A History of Innovation

Dale Chihuly’s glass art sculpture “The Mendota Wall” in the Kohl Center foyer.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is home to the first university dance major ever created over 90 years ago. We were also the first university in the nation to host an artist in residence (John Steuart Curry, 1936), and the first to appoint a musician as artist in residence (Gunnar Johansen, 1939). In 1999, the Division of the Arts created the semester-long Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program with Nick Cave as our first artist and have hosted over 35 well-known artists since then.

In 2007, the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community, a cutting-edge multicultural artistic program for incoming students, was born. The program offers a four-year full tuition scholarship to UW–Madison. Since its inception it has attracted diverse, talented student from communities across the country to develop their individual art forms while pursuing degrees in any chosen field.

Some of our notable alumni include:

For many more, visit the Wisconsin Alumni Association page.

“I was really attracted to the history and tradition of [the Dance Department] and the sense of legacy. I just felt there was greatness within the walls of Lathrop and I wanted to be a part of it.”
– Tiffany Merritt-Brown (BFA Dance, 2016)

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