Senior Project

All dance majors are required to do a senior project - regular or with distinction. Students have two choices - an intensive research paper, or a choreographic production. Two capstone courses are required for all majors in the Fall and Spring of their senior year. All majors will be required to sign up for one of the following courses in the Spring of their senior year:

  • DANCE488T - Capstone Tutorial: Senior Written Project or DANCE489T - Capstone: Senior Choreographic Project (regular)
  • DANCE499S - Capstone Seminar: Senior Project with Distinction

DANCE489T - Capstone: Senior Project

The goal for this requirement is for you to create a finely crafted body of work. A sound understanding of approaches to movement invention, structure, sound accompaniment, staging, props and costumes, scenery, and lighting is necessary. You will develop a twenty-minute oral presentaiton on your working process, which includes an evaluation of your project. Your oral presentation will be presented to members of the Dance Program faculty and include a question and answer period. 


Before you register and before permission for enrollment will be given, you must meet and talk with the faculty member you hope will be your advisor. You must bring a well thought out outline of your ideas to this meeting. Do not assume a particular faculty member will be willing to supervise you in this course.

At this meeting, come prepared to present the following:

Your Initial Intentions (can include description or ideas): 
Define your intentions in terms of a choreographic challenge to yourself and address in what ways your intentions specifically challenge you.   List ideas or points of departure.
  • Your Proposed Process (how you plan to develop your idea): 
This might include a discussion of how you will develop initial material, how you will manipulate or process that material, and how you will determine structure.
  • Details known to date - e.g.
Names of Dancers, Music/Text/Sound Ideas
, Special use of Costumes/props/Sets/Lighting, etc.

Once an advisor has agreed to supervise your project, you will meet with your advisor a minimum of once a week.

Project Development

Once your project concept is approved and you have an advisor, you will define your initial intent and working process. Choose ideas and working processes that you find challenging and have personal meaning. Part of the assignment for the course is to submit a proposal detailing your artistic intent and process and to details about dancers, music, sound, rehearsal times, etc.

Elements of a proposal:

  • Project Time Line - Develop and Present a detailed timeline for your project that includes deadlines for all phases of your project including Choreography, Production and Marketing.   For example, include the dates by which the Choreography will be completed, the dates by which the Lighting designer, sound person and videographer will be engaged, the dates by which the press release will be written, etc., etc, etc.
  • Production Schedule - Outline a complete production schedule that includes the Rehearsal schedule, the technical rehearsal, dress rehearsal and performance schedule as well as the set up of the performing space.
  • Budget - Draft a budget for your project. Include (as applicable) costs for production personnel, sets, costumes, design and printing of flyers and concert programs, marketing costs, equipment rental costs, etc.

Things to consider:


  • You will need lighting and sound personnel.  
  • You will need a crew to help set up risers and chairs, and to help with set-up, cleanup and strike of the production (please see Ark Use sheet for more detailed information).
  • You will need a house manager.
  • You will need box office personnel and/or ushers.
  • Decide if you will take reservations, and, if so, how you will handle that process.
  • If you decide to video the concert you will also need a videographer. You will need to supply the camera unless your videographer owns one.  
  • Some of the above people will need to be paid. Include their costs in the budget and be sure to find enough income to cover them.

Marketing and Concert Material

  • Decide the extent of publicity for your concert.  
  • Will you send out a press release and calendar item?  
  • Will you advertise?  
  • Will you create and post flyers?
  • Program information will need to be gathered, organized, proofread for accuracy and printed.


Each student enrolled in DANCE489T Senior Project will receive $250 from the Dance Program to help to cover costs for the concert. Students may apply for Undergraduate Research Support (up to $250) from the Duke University Office of Research Support. Ticket sales may offset other expenses if you decide to charge for the concert.

Grading Criteria

The DANCE489T Senior Project will be graded as follows:

  1. The quality of your work.
  • Clarity of intent
  • Choreographic cohesiveness
  • Level of sophistication of choreographic craft
  • Depth and clarity of performance
  1. The difficulty of the choreographic task you set.
  2. Oral presentation.
  • The clarity of its structure and analysis.
  • Its logic and eloquence.
  1. Project organization and administration.
  2. Your effort and participation in all aspects of the course.