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Point Park University's dance and theatre programs were established in 1968 as part of the Department of Performing Arts, which was later renamed the Department of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts. The department evolved into the Conservatory of Performing Arts (COPA), which became one of the institution's schools in 2003 when Point Park received university status.

COPA currently consists of three departments: dance, theatre and cinema arts. Admission to COPA's dance and theatre programs is among the most competitive in the nation. Only 10 percent of those who apply are accepted.

In addition to a full-time faculty that possesses outstanding credentials, COPA students also have the opportunity to work with and learn from guest artists, such as Ann Reinking, Jane Alexander, Robert Cuccioli, Robert Miller, Michael Rupert, Anthony Newley, Robert Battle and Stephen Flaherty. Guest speakers have included Jimmy Miller, founder and manager of Mosaic Media in Los Angeles, New York Post dance critic Clive Barnes and performance legend Elaine Stritch. Marvin Hamlisch was the 2011 Distinguished Master Artist in Residence.

COPA Highlights:
  • Point Park purchased the Pittsburgh Playhouse in 1968.
  • Dance program founder Nicolas Petrov, a retired professor of dance, was a founder and artistic director of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in the late 1960s. The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre was housed at Point Park College in the late 1960s through 1973.
  • COPA's annual New York City showcase provides outstanding graduating theatre majors with the opportunity to audition before industry agents, managers and personnel. The cinema arts department takes students to a showcase screening in Los Angeles.
  • The low-residency M.F.A. in Writing for the Screen and Stage Program launched in fall 2014 (25 students enrolled in fall 2015).
  • The growing cinema arts program began as one of the few all-digital film programs in the country. Enrollment has grown from 50 students in 2003 to 264 enrolled in fall 2015. The first group of four-year cinema arts majors received their bachelor's degrees in May 2007.
  • International Summer Dance is a six-week, pre-professional, intensive program that attracts more than 200 students from across the United States and around the world.
  • Point Park University's Pittsburgh Playhouse maintains a rigorous performance schedule with 18 major productions and 235 performances entertaining more than 30,000 patrons annually.
  • Dance students annually compete on the regional level of the American College Dance Festival. On eight separate occasions, students have been invited to participate in the National Festival at the Kennedy Center. In addition, Point Park dancers have participated in the finals of the Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition.
  • The Dance Department hosted the 2016 National High School Dance Festival, March 3-6, and welcomed high school dancers from around the world.


Enrollment (Fall 2016)

Undergraduate: 859
Graduate: 22

COPA students represent more than 40 states and eight foreign countries.


The Department of Cinema Arts offers cutting-edge B.F.A. and B.A. degrees in:

  • Animation and Visual Effects
  • Cinema Production
  • Screenwriting

The Department of Dance offers degrees in:

  • Ballet (B.A. and B.F.A.)
  • Jazz (B.A. and B.F.A.)
  • Modern (B.A. and B.F.A.)
  • Dance Pedagogy (B.A.)

The Department of Theatre offers degrees in:

  • Theatre Arts: Performance and Practices (B.A.)
  • Acting (B.F.A.)
  • Musical Theatre (B.F.A.)
  • Theatre Production (B.F.A.)

    Master of Fine Arts Degree

    • Writing for the Screen and Stage


    COPA has four companies-The REP, a professional theater company-and three student companies- Conservatory Theatre Company, Conservatory Dance Company and Playhouse Jr., the second oldest children's theater company in the nation.


    • The George Rowland White Performance Center
      The LEED Gold-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building is one of Downtown Pittsburgh's newest buildings and one of the few green arts facilities in the region. The 44,000-square-foot complex includes dance studios and a convertible performance space. Studio details include:
      • George Rowland White Performance Studio -
        Named for longtime University trustee and supporter Dr. George R. White, the studio has intimate audience seating for 188 and a 40' x 30' performance space, the second largest in Downtown Pittsburgh. The black-box theater can be converted into a flexible performance space and is available to rent for public events.
      • Hilda Willis Tap Dance Studio -
        Students in the dance and musical theatre programs use this 40' x 50' facility, located on the lower level, which was made possible by a generous contribution from the Hilda M. Willis Foundation.
      • George Rowland White Dance Studios Two Through Seven -
        Studios on the first, second and fourth floors average 60' x 60' in size and have extra high ceilings, offering the dancers maximum space for grand allegro, circular formations and lifts. All studios are compliant with National Association of Schools of Dance and industry-specific requirements.
    • Point Park University's Pittsburgh Playhouse
      Point Park University's Pittsburgh Playhouse is the performing arts center of Point Park University and the Conservatory of Performing Arts. The three-theater performing arts center is home to The REP, the professional theatre company and three student companies - Conservatory Theatre Company, Conservatory Dance Company and Playhouse Jr.


    Cinema Arts

    Fred Johnson
    Matt Pelfrey, M.F.A. in screenwriting and playwriting graduate program director
    Laura Boyd
    Steve Cuden
    Elise D'Haene
    Cara Friez
    Andrew Halasz
    Rick Hawkins
    Pahl Hluchan
    John Rice
    Jonathan Trueblood


    Ruben Graciani, Chair
    Douglas Bentz
    Mar Burrell
    Colleen Hooper
    Jay Kirk
    Kiesha Lalama
    Judith Leifer-Bentz
    Garfield Lemonius
    Jason McDole
    Susan Stowe


    Sheila McKenna, Chair
    Jack Allison
    John Amplas
    Zeva Barzell
    Aaron Bollinger
    Tracey Brent-Chessum
    April Daras
    Sandra Greciano
    Jane Howell
    Richard Keitel
    Rochelle Klein
    Stephanie Mayer-Staley
    John McManus
    Samuel Munoz
    Kimberly Steinhauer
    John Shepard
    Robin Walsh
    Phil Winters