LEAP Course Descriptions


LEAP class schedules are offered in an online delivery model in order to recognize and accommodate the unique challenges of students' professional schedules. Rather than asking students to attend on campus courses in a traditional college structure and format, the LEAP program brings the courses to the dancers. LEAP is committed to meeting students where they are, and offering an education that is intentionally designed to travel with the touring artist and flex around the rehearsal schedules that would otherwise disconnect students from a shared learning environment. All Saint Mary’s core courses are offered online, with a combination of live video class sessions (via Zoom) and discussion board engagement between students in each class.

LEAP Core Courses

The LEAP Core Curriculum is a series of 10 courses all LEAP students must take to complete the program.

Classes meet on Zoom, typically just once a week for 3 to 4 hours.

The Core Curriculum is designed to provide students a breadth of knowledge and experience in order to fulfill the requirements of the liberal arts degree.

This course focuses on issues of significant relevance for a 21st century student, as well as texts that allow for integrative thinking across the entire Collegiate Seminar sequence. The course includes student reflection on what they have learned and how they have grown, revisiting the steps of their intellectual development in a capstone experience. This seminar considers questions such as What is worth living for? and what is worthy of leaving as a legacy? How should one think about the future?

In this course, LEAP program students will discover the inherent beauty of the human body. It is an especially aesthetic form, given the rich complexity of cells and tissues, the nuances of gene expression, the concerted performance among organs and systems, and the multiple interactions among other members and components of its ecosystem. This course will offer both synchronous and asynchronous online activities that are creative, collaborative, and often kinesthetic, along with virtual exercises that are rich, interactive, and engaging. Both the core principles and the learning processes from our class will be personally and even viscerally relevant, memorable, and fun. The course will help students cultivate a deep understanding and lasting curiosity of human biology and our impact on the biosphere - as voters, as professionals, as artists, as global citizens, and as active community members.

Hear More about this course from LEAP Professor Jay Chugh!

In this course, students develop advanced information evaluation and research practices and the rhetorical and critical thinking skills needed to structure complex arguments. In addition, students practice evaluating sources, exploring arguments through library research, and conducting research. This course prepares students for the Writing in the Disciplines courses in their major and requires the completion of at least 5,000 words of graded formal writing, and an additional 1,000 words of informal writing practice.

Personal and Professional Assessment (“PPA”) focuses on how we learn and develop through experience. We first look at how different theories of adult development can help us reflect in a meaningful way on key events in our lives. Writing the developmental autobiography provides an opportunity to discern some of the factors that led each of us to become the person we know ourselves to be. Next, we explore experiential learning theory and examine the relationship between experience and learning. Then we apply that theory to our own experience. Writing experiential learning papers (ELPs) allows us to identify, analyze, and integrate knowledge from a variety of experiential sources, to develop multiple perspectives and at the same time to examine how we learn through experience. ELPs will be evaluated by Saint Mary's faculty for the opportunity to earn additional credits toward your degree.

What is culture and how important is it in explaining the marvelous variations we see in human behavior around the world? In this course, we will examine the ways in which people around the world make sense of the world and their own lives. The course seeks to illuminate other possibilities beyond the ones we are familiar with that exist for solving problems and for achieving meaningful lives. The course will introduce students to several primary domains of cultural anthropology, including the concepts of culture and fieldwork; medical anthropology, kinship and social organization; colonialism, power and domination; economic systems; gender and sexuality; race and class; symbols and language; religion and ritual; and social structure and agency. Together we will practice new ways of looking at the world, new ways of observing our social lives, and new ways to talk about the social world.

A reflective examination of basic mathematical ideas and patterns. Through participation in the discovery and development of mathematical ideas the student will view the subject as a vehicle for human creativity. The course traces the historical and contemporary role of appropriate mathematical topics.

Employing and building upon the strategies of critical thinking, critical reading, and shared inquiry learned in the first seminar, in this seminar students will consider questions such as What is a good society? and What is a person’s place in the world?

This course will expose students to various texts, events, and themes in the Bible. The class will mainly focus on some Biblical perspectives concerning wealth, poverty, and economic justice—and what impact or implications such discussions might have for biblical readers today. Students will encounter some modern scholarly methods and tools for biblical interpretation. We reflect on the influence and potential relevance of the texts for social justice in contemporary society.

In this course we will view, analyze, and write about dance performances using a variety of theoretical lenses drawn from the field of Performance Studies. Performance Studies is an interdisciplinary field that draws on theories and methodologies from anthropology, sociology, theatre studies, literary criticism, philosophy, history, and the arts.


Hear More about this course from LEAP Director Shaunna Vella!

The Senior Project is an individualized course of study designed for students to complete a culminating capstone research project that synthesizes the content of the program with an eye toward professional application. Through this project LEAP students are expected to produce an original piece of work that advances the field of Performing Arts, while simultaneously relating to future career goals.


See Past Projects

Michalis Schinas

"Jay has been the best teacher I could have asked for [...] I feel with his way of teaching and flow I gained relevant knowledge I can use in everyday life.”

- Michalis Schinas about Jay Chugh, Biology Instructor

Norika Matsuyama

"I really enjoyed the readings and discussions in our Anthropology class. It was very stimulating and eye-opening to learn about different cultures near and afar.”

- Norika Matsuyama

LEAP Courses for the Major

In order to graduate with a Bachelor's in Performing Arts, all Saint Mary's students must fulfill 10 performing arts courses.

All LEAP students become Performing Arts majors through their fulfillment of these courses from existing professional experience.

6 of these courses are fulfilled upon acceptance into the program.

The remaining 4 courses (outlined below) are provided through an expedited process designed to help students fulfill the degree quicker, and cheaper.

Students with a BA in Performing Arts are eligible for any and all job and academic opportunities in which a Bachelor's Degree is required.

In this course experienced performers are invited to explore the playfull art of acting. The course provides a space for discovery; through direct experiential learning students investigate the ways we use our bodies, voices, and imaginations as embodied storytellers, both as individual actors and as part of an ensemble.

LEAP students fulfill this course with only 3 Zoom meetings and successful completion of the final exam/presentation.

This dance history course views each LEAP student's dance lineages through a socio-historic framework to discover the ways in which these dance practices are shaped by and continue to speak to major issues such as globalization, migration and immigration, struggles for racial equality, emerging national identities, feminism and queerness, counterculture movements, wars and conflict, the economy, as well as artistic, cultural and philosophical movements.

LEAP students fulfill this course with only 2 Zoom meetings and successful completion of the final paper/presentation.

Students cultivate the ability to listen more deeply as we explore the evolution of Western music from the Medieval era to the Contemporary era, including the roots of jazz, blues, and early rock. Students are exposed to the major composers of each era and their representative works.

LEAP students fulfill this course with only 1 Zoom meeting and successful completion of the final exam.

This course is an introduction and an overview to global dance studies. This course explores how dance practices across the globe are not solely “art” for “entertainment”, but are foundational rituals for healing, rites of passage, ceremony, worship, self-expression and connection for peoples and cultures around the world.

LEAP students fulfill this course without any meetings upon successful completion of the final exam.

Featured Photos:

From Left to Right:

Nina Yoshida (Class of 2023), Julia Feeley (Class of 2023) Kafi Pierre (Class of 2023), Gillian Murphy (Class of 2018)