MFA in Dance > Fields: Choreography and Dramaturgy
| Program Overview | MFA Degree Requirements | Fields: Choreography and Dramaturgy | How to Apply |
Why Two Streams?
The MFA in dance encompasses two fields: choreography and dance dramaturgy. Because the creation and production of dance is ultimately a collaborative discipline, the two areas of research are combined to give each MFA student a substantial knowledge in each field. Although students will select one field in which to concentrate their thesis research, they will be required to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the other field. This innovative, interdisciplinary approach prepares students for work as creative collaborators, and gives York’s MFA in Dance a unique international signature.
Within each of the two fields there are many paths the student may choose for thesis research. Below, each field is listed along with examples of potential research topics.
- Initiating and Forming Choreography: Find the physical language and structural context for forming choreographic statements.
- Mounting Diverse Dance Events: The proscenium stage is only one venue for dance presentation. Explore site specific, community based, ritual, guerilla and other alternative dance events.
- Designing Dance Spaces: Investigate lighting, sound, sets, props and costumes and their symbiotic relationship to dance creation.
- Facilitating Creative Process: Develop skills to nurture the choreographer’s art and craft. Recognize content, structure and meaning within diverse contexts. Collaborate with choreographers, dancers, designers and composers to facilitate a range of creative processes.
- Creating Dance Context: Support the choreographic intention by providing historical, cultural and symbolic context to the dance event. Supervise publicity, promotion, program notes, and liaison between artist and audience. Document the creative process and the final production.
What is Dance Dramaturgy?
The Dance Dramaturgy stream is a direct response to a strong trend in current choreographic practice in Canada. Dance dramaturgy encompasses a broad range of applications, providing support at any given stage of the process or participating in the totality of the work from the earliest seed of an idea through to final documentation of the finished dance. The dance dramaturg may assist in the initial conception of choreographic ideas and subsequent research and development, helping to hone the choreographer's vision and focus his or her goals. The dance dramaturg may be present in the rehearsal studio as a key contributor to the creative process and may also facilitate the production, promotion and dissemination of the choreographic work. By means of writing (eg. program notes, critical essays) as well as discussions and public forums, the dance dramaturg may also serve to interpret and contextualize the work thus forging connections between artists and communities. The dance dramaturg may also follow through with the too-often-neglected documentation and archiving of the work once the performances are finished
All of these aspects of dance dramaturgy can be explored by students within the context of the Dramaturgy Stream of the MFA. MFA students choosing the Dance Dramaturgy Thesis option will provide essential dramaturgical support to the students in the choreography stream. This promises to be a healthy, collaborative environment for furthering our students' research goals and ultimately influencing the field of dance in Canada and abroad. While many aspects of dramatugy are considered part of the skill set of a well-trained choreographer, we are convinced that the development of the parallel profession of Dance Dramaturgy will not only provide our graduates with additional means to contribute to dance and make a living, but will benefit the entire field of dance. Dance dramaturgy is a relatively new field, which promises to have a significant, long-term impact on the culture of dance in Canada.
Certainly for many choreographers in the Toronto dance community, dance dramaturgy is an increasingly important aspect of the choreographic process. Professors Darcey Callison and Holly Small both frequently provide dramaturgical support to other choreographers and, in the creation of their own works, regularly collaborate with dramaturges such Joanna McIntyre, Soheil Parsa and Patti Powell. Professor Carol Anderson is well known for Carol's Notes, which are brief essays designed to further audience understanding and appreciation of dance. A virtual Who's Who of Canadian choreographers have commissioned Carol's Notes to augment their house programs. As well as faculty members Anderson, Callison and Small, the Dance Dramaturgy stream is supported by Adjunct Professor Brian Quirt who is highly regarded for his contribution to Theatre and Dance Dramaturgy in Toronto.