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Opportunities: Open Call – MFA in Dance – Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, New York)

Master of Fine Arts in Dance at Sarah Lawrence College

Hone your artistry in a program of study where critical thinking meets creative practice. Located just 30 minutes north of Manhattan by train
Apply to the MFA in Dance graduate program today

Photo Credit: Ian Douglas

The Master of Fine Arts in Dance program is structured as a training of the holistic dance artist, preparing students to be thoughtful citizen-artists of the 21st century.  Students are engaged in intensive, mentored creative work, movement practice, and analytic studies.

The goal is to present students with an inclusive curriculum that exposes them to vital aspects of the art form as performers, creators, and scholars; to widen students’ definition of dance and performance; and to encourage students to envision a vital role for themselves as artists in an ever-changing, contemporary world.

Candidates who possess a strong creative and technical foundation and who are interested in pursuing aspects of dance as a profession are encouraged to apply. 

The application deadline is January 1, 2020.

We suggest visiting campus to observe classes, meet with the director of the dance program, and consult with representatives of the Office of Graduate Studies.

Photo Credit: Ian Douglas

Academic Program

The Graduate Program in Dance combines seminars in reading, writing, and research with choreographic inquiry and daily physical practice in various genres.

Program Overview:

  • Analytic studies in the dance program include dance history and theory, experiential anatomy based in the work of Irene Dowd, and lighting design.
  • All students develop their own creative work for performances each semester through a process of mentored critical feedback in addition to ongoing studies in choreography, improvisation, and other forms of creative practice.
  • Graduate students are required to maintain a daily physical practice chosen from offerings in contemporary practices, classical techniques including ballet and West African Dance, improvisational practices, and somatic forms.
  • All students participate in the Guest Artists Lab throughout their time in the program. Guest artists regularly include leading practitioners in the field of dance and performance.
  • Students regularly meet one-on-one with their advisers to discuss their overall objectives and progress. They are encouraged to study broadly, widen their definitions of dance/performance, and pursue studies pertinent to their specific goals.
  • The proximity of Sarah Lawrence to NYC, a major crossroads in the dance world, allows for the Dance Program to benefit from a high quality faculty and guest artists who are leading practitioners in the field. It also affords the opportunity for students to attend world-class dance events throughout the school year.  
Photo Credit: Ian Douglas

Program Requirements

A total of 48 course credits (24 credits per year) are required to receive an MFA in Dance. Students are admitted on a full-time basis only. 

A master’s thesis project, comprising a performance thesis of approximately 30 minutes as well as a written thesis of 25-40 pages must be completed in the second year. Students will also prepare an oral presentation of their thesis work in a lecture for the faculty and the Sarah Lawrence community.

Year 1: Required Course Work (typically 14-16 class sessions per week):

Full Year Required Courses (11-12 class sessions per week)

  • Creative Practice:
    • Dance Making
    • Graduate Seminar II:  Choreographic Lab
    • Guest Artists Lab
  • Movement Practice:
    • Contemporary 3
    • 1-2 semesters of West African or African Diasporic Dance
  • Analytic Studies:
    • Dance History and Theory
      • Graduate Seminar I: Investigating the Contemporary in Practice and Theory
      • Graduate Seminar I: Decolonizing Dance History
      • Anatomy in Action
      • Lighting Design and Stagecraft

Elective Courses (3-4 class sessions per week – see below)

Year 2: Required Course Work (typically 12-14 class sessions per week):

Full Year Courses (approximately 8 class sessions per week)

  • Creative Practice
    • Dance Making
    • Graduate Seminar II: Choreographic Lab
    • Guest Artists Lab
  • Movement Practice:
    • Contemporary 3
  • Analytic Studies
    • Thesis Prep Seminar

Elective Courses (approximately 4 class sessions per week – see below)

Elective Course work

  • Contemporary & Improvisational Forms
    • Somatics, Improvisations, and the Athletics of Intimacy
    • Gaga
    • Butoh
    • Hip-Hop and other forms of street dance
  • Classical forms
    • Ballet
    • West African or African Diasporic Dance
    • Bharatanatyam
  • Composition
  • Performance Project (with visiting artists and companies)
  • Somatic Practices
    • Feldenkrais: Awareness Through Movement
    • Conditioning for Dancers
    • Yoga
    • Alexander Technique (currently offered through the Theater Program)
  • Perspectives on Dance Pedagogy
  • Anatomy Research Seminar
  • Music for Dancers
  • Various offerings through the Theatre and/or Music Programs including
    • Media Design
    • Voice
    • Costume Design
    • Creative Impulse: The Process of Writing for the Stage

Guest Artists Lab

The Guest Artists Lab is an experimental laboratory that aims to expose students to a diverse set of current voices and approaches to contemporary dance making. Each guest artist will lead a module of between three and seven class sessions. These mini-workshops will introduce students to that artist and their creative process. Guests will represent emergent, as well as established, practices. 

Guest artists in recent years include:

Nora Chipaumire, Beth Gill, Pepper Fajans, Silas Riener, and Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith

Abby Zbikowski, Dean Moss, Netta Yerushalmy, Sarah Michelson, and David Thomson

Mary Armentrout, Angie Pittman, Joanna Kotze, Jonathan Gonzalez, Luciana Achugar, Fana Fraser, Eleanor Smith, Pepper Fajans

Dance Making

Students are enrolled in “Dance Making” throughout their time in the MFA in Dance program; they create works for performance at the end of each semester and, in the final semester, students will develop their performance thesis as a part of this course. The course includes bi-weekly showings and individual feedback with faculty the following day, as well as mentored support from the dance program costumer, music advisors, and production manager. Students will have two two-hour rehearsals scheduled with their performers each week in addition to personal studio time during the week.

2019-20 Dance Faculty and Staff

John Jasperse, Director

Carmen Hartigan, Coordinator

Patti Bradshaw, Kyle Bukhari, William Catanzaro, Janet Charleston, Lacina Coulibaly, Elizabeth DeMent/Big Dance Theater, Beverly Emmons, Olana Flynn, Barbara Forbes, Beth Gill, Peggy Gould, K.J. Holmes, Eleanor Hullihan, Kathy Kaufmann, Matt Lopez, Merceditas Mañago-Alexander, Juliana May, Jodi Melnick, Jerome Morris, Dean Moss, Navarra Novy-Williams, Jenn Nugent, Amy Page, Darian Parker, Angie Pittman, Stuart Shugg, Paul Singh, Charmy Wells, Megan Williams, John Yannelli

2019-20 Guest Artists
Mary Armentrout, Angie Pittman, Joanna Kotze, Jonathan Gonzalez, Luciana Achugar, Fana Fraser, Eleanor Smith, Pepper Fajans

The application deadline is January 1, 2020
Apply to the MFA in Dance graduate program today

Photo Credit: Ian Douglas

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