The Master of Fine Arts in Dance: Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis

The Master of Fine Arts in Dance: Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis is a 2-year, full-time terminal degree in Dance dedicated to practice-led approaches to performance across an array of cultures and contexts. To encourage students to take full advantage of Duke’s interdisciplinary approach, MFA students are required to pursue substantial study outside of dance within Duke’s many outstanding graduate programs, departments, centers, and institutes. Many graduates opt to design thesis research in collaboration with Duke Centers, Institutes, and partners. Many also opt to pursue graduate certificates outside of dance during their time in the program. During the first summer term, all MFA students deepen and expand their work through the American Dance Festival experience.

Program Strength 

Our MFA encourages students to pursue practice-based research interventions that make tangible contributions to the local cultures and communities to which they belong. We embrace dance and embodied performance as vital research topics, theories and methods of knowledge production. Our highly tailored curriculum invites students to connect movement-based inquiry and insights to running debates in arts and nonarts corners of campus and the Durham community. The rigorous learning environment of the Duke Dance MFA/EIP is co-located in our legacy dance research home (the Ark), and the state-of-the-art facilities (the Rubenstein Arts Center), where students experience peer-to-peer learning and an abundance of stimulation and inspiration. Although our admitted students work in diverse, sometimes divergent dance worlds, the expanded interdisciplinary knowledge, theoretical specificity, and critical self-reflection that the Duke graduate experience provides prepares them for leading roles within the rapidly expanding fields of dance and interdisciplinary arts.

To underscore the importance of interdisciplinarity to this program, 21 of the 48 required graduate units take place in non-dance research specific fields. Allied research pathways outside of dance include, but are not limited to, graduate-level courses in gender, sexuality and feminist studies, African/African American studies, cultural anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, disability studies, public health, medical humanities, religious studies, disability studies, technology and new media, music, and documentary arts. Student thesis portfolios are highly individualized, and designed to evidence artists’ ability to connect concepts, movement forms, and specific sites of embodied intervention. To date, graduate dance researchers have staged MFA research actions and investigations on stages and screens, in libraries, forests, and on the lawns of the Duke campus, in the streets, in local communities, museums and galleries. MFA students work closely with Duke faculty advisors and faculty from allied disciplines to translate the transdisciplinary potential of dance and practice-based inquiry within grounded historical, cultural, and theoretical contexts.

Prospective students apply to the MFA in Dance/EIP with a provisional research proposal that evidences their interest in experimenting with cross-disciplinary inroads between dance, performance, and other disciplinary avenues at Duke.