Why Dance at Illinois?

Why Join the Dance at Illinois MFA Program?Intimate Study

No more than four carefully chosen MFA candidates are admitted per year and no more than 12 are enrolled at the same time. Keeping our program small promotes high standards, provides a setting for personal attention, offers possibilities for faculty/student collaboration, and ensures ample opportunities for every student to choreograph, teach, and perform.

Inspiring Work Space

Our Graduate Dance Center—designed with recycled and environmentally sustainable materials—is the physical manifestation of our educational philosophy. An inspiring work space with sound equipment and specially designed sprung floors, a lounge area, and a media-smart classroom with no borders between them provide a fluid space for discussion, composition, and experimentation.

Financial Support

Our highly competitive program allows us to provide financial support to a majority of our candidates through Federal Work-Study assistantships, creative and performing arts fellowships, departmental fellowships, fellowships for underrepresented ethnic groups, Graduate College fellowships, scholarships, and awards.


The mission of the MFA Program is to foster substantive choreographic research that posits dance as a force in contemporary culture.  The program embraces a wide spectrum of movement research and embodied practice.  

Program Objectives

The Department of Dance expects MFA candidates to conduct in-depth creative inquiries that culminate in the development of a personal artistic process and mission that are evident in the following contexts:


Candidates will develop a distinctive choreographic research methodology and demonstrate its skillful application in a performative context.  This ideology must establish solid foundation for ongoing research and engagement that contributes to the global dialogue about dance and contemporary culture.


Candidates will develop the ability to express their choreographic vision and process in verbal and written language that is clear, cogent, and convincing and demonstrates clear analytic skill, critical thinking, awareness of historical context, and knowledge of contemporary culture. 


Candidates will demonstrate a commitment to movement investigation and practice that defines, advances, and sustains their choreographic vision.


Candidates will apply their research vision in clear pedagogic principles while fostering a stimulating teaching/ learning environment.

Developing a Career Plan

Candidates will devise bold and innovative career strategies in order to advance their artistic mission in the field and demonstrate the capacity to implement these plans with professionalism in all the above contexts. 

"My experience at Illinois deeply impacted my development as an artist and a teacher. Through my studies, I was able to focus my creative work in meaningful ways that continue to sustain me. After completing the graduate program, I was able to enter academia confident in my ability to be a contributing teacher and administrator, which I attribute to the fertile and supportive environment at Illinois."

—Kathleen Kelley (MFA 2013), Assistant Professor of Dance Technique and Technology at Montclair State University