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. We were the first college in the nation to host an artist in residence (John Steuart Curry, 1936). We were also 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. Nick Cave introduced the program as our first artist, and we have hosted over 40 well-known artists since.

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

Some of our notable alumni include:

For more notable alumni in the arts, 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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