Modern Dance

The Colburn Modern Dance Program

This program is a unique offering of foundational modern dance technique.  Beginning at five years of age with Creative Dance and advancing to Modern Dance I, II & III with Horton-based technique, students are working with respected faculty who themselves are experienced teachers and performers. Students acquire strength, physicality, rhythm and proper body alignment as well as celebrating the expressivity of dance. Our Intermediate and Advanced Modern Ensemble students have the additional advantages of learning Cunningham and Graham technique in addition to a variety of repertory.

They also have performing opportunities with our Winter and Spring dance concerts, as well as participating in masterclasses throughout the year. Colburn Dance’s partnership with the Cunningham Trust enables our students to go beyond the technique and learn Merce Cunningham’s works directly from stagers who themselves worked with Merce. An incredible opportunity that expands the dancers understanding of the technique and furthers their artistic development. Colburn Dance is the only dance program on the West Coast offering these opportunities to middle school and high school aged students.

Creative Dance classes combine the mastery of dance skills and vocabulary with creative expression. They can be a transition from Early Childhood movement classes or be a child’s first experience with dance and movement.

In Creative Dance, students learn to invent movement from within their own skills and movement history. They are taught to experiment and try new, unexplored movements that arise from the demands of the moment, enabling them to create, think and respond to a variety of stimuli and prompts.

Students work along, with partners, and in small groups to explore key dance concepts as space, time, energy, relationship, and body awareness. Through structured improvisations, skill building and creative problem solving, students are immersed in the artistic process, empowered to make creative choices in a supportive, joyful environment.

Creative Dance includes live musical accompaniment, enhancing the experience and aiding the development of musicality. Auditions are not required but students between ages of 4 years, 5 months and 4 years, 11 months are encouraged to take a trial class. 

Continuing to build on the foundation from Modern II, students’ progress with continued focus on developing technique and musicality while further developing strength and artistry. Modern III students will be part of the creative process when learning choreography for the Spring dance concert in June.

Wednesdays: 5:30-6:30pm

Modern III Plus provides students with the opportunity to go deeper in their work with this additional technique class and to add the foundation of ballet technique and terminology.

Mondays, 4-5:30pm with Tamsin Carlson 

Monday, 6:30-7:30pm with Victor Jarvis

Intermediate Modern introduces the student to the Horton technique and its foundational vocabulary. Focusing on body alignment and building strength, it is a highly physical, demanding class. Phrases of movement across the space, application of different levels, and focused jumping are added to help build strength, stamina and a strong physical presence.


Meets on Saturdays from 12noon-1:30pm in Studio A with Tamsin Carlson

In addition to studying Horton technique at this level, students’ progress to training in the Cunningham technique which is unique in its core use of the torso, space and musicality. These classes continue to develop strength, physicality and artistry. Students will also have original dance works created on them as well as learning Cunningham repertory, with performances held in December and June.


Monday, 6:30-8pm: Modern Technique w/Carlson

Wednesday, 6:30-8pm: Modern Technique/Rep w/Carlson

Thursday, 5:30-7pm: Ballet Technique (combined with Adv. Modern Ensemble) w/Sayeg

7pm-8:30pm: Modern Technique w/Carlson

Advanced Modern offers rigorous technical and artistic concepts in modern dance technique. Students begin to synthesize the foundational lessons from Modern III and Intermediate Modern into their own expressive voices.


Saturdays from 10:30am-12noon

At the most advanced level, students continue to study Cunningham and Horton technique, with the addition of a Graham technique class once a week. Ballet is offered once a week to further a student’s development.

The focus in this level, while continuing to enhance general technique and strength, is the cultivation and development of personal artistry. Culminating in works created on and for the dancers, performances of these works will be held in December and June.


Tuesdays, 6:30-8pm Mod Tech w/Gonzalez

Thursdays, 5:30-7pm Ballet w/Sayeg, 7-8:30pm: Modern Tech w/Fukuda

Fridays: 6:30-8pm: Modern Tech w/Carlson

Saturdays: 1:30-3pm: Modern Tech w/Carlson; 3-5pm: Rep w/Carlson