Dance MFA - Performing Arts
The Department of Dance offers graduate study leading to the Master of Fine Arts in Performing Arts—Dance. The program offers graduate students the opportunity to hone technical skills, to explore personal intuition, imagination, and craft both in creating and performing dance works, and to focus on critical areas of dance theoretical core studies. The MFA in dance at UWM consists of 60 credits with an emphasis on contemporary choreography and performance. The program is structured to meet the scheduling constraints of working dance professional performers, choreographers and educators as they earn a MFA in Performing Arts-Dance. The MFA degree program at UWM offers a balance of theoretical, creative and practical coursework with the goal of preparing future university dance faculty as well as providing secondary educators with the means to expand their dance and choreographic skills while increasing their earning status in K-12 public and private institutions.
UWM Dance faculty members have performed with internationally-renowned dance companies such as the Ballet of Rio de Janeiro, Igneous, David Parker and The Bang Group, Ohio Ballet, and Ballet du Grand Theatre du Geneve. The Dance Department is also home to the Ko-Thi Dance Company, a nationally-recognized African dance company, and the company's founder and Artistic Director is Dance Professor Ferne Caulker-Bronson. Our students represent a cross-section of talented contemporary dance choreographers from across the United States, including New York, Texas, California and the Midwest.
MFA Degree Admission
Admission to the Dance MFA program is in the summer only, with the application deadline of November 1 (or the next business day). The Graduate School and the Department of Dance require a different set of materials for the application.
For further information, please complete our online form.
Graduate School Application and Admission Criteria
- Applications are available online only and are available on the UWM web page (www.graduateschool.uwm.edu) under the "Apply for Admission" heading. The application instructions include information on where to mail official transcripts. If you attended more than one institution prior to earning your bachelor's degree, have those sent from institutions where you earned nine or more credits. Official undergraduate transcripts (those still in their sealed envelopes from issuing institutions) should be mailed directly to the Graduate School at: UW-Milwaukee Graduate School, Shane Haensgen, P.O. Box 340, Milwaukee, WI 53201.
- The Dance MFA program does not require GRE tests for acceptance. The Graduate School admission standards require a Bachelor's degree (does not need to be in Dance) with a minimum of 2.75 GPA (4.0 scale). There are probationary measures in place to override the GPA minimum for talented applicants who are able to demonstrate their potential for graduate study; however our applicants generally exceed the minimum GPA. Since 1997, we have had only one Dance applicant accepted on probation, and in her case she had a record of exemplary postgraduate grades at another post-secondary institution.
- Upon acceptance (approximately January 1), the successful applicant receives an acceptance letter from the Graduate School, and the unsuccessful applicant will receive a denial letter. The Dance Department will often develop a waiting list, and will hold off on sending any official letter from the Graduate School until a final decision has been made. The department recommends acceptance for admission for candidates who have demonstrated choreographic originality and skill, advanced technical skills, academic maturity and self-motivation.
- International Student Information can be found at international.uwm.edu.
Dance Department Application and Admission Criteria
The Dance Department requires the following materials in hard copy:
Two letters of recommendation from employers or professors (addressed to Dance Graduate Faculty)
Work sample (DVD preferred) that includes recent performance and choreography, with a description page. It may consist of excerpted works, and should total 10-12 minutes in overall length. You may also include press materials if available.
Copy of your personal statement from the Graduate School online application. The personal statement addresses your reasons for pursuing graduate study.
Curriculum vitae or resume if available (not required)
Mailing address for all materials: Dance MFA Application, UW-Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201
Excellence in our field is evident in the performance and choreographic credits a candidate presents to the program at the time of application. The Dance Faculty (3-5 members) reviews the completed Graduate School application and transcript assessment to determine academic ability, and letters of recommendation and work samples of choreography and performance to determine artistic merit.
MFA Degree Requirements
For Students Entering Fall 2007 or after
Completion of the 60 credits to degree is distributed as follows:
|Dance Techniques (Modern, African, Ballet, Yoga)||9-15 cr.|
|Creating, Staging and Performing Dance||16-22 cr.|
|Theory and Application of Dance||12-18 cr.|
|Electives in Complementary Studies||6-14 cr.|
|Final Project||4-8 cr.|
Dance Technique Courses
Graduates may elect their credits from among offerings in Modern, Ballet, African Dance, Yoga, Pilates, and Alexander Technique.
