THDA students in Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento's Acting II class.

Theater and Dance

THDA 21 - African-based Movement I

This African-based Movement course focuses on dance inspired by West Africa, other African regions, the Caribbean, Americas, and the African Diaspora at large. It is a class rooted in a communal environment where students learn technique, characteristics, and the fundamental connection between the music, rhythms, and the dance. Students will create in-class movement projects and presentations. Though this class may focus on traditional dance at times, it is not a traditional-specific class. All are welcome. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every fall.


THDA 22 - African-based Movement II

This African-based Movement course focuses on dance inspired by West Africa, other African regions, the Caribbean, Americas, and the African Diaspora at large. This physically rigorous class is rooted in a communal environment. Students will continue building on fundamental principles and technique, including more complex poly-rhythmic aspects of the movement, while deepening the inter-connected relationship with the music, rhythms, and the dance. They will also create in-class movement projects and presentations. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 21 or permission of instructor.


THDA 31 - Dance Improvisation

Find expression and embodiment through the practice of movement improvisation. This course is open to students at all levels of ability who have a desire to move and a willingness to explore in a non-competitive environment. Students learn to fall, roll and work with gravity in relation to themselves and others. The class includes an introduction to contact improvisation, the "art-sport" developed by Steve Paxton in 1972. This course brings balance to mind and body through physical awareness. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every year.


THDA 41 - Modern Dance I

This introductory level course is a joyous and demanding exploration of the theory, technique, and terminology of modern dance as a performing art. Students engage fully with their bodies and minds as they deepen their strength, sense of rhythm, flexibility, and coordination. The course develops skills in inversions, floorwork, and balance based in clear alignment. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every fall.


THDA 42 - Modern Dance II

This beginning/advanced beginning level course builds on skills introduced in Modern Dance I. It is a joyous and demanding exploration of the theory, technique, and terminology of modern dance as a performing art. Students engage fully with their bodies and minds as they deepen their strength, sense of rhythm, alignment, flexibility, and coordination. An emphasis is placed on the joy of moving in an expressive and highly physical manner. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every spring.


THDA 43 - Modern Dance III

This intermediate to advanced level technique course values expression, precision, and stamina. Students develop an understanding of how to use tiny muscles hidden within large muscles as they practice complex movement phrases on the ground, in the center, and across the floor. They learn a range of turns, jumps and movement sequences that build strength and agility. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Every fall.


THDA 44 - Modern Dance IV

The purpose of this technique class is to allow the intermediate to advanced modern dance student to explore and discover themselves as an articulate and expressive mover. Classwork places specific emphasis on alignment, power, momentum, articulation, clarity of intent, musicality and stamina. Class consists of in-place warm-ups, center exercises and a range of dance phrases. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Every spring.


THDA 51 - Beginning Ballet

This is a beginning ballet class designed for students who have never had ballet before. The goal is to demonstrate fundamental understanding and execution of basic ballet technique and to develop a foundation in movement that will carry over and support any other style of dance or physical practice. It will include barre and center work, across-the-floor combinations, and stretching and strengthening practices. Correct alignment, coordination, and body mechanics will be emphasized. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every semester.


THDA 53 - Intermediate Ballet

This ballet class is for students with some experience in ballet. This class will continue to build on ballet barre and center work and increase skill and vocabulary. Flexibility, strength, placement, alignment, fluidity and connection of movement will be emphasized. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Every semester.


THDA 60 - African-based Movement Ensemble

African-based Movement Ensemble focuses on selected histories and techniques of dance forms from West Africa and the African Diaspora, including the Caribbean and the Americas. Students perform in the yearly Fall Dance Concerts of the Theater and Dance Department. They have also performed at events such as the Black History Month Showcase, Afrika Week, and Family Fest. Completion of African-based Movement I and/or II is recommended. 2 credits are awarded upon successful completion of Ensemble. 4 credits of fine arts general distribution are awarded upon completion of two semesters of Ensemble.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Admission to the Ensemble is by audition/permission of instructor only.


THDA 80 - Performance Practice

Students are involved in production as actors, assistant choreographers or choreographers, assistant directors or directors, assistant designers or designers, dramaturgs and playwrights. Two credits awarded at the end of the semester. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor required; please see instructor to be added to registration roster


THDA 81 - Technical Practice

Students are involved in set, costume, lighting and sound engineering and construction, and running crew. Two credits awarded at the end of the semester. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor required; please see instructor to be added to registration roster


THDA 105 - Seeing Performance in the Twin Cities

In this course, first-year students critically attend live dance and theater performances in the exciting arts scene of the Twin Cities, and articulate their individual reactions by writing reviews, responses, and essays. In this process of studied spectatorship, students acquire the vocabularies of the field. Readings include seminal texts in dance and theatre criticism, as well as manifestos and scholarly articles. We will attend dance and theater performances at professional venues such as the Walker Arts Center, the Guthrie, Penumbra Theatre, Mixed Blood, Northrop Auditorium, and Cowles Center. This course is typically reserved for incoming first-years and not open to returning students. Students can not received credit for both 105 and THDA 110.

Frequency: Every fall.


THDA 110 - Introduction to the Study of Performance

This is a survey course that welcomes majors and non-majors alike. Students are exposed to a variety of modern contemporary dance and theatre pieces, screenings, plays, essays, and criticism to explore the intersections of performance and identity from a historical perspective. Assignments include attending screenings and/or performances; script analyses and close readings; individual research; short written projects and a final paper. This course is typically reserved for returning students and not open to incoming first-years. Students can not receive credit for both 110 and THDA 105.

Frequency: Every spring.


THDA 120 - Acting

This course introduces students to the art of acting. They will acquire fundamental acting skills and insight into performance analysis: students will develop a detailed understanding of the actor's craft; engage the body/voice as the actor's performing instrument; explore internal (memory, impulses, and so forth) and external (the other actors, the environment, objects, and so forth) stimuli as creative sources; rediscover of play and imagination; learn how to focus effort and attention while performing; and develop work ethics and discipline. Students in this course will engage in physical activity and be required to spend 3-5 hours in rehearsals outside of scheduled class time.

Frequency: Every semester.


THDA 125 - Technologies of Performance

This course grounds students in the technical and construction practices of performance-making: materials and their sources and histories; conventional and contemporary technologies and techniques; quantitative methods for calculating and assessing drawings for execution. Classroom instruction and a weekly studio/drafting lab allow students to learn and apply knowledge through working with materials. Students in this course also provide support to mainstage construction projects, further extending their learning in the course.

THDA 145 - Make-Up Design and Application

This course teaches students the theory and practice of make-up design and application, through a combination of lecture, discussion, demonstration and intense application. Students independently complete an extensive research portfolio called a "make-up morgue" while learning the principles of make-up design and application in weekly classroom laboratory format.

THDA 194 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

THDA 210 - Community-based Theater

In almost every town in the world, in a rich tradition spanning millennia, communities make theatrical representations of themselves: their heroes, their unsung neighbors, their struggles, their aspirations. Community-based theater is made by, for and about communities, and the varieties, strategies, controversies and triumphs of this form are the content of this course. In the United States, which is the geographical focus of this course, community-based theater has emerged from rural and urban communities, communities of color, communities of coalitions united toward a cause - we will learn from historical and scholarly accounts, and from local participants, about many of these efforts. We also will explore the Twin Cities' own deep history of community-based theater-making, and participate in a major community project during the semester. You will be off campus for a good amount of time in the later part of the semester connecting and experiencing work.

THDA 213 - Cultures of Dance

This course begins with the questions: What makes dance powerful? Why have people throughout the world and throughout history, danced? With an international emphasis, this course examines a range of dance forms such as Butoh, Bharata Natyam, Capoeira, Ghost Dance, and Bedoyo, and how these forms function in the lives of individuals and societies. Dance is investigated as a cultural force, whether it is performed as a sacred act, as entertainment, as a display of institutional power, or as an act of rebellion. Activities include attendance at concerts, films, discussions, readings, group research projects and movement classes with guest artists of the forms studied.

THDA 215 - Dance History: Reading the Dancing Body

This course focuses on dance in the United States from the early 20th century to today. The historical study of dance as an embodied art form supports an intersectional examination of how gender, race, ethnicity, and class experiences both reflect and shape individual and collective identities. We will read seminal texts in dance and cultural studies, analyze dance videos and live performances, and write short papers that critically consider an array of theatrical dance forms and traditions.

THDA 217 - Gender and Race Theory in Performance

This course introduces students to debates, methods, and conceptual frameworks in race and gender, as represented in performance. It engages students in an interdisciplinary exploration of key terms - such as corporeality, embodiment, intersectionality, and performativity - that remain central to the fields of gender and sexuality, critical race theory, and performance. Through drafts and revisions of written work, critical dialogues and oral presentations in small groups, peer feedback, and analytical reading, students will engage in questions around identity formation, structural inequality, and the politics of citizenship.

Frequency: Fall semester.

Cross-Listed as: WGSS 217


THDA 220 - Voice and Speech

An introduction to the fundamentals of the human voice. Using techniques of Lessac, Linklater, and Rodenburg, students learn elements of elocution: communication awareness, breath support, healthy voice production, projection, posture, speech articulation, Standard American English pronunciation, and vocal delivery. Essential performers and useful for anyone choosing a career such as law, teaching, politics, leadership, that use public speaking. This is a dynamic and highly experiential performance-based lab course. The semester culminates with a public solo performance of oratory and poetry. No previous acting experience required.

Frequency: Every semester.


THDA 230 - The Art of Play: Action, Invention, and Chaos

Based on the teaching of Jacques Lecoq and his school of physical theatre training in Paris, this laboratory course offers intensive training in making theatre from action. Students will work on the observation, re-creation and transposition of daily life to create a theatre that is at once playful, emotional, and creative. Course work will include an examination of our relationship with space and time, and the natural world. We will explore improvisation, object manipulation, and games. Training includes basic acrobatics, balancing and juggling. The goal of the course is to encourage curiosity and exploration to engage the student as creator, designer, and performer.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s): Performance training in dance or theater is strongly encouraged.


THDA 232 - Crafting the Tangible

As our society shifts away from a human connection to the tangible, this course seeks to reconnect the student to the tangible object. Our focus will be on the process of "thinking through making." Through a series of project based learning opportunities, students will develop a deeper understanding of themselves, the process of "critical making," and current performance production technologies.

Frequency: Every year.


THDA 235 - Fundamentals of Scenography

Scenography is the creation of imagined spaces for performance. In this course we will study the fundamentals of scenography holistically, including scenic, lighting, costume, sound, and projection design. Students will develop the ability to analyze and critique elements of performance design, articulate design ideas through written and verbal means, and complete a design project from textual analysis to tangible object.

Frequency: Every fall.


THDA 242 - Playwriting

In this course, students engage in a series of playwriting exercises and read a wide variety of plays. They will read new and contemporary plays that employ different storytelling techniques (i.e., structure, character arcs, staging elements, etc.), embrace the unlimited possibilities of theatricality, and exemplify why we write for the stage. Students will develop a "playwriting toolkit" as they explore their artistic interests following the conventions of time-bound pieces: the 1-minute, 5-minute, 10-minute, and ultimately one-act form. In-class exercises and prompts, and small-group workshopping and reading will challenge each writer's individual development. A mid-term and final play reading series of one-acts will allow students to hear their work in a supportive public setting. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Every year.

Prerequisite(s): Coursework in Theater and Dance, or in creative writing is recommended.

