m teaching a multitude of classes, of which a lot of them are overloaded, and I’m still registering people for term II. Even though we’re at max, we’re still getting them in there. I think it’s a great move, and it shows the university that the students really want this program. They want to be invested in it. Numbers and figures always make sense, especially to the administration.”

A change Costa would welcome is the addition of another faculty member.

“I am predicting that it will continue to just grow,” said Costa. “In the fall, the courses that I teach will be full. We also have a guest artist, adjunct faculty or lecturer, that comes in. I’ve done it in the fall in term II. It adds to the philosophy of contemporary program, and we do contemporary ballet.”

Costa believes having multiple instructors will help broaden the students’ minds.

“I’m hoping that position remains solid and we can keep filling it with guest artists so that students have an influence from other people’s thoughts and ideas coming in. So that they can still get a program that’s more well-rounded,” said Costa.

Costa’s ultimate goal is for the university to offer a bachelor’s degree in fine arts for dance.

“I think a shift to a BFA would be incredible to give them a more well-rounded sense of all styles but contributing to the core of what we do here, which is contemporary dance,” said Costa. “I think it would be an influence of people around the area coming to this university, specifically for that rather than going to other schools within the UL System or going out of state.”