Performing Arts

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Dance in the Performing Arts Department at Washington University offers an innovative approach to dance technique, composition, improvisation, and production. It involves an energetic interplay of studio work with professionally distinguished dance instructors, seminars with faculty who are experts in their fields, and independent studies in choreography. This two-year program will expand students' dance skills while engaging them with current concepts of dance as an art form, as an expression of culture and identity, and as a mode of critical thinking. The overarching goal of this program is to develop each dancer's personal artistic practice while encouraging a global perspective on dance studies, performance, pedagogy, and choreography.

The department offers performance experience through its repertory company, the Washington University Dance Collective, for which students may audition.

Members of our dance faculty have performed with such companies as American Ballet Theatre; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Dance Theatre of Harlem; National Ballet of Washington, D.C.; Dayton Contemporary Dance Company; and Utah Repertory Dance Theatre. In addition, a distinctive feature of our MFA program is that it is run in collaboration with St. Louis' Center of Creative Arts (COCA), so it involves a sharing of facilities and faculty borne out of a common vision of the importance of the performing arts. As the leading dance school in the region, COCA is also the largest multidisciplinary arts organization in St. Louis, and it has a world-renowned faculty. We have a long history of engaging the talents of contemporary guest choreographers and répétiteurs from ballet and from modern and performance art who bring a broad range of challenging new processes, concepts, and choreography to our students.

The master’s program in Theater and Performance Studies at Washington University in St. Louis is one of the strongest programs of its kind. Students are offered rigorous scholarly training, opportunities to meet and work with visiting scholars and artists, and support in developing their own independent research projects, all within a collaborative, collegial environment that prizes critical thinking and creative practice.

Our students enroll in small, intensive seminars in theater history and performance theory as well as studio courses in directing, playwriting, and theater for social change. There are ample opportunities for interdisciplinary study, and we have strong relationships with affiliate faculty in allied departments and programs, including Film and Media Studies; English; Music; Comparative Literature; African and African-American Studies; and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Our faculty has been recognized with numerous accolades for both their artistic and scholarly work, and the small size of each admitted class allows for individual attention and one-on-one mentorship. We have placed our graduates in top PhD programs in the field, including programs at Brown, Stanford, Northwestern, University of California San Diego, and University of Minnesota. Other graduates have pursued careers in the arts, social justice work, and education. We invite students who have studied theater and performance as undergraduates as well as students who are following new paths in their scholarship to learn more about our program.

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