Cross-Listed as: ENGL 285


THDA 245 - Performance Methods: Shakespeare to Butoh

This course is an experiential survey of influential performance histories, practitioners and methods, 1600-present. Through readings in performance history and theory, students will investigate the social forces and performance lineages that have shaped contemporary embodied performance on the spectrum from acting to dancing. Material covered may include: Shakespeare in performance; commedia dell'arte's contemporary clown forms; court dance; classical Indian dance forms; Stanislavski's "magic if," contemporary Japanese butoh. In a weekly intensive lab component, students will learn the specific techniques developed by these practitioners and genres, taught by guest specialists in rotation with the course professor. How these forms get passed on, through embodied transmission, documentation and pedagogies will be a focus of the course. Final projects will culminate in an open community workshop of exercises and techniques, taught by the students in the course. Required for Theater and Dance majors.

Prerequisite(s): Preference given to Theater and Dance major and/or minors.


THDA 250 - Experiential Anatomy and the Mind Body Connection

The study of anatomy and somatics provide concrete pathways to deepening our understanding of self and the mind-body connection. We will study the musculoskeletal human anatomy on both a theoretical and practical level. Countering the notion that the body is an assemblage parts to be trained, strengthened, and disciplined, we will delve into various mind-body practices that illuminate anatomy from a first-person perspective. We will focus on experiential learning including embodied anatomy and movement practices that provide direct knowledge of anatomy and alignment while providing opportunities for an integrated experience from within and increased self-awareness. In-class work will be supplemented by readings, journaling, physical practice, writing and research.

THDA 255 - Lighting Design

This course is an introduction to performance lighting design. While emphasis is on performance, the principles can be applied to film, television, and environmental settings. The course focus will be on the design process, but there will be some attention to lighting hardware and technologies as well. A primary goal of the course is to make the student more aware of color and light around them every day. THDA 232 or THDA 235 recommended, but not required. Students with a background in studio art or design are welcome to enroll.

THDA 262 - Performing Feminisms

Feminisms in performance - whether on an actual theater stage or in offstage force fields of politics, history and culture - are the concern of this course. Through feminist, queer and performance theories of the body, representation, identification and spectatorship, and through the reading of plays, students will engage with the historic and contemporary practices of feminisms and performance-making. Attending performances, viewing films and performance documents will contribute to students' capacities to write critically about feminist performance practices.

Cross-Listed as: WGSS 262


THDA 263 - African American Theater

This course is an overview of the development of theater by and about Black Americans. It examines the historical, social, political, and cultural context of African American Theater. After investigating the roots of African American Theater in African culture, performance modes, and social values, it focuses on a study of plays written by Black Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Prerequisite(s): Sophomore standing or permission of instructor.

Cross-Listed as: AMST 263


THDA 285 - Clothing in Performance

From classic theater and dance performance to CosPlay and Re-enactments, clothing as costume is one of the main ways we visually build a character and present it to the viewer. This class will present an overview of fashion and costume history as the basis for the design process. We will examine design techniques and media, both traditional and digital, and design the clothing for characters based on scripted, devised, or choreographer work. We will then look at the systems for translating these two-dimensional designs to fit the human form via drafting and crafting methods.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 232 or THDA 235 recommended, but not required. Students with a background in studio art or design are welcome to enroll.


THDA 287 - Creative Technologies: Tools of Performance Design

Today's theatre artist has many tools at their fingertips to create the environments for performance. In this course students will develop skills in Adobe Creative Suite, QLab and Isadora. A final project of the student's design will demonstrate use of one or more of these technologies in creating performance.

Frequency: Alternate fall semesters.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor


THDA 294 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

THDA 341 - Dance Composition

This course focuses on the stuy and discipline of dance-making. Student choreographers work with those in THDA 255 and THDA 80, in a collaborative dance project that will culminate in public performances in teh Huber Seikaly Theater. STudents learn the tools of the choreographer - time, space, energy - and how they can be shaped to give the body expressive power. Students acquire a deeper understanding of the relationships between form, content, and technique. Students choreograph short studies, improvise, discuss, and view dance on film and in live performance. The course values risk-taking and collaboration in a supportive, shared space. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Spring semester only.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 31 or coursework in a dance technique; or permission of instructor. Students with dance experience prior to Macalester are encouraged to contact the instructor for permission to enroll.


