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M.F.A. Dance

The University of Maryland’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) offers a 60-credit, three-year, full-time M.F.A. in dance degree alongside M.F.A.s in design, Ph.D.s in theatre history and performance studies and undergraduate degrees in dance and theatre.

M.F.A. Dance

M.F.A Dance

About the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

The University of Maryland’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) offers a 60-credit, three-year, full-time and fully funded M.F.A. in Dance degree alongside M.F.A.’s in design, PhD’s in Theatre History and Performance Studies, and undergraduate degrees in Dance and Theatre. The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies is one unit in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, a state-of-the-art facility with large dance studios, a variety of theatre spaces, and world outreach seminar rooms. Through the Artist Partner Program, graduate students engage with national and international performing artists through master classes, performances, and conversations.

M.F.A. in Dance program overview

The M.F.A. in dance focuses on choreography, physical practice and critical thinking and writing. Over the course of three years, through critical inquiry in the studio and seminar room, graduate students deepen the practice of individual investigation. The program provides Modern dance technique each semester and welcomes entering graduate students that do not have a Modern dance background. Through graduate work, graduate students discover artistic and sociopolitical connections to other artists, scholars and the dance field at large. The program offers rigorous immersive study to those who are curious, motivated, self-directed and possess a spirit of expansive inquiry and innovation. This includes interdisciplinary projects, presentation of choreography in formal and informal settings throughout the three-year program, performance in guest artist and faculty works, presentation of academic work at conferences and symposia and participation in community-based performance and scholarly events.

Emphasizing creative work and collaboration with fellow M.F.A. candidates in lighting, set, costume and media/projection design at TDPS, The degree culminates with a thesis: an original choreographed and performed creative project and a written thesis. The third year also includes an off-campus internship with an arts organization or research venue in the Washington, D.C. area, such as the Kennedy Center, Dance Place, Dance Exchange, Dance USA or the National Dance Education Organization.

Auditions for Fall 2021 admittance will be held on Monday and Tuesday, February 8 and 9, in the dance studios of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Alternate audition date by invitation. See the auditions section below for more details. Please contact Crystal Davis for more information.

 

Prospective students

Application deadline for 2021-2022: Friday, February 18, 2021 (domestic and international

Please complete all application materials and submit them through the online application platform prior to the audition. This includes submitting 10-15 minutes of video footage of your work via digital web links (i.e., Vimeo, YouTube, etc.) in the online application platform.

Visit us

To schedule a prospective student visit, please contact Crystal Davis with your name, contact information, program of interest and possible appointment dates. It is best to schedule a visit at least one week in advance.

Apply to the program

The University of Maryland’s Graduate School accepts applications through its online application system. Before completing the application, applicants are asked to check the Admissions Requirements site for specific instructions.

The M.F.A. in Dance program only starts in Fall of each year, with an application deadline in January or February. This year's deadline is Friday, February 18, 2021. Please see the information below to prepare for the Fall 2021 application. For additional information, please contact:

All components and requirements for the application must be completed and received by the deadline date before a review of any materials sent with the application can take place.
 
As required by the Graduate School, all application materials are to be submitted electronically:

  1. Graduate Application
  2. Transcripts
  3. A current CV: This document should accurately reflect your completed educational background and all of your professional and related experiences to date. Please be thorough and comprehensive, as your CV is critical in our determination of appropriate potential fellowship nomination.
  4. Statement of Purpose: Please compose a brief but engaging narrative that relates your research and movement practice interests to your degree in our program. Your essay should situate yourself within the field at the present time and should gather significant details of your previous experience, clarify your current involvement and interest in dance, and speculate about your future intentions within the field. We are interested in getting to know something about you as a dance professional through this writing: what you have done that has led you here, how you articulate your aesthetic sensibility, what you hope to accomplish in your studies. Please keep the length to 1-2 pages single-spaced or 3-4 pages double-spaced and create it in a Word or PDF file that can be easily uploaded.
  5. Work Sample(s): Submit Vimeo, YouTube, etc. links to recordings of samples of your work. These samples should demonstrate your expertise and interests, such as excerpts of your choreography, documentation of your performance and teaching, or dance media projects. All materials must be accompanied by a clearly written legend identifying the contents, including title, order of materials, date and explicit identification of your contribution. It is also helpful if you can guide us by identifying yourself in performance clips that include more than one person. Film clips may be edited or unedited and should be limited to 10 minutes.
  6. Writing Sample: The Graduate Studies committee reviews writing samples to determine applicants’ potential research and creative interests and to assess their competency as writers. Please submit a substantive piece of writing that demonstrates your thoughtfulness and capacity to handle language with fluency. Your submission may be about 4 pages double-spaced but no more than 20 pages; this might take the form of a critical review, process paper, or scholarly essay.
  7. Letters of recommendation: Submit names and email addresses of three recommenders for the electronic recommendation forms to be sent to them.
  8. Intent to Audition form: Submit the MFA Dance Intent to Audition form to let us know if you intend to audition on campus.
  9. Non-refundable application fee: ($75) for each program to which an applicant applies (Fee Eligibility Waiver: https://gradschool.umd.edu/feewaiverinformation)

Auditions

The M.F.A. in Dance program at UMD holds an audition early in the spring semester of each year. Offer letters are sent out by May of each year. Later applications are considered when space and funding is available.

