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Dance

Master of Fine Arts

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Dance

The MFA degree program offers working dance professionals the opportunity to study with award-winning dance artists, scholars, and educators. The program focuses on developing interdisciplinary praxis where dance performance, creativity, and pedagogy become integrated with studies in other art forms and theoretical studies.

Guided by the belief that dance is a fundamental embodied practice for understanding the human condition in a globalized context, the degree establishes students as creatively literate world citizens who can develop interdisciplinary solutions to address complex contemporary issues.

Our interdisciplinary approach is the hallmark of the MFA in dance at Mason Gross School of the Arts.

The MFA curriculum includes sequential scaffolding of coursework with intersecting course content in an effort to encourage integrated learning. Full-time students will complete 60 credits of coursework over a two-year period, including one winter session and two summer sessions. Part-time study options are available.

Through the MFA curriculum, students have the opportunity to engage in discussion with guest scholars regarding dance philosophies and aesthetics, including comparative African philosophy and more recent explorations in the areas of virtuality and technology. Mason Gross Dance collaborates with the Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities and the Rutgers Department of Philosophy to bring scholars such as Dr. Sondra Horton Fraleigh, Dr. Ann Cooper Albright, and Aili Bresnahan, JD, PhD, among others.

MFA students perform in works specifically choreographed for the experienced professional. Guest artists setting repertory works have included Pavel Zustiak, Laura Peterson, and Olivier Tarpaga. These works are performed during each of Mason Gross’s annual DancePlus Fall concerts in in the new New Brunswick Performing Arts Center.

As students are mentored through leadership and advocacy coursework, they enroll in “Externship.” This course applies social justice-based theories and methods of creative engagement toward creating artistic projects supporting community and advocacy organizations. These artistic projects are presented each spring at the MOTION: New Dance Works concert.

Interdisciplinary Learning

MFA graduate students will expand their portfolio to address complex and potentially global aesthetic problems through interdisciplinary inquiry. The MFA graduate faculty provide a broad base of interdisciplinary expertise, including performance and creative theory, methods, practices, dance studies, leadership, and advocacy.

MFA students also have access to top-tier departments and faculties in the humanities with course offerings in a diverse number of areas such as philosophy and aesthetics, history, cognitive studies, women’s and gender studies, queer studies, Jewish studies, Asian studies, African studies, Latino studies, and Caribbean studies, among many others. Additional STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) areas of study include community health, music technology, landscape architecture, and engineering robotics.

Praxis

Our MFA graduate students will consider themselves interdisciplinary creative researchers who integrate articulated theories and methods with their physical training and studio inquiry. The Rutgers MFA in dance supports praxis in three ways:

  • Each semester, MFA students enroll in a Praxis of Dance (POD) course. Co-taught by dance faculty, POD courses offer an integration of theory and practice that develop students’ unique praxis. Each course focuses on aesthetic, philosophical, cultural, or historical theories while integrating improvisational strategies and cross/interdisciplinary choreographic methods.
  • The MFA in dance allows for 10 credits of elective coursework, drawn from dance, other art forms, humanities, and/or STEM fields. MFA students develop an elective Praxis Plan that combines both theoretical and practical coursework to ultimately serve their thesis projects.
  • MFA candidates will present their thesis through a movement-based, creative research project as well as a theoretical and methodological research paper that articulates each student’s praxis orientation.

Critical Pedagogy

Critical pedagogy incorporates critical theory within student-centered teaching where learners become producers of meaning with a focus toward progressive social change. Rutgers MFA graduates will possess pedagogy skills to effect social change through the educational process, by engaging active student learners from a strong theoretical, methodological, and practical basis. Each MFA student receives part-time lecturer appointments and, as full teachers-of-record, will apply critical pedagogy theories and methods directly in both studio and theory dance courses in person and online.

Barbara Angeline
Assistant Professor
Dance
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Jeff Friedman
Director, MFA in Dance
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Alessandra Lebea Williams
Assistant Professor
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