About the Program

About the MFA ProgramChoreography

Our three-year program fosters innovative choreographic research and provides in-depth creative experiences. MFA candidates work one-on-one with mentors to design a course of study that supports their individual choreographic interests.


Extraordinary artists, researchers, and scholars have gathered at Dance at Illinois to create new paradigms for interactions between the professional arena and the academic training ground. Our small group of carefully selected graduate students receive intensive training and collaborate with faculty on research projects and original works. In addition, each year distinguished guest artists teach and set works in the department, and exceptional alumni conduct workshops and hold performances.

Cross-Disciplinary Work

Located within a highly rated research institution, the MFA program encourages and supports cross-disciplinary work, novel independent study projects, and imaginative interpretations of the thesis requirement. In previous years, students have worked in the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science and the world-class Arnold O. and Mabel M. Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, participated in the Human Dimensions of Environmental Systems program, and collaborated with scholars from the College of Education, the School of Art and Design, the Department of Landscape Architecture, the School of Architecture, the Department of Theatre, and the School of Music. Students have also pursued minors in fields such as cinema studies, Latino/Latina studies, and gender and women's studies. Students can take a global focus on dance by exploring our ongoing international exchanges with Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in Israel.

Flexible Design

Students can design their physical practice to include courses in contemporary and ballet technique, improvisation, a variety of mind-body practices, and popular and global dance forms. Our curriculum includes courses in the Alexander Technique and Bartenieff Fundamentals, and certification in the Alexander Technique, Pilates, and yoga is available in Urbana-Champaign. Celebrated Alexander Technique teachers Joan Murray and Alex Murray are interconnected with our program.

Career Preparation

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 serve as educators at the university level for three years, a necessary prerequisite for academic teaching positions.


Implemented in 1980, our nationally ranked MFA program has a long tradition of excellence and leadership in advanced considerations of dance in multiple contexts. The Dance at Illinois graduate degree program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance.

"The MFA program profoundly altered my views on what dance is, what it can be, and its impact on society. The generous faculty made me feel at home and to this day provide me with a network of mentors I can reach out to for advice and feedback."

—Paige Cunningham Caldarella (MFA 2007), Assistant Professor and Associate Chair of the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago