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Performing Arts and Music

WashU offers a wide variety of performing opportunities. Nearly two-thirds of the Danforth campus is involved with performing arts.

Performing Arts Department

The Performing Arts Department (PAD) is dedicated to teaching the disciplines of theater and dance as a fundamental part of a liberal arts education based in a research university. Throughout the academic year, PAD hosts a myriad of performances open to the campus and surrounding communities.

Edison Theatre

Edison Theatre is a fully technically equipped, proscenium thrust theater on Danforth Campus.

Edison serves as a teaching facility for the Performing Arts Department, which produces three mainstage Edison shows each year. It also serves as a performance venue for WashU student organizations.

Edison is one of the few theaters in the St. Louis area to serve as a rental house for locally based presenting arts organizations.

For more information and a calendar of events, please visit the Edison Theatre website.

Department of Music

The Department of Music stewards a lively and exciting musical environment on campus. The department provides opportunities for WashU students to enrich their education through the study of music. Each semester, the department offers an extensive season of performances by WashU's own soloists, ensembles, and symphony, as well as nationally and internationally known musicians. The department also partners with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for feature performances throughout the year.

A Cappella

WashU offers over 12 a cappella groups on campus. Groups such as The Amateurs and The Mosaic Whispers have even recorded with musician Ben Folds. Just to name a few more, WashU is home to the Greenleafs, an all-female group; the Stereotypes, an all-male group that has consistently performed in the ICCA college a cappella tournament; and Staam, a Jewish group. Students can even sing their favorite Disney tunes with the Aristocats. A capella groups sing at campus events, travel the country to perform, and put on shows throughout the year.

Improv Comedy

WashU offers several improvisational groups, giving students a chance to think — and be funny — on their feet. The comedy troupes bring laughter and joy to the entire campus and students can audition for, or just go watch, Mama’s Pot Roast, KARL, and Suspicious of Whistlers. Both Mama’s Pot Roast and KARL specialize in short-form improvisational skits, performing in a style similar to what’s seen on the television show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” Suspicious of Whistlers is a long-form improv troupe, performing in a more scene-motivated manner.

Student Theatre

It has been said that “All the world's a stage,” and the Washington University Quadrangle is no exception. Each April, the members of the student group All Student Theatre turn the Quad into an outdoor student-run theater. Every aspect of the show — producing, designing or performing — is done by students. Recent productions include Young Frankenstein, Rumors, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Another fully student-run performing group is Thyrsus, the oldest student group on campus. Thyrsus puts on an annual day-of-shame performance for which they write direct and perform a series of short plays within a 24-hour time span.

The third student theater group on campus is Cast n' Crew, which focuses on black box style and often cult-classic theater productions. They produce one show in the fall and one in the spring.

WashU also puts on a set of plays and musicals through the Performing Arts Department.


WashU JIVE is Washington University’s dance team. WashU JIVE provides halftime entertainment at Bears football and basketball games, as well as performing at various events on campus during the year. The group also works to involve students in dance who may not necessarily be interested in performing arts or cheerleading.

WUSauce is Washington University’s salsa dancing group. Along with dancing at university events such as Dance Marathon, the group offers free salsa lessons and hosts a dance-off to showcase all of the WashU dance groups every spring.


WU-Slam is the premier spoken word group at WashU. The core of WU-Slam is the Performance Crew, which consists of the executive board and a traveling performance group. However, WU-Slam also hosts a weekly poetry workshop, Inklings, that is open to all students, as well as monthly poetry slams, or spoken word competitions. The Grand Slam, held every fall, draws huge crowds to the Danforth University Center to watch students compete for spots on WashU's National Slam Team.

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