About the MFA Program


The focus of our three-year program is to foster innovative choreographic research and to provide in depth creative experiences.  MFA candidates work one-on-one with mentors to design a program that supports their individual choreographic interests.

The Graduate Dance Center is a sustainable work/play space dedicated to graduate student choreographic research and development. This uniquely designed space will include two studios dedicated to graduate studies, a graduate office and lounge. The Graduate Dance Center represents an exciting collaboration between Dance at Illinois and the School of Architecture and occupies the second floor of the East Art Annex 2, a beautiful old, brick building a short walk from the Nevada Studios and the Dance Administration Building. The first 2,000 square foot studio, designed by faculty and student architects and dancers from the University of Illinois during a joint graduate seminar, opened in the Fall of 2009. This space has a sprung wood floor and floating wood curtains made entirely from recycled wood reclaimed from an old basketball court. In 2009, the Department of Dance received a Student Sustainability Grant to fund the renovation of the second studio and office spaces. A team of faculty and student architects built these spaces out of reclaimed wood from three barns that have been donated to the University of Illinois. These light filled spaces are equipped with lighting, sound and media equipment.

Size is a defining feature. No more than four carefully chosen MFA candidates are admitted per year and no more than 12 are matriculating at the same time. This promotes high standards, and personal attention, and ensures opportunities to choreograph, teach, and
perform for every candidate. 

Financial Support
This highly competitive program allows us to provide financial support to a majority of our candidates through Federal Work Study Assistantships along with Creative and Performing Arts Fellowships, Departmental Fellowships, Special Fellowships for underrepresented ethnic groups, and other Graduate College Fellowships.

An extraordinary faculty of artists, researchers, and scholars has gathered at Illinois, who are creating new paradigms for interactions between the professional arena and the academic training ground. In addition, each year there are several distinguished guest artists in residence teaching and setting works in the department. Exceptional alumni are also frequently invited back to conduct workshops and performances. These activities provide students with an opportunity to network with a range of practicing professionals. 

Located within a top research one university, our program encourages cross-disciplinary work and independent study in areas of interest and embraces imaginative interpretations of the thesis requirement.  In past years students have worked in the Thomas M. Siebel for Computing Science, the world class Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology, participated in Human Dimensions in Environmental Science and collaborated with scholars from Education, Art & Design, Landscape Architecture, Architecture, Theatre and Music. Students have also taken the opportunity to pursue a Minor in related fields such as Cinema Studies, Latino/Latina Studies, and Gender & Women's Studies. 


Flexible Design
Students can design their physical practice to include courses in contemporary and ballet technique, improvisation, a variety of somatic practices and popular and global dance forms.  The Somatics component of the curriculum includes courses in Alexander Technique and Bartenieff Fundamentals. Certification in Alexander, Pilates and Yoga are available in town.  Celebrated Alexander teachers Joan and Alex Murray are interconnected with our program.

Career Preparation
Our career seminars and interactions with working professionals prepare our graduates for meaningful artistic participation in the field. Our Teaching Assistantships provide students with the opportunity to teach three years at the University level, a necessary prerequisite for teaching in academic programs.

Implemented in 1980, the nationally ranked MFA program has a long tradition of excellence and leadership in dance graduate studies. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance.