Master of Fine Arts in Dance at Sarah Lawrence College



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Dancers practice together

Expand your dance experience—and your perspective—in Sarah Lawrence College’s Master of Fine Arts in Dance program.

The Graduate Program in Dance is based on the premise that the art of dance is an integration of body, mind, and spirit and is learned through creative, technical, and analytical practices.

The goal is to present students with an inclusive curriculum that exposes them to vital aspects of the art as performers, creators, and scholars; to widen students’ definition of dance and performance; and to engage students in explorations of form and function.

Academic Program

The Graduate Program in Dance combines seminars in reading, writing, and research with choreographic inquiry and daily physical practice in various genres.

Program Overview

  • All students study composition, improvisation, experiential anatomy based in the work of Irene Dowd, dance history, lighting design and stagecraft, and music for dancers.
  • Under faculty guidance, students show original work during winter and spring concerts and present final projects in the MFA concert during their last semester.
  • Graduate students are required to maintain a daily physical practice chosen from offerings in contemporary practices, including classical ballet, yoga, and Feldenkrais, as well as improvisation and composition.
  • Students regularly meet one-on-one with their advisers to discuss their overall objectives and progress. They are encouraged to study broadly, widen their definitions of dance/performance, and engage in explorations of form and function.
  • Frequent guest artists and lecturers are invited to the campus, some in conjunction with the theatre, music, and visual arts programs. 
  • The College’s proximity to New York City provides the opportunity for students to attend world-class dance events throughout the school year.

Program Requirements

A total of 48 course credits (24 credits per year) are required to receive an MFA in Dance. Students are admitted on a full-time basis only.

A master’s performance project is to be completed in the second year. Students will also prepare an oral defense and analysis of their performance project in a lecture demonstration for the faculty.

Graduate Seminars

Graduate Seminars form the heart of the program. Each of these seminars meets four semesters.

  • Seminar I is dedicated to reading, writing, and research.
  • Seminar II focuses on to choreographic inquiry.
  • Seminar III emphasizes the dynamic relationship between technical and creative practices.

Teaching Conference

Students interested in dance education take “Teaching Conference,” a course based in practice. In the fall semester, focus is on teaching children with participants developing teaching skills by leading classes for Sarah Lawrence’s acclaimed Early Childhood Center. The spring semester shifts focus to teaching adults with participants cultivating individual teaching interests and skills.

Guest Artists Lab

The Guest Artists Lab is an experimental laboratory that aims to expose students to a diverse set of current voices and approaches to contemporary dance making. Each guest artist will lead a module of between three and seven class sessions. These mini-workshops will introduce students to that artist and their creative process. Guests will represent emergent, as well as established, practices. Guests include:

Fall 2017
  • Nora Chipaumire
  • Beth Gill
Spring 2018
  • Pepper Fajans
  • Silas Riener
  • Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith

Skills & Experience

Candidates who possess a strong creative and technical foundation and who are interested in pursuing aspects of dance as a profession are encouraged to apply.

We suggest visiting campus to observe classes and meet with the Director of Graduate Admissions prior to application.