Ferrilyn Sourdiffe ’84
Bennington invites students of dance and music to develop their artistic vision through the College’s unique Master of Fine Arts program. In a supportive and demanding environment, self-motivated candidates collaborate with accomplished faculty members and other students, including undergraduates, to deepen their artistic passions and to hone their technical skills. The College’s outstanding facilities and wide-ranging faculty challenge students to pursue their fascinations across media and between disciplines.
Central to Bennington’s MFA program is the idea that MFA candidates show work throughout their time in the program. Faculty members comment on this work in its process and evaluate its ultimate product. Another key principle is that students work outside their medium and discipline by exploring other areas in one or more courses.
Applicants to the MFA program should submit a statement describing their experience in the arts, their specific goals, and their proposal for using Bennington’s resources to accomplish those goals. The MFA program is designed as a two-year, four-term program; however, students who cannot commit to four consecutive terms are encouraged to propose an alternative schedule. Such proposals should be made when applying.
Designed to give time, space, and focus for the development of new work, the dance program is ideal for students who wish to choose their own educational path with guidance from faculty accomplished in the field. Students may also focus on design elements (lighting, costumes, set, video) and choreography, as well as performance, and are encouraged to take courses in music, design, and movement to supplement their course of study. MFA students are required to perform publicly at least once each term.
Candidates are expected to have substantial professional experience in choreography and performance or related disciplines, well beyond undergraduate studies. We recognize the achievements of artists who have had significant careers and encourage them to apply in order to continue their creative research.
The Bennington music faculty accepts one or two graduate students at a time to pursue postgraduate work at an advanced level in either composition or voice. (In exceptional cases, students wishing to pursue post-graduate work in other performance areas may be considered.) MFA candidates, in dialogue with the faculty, design an individual program that puts them in contact with a number of different music faculty over the course of their time here, as well as with disciplines outside of music, with the primary goal of refining and deepening the quality of their work as performers or composers. MFA candidates are expected to be sufficiently accomplished and independent to take advantage of further serious studies in their own area of expertise, to expand their knowledge of musical areas outside of their previous experience, to act as assistant instructors, and to serve as role models for undergraduate students in the Bennington musical community. MFA candidates must show work regularly in the weekly Music Workshop and contribute to the Fall Music Festival, where faculty will be available to offer critique and support.
Applicants should write a detailed letter outlining their previous studies, their experience in the field, and their goals for their time at Bennington.