Loyola University Chicago


Department of Fine and Performing Arts


Loyola’s Dance Minor is Cultivating Community Through Artistic Excellence

Loyola’s Dance Minor is Cultivating Community Through Artistic Excellence

Mari Jo Barker leading Jazz dance students during class at the Ralph Arnold Fine Arts Annex, Photo by the Loyola DFPA

Loyola University Chicago’s College of Arts and Sciences offers 68 minors, but the Dance Minor stands out because of its unique holistic approach to arts education. The 18-credit hour curriculm combines applied technique courses with foundations courses that enrich students’ understanding of dance theories and provide contemporary context. Dance minors perform every semester in the Dance Informance, in addition to ample other performance opportunities including the Dance Composition Showcase, Student Research projects, involvement in Loyola’s Dance Honor Society, and the Dance Minor piece choreographed annually by Instructor of Dance and Dance Minor Advisor Mari Jo Irbe Barker. 

Barker praises the minor’s customizable curriculum, noting that a student “has the flexibility to set one’s schedule over the course of four years to easily achieve the dance minor.” Whether a student seeks to continue their dance training in a specific discipline such as ballet, modern, jazz, or are beginning their dance journey in college, Loyola’s diverse class offerings support dancers of all levels. The foundations courses can also strengthen interdisciplinary connections. For instance, courses such as Dance Kinesiology “may help the student decide to become a physical therapist by deepening their understanding of the anatomy of the body in motion” shares Barker. 

Mari Jo working with a student in rehearsal, Emma Peteresen Photography 

Reinforced by small class sizes and the collaborative nature of dance, the minor supports deep connections between fellow students and faculty. Current dance minor Grace Bates (‘24, B.S. Anthropology) commends Mari Jo and her experience in Jazz III, sharing “Mari Jo transformed my relationship to jazz dance and has helped me come to know myself better as a dancer. Through specific feedback and movement meant to assist in style development, I feel that my dancing has improved immensely though the years.” For anyone looking for an opportunity to keep dancing and expand their understanding of dance beyond the studio walls, alumni Milla Metlicka (‘23, Cognitive/Behavioral Neuroscience B.S., Dance minor) encourages students to give it a chance and says, “I met my closest friends from college in dance classes.”


Ballet students performing in a previous Spring Dance Informance. Photo by Hannah Foster