The University of Alabama’s department of theatre and dance will offer the state’s first Master of Fine Arts in dance program starting in fall 2020.
The program, which will use the 2019-20 academic year to recruit and audition prospective students, will provide training in advanced studies in dance, prepare graduates for employment in the dance profession and provide credentials needed for employment and teaching positions that require a graduate-level degree.
The push for the program started with growth in the dance program’s talent, enrollment, national reputation and students’ curiosity in the breadth of the dance field, said Sarah Barry, UA associate professor of dance. At the same time, the College of Arts and Sciences was looking to expand its number of graduate programs to support UA’s strategic plan.
“Being the flagship university in the state, we’re excited to be the first to offer this program,” Barry said. “I believe we have the right balance of talent and interest here to support the program.”
The graduate program will support the development of diverse skills in classical and contemporary dance techniques, dance pedagogy, historical perspectives and critical theory, as well as technical and artistic integration of dance-specific technologies.
“An MFA in dance is the terminal degree in our field for performance and creative research,” Barry said. “A lot of people who pursue the degree want to go on to teach in higher education, and we will place an emphasis on pedagogy so we can train excellent teachers if that is what they want to do.”
The program will allow students to select their own creative research tracks. Examples of creative research include performance studies, choreography, scholarship, and technology and film.
Unlike some universities that offer a two-year MFA program with a distance learning component, UA’s will follow a traditional three-year model with learning opportunities provided on campus and in the community.
“We want the students to be on campus, so we can mentor the teaching component and put them in different settings for teaching majors and nonmajors,” said Barry. “This will allow us to observe and nurture their teaching skills along with their creative research and allow students to gain valuable experience in the process. We also anticipate numerous collaborative opportunities with our MFA in theater program.”
For more information on the MFA in dance, contact Barry at [email protected].
This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.