MFA in Dance

MFA student, Rosely Conz in 'The Current'

The MFA program at CU is designed to accommodate a variety of students, ranging from the practicing professional to the recent BA / BFA graduate. The MFA will develop students’ creative, performance, and scholarly work and position them for teaching careers in higher education as well as a variety of other careers in the field of dance. The program provides a well-rounded education that develops concrete skills in performance and choreography, and instills an appreciation of the role that dance plays in history and human culture. Our core training includes classes in modern, ballet, African, jazz, and hip-hop.


  • To encourage the clarification and individuation of each student’s artistic voice.
  • To prepare and empower students to fulfill their chosen career paths, both in their graduate studies and in the professional world.
  • To investigate traditional and innovative approaches to movement invention, choreography, and performance.
  • To deepen somatic awareness and increase fluency in dance technique, including Ballet, Improvisation, Jazz, Modern, Hip Hop and West African.
  • To actively engage in dance research, with particular attention to discovering relationships between scholarship and creative work.
  • To examine pedagogical goals and strategies from aesthetic, cultural, and anatomical perspectives.
  • To present choreography/creative work on a regular basis and perform in the creative work of faculty,student peers, and guest artists working in a variety of aesthetic and technical styles.


The MFA in Dance is a 60 credit hour program designed to take 3 years (6 semesters) to complete. Students generally take 10 credit hours per semester, leaving sufficient time for extracurricular creative and research work.

The core curriculum focuses on performance and choreography. Students are asked to delineate a secondary area of study designed to give breadth to the student’s training. Through collaboration with the student’s academic advisor, the student’s secondary emphasis should be selected no later than the second semester of study. The program is designed to be responsive to individual areas of interest and to ensure effective preparation for careers in academics and the professional arena. The University setting is particularly well-suited to these broad educational goals, given the wide variety of subjects available for involvement.

Possible secondary areas of extended study are:

  • Multi-media forms
  • Music
  • Film/Video
  • Writing/poetry/literature
  • Cultural Studies
  • Non-concert forms
  • Kinesiology
  • Site Specific work
  • History
  • Somatics
  • Performance Art
  • Dance Criticism

Performance and Choreography

All MFA students are expected to present choreographic work each semester, either as part of course-related events or in other departmentally-produced events.  It is expected that students will seek not only to refine their established artistic practices, but also assiduously to “stretch” themselves in the creative process into less familiar movement, choreographic, aesthetic and expressive modes.  Evaluation of artistic output will be based on articulateness, sophistication, theatrical and conceptual completeness and on the extent to which a student has deeply sought change and discovery.

Students are urged to seek a variety of performance opportunities with fellow students, faculty and guest artists.  Produced performances are presented at least 3 times each semester, and informal showings occur regularly during the year.  Extensive work with off-campus groups is normally extremely difficult to schedule.

Students are encouraged to think “outside of the box” both in terms of course choices and creative and scholarly activities.  Fully half of the required credits are electives, allowing for a great deal of freedom and individualization of study.  It is critical that a student work closely with his/her advisor in selecting electives in the dance curriculum, courses outside of the department, and creating independent studies and internships that will support the student’s goals.  The faculty encourages students to search far and wide through the University’s offerings to discover courses and areas of study that are particularly suited to their individual interests.


Each student must should complete the following undergraduate courses of study or their equivalent prior to graduate study:

  • Dance History – 1 semester
  • Improvisation
  • Choreography – 2 semesters
  • Dance Performance
  • Dance Production

Admitted students will take a written diagnostic survey the summer before they enter the program.  The survey helps the faculty to determine the strengths and deficiencies of each student and if we may waive requirements or add courses to address deficiencies.

Modified MFA Program for Professionals

Those students entering the program with extensive professional backgrounds including teaching, choreography and/or performance may be able to operate within a modified program.  During the audition process an interview with the Director of Dance and the Dance Graduate Director will be required.  The interview will help determine if there is a good match between the student’s goals and our MFA program.  The goal of the modified program is to provide greater flexibility in deepening the individual’s areas of expertise as well as developing new areas of interest.  It is also an opportunity to fill in any educational gaps that might exist.  The flexibility may be achieved by acquiring more credits for independent creative and research work and non-required courses through the waiving of some core required courses.  Waiving requirements does not mean a reduction of the total 50 or 60 credits required.

Waivers/Life Experience Portfolio

Core requirements may be waived for graduate students with extensive professional backgrounds.  These students must submit a life experience portfolio documenting achievement equivalent to the courses to be waived.  Documentation may be in the form of letters of recommendation, programs, reviews, photographs and videos.  Essay(s) describing the nature and value of the experience must be included.  The graduate faculty will review the portfolio and make waiver recommendations.  Waiving of requirements does not necessarily mean a reduction of the total credit hours required.