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In 1949, Texas Christian University became the first university in the United States to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Ballet. Under the guidance of David Preston, Chair from 1949-1963, the department established its mission to balance dance training with academic achievement.


The department's second chair, Fernando Schaffenburg, was driven to broaden student expertise through diverse experience. In 1968 Schaffenburg invited Jerry Bywaters Cochran to join the faculty to create a BFA in Modern Dance. By 1976, a Master of Fine Arts in both Ballet and Modern Dance was added to the curriculum. In the 1980s the department continued to grow under the leadership of chairs Stephanie Woods Rand and James Clouser.


Emeritus Associate Professor, Ellen Page Shelton, continued the legacy of excellence in both classical and contemporary dance studies at TCU when, in 1990, she became Chair, and later Director for the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance.  She supported curriculum revisions and programatic expansion, and she oversaw the multi-stage process of review and accreditation for the SCCD by the National Association of Schools of Dance.  She also forged a long term choreographer-in-residence position for international ballet superstar Fernando Bujones.


In 2011, Director Shelton coordinated the complete renovation of the state-of-the-art home for dance, Erma Lowe Hall, and in 2014 she forged an important affiliation with Texas Health/Ben Hogan Sports Medicine to provide daily, on-site physical therapy and assessment services to dance majors.  Director Shelton retired in 2015 after decades of service to dance at TCU, the region and the nation.  


The current faculty strives to bring depth to a growing program by blending artistic integrity and technical excellence with academic challenge. Comprehensive and progressive, the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance at TCU is rewarded with a national reputation for graduating dancers who possess excellence in both professional dance training and scholarly success. As a result, graduates enter the world as educated dance artists.


Maggie Moar Sapp, Nancy Schaffenburg
(seated l-r), Victor Moreno, Jerry Bywaters
Cochran, Fernando Schaffenburg.
David Preston