Several students surround a professor, who stands behind a stool
THDA students in Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento's Acting II class.

Theater and Dance

THDA 21 - Dances of the African Diaspora I

Dances of the African Diaspora I introduces students to selected dance forms from the African diaspora, especially those coming from West Africa and that emerged in the Caribbean and the Americas. The course is physically rigorous and emphasizes community building. A drummer accompanies the class, so students experience the fundamental connection between drums and dance as they learn the histories, techniques, and characteristics of Diasporic movement forms. Assignments include movement projects developed in class and presentations. All are welcome. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every fall.


THDA 22 - Dances of the African Diaspora II

Dances of the African Diaspora II deepens student engagement with selected dance forms from the African diaspora, especially those coming from West Africa and that emerged in the Caribbean and the Americas. The course is physically rigorous and emphasizes community building. A drummer accompanies the class, so students experience the fundamental connection between drums and dance as they learn the histories, techniques, and characteristics of Diasporic movement forms. Assignments include movement projects developed in class 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 explores 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 a deepening awareness of alignment. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every fall.


THDA 42 - Modern Dance II

This course builds on skills introduced in Modern Dance I. Students engage fully with their bodies and minds as they deepen their strength, flexibility, and felt sense of alignment and flow. Emphasis is placed on deepening precision, sense of rhythm, and anatomical awareness of the body in motion. Class consists of in-place warm-ups, traveling across the floor, and final combinations. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s): THDA41 or permission of instructor


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.

Prerequisite(s): THDA41 or THDA42 or permission of instructor


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.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 42 or THDA 43 or permission of instructor.


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.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 51 or permission of instructor


THDA 60 - Brown Spirits Dance Ensemble

Macalester's Brown Spirits Dance Ensemble engages the techniques and histories of selected dance forms from the African diaspora, especially those coming from West Africa and that emerged in the Caribbean and the Americas. Brown Spirits Dance Ensemble performs in Theater and Dance Department concerts, as well as Macalester events such as Africa Week, Black History Month, and Family Fest. Completion of African-based Movement I and/or II is recommended. Two credits awarded at the end of the semester. Four credits of fine arts general distribution may be earned after two consecutive semesters of this ensemble.

Frequency: Every semester.

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


THDA 79 - Performance Practice in Student Projects

Students are involved in Theater and Dance Department productions as actors or dancers in student-led pieces. Performance Practice in Student Projects is the appropriate course when students will not work under direct supervision of a faculty member, but are part of a student director's or student choreographer's work in an Honors production or Dance Concert. Two credits awarded at the end of the semester. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Every semester.


THDA 80 - Performance Practice

Students are involved in production as actors or dancers, 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 contact the Theater and Dance Department directly for audition and registration information


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.

Frequency: Every fall.


THDA 112 - Reading Plays

Reading Plays guides students in close readings of dramatic literature, in particular of plays that are typically left out of the traditional theatrical canon. Students will learn about the socio-historical context of each play, and in-class exercises will introduce them to the foundation of script analysis: they will examine the play's given circumstances, dialogue, dramatic action, characters, and style. Students will read a new play every week; assignments include weekly in-class writing exercises and short critical papers.

Frequency: Every year.


THDA 113 - The Artistic Power and Politics of the Dancing Body

This course focuses on key 20th century contemporary choreographers across four continents, including LIN Hwai-min, Pina Bausch, Akram Khan, and Ohad Naharin, among others. We examine the international impact of their work as well the cultural contexts in which they thrived, or are thriving, as artists. We compare their creative processes, aesthetics and philosophies. We examine the political, social, and spiritual power of their artistic lives and bodies of work, with special attention to issues of race and gender.

THDA 120 - Acting

This course introduces students to the art of acting. They will acquire fundamental acting skills and engage in artistic experimentation. Students will learn how to create a repeatable score of psychophysical actions, script analysis, use 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; 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. A balance of lecture and hands-on studio time allow students to learn and apply knowledge through working with materials. Students in this course also may provide support to mainstage performance projects, further extending their learning in the course. Department provides course materials.

Frequency: Every year.


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. Department provides course materials.

THDA 194 - Topics Course

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

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.

Frequency: Every other year.


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: Occasionally.

Cross-Listed as: WGSS 217


THDA 220 - Voice and Speech

Using techniques of Linklater, students learn elements of breath support, healthy voice production, projection, posture, speech articulation, Standard American English pronunciation, and stage presence. The class will draw on monologues and text that speak to each student's unique voice and life experiences. The semester culminates with a class performance (scenes, monologues, poetry, and/or original student writing).

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): No previous acting experience required, however THDA 120 is recommended.


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

Making theatre is a messy business; in this studio course, we will explore physical comedy, the haphazard world of the clown, masks, improvisation, games, and object manipulation. The goal of the course is to encourage curiosity, and to engage the student as creator, designer, and performer-we will invent everything ourselves by learning how to play with skill. In short: there are no scripts, no lines and no stage directions. Our training will include basic acrobatics, balancing, and juggling. The instructor draws inspiration from the work of French stage actor and movement coach Jacques Lecoq.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s): Performance training in dance or theater is strongly encouraged. Openness to experimentation and play a must.


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. Department provides course materials.

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 objects. This course is a prerequisite for intermediate and advanced design courses in Theater and Dance. Department provides course materials.

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 midterm 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.

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 of 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.

Frequency: Every year.


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. Department provides course materials.

Frequency: Every year.

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 285 - The Art of Costume Design

Students in this class will engage with costume design as both generative and collaborative artists. They will learn to conceptualize costumes for theater and dance productions drawing from a multitude of inspirations including the fine arts, costume/fashion history, music, literature, film, opera, and textiles. Class meetings will include discussions about readings and visual literacy, as well as conversations with guest speakers. The course lab will be dedicated to sketching or field trips to museums. Students will engage with both traditional and devised methods of developing characters and silhouettes to develop their unique vision for theatrical and dance productions. Three hours of lecture plus three hours of lab each week.

Frequency: Every year.

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


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.

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 is the study and discipline of dance-making. Students in this class will work with those in THDA 255, Lighting Design, and THDA 80, Performance Practice in a collaborative dance project that will culminate in public dance performances in the Theater and Dance Department 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. The course focuses on 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: Every spring.

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, dynamic storytelling, stage composition, and communication (with designers, actors, stage managers, and production team). Students will choose a scene from a play proposed by the instructor, research style and aesthetic, run auditions, cast the scene, facilitate a rehearsal process, and stage a live performance. They will also learn best collaborative practices, since the class unfolds in conversation with the Acting Approaches course (THDA360) 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, Bertolt Brecht, Jacques Lecoq, Grotowski, 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: Every spring.

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. Department provides course materials.

Prerequisite(s): THDA 232 or THDA 235. 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 fall.


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.