MFA Areas of Study
The MFA Program reflects increased synergy between studio-based practice and scholarly endeavors within the field. Our historically established studio-centered areas are adaptable to allow students to customize their own curricula.
Coursework is designed to support the creative expression of students on a continuum of practice and experience, from the emerging choreographer to the returning professional. Throughout coursework, the student is encouraged to develop his or her own choreographic voice through the generation of movement ideas and contextual relevance, with study culminating in the research and production of substantial original choreographic work. Students also develop observational skills that help them understand, analyze, and critique the art and craft of choreography. Explorations of solo and group composition, dance for the camera and collaborative practice strategies for a variety of performance venues are major components of the composition area. Students are encouraged to extend their artistic reach through coursework in Theatre, Design and other related departments.
Coursework includes repertory, collaborative workshops, performance theory, performance technique and other selected courses. Students have a variety of opportunities to dance under the direction of resident faculty, visiting artists, and student choreographers. Interested students are encouraged to perform in a variety of work, exposing them to a range of creative processes, dance styles, and performance approaches. Examples include dancing in new and existing repertory, MFA choreographic projects, and works directed from a Labanotation score. Other performance opportunities within the university may be found outside the Department. Performances range from fully produced concerts to lecture demonstrations and other informal events in a variety of venues.
Movement Analysis, Laban Studies, Notation and Dance Documentation
Coursework provides students with a framework for analyzing salient features of movement and the tools for documenting dance. Laban Movement Analysis provides analytic tools for qualitative description of dance, and is a resource for discussing and generating creative work. In the Labanotation sequence, analyzing, reading/ performing, and writing components of body-space-time interaction are studied in depth. Directing from score is the culmination of the notation sequence; in it students focus on the interdisciplinary act of directing and staging works by incorporating scholarly research in history, performance and analysis. Students interested in documentation may focus on notating dance and also choose among courses in video documentation and various other applications of camera and computer technology.
Lighting and Production
Coursework provides an opportunity to study the elements of dance presentation from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives. Courses in Lighting Design and Production Management constitute a general survey of design and management and are reinforced through rigorous in-depth field experiences and projects, working with fellow students, faculty and community based artists in a broad range of venues.
History, Theory and Literature
Coursework in the history, theory and literature of dance provides a variety of experiences for students to deepen and expand their dance literacy with an overall emphasis placed on learning to write clearly and persuasively. Students have ample opportunities to contribute to scholarly discourse through their research, writing and theorization about historical and contemporary issues in dance. The faculty supports work in a variety of historical periods and theoretical orientations, offering classes in dance criticism, pedagogy and analysis. Students are encouraged to further their class assignments so as to culminate in conference papers and submissions to scholarly journals.
Dance and Technology
Coursework in dance and technology offers the student opportunities to explore dance creation, performance, research, documentation, practice, and analysis through existing and emerging practices in film, animation, interactive computing, motion capture, interface design, and computer graphics visualization. Course offerings are enhanced by a close working relationship with the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) and our state of the art facility for performance research, The Motion Lab. This program of study culminates in the creation of a creative research project including but not limited to stage performances, installations, and screen-based media productions.
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