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Conservatory of Performing Arts Fact Sheet


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. Fred Johnson is the dean.

COPA currently consists of three departments: dance, theatre and cinema and digital 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 and Los Angeles showcases provide outstanding graduating theatre majors with the opportunity to audition before industry agents, managers and personnel. The senior class dance showcase is held on campus in the spring. Artistic directors from all over the country are invited to attend the three-day event to conduct classes and auditions. The cinema and digital arts department produces an annual showcase DVD and takes students to a showcase screening in Los Angeles.
  • The M.F.A. in acting program graduated its first class in May 2002.  
  • The growing cinema and digital arts program began as one of the few all-digital film programs in the country. Enrollment has grown from 50 students in 2003 to 243 enrolled in fall 2013. The first group of four-year cinema and digital arts majors received their bachelor’s degrees in May 2007.
  • International Summer Dance is a six-week, preprofessional, 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.



Enrollment (Fall 2013)

Undergraduate: 816
Graduate: 5

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

Bachelor of Arts Degrees

  • Animation and Visual Effects
  • Cinema Production
  • Dance
  • Dance Pedagogy
  • Screenwriting
  • Theatre Arts

Bachelor of Fine Arts Degrees

  • Dance
  • Theatre

Master of Fine Arts Degrees

  • Acting
  • Writing for the Screen and Stage (Fall 2014)


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 and Digital Arts

Fred Johnson, Dean
Jeremy Braverman, Chair
Laura Boyd
Nelson Chipman
Steve Cuden
Cara Friez
Andrew Halasz
Rick Hawkins
Pahl Hluchan
John Rice


Fred Johnson, Dean
Susan Stowe, Chair
Douglas Bentz
Ronald Hutson
Jay Kirk
Kiesha Lalama
Judith Leifer-Bentz
Garfield Lemonius
Jason McDole
Peter Merz
Ronald Tassone


Fred Johnson, Dean
Sheila McKenna, Chair
Jack Allison
John Amplas
Zeva Barzell
Aaron Bollinger
Bridget Connors
Sandra Greciano
Jane Howell
Richard Keitel
Shelly Klein
Stephanie Mayer-Staley
Michael McKelvey
John McManus
Monica Payne
John Shepard
Robin Walsh
Phil Winters