THDA 350 - Directing for the Stage

This course prepares advanced theater students to direct public performances, and thus focuses on the acquisition of skills such as text analysis, storytelling, stage composition, and an understanding of visual elements. Students will also learn best collaborative practices with actors and designers, since the class unfolds in conversation with THDA 250 and THDA 360 and culminates in public performances at the Huber Seikaly Theater.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 120 and THDA 235, or permission of the instructor.


THDA 360 - Acting Approaches

In the different editions of this course, students have an opportunity to approach the acting method of masters such as Stanislavsky (including USA interpretations of his techniques), Bertolt Brecht, and so forth. The course includes consideration of style and genre. Typically, the course also focuses on the development of collaborative skills: students will partner with those THDA 255 and THDA 350 to create the Spring Collaborative Theater Project, with public performances in the Huber Seikaly Theater. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Spring semester only.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 120


THDA 375 - Set Design

The course explores scenic design in traditional theatrical buildings and alternative sites. Students will learn how to bridge script analysis and visual research, deepen their knowledge of spatial composition, acquire drafting skills, and practice design conceptualization with reference to historical and contemporary practices. The course outcome is a design portfolio, the collection of the various course projects each student will create during the semester.

Frequency: Fall semester.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 232 or THDA 235 recommended, but not required. Students with a background in studio art or design are welcome to enroll.


THDA 394 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

THDA 490 - Capstone and Honors Seminar

This is a reading and writing intensive course that engages theories from the fields of aesthetics and cultural studies to support each student's in-depth research into a topic of their choice. Discussions examine how particular uses of the body, space, and narrative intersect to inform our experience of "performance", broadly defined, and engage the interplay between real and fictional in both artistic productions and performative social contexts. Students may pursue archival and library research, analysis of live performance, and analysis of documents of various kinds, including visual materials. Required for Theater and Dance majors, open to Dance, Theater, and Performance Design and Technologies minors.

Frequency: Every year.


THDA 494 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

THDA 601 - Tutorial

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


THDA 602 - Tutorial

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


THDA 603 - Tutorial

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


THDA 604 - Tutorial

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


THDA 611 - Independent Project

For the advanced student capable of independent study requiring library research and/or experimental work in the theatre.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


THDA 612 - Independent Project

For the advanced student capable of independent study requiring library research and/or experimental work in the theatre.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


THDA 613 - Independent Project

For the advanced student capable of independent study requiring library research and/or experimental work in the theatre.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


THDA 614 - Independent Project

For the advanced student capable of independent study requiring library research and/or experimental work in the theatre.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


THDA 621 - Internship

The theatre and dance department allows up to eight credits for approved internship experiences, which may be applicable to a major in theatre arts (and non-majors, by approval from and in consultation with a department faculty member).

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Internship Office.


THDA 622 - Internship

The theatre and dance department allows up to eight credits for approved internship experiences, which may be applicable to a major in theatre arts (and non-majors, by approval from and in consultation with a department faculty member).

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Internship Office.


THDA 623 - Internship

The theatre and dance department allows up to eight credits for approved internship experiences, which may be applicable to a major in theatre arts (and non-majors, by approval from and in consultation with a department faculty member).

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Internship Office.


THDA 624 - Internship

The theatre and dance department allows up to eight credits for approved internship experiences, which may be applicable to a major in theatre arts (and non-majors, by approval from and in consultation with a department faculty member).

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Internship Office.


THDA 631 - Preceptorship

Through a preceptorship, an advanced student assists a faculty member in the planning and teaching of a course.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Academic Programs.


THDA 632 - Preceptorship

Through a preceptorship, an advanced student assists a faculty member in the planning and teaching of a course.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Academic Programs.


THDA 633 - Preceptorship

Through a preceptorship, an advanced student assists a faculty member in the planning and teaching of a course.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Academic Programs.


THDA 634 - Preceptorship

Through a preceptorship, an advanced student assists a faculty member in the planning and teaching of a course.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Academic Programs.


THDA 641 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Offered every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


THDA 642 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Offered every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


THDA 643 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Offered every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


THDA 644 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Offered every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.