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 achieved through practice-led research across arts and non-arts contexts. The program endorses dance as a research problem and transformative force in communities and in society at large. Although our dynamic and internationally renowned faculty contribute knowledge across divergent realms of embodied practice, together we celebrate embodied performance as a vital method of investigation. We value dancing as a form of theorizing what a body can be and do. We value dance practice as a method of historical transmission and revision. And we understand the power of movement as a means of local and global worldmaking in its own right. Our highly tailored, interdisciplinary course of study engages students at the vanguard of contemporary dance experimentation in non-dance discourses to enable productive immersion in broader questions of embodied power, identity, and culture. By pursuing dance across a broad cultural, geographical, and institutional expanse, our program equips graduates to pursue an expansive array of dance and performance interventions at Duke and in Durham, and into the long term.
Why this program?
The first MFA in Dance offered amongst Duke’s peer institutions, this program harbors practice-led investigation within the context of a world-class research university renowned for interdisciplinary inquiry. Accepted students enter the program with a provisional set of questions and assumptions that link their dance and performance work to other knowledge areas. This model of inquiry insists on rendering dance’s value in relationship to other research topics, questions, and approaches. In so doing, the Duke Dance MFA/EIP aspires to establish itself as an anti-model of dance learning and experimentation. Our alternative approach leverages what top-tier universities can uniquely do to nurture experimentation and knowledge making in the arts.
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 imagine and articulate the interdisciplinary aspect of my studies?
Mentored by a primary dance faculty advisor and committee that includes non-dance experts, accepted students develop an interdisciplinary course of study to contextualize and further define the progression of their creative work. Applicants are encouraged to spend significant time with the Duke Dance and Duke University websites exploring academic programs, institutes, centers, and affiliated organizations that would animate the kinesthetic possibilities of their dance and performance aspirations. Rather than narrow what is, by design, a highly customized approach to embodied research, applicants who pursue these inroads and still find themselves with questions should arrange a phone or virtual meeting with the Director of Graduate Studies or Director of Graduate Studies Assistant.
What forms of creative projects are encouraged during the MFA:EIP?
The MFA degree in Dance embraces the aesthetic, cultural, and political possibilities that movement and dance engender across an array of production contexts. Admitted graduate students work closely with a faculty mentor and committee to tailor their portfolio for research action to foreground the interdisciplinary inroads that their work surfaces. To date, students’ creative research models have been structurally incomparable, but theoretically anchored in delivering movement-based inquiry in context to targeted communities or publics.
Who should apply?
Individuals should apply if they are ambitious and passionate to pursue dance, embodiment, and choreography in an expanded and cross-disciplinary frame. Our program provides admitted students with protected time to fortify their existing instincts through rigorous practical and scholarly investigation. To this end, re-education frequently occurs with regard to students’ prior modes of perceiving, moving and creating. Those with a strong interest in connecting dance to other fields of inquiry or who hope to position their creative contributions in dance alongside non-dance partners are strongly encouraged to apply.
What will be a typical student profile?
There is absolutely no ‘typical’ student profile, which is not to say that the Duke Dance graduate program is suitable for all prospective students. Admitted cohorts own a range of creative and professional achievements and represent artists at various stages of the career continuum: from mature artists inspired to acquire a period of protected research time, to career changers invested in dance and movement integration, to emerging artists recently departed from a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Overall, students who seek entry into our program aspire to develop rigorous theoretical, historical, and interdisciplinary vocabularies and approaches to sustain their performance practice.
What will the degree prepare me for?
The Duke Dance MFA/EIP provides students with space, time, mentorship, and resources required to put their cultural values, creative aspirations, and experimental methods in context. Duke’s world-renown as a research institution and the networked connections that institutional entry provides equip students to drive art and cultural production in conventional and lesser-known contexts. While our post-graduate alumni opportunities remain under development, it is our goal to gather alumni dance grads with annual regularity to keep doors to future collaboration and exchange open toward sustainable dance futures.
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.