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 two-year, full-time terminal degree program that embraces dance creation and performance across a range of cultures and contexts. Our highly tailored, approach takes full advantage of Duke’s status as an elite research institution. Transdisciplinary immersion is woven into our curricular approach to enhance our students’ capacities to engage pressing global issues from a fundamentally embodied perspective. Artists depart the program with a honed ability to translate the theoretical specificity of their artistic research and an expanded network to support future contributions and enhance their longevity as artists.

Why this program?

The MFAEIP is the first terminal practice degree in Dance to be offered at Duke and among Duke’s peer institutions. MFAEIP students who pursue dance and movement experimentation at a world-class research university renowned for interdisciplinary inquiry depart with the critical capacity to defend embodied knowledge and join arts and non-arts debates. A practice-based program that embraces literacy in non-dance areas of study as a survival skill in the arts, the Duke Dance MFAEIP is a perfect fit for artists with ambitions to address challenging issues and topics through dance and organized human action.

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

Yes. The research proposal component of the MFAEIP application is a key-element in evaluation. While students’ projects will certainly evolve over the course of four semesters, competitive applicants demonstrate a clear idea of the research direction that they hope to follow and identify how Duke’s interdisciplinary orientation to dance supports their unique ambitions.

How can I articulate the interdisciplinary aspect of my studies most effectively in my application, in writing?

Duke’s highly customized approach requires students to articulate how their dance research contributes to non-arts conversations. Applicants are encouraged to investigate Duke’s many academic units and locate faculty and institutes with allied research concerns and demonstrate potential connections in writing. Applicants with significant field experience working in interdisciplinary collaborations should describe this prior work in their application. Video and visual links can be impactful in convincing the admissions committee of a student’s capacity to carry out complex interdisciplinary dance experimentation. Additional questions can be addressed to Duke’s Director of Graduate Studies or Program Coordinator.

What forms of creative projects are encouraged during the MFAEIP?

The Duke Dance MFAEIP degree embraces dance as a transformational force across a wide range of cultures, communities and production contexts. Graduate students work closely with a faculty mentor and committee to produce a portfolio of thesis actions that are context and culturally-specific. Accompanied by a written thesis, thesis projects have taken many  forms including: performance works for the stage; site-sensitive or site-specific works, field-based collaboration with community partners; dance for the screen or in the digital realm; ritualized dance or movement workshops; and scholarly investigation of dance topics, methods or theories of interest. Examples of MFAEIP thesis portfolios are viewable here .

Who should apply?

Individuals seeking resources to help them to situate their commitment to dance, choreography, and/or performance in an expanded and cross-disciplinary frame are highly encouraged to apply. Accepted students have previously included artists at all stages of the career continuum.

What will be a typical student profile?

There is no ‘typical’ student profile. Admitted cohort members arrive at Duke with diverse dance training and professional achievements. Some are 5-10 years into their professional careers and seek a period of protected research time to gain momentum around an already-existing artistic work or methodology; others have recently finished their undergraduate degree and seek time and resources to deepen their connection of a topic that peaked their interest. Still others qualify as “career changers” who join the MFAEIP seeking to integrate dance into their non-dance work or to explore creative vocabularies and connections between dance and allied fields. Duke Dance’s current graduate students and alumni biographies demonstrate this unstandardizeable range.

What will the degree prepare me for?

Whether you want to create dances, design movement and dance experiences for others, teach embodied topics at the college level or make policy at the national level, the Duke Dance MFA/EIP provides students with the skills to translate the value of dance, performance and embodied knowledge (corporeality) to diverse publics. Thesis portfolios and writing anchor students’ dance-making in their unique positions in the world. A terminal dance practice degree, the MFA from Duke equips students to contribute as creative partners who galvanize collective responsibility for embodied knowledge, history and power and who work through dance to create a more just world.

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

No. Enrollment in the Duke Dance MFAEIP requires a full-time residential commitment in Durham, North Carolina for two years. Graduates attend Duke in person over four full time semesters, and participate in the Summer Hothouse, a month-long noncurricular summer residency at the end of year one to hone their research methodologies and thesis proposals.