Tap into TAPS and other student groups for dance opportunities

Sept. 28, 2019, 1:30 a.m.

Freshmen frenzy

As a freshman at Stanford, I remember not knowing where to start when getting into the dance scene. Luckily I found an amazing community in Cardinal Ballet Company and had the privilege of meeting various faculty and students of the dance community through Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS) classes I took for credit. Whether you are a dance fanatic like me or you have never danced in your life, dance at Stanford is for you! 

Figuring out how to be a part of the dance community can be daunting. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to start, from the myriad classes and performance opportunities offered by TAPS faculty to the over 33 dance groups on campus. 

So I’m here today to breakdown some ways you can get involved in dance on campus!

No dance experience, no worries

Even if you have never stepped foot in a dance studio before, you can still find your place in the Stanford dance scene.  

Dance classes, studio practices and productions are held by the TAPS department. Stanford has a host of beginner TAPS dance classes you can enroll in, ranging from introductions to ballet (DANCE 48) and hip hop (DANCE 58) to social dance (DANCE 46) and a class you can just be a hot mess in (DANCE 123). Beyond dance as practice, TAPS offers means to explore dance through varied lenses — politically, culturally and theatrically. TAPS 20N: “Prisons and Performance” requires no background in the arts and investigates the use of theater and dance to affect social change and personal transformation among prison inmates. 

Outside of the department, there are many non-audition extracurricular student groups that offer students a welcoming space to move and mess up and learn. Many begin their dance journeys in Common Origins, the only non-audition hip hop group. Other non-audition groups include Stanford’s competitive Kpop team XTRM and Latin dance group Ritmo. See a comprehensive list of student dance groups and their hyperlinked information at the end. 

As you can see, there are a variety of dance classes and performance projects offered every quarter, including ballet, contemporary, modern, social dance and hip hop. If you can’t choose between styles, you can take DANCE 106: “Stanford Dance Community: Inter-Style Choreography Workshop,” where you sample a different dance style each class. The TAPS department allows students to pursue a variety of ways to choreograph, perform and collaborate. On top of courses and faculty performances, TAPS hosts the Bay Area Dance Exchange (BADE),  where dancers from peer institutions meet for an all-day immersion in masterclasses and workshops taught by some of the best dance teaching artists in the Bay Area. 

In terms of student groups, you will find countless styles of dance from hip hop (Dv8, Legacy, Alliance, Common Origins) and social (Cardinal West Coast Swing, Ballroom Dance at Stanford) to tap (Tapthat) and contemporary (Urban Styles, Chocolate Heads with Aleta Hayes) to cultural (Stanford Chinese Dance, Bhangra, Mua Lac Hong). 

While I have only listed a few, there are many more to choose from. Often, dance groups of the same genre will have different styles to their movement quality, so you can find which group you best fit into. 

You may be thinking, “Okay, maybe I’m not quite ready to step into the studio, but I would love to watch dance!” Luckily for you, Stanford has a multitude of dance performances put on by faculty and students alike. For example, this year’s upcoming Fall Mainstage Production “REVIVAL: Millennial Remembering in the Afro NOW” is an Afro-Futurist-inspired dance theater work that explores the people and events that have catalyzed movements for social change through time.

You will be able to find dance performances held by different dance groups each quarter. Often, various groups will stage guest performances so you can see a host of styles and groups in one show. For instance, in the hip hop scene, there is a large show put on by a different group each quarter. Fall Quarter has “Breaking Ground” by Common Origins, Winter Quarter has “EnCounter Culture” by dv8 and Spring Quarter has “Hipnotized” by Alliance.

One of the biggest dance events is the Stanford Viennese Ball, a Stanford tradition with social dancing, live music, performances and live contests with opportunities for volunteering, planning and performing. And the annual holiday performance of “The Nutcracker” put on by Cardinal Ballet Company attracts audience members on and off campus. 

There are so many ways to get involved in dance and dance-making on campus. Dance is a way to move, to create, to destress, and to be unapologetically you. Stanford asks you to dance. 


To stay connected with the general Stanford dance community and be updated on events and auditions, join the Stanford dance community Facebook group! 

Get on the list server for “DanceNews,” a dance-specific email for Stanford students. 

Browse this list of student dance groups and more.

Find more info about TAPS dance faculty, events, auditions, open dance masterclasses, lectures and performances and check the TAPS website weekly for new dance information.

Contact Leilani Tian at leilanit ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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