Creating, Staging and Performing Dance
Graduates complete Improvisation I and II, Composition I and II, Choreography I and II, and Repertoire & Ensemble, and Workshop courses conducted by guest artists in the program.
Theory and Application of Dance
Graduate students may elect any four courses minimum from among Dynamic Analysis of Movement, Survey of Dance Literature, Dance in Secondary Education and College Settings, History of Contemporary American Dance, Applied Anatomy for Dance, Field History Studies, Developing Performance Quality.
Electives in Complementary Studies
With consent of dance graduate major advisor, students may elect any graduate level course work from the campus that is applicable to their specific graduate research area of interest.
Each student must undertake a final project of either one or two semesters’ duration (4-8 cr.). The project must be approved by the graduate dance faculty. The project may involve an array of challenging roles and/or production choreographic work created by the student. These may occur in a variety of approved performance settings that may include on or off-campus sites. The quality of performance and/or choreography will determine whether the degree is granted. This evaluation is made by the graduate faculty after the presentation of the final project. No comprehensive examination is required
MFA Degree Curriculum
The MFA curriculum is offered on a three semester per year model with all students entering the program in the summer. A student entering the program can expect to complete the minimum requirement of 60 credit hours towards graduation in three summers if they carry 12-13 credits in the summer and smaller loads during the fall and/or spring semesters. To this end we offer six- and seven-week summer intensive session options and encourage participation in faculty mentored off-campus projects during the fall and spring.
When applicable, it is noted when courses are offered and if there is an off-campus option for the course. Many of the off-campus courses require submission of a formal proposal from the student to the course instructor. Courses that carry a variable range of credits use the following formula in determining the number of credits: 36 contact hours for a 3 credit course (24 for a 2 credit and 12.5 for a 1 credit course).
Intermediate Yoga For Dancers. 2 cr. U/G.
A continuation of Dance 103 (Introduction to Iyengar Yoga) stressing the performance and integration of more advanced asanas. May be retaken for total of 6 cr.
Intermediate African Dance. 2 cr. U/G. A continuation of Dance 122 (African Dance I) stressing intermediate skills and greater social cultural nuances.
Dance Composition I. 3 cr. G.
An investigation of resources for discovering and inventing movement material, and for developing concepts and structures to give this material perceptual, emotional validity. Prereq: conc reg Dance 733(C) .
Dance Composition II. 3 cr. G.
A continuation of Dance 701. Prereq: Dance 701(P), conc reg Dance 734(C)
Theory and Techniques of Ballet: Intermediate. 2 cr. G.
Technical study of classical ballet. May be repeated twice for cr.
Theory and Techniques of Contemporary Concert Dance: Intermediate. 2 cr. G.
An intensive course designed to develop understanding of the major techniques of contemporary concert dance. May be repeated twice for cr.
Theory and Techniques of Contemporary Concert Dance: Intermediate. 2 cr. G.
A continuation of Dance 717. May be repeated twice for cr. Prereq: Dance 717
Alexander Technique: Developmental Movement and Dance. 1-3 cr. G
A hands-on exploration of the Alexander Technique and the Dart Procedures as they apply to advanced and professional dancers.
Alexander Technique Practicum. 1-3 cr. G
Continuation of Dance 721 focusing on a more in-depth study and application of Alexander Technique for advanced dancers. Prereq: Dance 721.
Pilates Technique and Applications. 2 cr. G
Use of Pilates method to understand and articulate essential concepts and theories of movement, and refine dance technique. May be retaken once.
Improvisation I. 2 cr. G
Techniques and structures for improvisation--the development of processes for evolving movement material from an exploration of the dynamics of inter and intra-relationships, and environment. Prereq: conc reg in Dance 701(C)
Improvisation II. 2 cr. G
A continuation of Dance 733. Prereq: Dance 733(P) & conc reg in Dance 702(C)
Dynamic Analysis of Movement I. 2 cr. G
Exploration of personal patterning and discovery of movement sources at the body level. Incorporates material from bartenieff fundamentals, feldenkrais, and sweigard. Offered on-campus in the spring terms in conjunction with the undergraduate Dance 241 course. Course may be taken off-campus with approval of graduate advisor.
