The Balancing Act of the MFA Dance Student
By Amanda Keller, First Year MFA Student
As a first year MFA student in the Dance Department at Temple, I’ve quickly found that a major component to this program is being able to balance the academic rigor of the seminar classes with the equally rigorous work of choreographing and making dance works. Even after only two weeks into this program, it has become apparent to my fellow MFAers that we are going to be pulled in various directions. There is equal importance placed on examining and discussing the theoretical dance research as there is on choreographing enlightening and engaging dance works. In a way, the strict line that exists between the theory and choreographing seems to fade away.
As someone who has a Master of Arts degree in Education, I’ve been able to compare my experiences in these different graduate programs and the major difference is that the MFA requires you to make the connection between the theoretical research we are reading and apply it in a performative and unique way to your choreography. The performative component in the MFA in Dance is what compelled me to return to graduate school. Having the opportunity to incorporate a theoretical framework by using research to inform your work and create a piece with multi-layers and a real depth to it is such a rewarding experience.
Finding the time to keep up with the readings and spend time in the studio rehearsing is tricky. I’ve found that playing music I’m thinking about using in my choreography while reading for my classes has helped with the integration of the theory into the dances I’m conjuring in my head. Another thing I’ve tried is jotting down notes in my notebook when something inspires me in the reading that I want to try out in the studio. I am looking forward to discovering additional techniques and tricks to balance the demands of the program.