Frequently Asked Questions

What is the MFA in Dance: Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis at Duke University?

The Master of Fine Arts in Dance: Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis is a 2-year, full-time terminal degree in Dance dedicated to embodied knowledge and practice-led movement discourses. The program endorses dance as a politically, socially and spiritually transformative force in society and engages students at the vanguard of contemporary dance culture and praxis. The MFA encourages practice-based, interdisciplinary research that has the potential to result in tangible contributions to culture and society at large.

Why this program?

This is the first MFA in Dance offered amongst Duke’s peer institutions. The potential of an MFA in Dance at a world-class research university opens a unique potential for interdisciplinary inquiry. The MFA in Dance endeavors to cultivate new forms of movement and choreographic engagements with the lived environment through critical thinking, artistic activity and scholarly inquiry in a unique research-based program that aspires to foster collaborations across disciplines in the training of sophisticated and creative art practitioners. Predominantly characterized by individually tailored study programs, the MFA in Dance will allow students to design their chosen direction of inquiry. Students will be drawn into a rigorous peer-to-peer learning environment with an abundance of external stimulation and inspiration. Open to all forms of movement practice, the MFA in Dance at Duke expects its students to become leaders in the socially and politically relevant developments in the expanded fields of dance and choreography.

Do I need to have a research proposal for the application?

Yes. The research proposal will be a key-element when evaluating your application. A fully refined research proposition is not expected, but applicants should demonstrate a clear idea of the research direction you would like to follow and in what capacity Duke can help you by providing the right environment and guidance to achieve your ambitions. A description of the speculative outcome scenarios would be helpful to understand your aims and objectives.

How can I image the interdisciplinary aspect of my studies?

Mentored by a primary faculty advisor and an interdisciplinary faculty committee, each student will be responsible for developing his/her own interdisciplinary course of study that effectively contextualizes and defines the progression of his/her creative work, its content, cross-disciplinary function, and form, and methodologies needed to bring the envisioned work to fruition. Examples include; studying both the anatomical and kinesthetic possibilities of the body in relation to Brain Sciences; developing movement classes for integration in the K-12 curriculum, envisioning new forms of resistance through embodied situatedness, the possibility for creating scientifically researched series of movements that would be therapeutically beneficial for patients suffering Parkinson disease; creating aesthetic movement patterns and new editing strategies for a dance-for-camera film; uncovering political ideologies underlying various movement ordering systems and/or Philosophy in order to understand how movement aesthetics are comprehended by the audience.

What forms of creative projects are encouraged during the MFA:EIP?

The MFA degree in Dance offers a rigorous, unique engagement with Dance and its possibilities as a crucial site of the twenty-first century contemporary artistic practice. Creative projects could include but may not be limited to, site-specific works, outdoor installations, multi-media works, live art, ritual performance, social choreography, political advocacy, conflict resolution, mind-body awareness, therapeutic healing, psycho-spiritual experiments, and any variety of themes that demonstrate openness to dance as the technology of the self and the social.

Who should apply?

Individuals should consider applying if they are ambitious and passionate about dance, embodiment, and choreography and who want to develop and implement new ways of perceiving, moving and creating, whilst identifying how to (even speculatively) integrate their propositions into a larger social setting. If you have a strong interest that connects dance to another field of inquiry and can imagine outcomes whether in the form of an inkling or a clear product, this course will help you to bring your ideas to fruition.

What will be a typical student profile?

There is no ‘typical’ student profile. The MFA in Dance at Duke University will attract a small but diverse cohort of accomplished students, artists, and practitioners with a range of creative and professional achievements – emerging as well as mature artists inspired to acquire a graduate university degree. Accepted students will have completed a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Prerequisites may apply to BA students depending on the level of their theoretical, technical, choreographic or creative skills; the student’s supervisory committee will determine if the student must meet requirements above the minimum. The cohort will include practicing artists at various stages of their career, recent graduates and also career changers who wish to augment their current practice with an intensive study of dance and embodiment, creating new fields of engagements and opportunities for themselves.

What will the degree prepare me for?

The MFA will enable you to formulate and realize your artistic aspirations as evidently as possible. Depending on your research interest, the MFA will facilitate your goal to work as an accomplished artist in the creative industry, to develop your own unique niche as a social entrepreneur, or to pursue a career in an academic setting.

Is there a part-time or low-residency option?

No. Due to the demands of bringing an interdisciplinary research project to successful completion a full commitment to this program for two years is required.