Laban Movement Analysis. 3 cr. G
Theory and movement practice in effort/shape for use both in performance and in choreography.
Survey of Dance Literature and Bibliography. 3 cr. G.
Lecture, research, and discussion of the major dance reference works, and of dance research publications. Involves student proposed research project. Dance 761 is offered on-campus every summer. The class generally meets 3 times over the summer term and work begun in the summer is completed and graded in the subsequent fall term.
Dance in Secondary Education and College. 3 cr. G.
Methods and philosophy of teaching dance in the secondary school. Theory and practice in solving problems arising in practical teaching situations. Observation of dance lessons. Offered on-campus in the fall terms in conjunction with Dance 362 or off-campus by proposal.
American Concert Dance of the Twentieth Century. 3 cr. G.
Graduate seminar in special topics of American concert dance of the twentieth century. Course is offered on-line every spring term as an electronic reserve readings course.
Repertoire and Ensemble. 1-3 cr. G.
Practicum in group performance in dance department productions, touring groups, and performances related to the dance department. Includes original works from classical and contemporary repertoire. May be repeated to max of 12 cr. Repertory opportunities are available on-campus in the summer terms. Course may be taken off-campus with approval of graduate advisor.
Independent Study. 1-3 cr. G.
Individual faculty and student will define the teaching/learning contract for the semester and agree on the credit. Course may be taken off-campus with approval of graduate advisor.
Choreography I. 3 cr. G.
Creating fully mounted works; choreography, performance quality, lighting decor, costumes. Cr determined by contract with chair prior to regis. Prereq: Dance 701(P) & 702(P) or cons instr. Course work may be completed on or off campus.
Choreography II. 3 cr. G.
Creating fully mounted works of greater length and complexity. Prereq: Dance 801(P), or cons instr. Course work may be completed on or off-campus.
Field History: Contemporary Festivals. 2-4 cr. G.
Research, reading, attendance and documentation on selected festivals/series events. May be repeated with permission to max of 9 cr. Course work may be completed on or off-campus.
Developing Performance Quality.1-3 cr. G.
Studies in dynamics of specific choreographic concerns in re-setting or coaching choreography. Cr determined prior to regis. May be repeated for up to 6 cr. Prereq: Dance 711 & 717 or cons instr. Course work may be completed on or off-campus.
Special Workshops. (Subtitled). 1-3 cr. G.
Special short intensive workshops of 1-4 weeks during inter-terms or summer sessions presented by guest artists. May be retaken to 9 cr max.
Dance Final Thesis/Project. 2-4 cr. G.
Final demonstration and documentation of craft and artistry mastered in program. Proposal must be approved by the graduate faculty. May be repeated to max of 8 cr. Coursework may be completed on or off-campus.
Courses numbered 300 to 699 are Undergraduate/Graduate.
Courses numbered 700 and above are Graduate only.
*indicates required course in MFA curriculum
^ indicates strongly suggested course in MFA curriculum
~indicates courses faculty recommend alternating for curriculum diversity
MFA Degree Opportunities
The Dance Department presents four concerts each year: Winterdances and Summerdances, which showcase the work of faculty and guest artists, performed by students; and New Dancemakers and Dancemakers/MFA Thesis, which feature choreography by undergraduate and graduate students, respectively.
Special workshops and residencies are scheduled throughout the academic year, and guests are scheduled specifically for the MFA summer program. These residencies are designed to fill specific curricular needs (Dance Criticism, Modern Dance Pedagogy, African Diaspora Dance), or to expose the MFA students to technique instructors other than the UWM Dance faculty.
- Ellen Bromberg of the University of Utah
- Barbara Grubel of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (danced with Ralph Lemon and Bill Young)
- Gerald Casel of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (danced with Stephen Petronio, Zvi Gotheiner, and Lar Lubovitch)
- Jan Erkert of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Elizabeth Zimmer, dance critic and editor
- Barbara Mahler, Klein Technique
- Barb Grubel, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
- Debra Loewen, Wild Space Dance Company and UWM Dance MFA
- Rebecca Holderness, UWM Theatre Faculty, MFA Columbia University
- Barbara Grubel, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
- Bill Young, Bill Young & Dancers
- Allyson Green, Allyson Green Dance and San Diego State University
- Ellen Bromberg, University of Utah
- K.J. Holmes, New York University