Masters of Fine Arts Degree

The Graduate Program in the Department of Modern Dance cultivates multiple ways of investigating, articulating and understanding the body/mind through theory and practice. The curriculum promotes rigorous, in-depth inquiry into dance as a physical, aesthetic, intellectual and cultural practice.

Dance is a way of knowing…of knowing one’s self, one’s community and one’s place in the world. It is the goal of the Department of Modern dance to cultivate this way of knowing. Within a context of highly focused experiential and didactic education, our goal is to create an environment that encourages questioning, risk-taking, sensitivity and humanity.

The Department is committed to creating an educational community in its finest form: one which invites diversity, embraces ambiguity, welcomes creative conflict, practices honesty, experiences humility, and frees men and women through knowledge and experience. The Department of Modern Dance, its faculty and curriculum, promote excellence in education by engaging students in performance, improvisation, choreography, philosophy, dance technology, and other academic/theoretical pursuits. The program focuses on creative and intellectual development as well as expanding one’s dancing and choreographic abilities.

The MFA is a 61 credit terminal degree in the field of dance taking three years of residency in the Department of Modern Dance to complete. For those with extensive professional experience and/or great determination to finish in less time, it is possible to complete the degree in 4-5 semesters.  The MFA degree is intended to provide the breadth and depth of knowledge necessary to prepare graduates for professional careers in dance, including college and university teaching. Please note that a Master of Art (MA) degree is no longer offered. The MFA degree incorporates an individualized thesis project design. Through the thesis research process, the MFA graduate program allows for the specialization of personal interests. The thesis topic is conceptualized and implemented by each MFA student focusing on a single theme that may involve elements of performance, choreography, and other areas of interest. It is an expectation for students to investigate new areas of interest, challenge old beliefs, explore deeper what is already familiar and to design MFA projects that expand and integrate areas of strength with new areas of learning. Graduate students seeking an advanced degree from the Department of Modern Dance are required to actively participate in the design of their programs and creative works/theses. Faculty assist in a candidate’s progress through a system of guidance and mentorship to best serve the student and his/her success, in order to preserve both the standards of the professional field, and the noted reputation of the Department of Modern Dance – a reputation that rests upon work that strives for excellence.

The Graduate Program is an exciting/rigorous course of study designed for those with serious professional aspirations. Applicants do not necessarily need to have their undergraduate degree in dance but must demonstrate a depth of proficiency and a maturity of understanding. The Graduate Program is particularly geared to those who have had some dance experience since receiving their undergraduate degrees and for the returning professional who is looking for an academic environment in which to advance their growth. The course curriculum is tailored/adjusted for each student based on his/her experience, proficiencies and interests. Proficiencies based on professional expriences and deficiencies based on one’s undergraduate course work are assessed at the outset of study so that appropriate modifications in the degree requirements may be determined; deficiencies must be made up in addition to completing regular requirements.

Acceptance into the Modern Dance Graduate Program is determined by audition. The audition offers an opportunity for prospective students to observe our program as well as providing our faculty the opportunity to assess each student’s artistic potential and success in completing our demanding program.  Applicants wishing to be considered for departmental scholarships and/or Graduate Assistantships in their first year are required to attend the audition, plus have all appropriate application materials to us by March 1.

MFA Mission and Philosophy

The Graduate Program in the Department of Modern Dance cultivates multiple ways of investigating, articulating and understanding the body/mind through theory and practice.  The curriculum promotes rigorous, in-depth inquiry into dance as a physical, aesthetic, intellectual and cultural practice.

PHILOSOPHY 
Dance is a way of knowing . . . of knowing one’s self, one’s community and one’s place in the world.  It is the goal of the Department of Modern Dance to cultivate this way of knowing through a curriculum that fosters the articulation of the body and the mind.  The program offers opportunities for rigorous in-depth investigation of dance as an aesthetic, intellectual and cultural practice.  Within a context of highly focused experiential and didactic education, we strive to create an environment that encourages questioning, risk-taking, sensitivity and humanity.

Experimentation is risky.  We rarely know in advance what will give us life and what will sap life away.  But if we want to deepen our understanding of our own integrity, experiment we must – and then be willing to make choices as we view the experimental results. -Parker Palmer

Dance in education does not exist just for the pleasure of dancing, but through creative effort in giving aesthetic forms to significant experience it is hoped students will develop their creative power and in turn improve themselves as persons.  – Margaret H’Doubler