Theatre and Dance Major | Theatre Major | Theatre Minor | Dance Minor
Full Time Faculty: Beth Cleary (Chair), Wynn Fricke, Dan Keyser, Lara Nielsen, Harry Waters Jr.
Part Time Faculty: Tom Barrett, Cheryl Moore Brinkley, Becky Heist, Patricia Brown, Robert Rosen, Krista Langberg, Jill Lile
Director of Forensics: Dick Lesicko
Theatre and Dance Mission Statement:
Students participating in Theatre and Dance Department classes and productions encounter the rich histories, variegated literatures, contested spaces and fine skills of performance, in both local and global contexts. The curricula in Theater, Performance Studies and Dance offer students at all levels of participation – from major or minor or in one course fulfilling the Fine Arts requirement – the opportunity to learn performance theories and practices, and to acquire the intellectual and embodied vocabularies of performance onstage, in design labs, dance studios and classrooms.
The Theatre and Dance Department offers a major in Theatre, and a Combined Major in Theatre and Dance; both of these majors have requirements at all levels of inquiry, from beginning through advanced, and steer students toward an emphasis in the senior capstone year (acting, choreography, design, etc.) Students also can take an official minor in Theatre or Dance. In all of its formal curricular programs, the Department emphasizes:
• acquisition of skills in a student’s chosen emphasis within the major: acting; historical/theoretical research in performance; dance performance; choreography; directing; design (scenic, lighting or costume); technical direction; stage management; playwrighting.
• ongoing practice in the theories and methods of collaboration; application of the arts of collaboration to wider campus and community practices of civic engagement.
• instruction and progressive curricular expertise in four (4) kinds of crucial research:
• instruction and progressive curricular expertise in the histories of theater, dance and performance.
• instruction and progressive curricular expertise in the inter-disciplinary fields and methods of performance studies.
• the development of three (3) crucial forms of communication: a) written; b) oral; c) artistic.
• the ability, upon graduation, to craft a theoretical framework for making and experiencing performance.
• Exposure to professional theater and dance artists, whose participation in the program as guests and collaborators propels students’ dreams of living and working sustainably as artists and theorists of performance beyond college.
The dance program emphasizes an interplay of the intellectual, physical, and emotional faculties found within each individual. Opportunities to gain technical skills, learn the art of performing, study the craft of choreography, engage in critical analysis, and experience working with others toward a common goal are offered within the curriculum.
The program welcomes all students whether they have had several years of training or little previous experience. Each individual chooses the extent to which he or she becomes involved.
The Dance Minor is designed to educate the student in a comprehensive study of dance as an art form, encourage the creative process, and develop a student’s expertise in a variety of movement styles. The minor includes courses that build skills in recognizing and analyzing differing choreographic viewpoints, expose students to a variety of cultural dance forms, provide tools for dance and theatre production, broaden a performer’s imagination and spontaneity, give a retrospective of musical knowledge, and teach the functioning anatomy of the human body.
Dance students are given the opportunity each semester to participate in public performances. Dance program faculty members, guest artists and students choreograph for the concerts. Performing and production work is done by students with assistance from the department.
NOTE: Students may earn credit for participating in dance technique classes. Each class is 1 credit and may be repeated for credit. Students may earn a maximum of eight credits from dance technique classes towards graduation. Dance technique classes are graded S/NC.
Theatre and Dance Productions
Participation in theatre and dance productions at Macalester is available to all students at the college, regardless of major or minor affiliations with the department. Open auditions are conducted for productions each semester and technical positions are filled from a combination of experienced and new students who are willing to learn the skills necessary to accomplish the tasks. For theatre productions, any non-major student working on a production may receive theatre practicum credit if s/he fulfills the basic requirements (see practicum listings among course descriptions). Because of the collaborative and experiential nature of mainstage productions, majors and minors are required to complete a sequence of production practica as part of their comprehensive training in performance praxis.
General Distribution Requirement
All four-credit theatre and dance courses count toward the general distribution requirement in the fine arts.
General Education Requirements
Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and multiculturalism will be posted on the Registrar’s web page in advance of registration for each semester.
Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements section of this catalog.
Theatre and Dance Department Majors
The theatre and dance department offers two majors: theatre; combined major in theatre and dance. Each is detailed in the “Programs” section below. The major in theatre and the combined major in theatre and dance are sequences of courses designed to prepare theatre and dance artists and scholars for immediate and excellent work in the fields, upon graduation, and for graduate study in M.F.A. or M.A./Ph.D. programs.
The Senior Capstone for the theatre major and the combined major in theatre and dance is a closely- and collaboratively-mentored project in the student’s senior year. The student works with his or her advisor as s/he progresses through the major, and announces at the junior review meeting which emphasis – acting, choreography, design, directing, performance studies, playwrighting, stage management, technical production, other – s/he intends to pursue as her senior project. During the senior year, all senior majors participate in the Practicum Senior Project (THDA 80), a year-long process of monthly seminars involving all seniors and all faculty and artistic staff, during which each student’s senior project unfolds, through research presentations, discussion of rehearsals or design drafts, etc. Recent senior capstone projects, mentored through the Practicum Senior Project process, have included: two projects in acting in the mainstage production of 12 Ophelias; directing the one-act Jose Rivera play, Cloud Tectonics; multiple acting roles in the mainstage production of The Laramie Project. Upcoming senior projects include two choreography projects under combined major auspices; a performance studies research project; stage-managing a mainstage production with a guest artist/professional director. The Senior Capstone in theatre and dance develops directly out of the student’s expertise and talent, as developed while in the department, and is a mature and substantial presentation of the student’s training in both theory and praxis.
The Theatre and Dance Department has developed an extensive THDA Community Handbook, available as a PDF-document to all majors and minors, faculty, staff and guest artists. The THDA Community Handbook includes: detailed guidelines on senior projects and the Senior Capstone/Research Collective; position descriptions for all technical support positions; expectations of guest artists and guidelines for their successful work in the department; other areas central to the ongoing and vigorous functioning of the department.
Study Abroad in Theatre and Dance
Students wanting to study performance—history, performance training, design/architecture—at another international or U.S. campus should consult with faculty in theatre and dance for recommendations of well-regarded programs. Any student seeking conservatory-style training (for instance, in Moscow) should plan her/his Macalester major carefully and early, in consultation with theatre and /dance faculty. It is strongly advised that students planning either an acting or directing emphasis in the program plan to study away in the fall of their junior year.
The theatre and dance department participates in the college-wide honors program. The Senior Capstone Project and Senior Research Collective processes in theatre and dance are year-long processes, which may run in parallel with an Honors project. Interest in proposing and writing an honors-level project should be declared early in the student’s junior year, to a theatre and dance department faculty; guidelines for this proposal should be discussed with a faculty member, and the student’s qualifications for honors must align with the College’s Honors Program eligibility requirements.
THDA 194, THDA 294, THDA 394, THDA 494
Topics courses in theatre and dance focus on current and often inter-disciplinary issues in performance history and theory, methods and design. Many topics courses enter the curriculum of theatre and dance as permanent courses. Recent topics courses have included: "Magic in Motion: Advanced Technical Production;" "Dance for the Camera;" "Physical Approaches." Every year, announced in advanced of the registration period. (4 credits)
The department offers independent study options in the form of internships, independent studies with a faculty member, tutorials and preceptorships. Recent internships have included work with local theatre educators in their classrooms, and rehearsing/performing in a semi-professional production over January break. When students pursue Honors Projects, they are encouraged to enroll in a supervised independent study to support that work. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum section of the catalog.
Theatre and Dance Major
Theatre and Dance Combined Major
The theatre and dance combined major offers a unique opportunity for students with interest and skills in both art forms. The worlds of dance and theatre have undergone a metamorphosis, losing the sharp edges of their distinctiveness. Innovative performances are being presented in a variety of venues. The creative blending of movement, voice, text and music has emerged as a new art form in its own right. The combined major allows students the means to study the essence of both theatre and dance, as well as explore the ways in which they merge.
Required 4-credit courses
Required 1-credit courses
Required practica (graded, 4 required with 76 or 78 repeated)
Requirements of the Theatre Major
Introduction to the Fields (2 courses)
The Materials of the Spectacle (2 courses)
Embodied Research: Histories, Methods, Praxes (3 courses)
Depth of Expertise (2 courses)
Two (2) courses chosen in consultation with the academic advisor, which allow the student to prepare for a capstone project in an area of emphasis: acting; design; theatre and performance studies; stage management; playwrighting; technical theatre; directing.
Other regularly-offered courses in theatre and dance may be taken by students toward the development of an emphasis in the major. The range of courses here includes:
Advanced Theatre Scholarship (1 course)
Advanced Production and Collaboration
Practica: Production and Collaboration
4 practicum credits must be earned during the student's 4 culminating semesters (3 required if student studies abroad), one of which is earned in the student's capstone project. The other 3 (or 2) credits must be distributed among several areas, as outlined in the catalog, to maximize skills development and experience in collabroation: production/scenery; production/costume; acting; stage management, etc. (Please refer to recently-development progression of these required practica.).
Capstone: Senior Research Collective
Variable-credit (1-4) practicum and Independent Study, for year-long seminar in advanced research and production work.
A minor in theatre consists of six courses in the department which, in consultation with the department chair, cohere in terms of emphasis. The six courses must include THDA 105 - Theatre and Performance in the Twin Cities or THDA 110 - Introduction to Theatre Studies; THDA 125 - Technical Theater; THDA 310 - Theatre Methods: Shakespeare to Viewpoints. The other 3 courses should be selected with an eye toward upper-level coursework in one area (advanced acting, performance theory seminar, etc.) Minors must also be involved in theatre productions for three terms during their 3rd and 4th years.
Four 4-credit courses required:
Eight 1-credit courses required:
Three from the following:
- Any technique class (Modern, Ballet, African, Improvisation) and/or dance practicum (THDA 75 or THDA 79)
Note: practicums and technique classes may be repeated for credit