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Critical Dance Studies | Program

Pina Bausch, Das Frühlingsopfer

Pina Bausch, Das Frühlingsopfer

Are you passionate about contemporary dance and wish to further explore its theoretical discourses? Does the history of dance pique your interest? Do you understand your own dance practice as a way of thinking and experimenting? Would you like to develop your research skills to work as a dramaturg and curator in the field of dance? Then the Master of Critical Dance Studies is the right program for you. 

Critical Dance Studies at Freie Universität Berlin is an internationally respected program that brings together students from around the globe to study dance within one of the art form’s most important urban centers. The course deals with the history, aesthetics and theory of dance and also explores the methodological potential of corporeality and ephemerality. At heart, the master's degree program is a scholarly approach to dance. This means you will work with academic texts, develop approaches to writing about dance, as well as methods of movement and performance analysis. This theoretical focus is brought into exchange with accompanying practical modules. On the one hand, these modules deal with body techniques and artistic research, and on the other hand, they introduce working methods, curatorial questions, and dramaturgical approaches.

To what extent is theatrical dance conditioned by historical and political preconditions? Does it test these only on stage, or does it practice and reveal other social forms of living and moving together? How does dance produce meaning through choreography and movement? What historical discourses and contemporary theories are negotiated in dance, how does dance contribute to their further development? And how do these theories inform, for example, feminist, queer, and decolonizing practices in dramaturgy and curating? These and other questions are what we address in the program.

Based in the division of Critical Dance Studies of the Institute of Theater Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, the Master's program opens up present transdisciplinary perspectives on dance and choreography to students.

The course focuses on concert dance, and critically rethinks, historicizes, and theorizes its formulation as an art form in the so-called West. Reflecting the extraordinarily international dance community of Berlin itself, the focus of the program is broad and encourages study and research of, for example, contemporary and historical global popular dance, Black and Indigenous dance practices, Queer dance communities, the dances of diaspora, and body-based performance experimentalism worldwide. 

Students benefit from the interdisciplinary framework of the institute, which is home not only to dance studies but also to theater, film, and music studies, as well as the master's program in cultural and media management. The Valeska Gert Visiting Professorship further enables collaboration with contemporary choreographers. Teaching takes place in cooperation with national and international dance institutions. Berlin's diverse and varied dance scene offers an unparalleled cultural environment.

The master's program in dance studies builds on a bachelor's degree, e.g. in theater studies or in another subject. The standard period of study is four semesters. Students complete the program of study with a master's thesis.

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