Taking Shape: The MFA in Dance at Duke

Now a few months into the inaugural year of the MFA in Dance: Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis, the program has begun to build exciting momentum. An inspiring first cohort of students are combining group coursework with more individualized research, studying the intersection of a variety of disciplines. Michael Klien, Director of the MFA in Dance, shares some insight on how together the faculty and cohort are redefining the studio -- and the classroom -- to make this a one-of-a-kind MFA program. 

What are some of the key courses of the program?

The MFA program kicks off with three mandatory classes designed to support students in understanding the entangled nature of theory and practice:  

  • Choreographic Praxis, which serves as an introduction to the practice and theory of the expanded field of Choreography

  • Movement Research, which provides students with individually tailored pathways of study while providing a framework for reflection and discussion. 

  • Theories of Corporealities, which offers theoretical frames for articulating the social, political, cultural, phenomenological, and economic significance of the body across humanities disciplines

We encourage that, whenever possible, abstract theories are 'thought through' the body, and experienced in some shape or form. As the research shapes new thoughts and ideas, this also needs to resonate with the student's way of moving. We want to support them to move differently and explore their own potential for movement.

How is the program individualized? How is it collaborative? 

Many aspects of the program are designed directly by the group, or they individually work alongside faculty to shape their unique research experience. Meanwhile, numerous courses and activities require the cohort to work together, including lectures, workshops, and more.  

How will the program continue to evolve? 

We are at the start of something special, and that is how it feels; with continuous openness and flexibility, we will grow the program according to our collective experience. Hopefully, in time, the program can embody a learning organization itself that does not wish to reach 'one way' of doing things, but rather stays an ever-changing educational endeavor shaped by the experiences and movements of the group.


Interested in pursuing the only interdisciplinary MFA in Dance of its kind? Apply today to be a part of the Fall 2020 cohort of Duke University’s MFA in Dance: Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis.