Thank you for your interest in the MFA Program in Dance at the University of Iowa. We are pleased to have this invitation to share some information regarding our outstanding Dance program, and some reasons why we maintain a national and international reputation for excellence.
As you consider your application for admission to the 2021/2022 Academic Year, you may be excited to hear that our graduate candidates are funded with fellowship awards, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships that pay for tuition, health insurance, and also provide a stipend. Graduate students invest and contribute to the richness of our program and in return, we offer the financial support necessary to their fullest investment. A substantial number of our MFA candidates hold teaching fellowships that allow them to teach their own courses in a variety of genres or to assist faculty in our dance studies curriculum. Our graduate teachers are given the freedom and responsibility to design their own courses and they also receive support to do so. Through their TA assignments, individual mentoring, discussion groups, technique teaching practicum, and coursework in pedagogy, our graduate students benefit from valuable resources and experiences while in our program and also on the job market. A large number of our MFA graduates are currently employed in higher education across the country. Others are directing their own dance companies, performing in regional and national companies, are working in arts entrepreneurship and administration, and have successfully entered doctoral programs.
In coursework and in their own projects, our MFA students regularly collaborate with other MFA students in our Division of Performing Arts. Since fifteen to twenty-five percent of every graduate degree is comprised of electives drawn from College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, our curriculum in dance is coupled with offerings from a world-class university. The Dance Department works to ensure that each graduate candidate is taking best advantage of the resources and expertise at their disposal, drawing powerful inspiration from the rich creative and intellectual community here.
Our University of Iowa Graduate College and Graduate Student Government are additional resources available to our students. Through competitive application, MFA students have won special funding for research and travel, for performance with faculty in national and international venues, to develop and teach new courses, and to conduct advanced creative research abroad.
In the University of Iowa Dance Department, our curriculum serves 12-16 graduate students and 100-125 undergraduate dance majors (BA and BFA) yearly. Our vibrant program is also supported by a professional staff of musicians, a sound engineer and composer, video staff, costume assistant, and weekly on-site athletic trainers from the University of Iowa Sports Medicine Clinic.
The 60-credit MFA degree program offers two separate degree emphases: Choreography and Performance.
These two areas of emphasis share a core curriculum, but also allow for specialization and flexibility in fulfilling requirements to support emerging interests. The curriculum includes advanced level studies in modern and ballet technique, choreography and performance, pedagogy, improvisation, kinesiology, collaborative performance, producing and directing digital video, installations and interactive performance, and many electives (Pilates, Laban Movement Analysis, Alexander Technique, The Feldenkrais Method, Brazilian Culture and Carnival, etc.). In an essential and meaningful partnership with the studio-based curriculum, graduate level studies in dance history and theory challenge students to broaden and deepen the scope of their artistic concerns. These courses ask students to integrate the theories and practices of dance, to test ideas through movement studies, to learn how embodied knowledge generates ideas, and to articulate those ideas through writing and other media.
Throughout, a central value in the Dance Department’s philosophy is a commitment to diverse voices, both in the classroom and on the stage. As a result, graduate students in Dance will find an exciting breadth of approaches, especially in the studio curriculum. For example, all technique courses are team-taught by three instructors in 5- week rotations, and the entire faculty participates in the choreography curriculum through courses, committees, and individual mentoring at your request. Our graduate students benefit from this diversity as they research and refine their own artistic methods and philosophies. To this end, an innovative teaching/learning/mentoring opportunity is the Graduate Technique Practicum. In this course, graduate students follow one faculty member through the teaching rotation for an entire semester, both practicing their techniques and gaining an understanding of that teacher’s technical and pedagogical approach from beginning to advanced levels.
