The curriculum for the MFA in Dance is largely self-directed: candidates work closely with faculty to design plans that best suit their individual strengths, interests, goals and creative process.
Each year of Bennington’s program consists of a 14-week fall term and a 14-week spring term. The spring term begins in late February, after a 7-week undergraduate winter Field Work Term during which there are no classes. MFA candidates are able to use this time as well as the summer to continue their professional work. Short-term professional commitments during the school terms may be accommodated on a case-by-case basis.
Each term requires a minimum 16-credit schedule, which includes both research work in dance and other coursework. As a core requirement, candidates meet in a once-a-week tutorial with faculty to discuss and show the development of new material. This 6-credit course, Graduate Research in Dance, is the basis of the individual’s studies. As part of this, candidates are to attend Dance Workshop (a forum including faculty and students of all levels), which meets weekly on Thursday evenings. Throughout the term, all participants in Workshop are encouraged to show and discuss works-in-progress.
Other courses may be elected from the full undergraduate curriculum, with expectations of a higher level of engagement and performance (2-4 credits each). Additionally, a candidate may develop a tutorial around a subject of particular interest, which will be overseen by a dance faculty member or other faculty member at the College (2 credits).
A limited number of assistantships may be awarded through the Dean’s Office to MFA students in Dance. If an Assistantship has been awarded, the candidate will include in the schedule a commitment to support the Dance Program with teaching (when qualified), production assistance, or archival work. The schedule will be determined with the faculty. 4 credits will be attached to the work involved. For this commitment, the candidate receives a half-tuition waiver.
The MFA in Dance is designed as a two-year, four-term program; however, those who cannot commit to four consecutive terms are encouraged to propose an alternative schedule when applying.
The application letter describing a candidate’s experience in the field and goals for their time at Bennington serves as an outline for initial discussions with a faculty advisor. During the first term, each candidate works with an advisor to further design a plan of study. Throughout the two years, each student will meet regularly with an advisor and have ongoing access to the teaching faculty.
As integral members of the overall Dance Program, candidates are expected to contribute to all aspects, participate in weekly program meetings, attend workshops and performances, and help oversee the Works-in-Progress Concert held toward the end of each term. The program provides multiple opportunities for creating new work and encourages everyone to participate in an ongoing community dialogue that is fundamental to advancing one’s artistic practice.