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MFA Program Overview

Our fully funded two-year MFA in Dance provides world-class dance studies within a major research university, offering multiple avenues for investigating the permeable boundaries between practice and theory. The degree is aimed at outstanding recent dance graduates as well as returning professionals, particularly those seeking to move from careers at the national/international level in performance or choreography to working in higher education. The program builds upon a longstanding foundation of dance at the University while embracing new developments, preparing dancers for diverse opportunities within the field. Students engage in unique interdisciplinary research and performance projects, drawing upon the University’s breadth of resources.

Current Graduate Students

Graduating Class of 2018

Al Evangelista, Sydney Schiff, Fabiola Torralba

Graduating Class of 2019

Megan Bascom, Lenard Foust, Kelly Hirina, Nicole Reehorst



Students choose one of three tracks – performance/repertory, choreography, or screen dance. Each MFA candidate works with an individual advisor to outline his or her individual course of study. Classes in physical practice, pedagogy, and dance history support the tracks. Improvisation, advanced solo choreography and performance, choreographic production and design, site dance, screen dance, dance and the related arts, and a broad range of physical practice courses provide in-depth experiences for honing the dance artist’s vocabulary, craft and vision. Additionally, all M.F.A. dance students take a Research in Action core, in which students, faculty and guest artists share their creative and scholarly work, and cognate courses beyond the Department. The MFA culminates in a thesis project linked to each student’s chosen track.


MFA Cohort

Our MFA program is limited to four students per year, for a total of eight students. This small cohort enables us to offer our graduate students close mentoring with distinguished faculty members; dedicated studio investigation time; a pool of highly trained and disciplined undergraduate dancers with whom the graduate students have many opportunities to collaborate; and guidance through the many rich resources of a premiere research institution. Grants are given to support summer research and the culminating thesis project.

Teaching Opportunities and Support

All MFA students receive graduate student instructor (GSI) appointments, full tuition coverage, health insurance, and a stipend. As GSIs, MFA candidates develop strong pedagogical skills in their teaching of undergraduate dance courses and have the opportunity to develop and teach a new course of their own.

Creative Collaborations

Our MFA is located within a vibrant artistic and intellectual community. Collaborations with composers, set and costume designers, playwrights and poets, photographers, and film/video makers are plentiful within our School of Music, Theatre, & Dance (SMTD). Dance MFA candidates engage with graduate students from a range of disciplines and are regularly involved in co-sponsored projects and courses within and beyond SMTD. 

MFA applicants have received generous funding for international and national creative research by applying for grants available throughout the university. Dance faculty and MFA students frequently present their research and creative work at professional venues, as well as at national and international conferences.

Global Perspectives

Dance MFAs and faculty have conducted research and/or participated in creative projects throughout the world, recently in such locations as Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom.  Students can further extend their global engagement through seeking a graduate certificate in World Performance Studies through the Center for World Performance Studies.

Campus Facilities

Campus facilities beyond the Dance Building include:

Engaged Pedagogy with Community Partners

Building mutually beneficial partnerships with local and regional community members has been the focus of many recent creative initiatives. Dance MFAs have participated in creative projects with community partners throughout the state, in such settings as

  • Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum (Ann Arbor)
  • local public schools
  • Oakland Dance Festival
  • Detroit Dance City Festival
  • Carr Center (Detroit)
  • Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (Detroit)
  • Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy (Ann Arbor)
  • Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (Muskegon)

Career Strategies

Students are guided to consolidate and deepen their artistic practice in ways that help them imagine further career paths in areas including higher education, the non-profit sector, or work beyond the US. Over the two years, students develop digital portfolios to highlight their artistic and scholarly achievements, positioning them well for entering/reentering the professional world. In addition to remaining active in the field as performers, choreographers, and screen dance artists, graduates have been successful in securing jobs in higher education at such institutions as Coker College; Eastern Michigan University; Grand Valley State University; Hillsdale University; Marygrove College; Oakland University; University of Kentucky; The College of William and Mary; University of Hartford; University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of California, San Diego; Wayne State University; and more.


The University of Michigan Department of Dance is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower