Connecting theGraduate Dance Community

Pictured:BrettGarfinkel, Stephanie Thibeault, LaurenAshlee Small, TraceyBonner, and JillGuytonNee by LaurenAshlee Small


he decision to pursue graduate school for dance can be diffi- cult.Oftentimes, information aboutmany graduate dance degree programs is challenging to find and confusing to nav-

igate.M.F.A.Dance degree programs, in particular, vary in terms of purpose and requirements.

For this reason,many students struggle to find the right program, location, and funding to fulfill their dance-related, artistic goals. Similarly, graduate dance degree-granting institutions encounter problemswithmarketing graduate programs to interested dancers.

What ifwe had a place to dialoguewith other like-minded people in the industry about the process and experience of going to grad school for dance? I, for one,would have greatly appreciated that kind of resource duringmy graduate school decision and applica- tion process, several years ago.

As I prepare to graduatewithmyM.F.A. inDance degree from BelhavenUniversity, I hope to serve other prospective andmatricu- lating dance grads on their journeys.Anewonline resource for dancers interested in graduate programs,DancerGrad, allowsme to do just that.

In a recent graduate dance degree panel atAmericanCollegeDance Association’s regional south conference, Iwas inspired by conversa- tionswith dance faculty fromacross the country. This panel, led by DanceDirector/Assistant Professor ofDance atNorthernKentucky University, TraceyBonner, provided an opportunity for undergradu- ate dancemajors to listen, ask questions, and learnmore about the ins and outs of graduate school.

page 14 May-July 2017

As a third year graduate student, I decided to sit in and seewhat the panel had to say about dance graduate degree programs.After brief introductions,Bonner directed eachmember of the panel to share about their personal graduate school experience. TheM.F.A. Dance programs discussed included: SUNY Purchase, theOhio StateUniversity,University ofMaryland, andUniversity of California, Irvine.

Bonner identified severalmain criteria unique toM.F.ADance degree programs, providing a basic survey ofwhat students could expect to find in graduate school search and application processes. Some common components ofM.F.A.Dance degree programs include: terminal degree status, 60-72 credit hours, low-residency options formid to late career artists, research and theory or chore- ography and artistic emphases, teaching fellowships, assistantships, internships, a thesis concert and/or publication, and an oral defense.

The panel, includingBrettGarfinkel (Assistant Professor ofDance, Northwestern StateUniversity), JillGuytonNee (Director of Dance/Assistant Professor ofDance,University ofMemphis), and Stephanie Thibeault (Associate Professor ofDance,University of Arkansas – LittleRock), approached the conversationwith support and personal knowledge.

Each panelmember encouraged participating students to use their unique voices and assess the stylistic influences and research inter- ests thatmade theman asset to the program.Undergraduate stu- dent participantswere also advised to performextensive research in preparation for university interviewswith faculty, asking themselves what theywould bring to the graduate program’s community. Faculty knowingly guided students to “bemembers of the commu-

DANCE!NORTHTEXAS a publication of the dance council of north texas vol. 20 • no. 2

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