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Curriculum – Modules – Application & Admission

The Master degree program conveys a critical understanding of dance and choreography across cultural and historical boundaries. It deals with choreographic forms of movement, above all (global) theatre dance, but also movement approaches in other cultural, spatial and media contexts, both from a historical-theoretical perspective and with a view to current social implications. Written assignments prepare students for the development of a research project in the Master's thesis, which is carried out independently under the supervision of lecturers. Students learn to participate in specialist discourses, and to communicate their knowledge to a wider public. Graduates also have problem-solving skills in other fields of knowledge and are capable of interdisciplinary and critical thinking. They can work in a team and together develop solutions. In addition to their academic qualifications, the practice-oriented modules of the Master's degree program give them a high degree of independence, which qualifies them as professional and creative leaders in all areas of (dance) culture.

Program Structure

In the first semester, the module "Introduction to Dance Studies" provides orientation in dance theory (the weekly introductory course). It also includes practice sessions  on body techniques (possibly in block seminars) and a on writing about dance. In addition, students take the two-part module "Theory/Aesthetics". The weekly course includes a seminar and a lecture.

In the second semester, the module on "Historicity/Historiography" offers two courses that engage with concepts and methods of dance historiography using selected historical examples. The two-part module consists of a seminar and a lecture. In the "Practice-led Research A" module, a performance project with accompanying practice session  is developed as part of the Valeska Gert guest professorship.

The third semester consists of the two-part modules of the compulsory elective area, "Dance/Arts/Media" or "Transdisciplinary Contexts", in which a seminar and a lecture on questions of the inter- and post-mediality of dance are offered. The module "Practice-led Research B" enables students to work with another Valeska Gert guest professor and to take an accompanying practice session.

In the fourth semester, students write their Master's thesis and attend an accompanying colloquium on approaches to research.

The Master's degree program in Critical Dance Studies should be completed full-time. The possibility of part-time study is decided on an individual basis.


Introduction to Critical Dance Studies

Students are taught about historical and contemporary dance, body and movement concepts, performance analysis, methodological issues and current approaches in dance research. They gain an insight into dance practices (including various physical techniques and choreographic approaches) and are encouraged to analyze and reflect on these, taking into account a wide range of theoretical texts. They will learn the basics of movement analysis and notation and try out critical writing about dance in various academic and journalistic settings.

Theory, Aesthetics

The module focuses on theoretical approaches in the field of Critical Dance Studies. The focus is on theoretical discourses that are particularly relevant for dance thinking, from the important theories of the 20th century to contemporary queer and decolonial studies. Students are given the opportunity to gather knowledge about current topics in cultural theory   , and engage with them through analysis and discussion. Students are encouraged to formulate their own positions with regard to the discursive field in order to develop their  research projects in the form of term papers.

Historicity, Historiography

The module uses specific historical examples to teach concepts and methods of dance historiography (including comparative study of sources, reconstruction, reenactment, forms of memory and transmission, historical models of notation, methods of archiving between body and document). Students discuss and critically engage with concepts, methododologies and current  research in dance historiography. The module also includes the presentation and discussion of individual historiographical approaches.

Practice-led Research

Students work together with a lecturer from the field of artistic practice on a project that is accompanied by academic research. They develop and realize ideas independently, prepare a joint public presentation and reflect on the results at an academic level. Among other things, students discuss questions of staging practice, concepts of the body, of music or space as well as practical procedures and conceptual decisions in the areas of dance dramaturgy and curating. They will analyze the significance and the potential of critical dance studies methods in the context of artistic practice.

Dance, Arts, Media

The module investigates the relationships between dance and the other arts and media. Dance is examined as a medium at the interface of various arts (music, theatre, visual arts, film, literature). Students will learn about the historical key position of dance with regard to questions of performativity and its significance for the other arts and media. Students will gain an insight into current inter- and postmedial research. In addition, they discuss the problems and potentials of inter- and postmediality as well as comparative research strategies on the basis of exemplary research questions. A further focus is the examination of modes of representation in different media as well as their exploration and critical reflection.

Transdisciplinary Contexts

The module deals with both crosscurrents and demarcations between critical dance studies and neighboring disciplines such as theater, music and film studies. Students explore different objects of investigation and their distinct approaches as well as overlaps between the disciplines. They gain insights into current research fields and approaches from neighboring disciplines. In addition, they discuss the problems and potentials of transdisciplinarity and comparative research strategies on the basis of exemplary research questions. It is possible to focus on either theatre, music or film studies.

Approaches to Research

Students will engage with current research topics and questions. They present their own specific research topics, contribute to discussions, and learn to explain conceptual and methodological decisionsand sources of information. Principles of academic work and good scientific practice are taken into account. Students also work on their academic writing and oral presentation.

Exemplary Curriculum (PDF)

The application and admission procedure is centrally organized by Freie Universität Berlin.

For more information on application deadlines etc., visit: Application and Admission

Please also see the information on Transferring between Higher Education Institutions in Higher Semesters.

For admission to the Master's degree programme, applicants must prove that they meet the following requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent other university degree.

The degree program is a limited admission program.

Further information can be found in the admission regulations for the Master's degree programme in Dance Studies.