ANNOUNCEMENT: New MFA in Dance: Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis (starting Fall 2019) at Duke University

equipping the imagination for social transformation

The Duke University Dance Program announces a new MFA in Dance program scheduled to start in Fall 2019, applications for which will be accepted onwards of June 2018 (our new, comprehensive website should be active by May 2018). Please contact our staff, Jennifer Prather,  if you wish to join our MFA mailing list. For specific enquiries regarding the MFA, please contact the director of the MFA program, Professor Michael Kliën

Duke University’s new 2-year, full-time MFA in Dance is dedicated to embodied knowledge and committed to practice-led movement discourses in service of the society.

Open to all students with expertise in all forms of movement practice from any culture or geographical area, the MFA not only encourages, it requires substantial study in related disciplines chosen from Duke’s many outstanding graduate programs. In addition, during the first summer term, MFA students will incorporate and contribute to the richness of the American Dance Festival experience.

The program endorses dance as a politically, socially and spiritually transformative force in society. In other words, the MFA will engage students at the vanguard of contemporary dance culture and praxis, and encourage practice-based research with emphasis on socio-political processes that result in tangible contributions to culture at large. We are passionate about creating an environment that supports interdisciplinary knowledge gained through continued embodied practice.

The MFA in Dance endeavors to cultivate new forms of movement as well as choreographic engagements with the lived environment through critical thinking, artistic activity and scholarly enquiry. This unique research-based program aspires to foster collaborations across disciplines in the training of sophisticated and creative art practitioners, mentoring students to identify and follow their own direction of inquiry in order to create an individually-tailored curriculum. Students will be drawn into a rigorous peer-to-peer learning environment with an abundance of external stimulation and inspiration. We envisage our students to become leaders in the social and politically relevant developments in the expanded fields of dance and choreography.

Students will apply with a formulated research proposal, which, if accepted, will develop through the extensive cross and interdisciplinary study opportunities available at Duke. To underscore the importance of interdisciplinarity of this program, 21 of the 48 required credits will be available in one or more research specific fields other than dance (such as gender-studies, cultural anthropology, biology, psychology, neuroscience, religious studies, new media, etc.) towards elective requirements. Projects may investigate multi-media, site-specific work, live art, ritual performance, social choreography, political advocacy, movement techniques, 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 of the social sphere.

The MFA curriculum focuses on Embodied and Choreographic Praxis (9 credits), Dance Theory / Cultural Context (9 credits) and Thesis (9 credits), encompassing a practical as well as a written component towards the required coursework in Dance. 21 credits will be dedicated to disciplinary or interdisciplinary electives across Duke University. These credits will be identified in close dialogue with world-class mentors assigned to each student’s research project. Summer sessions will include a ground-breaking movement research laboratory, an outcome of a new partnership between Duke Dance and the American Dance Festival. Additionally, students who intend to develop a product and/or a business as part of their MFA in Dance will have the option to obtain a Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship as an integral part of their studies at Duke University.


Applications for Duke University’s MFA in Dance: Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis are now open. You can learn more about how to apply here.