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 relationship 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 spring.


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. S/N grading only.

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. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every spring.


THDA 51 - Ballet I

This is a beginning ballet technique class. The goal is to demonstrate fundamental understanding and execution of ballet technique. It will include barre work, center-floor, and across-the-floor combinations. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every fall.


THDA 52 - Ballet II

This ballet technique class is for students with some experience in classical ballet. The goal is to demonstrate a beginning to intermediate dancer's understanding and execution of ballet technique. It will include barre work, center-floor, and across-the-floor combinations. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every spring.


THDA 53 - Ballet III

This is an intermediate ballet class and is geared for students who have developed proficient skills at the barre and in the center. Center will include pirouettes, adage, beats, and more complex combinations. Students will develop a more advanced vocabulary while continuing to focus on placement, alignment, flexibility, strength, and fluidity and connection of movement. The refinement of technical skills and performance skills with longer combinations will be emphasized. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every fall.


THDA 54 - Ballet IV

This is the highest level of ballet at Macalester and is a continuation and progression of Ballet III. It is assumed at this level that the student has acquired and practiced work covered in previous levels. Students will refine vocabulary and strive to increase strength, flexibility, coordination, and artistry within their movements. Proper alignment, musicality, clarity of movement will be emphasized. Students are expected to pick up movement quickly and dance with speed and accuracy and demonstrate control. Corrections should be applied and refined quickly. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 51, THDA 52, and THDA 53 .


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.


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.


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.

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.

Frequency: Every fall.


THDA 120 - Acting I

Acting I introduces students to the art of acting. By the end of this semester, students will have acquired 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 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.

Frequency: Every other year.


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 - Reading the Dancing Body: Topics in Dance History

Dance is an art of the body in time, space, and culture. It is a language that reflects socio-economic forces. This class will "read" the gender, race, and politics of the dancing body within African American and Euro American dance traditions from the 19th century to today. The focus will be on theatrical dance forms in the United States including ballet, modern, and musical theater dance, as well as social dance as the predecessor to some of these genres. We will read, write, discuss, dance, view videos, and attend performances.

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 221 - Dance Composition

This course is the study and discipline of dance-making. Students learn the tools of the choreographer - time, space, energy - and how they can be shaped to give the body expressive power. The relationships between form, content, and technique are explored. 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. Through the creative process, we seek energy from a sense of investigation as opposed to the pressure to "succeed". The solo form is emphasized. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Every year.


THDA 230 - Physical Approaches

This laboratory course offers intensive training in making theatre from action . Based on the teaching of Jacques Lecoq and his school of physical theatre training in Paris, work will focus 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 the natural world and all its movements, our relationship with space and time, and object manipulation. We will use improvisation, games and exercises to develop physical and creative skills with which to create original work. Applied analyses of professional productions are required, as are written analyses of course work and individual progress. 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): THDA 120 or other performance training 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 - Introduction to Playwriting and Textual Analysis

This class introduces the fundamentals of playwriting by exposing students to a wide variety of plays and a series of writing exercises. 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 development. A mid-term and final play reading series of one-acts will allow students to hear their work in a supportive public setting.

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 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.

Frequency: Offered alternate spring semesters.

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.


THDA 294 - Topics Course

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

THDA 335 - Scene 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. Students with a background in studio art or design are welcome to enroll.

Frequency: Alternate fall semesters

Prerequisite(s): THDA 235 or permission of instructor.


THDA 341 - Intermediate Dance Composition

In this course, the student has the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the craft of dancing-making. They embody the tools of space, time and energy with greater clarity, and become fluent with compositional structures as they choreograph solo, duet, and group forms. They begin to touch more deeply into their distinct power and vision as an artist. Collaboration, risk-taking, investigation, and joy are valued within the support of a shared space.

Frequency: Every fall.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 121 or permission of instructor.


THDA 350 - Directing and Devising: Making Meaning on 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 255 and THDA 120.

Frequency: Every spring.

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


THDA 360 - Acting II

Advanced work in characterization and additional acting techniques with continued focus on voice, movement, improvisation and innovative textual analysis. A continuation of Acting I, this course is designed to deepen the student's understanding of their instrument as well as develop an individualized working method. Included in the course is a consideration of style through scene work in new genres.

Frequency: Every year.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 120


THDA 375 - Set Design

This course focuses on set design: its history, key principles, and roots in the visual arts. Projects foster the development of each student's conceptual vision of design for the stage and support the furthering of their technical skills. Student design portfolios will include 2-D (renderings) and 3-D (models).

Frequency: Occasionally offered.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 235


THDA 394 - Topics Course

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

THDA 465 - Advanced Lighting Design

Continuation of THDA 255. Meets simultaneously with THDA 255. Emphasis will be on furthering skills and techniques used in developing lighting design concepts. Projects are more complex and require more precision in their execution. Group discussion/critiques and field trips are included. Students' final projects will be a mock United Scenic Artist Lighting Design Exam.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 255 or permission of instructor.


THDA 489 - Seminar in Performance Theory and Practice

What are the hopes of performance and performance theory in the current era of globalization? How do aesthetic and social projects, including visual art, theatre, performance events, and dance, engage with the many registers of thinking, what Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak calls 'a planetary' arts and criticism? In this class we assess some of the ways that performance artists and theorists conceptualize and address formal artistic methodologies, culture, and the politics of performance in an era of globalization. Our premise is that all researchers are cultural producers, at once located within processes of globalization and mapping their terrains. Understanding theory as the attempt to practice and articulate methods of action (nothing more, nothing less) we examine some of the essential critical vocabularies for thinking performance and the social together. Readings in Performance research, in addition to Critical Theory, Feminist/Queer Theory, and critical race theory contribute to our study of contemporary Performance Theory. Specific theme may vary by semester, depending on instructor.

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.