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, 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. While our Department of Dance demands the deepest investment from each graduate student, in return, we offer the financial support necessary to their fullest contribution. A substantial number of our MFA candidates hold teaching fellowships allowing them to teach their own courses in a variety of genres or to assist faculty in our dance studies curriculum. Although graduate teachers are given the freedom and responsibility to design their own courses, they are also given support in the form of individual mentoring, departmental discussions, a technique practicum, and coursework in pedagogy.
This invaluable teaching experience is part of the preparation we offer students on the cusp of a professional career, or for those transitioning from the profession to academia. In fact, a large number of our MFA graduates are currently employed in higher education, dance companies, arts entrepreneurship and administration, and secondary education. The success of our grads is due not only to their hard work, and to the extraordinary faculty who have mentored them, but to the long history in our department of nurturing the art of Dance.
Students can also look to the Graduate College and Student Government as a resource and support, finding helpful information, and additional funding for special projects. Recent graduate students have won funding for travel to perform with faculty in national and international venues, funding to research, develop and teach new courses, and funding to conduct advanced creative research abroad.
Substantial resources in the University of Iowa Department of Dance include our 130 undergraduate dance majors, our six beautiful dance studios, a fully equipped Pilates studio, a professional staff of musicians, a sound engineer and composer, video staff, and costume assistant. Graduate candidates also have numerous opportunities to choreograph and perform in a yearly season of more than 10 concerts, produced in the newly expanded 250-seat Space Place Theater. Graduate candidates are encouraged to seek opportunities to collaborate with other MFA students in our Division of Performing Arts, and to experience the rich creative and intellectual community in our University and beyond.
At the foundation of the Department of Dance’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 in 5-week rotations, 7 of the 8 Faculty participate in offering the choreography curriculum, and each member of the faculty mentors independent projects of all kinds. Students may also gain an in-depth understanding of both teaching and taking dance technique through a Graduate Technique Practicum, following one faculty member through his/her teaching rotation for an entire semester, gaining an understanding of that teacher’s technical and pedagogical approach from beginning to advanced levels. Reflected in both faculty expertise, and the structure of the curriculum, is the value we place on individual mentoring through varied professional opinions, backgrounds, and aesthetics. Our graduate students benefit from this diversity as they research and refine their own artistic methods and philosophies.
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, digital dance, and many electives (Pilates, Laban Movement Analysis, Alexander Technique, Afro-Caribbean Dance, 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. Moreover, since 15%-25% 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 Department of Dance works to ensure that each graduate candidate is taking best advantage of the experience, resources, and expertise at their disposal.
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. Recent guest choreographers include Monica Bill Barnes, 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 exciting opportunities to perform in masterworks restaged for our prestigious Dance Gala, and for Dancers in Company, our touring and outreach repertory company. For our 2012 Dance Gala, students performed the classic masterwork Speeds, learned during a 3-week residency of Jennifer Muller/The Works. In 2011, our students were honored to perform Trisha Brown’s Set/ReSet, Reset, recreated and directed by Melinda Myers, a former Trisha Brown company member, and one of our own MFA students. Other students participated in a new choreography by Clebio Oliveira, learning the work alongside dancers from Hubbard Street II (Chicago), in a unique artistic partnership for Fall 2011.
For your convenience, detailed information regarding the MFA program for the 2019/2020 academic year, as well as application materials, may be found on our website. Please select the Applications link, and review the application requirements carefully as numerous materials are requested. With the exception of official transcripts, it is best to upload materials digitally, including video links. Recommendation letters can also be received online directly from your recommenders. 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-...
The application deadline to enter the program in fall 2017 is Monday, December 3, 2018. The MFA auditions will be held on January 28 and 29, 2019 or February 4 and 5, 2019.
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 on-campus audition solo can range in length, but typically, will not exceed 6 minutes. The solo audition takes place in an informal studio setting for the faculty and fellow applicants only. To assess technical proficiency, all candidates will take a ballet and a modern technique class at the on-campus audition, and those applying for a teaching assistantship will be asked to teach a lower-level technique class.
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