Saint Mary’s Launches New MFA in Dance Graduate Program

MFA in Dance photo Building on its recognized excellence in the performing arts, Saint Mary’s College announces a new graduate program, the Master of Fine Arts in Dance. The innovative graduate program, designed specifically for working dance professionals, features two degrees: an MFA in Dance for Design and Production, the first of its kind in the nation, and an MFA in Dance in Creative Practice.

The program is student-centered, with a focus on collaboration, faculty mentoring and the development of original and compelling student projects. "It's a unique MFA program. Graduates will benefit from a multidisciplinary dance curriculum within a liberal arts context and earn a terminal degree that can lead to tenure-track teaching opportunities at colleges and universities or careers as professional designers, technicians or managers in the global dance community," said CatherineMarie Davalos, director of Dance and the MFA in Dance in Creative Practice program.

The program features outstanding permanent and distinguished guest faculty and capitalizes on the richness and diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area dance community. Graduate candidates will study with accomplished faculty, including CatherineMarie Davalos, dance professor, choreographer and performer; Rogelio Lopez, dance professor, choreographer, performer and costume and set designer; Rosana Barragán, somatic movement therapist and educator, choreologist and critical dance pedagogy professor; Jia Wu, dance professor, choreographer, performer and filmmaker; Dana Lawton, dance professor, choreographer, and performer; and Linda Baumgardner, technical theatre and production management professor and lighting designer.

Guest faculty includes internationally-known dance professionals such as Bill Evans, choreographer and artistic director of the Bill Evans Dance Company, Douglas Nielsen, dance professor and choreographer, James Sutton, dance teacher and choreographer, and noted Bay Area-based choreographer Randee Paufve.

The MFA in Dance in Design and Production, the only program of its kind in the nation, is unique in its approach and specialization. While graduate production and design programs for theatre offer candidates a specialization in areas such as lighting or management, the Design and Production-track MFA provides candidates with opportunities to study all areas of design and production techniques specific to dance. The two-year course of study allows candidates to approach the work from a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspective, resulting in a body of creative works where the performer's body, choreographer's movements, set design, costumes and the lighting create a cohesive world for dance. "Designers and technicians for dance have mainly been self-taught until now. However, the MFA in Design and Production for Dance will generate a community of dance educators and professionals with skills that are unparalleled in the existing marketplace," said Linda Baumgardner, director of the MFA in Dance for Design and Production.

The MFA in Dance in Creative Practice also offers an approach uncommon in the United States. The curriculum, modeled after graduate dance programs in Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom, is multidisciplinary, with studies in choreography and technique, dance pedagogy, theory, the technical aspects of production, scenic and lighting design and somatics, the expanding field of dance movement studies for body-mind integration. The Creative Practice program also offers low-residency option. "In the low residency model, graduate students take the majority of their courses during the months of June and January," said CatherineMarie Davalos. "We believe it will be of interest to dance teachers in the Bay Area and to professional dancers across the country."

"The MFA in Dance program is an outgrowth of the innovative dance curriculum developed by the nationally-recognized faculty in our performing arts department,” said Christopher Sindt, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies. "While academically rigorous, it's designed to be flexible in its structure and accessible to working adults and professionals who want to expand their portfolio with a terminal degree."

Applications are currently being accepted for the inaugural class, which will begin in June 2014. The early application deadline is January 2, 2014. GMAT or GRE exams are not required. For more information, please email the MFA Program in Dance at or contact Graduate Programs in Dance Coordinator Jennifer Smith at or (925) 631-8183.


Michael McAlpin
Director of Media Relations
(925) 631-4222 office
(925) 878-9535 cell

About SMC
The Saint Mary’s College of California experience inspires learning that lasts a lifetime. For 150 years, the College has provided students with a rigorous education that engages their intellect and spirit, and awakens a desire to transform society. Guided by the Christian Brothers, the Catholic Church’s oldest order dedicated exclusively to teaching, the College enrolls more than 4,100 students in undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and business programs. For more information visit Saint Mary’s College at and just 23 miles east of San Francisco.