One of our most valuable assets is our engagement in the professional world of dance. A source of opportunity for our graduate candidates has been the extensive professional activity of our faculty who present their work regularly in national and international venues. Connections made through guest artist residencies also provide support to graduating MFA’s. Our grads have enjoyed residencies and performed choreography by Urban Bush Women and by Monica Bill Barnes and other choreographers who have staged or created work with our students, including, Jane Comfort, Jenna Riegel, Rennie Harris, Alexandra Beller, Lindsey Deitz Marchant, Nicholas Leichter, Jennifer Muller, Julie Bour (France), Jaime Camarena (Mexico), David Dorfman, Bill Young, Clebio Oliveira (Brazil), Donald McKayle, Nina Watt (for Jose Limon Company), Gabriel Masson, Miguel Gutierrez, Joe Goode, Lucas Crandall, and Carl Flink. In addition to participating in new works, graduate candidates have had exciting opportunities to perform in masterworks restaged for our prestigious Dance Gala, produced in the 2,000- seat Hancher Auditorium, and for our touring group, Dancers in Company (Now “UI Dance Company”). Some highlights have included a 2016/2017 project for students who performed in Martha Graham’s classic masterwork “Acts of Light,” restaged and directed by our MFA candidate Jesse Factor for New York City’s Joyce Theatre. Other projects included performing the classic masterwork “Speeds,” (Jennifer Muller/The Works), and performing Trisha Brown’s “Set/ReSet, Reset,” recreated and directed by Melinda Myers, our new faculty member and former Trisha Brown company member. In a unique artistic partnership, our students learned a new work choreographed by Clebio Oliveira alongside dancers from Hubbard Street II (Chicago).
By hosting both emerging and established artists, our program is proud to participate in a rich dialogue between tradition and innovation, and to invite our graduate students to contribute to next steps in the conversation.
We hope that you will consider an application to the University of Iowa Department of Dance, and that you will contact us regarding any questions you may have. We would love to talk with you, and to discuss how your specific goals can be accomplished here in our MFA Dance program. We especially look forward to discussing how your MFA from University of Iowa can be the beginning to an increasingly rich career in the dance field.
For your convenience, detailed information regarding the MFA program for the 2021/2022 academic year, as well as application materials, may be found online. Please select the “Graduate Program” link, and review the application requirements carefully as numerous materials are requested. With the exception of official transcripts, materials are submitted via digital upload, including all documents (statements, forms, letters) and video links. Please note that in order to be formally admitted as an MFA student, it is necessary to apply to both the Graduate College, as well as to the Department of Dance.
Where applicable, please note that incoming graduate students whose first language is not English must score a minimum of 550 (PBT: paper-based test) or 81 (IBT: internet-based test) on the TOEFL exam or 7.0 with no section lower than 6.0 on the IELTS in order to be admitted into the Graduate College. Students admitted with TOEFL scores between 550-600 (PBT), or 81-100 (IBT), or IELTS scores in the range of 6.0 will require an English evaluation on campus and English courses may be required in the first year of study at the University. Therefore, a total score of 600 (PBT) / 100 (IBT) on the TOEFL exam or a 7.0 on the IELTS is preferable. Additional information about minimum scores and the English evaluation may be found at: http://grad.admissions.uiowa.edu/graduate-programs/english-requirements-admission-graduate-college
The application deadline to enter the program in fall 2021 is Monday, March 1, 2021. Application review will begin October 15, 2020, and will continue until March 1, 2021. Early admission decisions will be extended by Friday, December 18. Priority for all other applications will be given to those submitted by Monday, January 18, 2021.
When planning your application and audition materials, applicants should begin by identifying the MFA emphasis they wish to take – Choreography or Performance. In all application materials, but especially the candidate’s video and audition solo, candidates should take care to showcase their accomplishments specifically in the chosen track. When preparing the video samples, it is required for Choreography applicants, and preferable for Performance applicants, to include a few complete works, rather than many short excerpts. The audition solo can range in length, but typically, will not exceed 6 minutes. Candidates applying for a teaching assistantship will be invited to submit a video of their teaching, and will be asked to teach a non-majors technique class on a digital platform.
We hope that you will consider an application to the University of Iowa Department of Dance, and that you will contact us regarding any questions you may have. We would love to talk with you, and to discuss how your specific goals can be accomplished here in our MFA Dance program. We especially look forward to discussing how your Masters degree from University of Iowa can be the beginning to an increasingly rich career in the dance field.
On behalf of the Graduate Committee and faculty at the UI, we are looking forward to receiving your application.
Graduate Program Director
University of Iowa
Department of Dance
If you require assistance with the application system, or have questions about application requirements and procedure, please contact:
Alex Bush, Department of Dance Recruitment Coordinator
Molly Dahlberg, Department of Dance Academic Coordinator
If you have questions about our MFA degree, the courses, emphases, and requirements, and wish to discuss how you may pursue your professional and artistic goals in our degree program, please contact the Director of the Graduate Program:
Jennifer Kayle, Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies