About This Masters Degree
Dance at Illinois
With one-on-one mentoring by acclaimed faculty members and guest artists, Dance at Illinois students receive rigorous training and opportunities to explore their own creativity as choreographers and performers. Called "a hotbed of choreographic innovation" by the New York Times, the department is one of the most respected in the United States. Undergraduates focus on contemporary modern dance, learn how the body works, and develop professional contacts around the globe. MFA candidates conduct original research, develop teaching methods, and address critical issues in the field.
In our rigorous program focused on contemporary modern dance, our students learn how the body works, research our art form's expansive history, and define their own voices as performers and choreographers. Together we embrace the messiness of creation and explore how our diverse viewpoints can contribute to the evolution of dance.
Called "a hotbed of choreographic innovation" by the New York Times, our intimate program features one-on-one mentoring from an extraordinary group of resident performers, choreographers, scholars, and educators plus numerous guest artists. Our faculty members have been honored with six New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Awards, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, two Fulbright Scholarships, and two Guggenheim Fellowships. They have been performers and choreographers for artists ranging from Mikhail Baryshnikov to Bebe Miller to Paul Taylor. Dedicated educators, they have earned numerous campus awards for excellence in research, teaching, and advising.
Building deep relationships across the professional dance world, we connect students with major ensembles such as the Trisha Brown Dance Company and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, which have welcomed our alumni as performers, and each year we select a few students for our unique Mark Morris Shadow Program. With broad skills, our graduates choreograph, become artistic directors, dance on Broadway, teach, write, and thrive in body-based professions.
Our collaborative work lives at the forefront of innovative and integrative techniques that transform dancing and choreography. We invite students to take charge of their education, experiment, immerse in the creative process, and lead dance into new territories. All students—in our BFA, BA (coming fall 2016!), and MFA programs or our courses for non-dance majors—are encouraged to locate center and go from there.
The University of Illinois is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance.
Mission and Vision
Dance at Illinois will be a national epi-center for the development of dance artists/leaders.
The mission of Dance at Illinois is to promote and expand the role of dance in contemporary culture. Utilizing a range of experimental and canonic approaches, we generate choreographic, pedagogical, performative, and scholarly research that shapes educational and public programming. We explore the dynamic intersections between research and teaching in academic, professional, and community settings. We forge imaginative, innovative, and sustainable lives as artists and educators through the transformational processes of dance.
Our three-year program fosters innovative choreographic research and provides in-depth creative experiences. MFA candidates work one-on-one with mentors to design a course of study that supports their individual choreographic interests.
Extraordinary artists, researchers, and scholars have gathered at Dance at Illinois to create new paradigms for interactions between the professional arena and the academic training ground. Our small group of carefully selected graduate students receive intensive training and collaborate with faculty on research projects and original works. In addition, each year distinguished guest artists teach and set works in the department, and exceptional alumni conduct workshops and hold performances.
Located within a highly rated research institution, the MFA program encourages and supports cross-disciplinary work, novel independent study projects, and imaginative interpretations of the thesis requirement. In previous years, students have worked in the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science and the world-class Arnold O. and Mabel M. Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, participated in the Human Dimensions of Environmental Systems program, and collaborated with scholars from the College of Education, the School of Art and Design, the Department of Landscape Architecture, the School of Architecture, the Department of Theatre, and the School of Music. Students have also pursued minors in fields such as cinema studies, Latino/Latina studies, and gender and women's studies. Students can take a global focus on dance by exploring our ongoing international exchanges with Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, Coventry University in England, and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in Israel.
Students can design their physical practice to include courses in contemporary and ballet technique, improvisation, a variety of mind-body practices, and popular and global dance forms. Our curriculum includes courses in the Alexander Technique and Bartenieff Fundamentals, and certification in the Alexander Technique, Pilates, and yoga is available in Urbana-Champaign. Celebrated Alexander Technique teachers Joan Murray and Alex Murray are interconnected with our program.
Career seminars and interactions with working professionals prepare our graduates for meaningful artistic participation in the field. Our teaching assistantships provide students with the opportunity to serve as educators at the university level for three years, a necessary prerequisite for academic teaching positions.
Implemented in 1980, our nationally ranked MFA program has a long tradition of excellence and leadership in advanced considerations of dance in multiple contexts. The Dance at Illinois graduate degree program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance.
"The MFA program profoundly altered my views on what dance is, what it can be, and its impact on society. The generous faculty made me feel at home and to this day provide me with a network of mentors I can reach out to for advice and feedback."
—PAIGE CUNNINGHAM CALDARELLA (MFA 2007), ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AND ASSOCIATE CHAIR OF THE DANCE CENTER OF COLUMBIA COLLEGE CHICAGO
Each student must complete 60 credit hours of graduate-level courses (400 level and above) to earn a degree.
Consult the Programs of Study listing for the most recent MFA description and requirements.
We are currently revising the curriculum and now are offering some new courses. Updated curriculum requirements information will be posted here shortly.
While we begin implementing our updated program of study, MFA students are encouraged to select coursework with their advisors that generally follows these guidelines:
-Physical Practice, 12 hours
-Composition, 6 hours
-Historical and Theortical Studies, 9 hours
-Contemporary Directions, 4 hours
-Graduate Seminar, 4 hours
-MFA Professional Practice Seminar, 1 credit
-Digital Media for Dancers, 2 credits
-Performance, 2 hours
-Thesis, 8 hours
-Electives, 12 hours
Electives include independent study, advanced research, supervised teaching, and workshops in technology, digital media, performance, and physical practice. Electives may also include courses from outside the department as long as they are at the 400 or 500 level.
Graduate minors are available in several other disciplines. Students should discuss the possibility of pursuing a minor with their MFA advisors.
Admissions Requirement by Audition
Please visit http://www.registrar.illinois.edu/tuition-fees for more details.