Acceptance into the M.F.A. in Dance program requires admission to the UMD Graduate School as well as admission to the program.

Auditions are required. For best consideration in-person auditions are recommended. If you intend to attend an in-person audition, please fill out this form. Video conference auditions (via Skype and similar programs) are available for applicants through invitation only for those who live outside of the continental United States. Domestic M.F.A. applicants are expected to attend the February audition unless other arrangements are made with the TDPS Graduate Services Coordinator or the Head of M.F.A. in Dance. Applicants are notified of the admission decision by March.
 
Acceptance into the M.F.A. in Dance program requires admission to the UMD Graduate School as well as admission to the program. The application is reviewed by the TDPS Dance faculty, and all M.F.A. applicants are expected to attend the February audition unless other arrangements are made with the TDPS Graduate Services Coordinator or the Head of M.F.A. in Dance. Applicants are notified of the admission decision in late February.
 
The audition schedule varies from year to year. Here is a sample audition schedule:

Monday

 

8-8:50am

Arrival/Check-in

9-10:50am

Physical Practice I:

Modern dance technique class with UMD community

 

11am-12pm

Introduction to Program:

Brief meet and greet, opens to a more formal introduction to the program and faculty. Each participant introduces self, where they are coming from most recently and (research) interests.

12-12:30pm

Lunch

12:30-1:45pm

Solo Choreography showing: Group A

(4-5 min solo shared with Dance faculty and current grads)

Writing – prompt offered for written response: Group B

Teaching 20-minute class segments in non-majors class: Candidates 1, 2, 3

2-3:15pm

Solo Choreography showing: Group B

(4-5 min solo shared with Dance faculty and current grads)

Writing – prompt offered for written response: Group A

Teaching 20-minute class segments in non-majors class: Candidates 4, 5, 6

3:30-4:45pm

Solo Choreography showing (if needed)

(4-5 min solo shared with Dance faculty and current grads)

Followed by Tour of Facilities

End of Day

Meet with current grads in candid conversation

Departmental rehearsals are open to participants for observation

 

Tuesday

9-10:30am

Physical Practice II:

Grad-only audition class – Improvisation and in-the-moment Choreography

10:45am-12pm

Critical Topics Conversation: Grad-seminar Faculty facilitated discussion.

Purpose: to provide candidates the opportunity to negotiate conversation and demonstrate openness/curiosity.

12-12:30pm

Lunch

12:30-1:45pm

Individual Interviews

Teaching 20-minute segments in three simultaneous non-majors classes:

Candidates 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

2-3:15pm

Individual Interviews

Teaching 20-minute segments in non-majors class: Candidates 16, 17, 18

3:30-4:45pm

Individual interviews

Teaching 20-minute segments in non-majors class: Candidates 19, 20, 21

5:00pm

End of Audition

Evening

Attend MFA Thesis Concert (Dress Rehearsal) and/or other local events is optional and encouraged

 

Wednesday (optional)

Auditionees are invited to partake in morning classes.

Requirements

You must have earned a 4-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally-accredited U.S. institution, or an equivalent degree earned at a non-U.S. institution with at least a 3.0 GPA. 
 
For potential graduate students who DO NOT have an UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR IN DANCE: You may still apply and audition—however, you may be required to take additional coursework at the undergraduate level in order to meet prerequisites for some graduate courses. (These courses include: Improvisation, Dance History, Modern Movement Analysis and Teaching Dance.)
 
The M.F.A. in Dance program does not require the GRE but does require an audition and interview.
 
All international students must show evidence of acceptable scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). See information on the International Educational Services website for specific admissions requirements, including minimum TOEFL score. See information on the International Educational Services website for specific admissions requirements, including minimum TOEFL score.
 
Upon time of enrollment, your final official transcript, with degree earned included, should be sent by your previous institution to UMD at the following address:

University of Maryland College Park
Enrollment Services Operation – Attn: Graduate Admissions
Room 0130 Mitchell Building
College Park, MD 20742
DANC is the program code for the M.F.A. in Dance
 
The electronic submission of application materials helps expedite the review of an application. Completed applications are reviewed by an admissions committee in each graduate degree program. The recommendations of the committees are submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School, who will make the final admission decision. Students seeking to complete graduate work at the University of Maryland for degree purposes must be formally admitted to the Graduate School by the Dean.
 

Information for international graduate students

The University of Maryland is dedicated to maintaining a vibrant international graduate student community. The office of International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) is a valuable resource of information and assistance for prospective and current international students. International applicants are encouraged to explore the services they offer and contact the office with related questions.

The University of Maryland Graduate School offers admission to international students based on academic information; it is not a guarantee of attendance. Admitted international students will then receive instructions about obtaining the appropriate visa to study at the University of Maryland which will require submission of additional documents. Please see the Graduate Admissions Process for international applicants for more information. To ensure the integrity of the application process, the University of Maryland authenticates submitted materials through TurnItIn for Admissions.

Financial assistance

The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies is committed to fully funding all graduate students accepted into its programs and makes every effort to meet that goal. Assistantships are available for graduate study and are awarded by the TDPS graduate program only after a successful audition and Graduate School acceptance. Competitive support for workshops, conference presentations, summer study and other projects is also available.

In addition to assistantships, there are opportunities for awards and fellowships through the College and University. To find more opportunities outside of TDPS offerings, please visit the ARHU website page for financial support.

 

Contact us

For questions related to the admissions process, prospective students may contact the Graduate School.

If you have any questions about the M.F.A. in Dance program or application, please contact the Head of the M.F.A. in Dance program, Crystal Davis, at cudavis@umd.edu
 

Current students

We offer a 60-credit, three-year, full-time and fully funded M.F.A. degree in Dance that focuses on performance, choreography and teaching. The M.F.A. in Dance program is small (four students are accepted each year) and individualized. Auditions are required and admission is for Fall semester acceptance only.

The degree process culminates in an original choreographed and performed thesis project and includes an off-campus internship with opportunities to work with a professional company, to engage with presenting organizations or to intern at the Kennedy Center, Dance Place, Dance Exchange or other professional venues in the Washington, DC area.

The successful M.F.A. in Dance graduate is informed by dance theory as a performing artist, has achieved their own definition of the teaching artist and demonstrates the following attributes and values:

  • Curiosity
  • Innovative thinkers/creators
  • Agile/skillful /eclectic movers
  • Articulate advocates
  • Caring/competent educators
  • Knowledgeable citizens with personal agency
  • Responsible collaborators
     

Curriculum requirements

General Requirements

M.F.A. in Dance candidates must adhere to the following requirements:

  • Full-time enrollment in the three-year M.F.A. in Dance program
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 over 60 graduate semester units
  • Creation and production of a 25-35 minute choreographic project
  • Submission of 50-75 page written thesis and choreographic project recording
  • Successful completion of 15-20 minute thesis presentation, followed by an oral examination (defense)
     

Coursework

Coursework includes:

  • DANC600: Graduate Dance Research
  • DANC604: Graduate Studies in Dance Pedagogy
  • DANC608: Graduate Choreography I: Creative Process
  • DANC611: Dance Technology & Media
  • DANC648/649: Modern Dance Technique I and II
  • DANC679: Graduate Dance Performance
  • DANC698: Independent Study in Dance
  • DANC708: Graduate Choreography II: Collaboration
  • DANC719: Graduate Choreography III: Projects
  • DANC766: Graduate Movement Observation and Analysis
  • DANC777: Graduate Internship in Dance
  • DANC784: Dance in Global Context
  • DANC788: Graduate Tutorial
  • DANC799: Master’s Thesis Project in Dance

M.F.A. Dance students are also able to take electives in other areas including Theatre and Performance Studies courses, such as Alexander Technique, Voice, Media Design, Puppetry, Playwriting and Theatre History.
 

Thesis

M.F.A. in Dance candidates create and realize a choreographic project. Thesis projects are the culmination of a several months long, four-stage process (conceptual, design, integration and implementation). The written component of the thesis brings together more traditional scholarship with choreographic research and includes all relevant visual material, including research images, drawings, renderings and production photographs relating to the choreographic project. The thesis presentation is an oral overview of the written paper and the project overall. It is an account of the candidate's hypothesis, creative explorations/process/goals, choreographic project, questions and conclusions articulated for an audience who may not have seen the concert and read the paper. 

M.F.A. in Dance Handbook and Graduate Catalog

The M.F.A. Dance Handbook is available here. It is recommended that all M.F.A. in Dance candidates are familiar with the program’s handbook.

The UMD Graduate Catalog can be found on their website.

Dance Faculty

Sam Crawford

Sound and media technologies in performance, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

2820 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-6684

Crystal Davis

Assistant Professor, Dance Performance and Scholarship, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

2810 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

Adriane Fang

Associate Professor, Dance Performance and Scholarship

1933 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3195

Marielis Garcia

Artist-in-Residence, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

2815 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-6246

Maura Keefe

Associate Professor, Dance Performance and Scholarship, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

2810 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

Alvin Mayes

Instructor, Dance Performance and Scholarship, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

1931 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3194

Sara Pearson

Professor, Dance Performance and Scholarship

1925 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3652

Kendra Portier

Assistant professor (Maya Brin Endowed Professor in Dance), Dance Performance and Scholarship

2810 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

Patrik Widrig

Professor, Dance Performance and Scholarship

1925 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3652