Master of Fine Arts in Dance
As a leading research university, our program provides MFA candidates with access to a breadth of resources to pursue opportunities that stretch the boundaries of how dance contributes to global intellectual and creative endeavors. We welcome returning professionals seeking to transition into higher education, outstanding recent undergraduates, and artists at all stages hoping to deepen their practice through three years of rigorous study.
The fully funded 3-year program includes full tuition, health insurance, and a living stipend. The curriculum offers multiple avenues for investigating the permeable boundaries between practice and theory, and students engage in unique interdisciplinary research and performance endeavors. Graduate students have full access to everything a Research 1 University has to offer: various grants for conducting international research, state of the art digital facilities, and world-renowned faculty across the arts, humanities, and social sciences. With proximity to Detroit, many students conduct site-specific research projects and collaborations with neighboring artists, partners, and venues. The final year of study culminates in a thesis project synthesizing students’ research into a live performance, written document, and a presentation of career plans for continuing research beyond graduation.
Our MFA program admits 3-4 incoming students each year for a total of nine graduate students. The intimate nature of each cohort provides ample resources for every student to pursue substantive choreographic and performance opportunities, as well as teach both non-majors and majors at the University level. Graduate students work closely with a large pool of highly trained undergraduate dance majors on creative projects, as well as interdisciplinary collaborations with MFA students based in other departments. In addition to the MFA thesis project students are encouraged to work with guest artists for our annual Power Center performance, present original choreography in a fully produced show at the end of their first year, and collaborate with faculty on external research projects including performance tours, manuscripts, podcasts, and symposiums.
Funding and Teaching Opportunities
All MFA students are fully-funded for three years through graduate student instructor (GSI) appointments. Funding includes 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.
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.
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.
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)
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 three 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.
Each MFA candidate works with an individual advisor to outline their course of study. The graduate faculty at Michigan offer a diverse constellation of expertise through a rotation of interdisciplinary courses in dance and globalization, physical theater and acting, performance improvisation, gender and sexuality in performance, and dance and technology. Under the direction of established faculty artists and scholars, each cohort progresses together through a Research in Action sequence which guides students through coursework in physical practice, artmaking, performance, theory, pedagogy, and professional development. Additionally, many students supplement their research through courses in art and design, critical race studies, queer studies, theater, and music, and/or pursue certificate programs through the Center for World Performance Studies and the Department of Entrepreneurship and Leadership.
For further information, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Charli Brissey: firstname.lastname@example.org
U-M dancers are proactive in pursuing a variety of opportunities to perform both within and beyond the Department, developing their own unique performance and choreography portfolio over the course of their time at U-M. Students perform faculty and guest artist choreography in a major annual production of the department, held in 1,400-seat Power Center theater. First year dance majors perform faculty, guest artist and student choreography in multiple locations throughout southeast Michigan. Second or third year graduate students produce performances at the culmination of their degree, often casting students from the department. And seniors produce performances at the culmination of their degree, often casting students from the department.
A New Home For Dance
The Dance Building is the new home for dance at Michigan. Opened in September 2021, the 24,000 square foot facility features four large, flexible studio-classrooms, including a performance venue with seating for more than 100 and a dedicated screen dance studio, modern locker rooms, cross-training and treatment areas, and administrative offices.