Contemporary Dance

Richard Oaxaca in Gary Galbraith’s “Islands of Desire"
Master of Fine Arts

About the Program

An MFA in Contemporary Dance from Case Western Reserve University will prepare you for an academic appointment or other advanced dance career, while offering you continued growth as a choreographer and dancer. In our dance program—one of the oldest in the United States—you’ll be immersed in a four-semester, 60-credit sequence of choreography classes that focus on craft, music, costume and set, and dance and technology. 

What to Expect

With about 10 students in the program at any time, close and regular contact with faculty is a given. Here, you’ll learn from two principal faculty members who led distinguished careers as professional dancers in New York City and, since joining Case Western Reserve, have been recognized for their excellence in graduate teaching and mentoring.  
And the academic opportunities? One of a kind. Our program holds the distinction of having the first Dancer Wellness Program in a graduate program in the U.S., founded in 2000. You’ll be able to participate in dance wellness seminars that cover nutrition for dancers, dance injury and rehabilitation, and psychology and dance. Additionally, we partner with the Cleveland Institute of Music, offering you the unique opportunity to participate in Dalcroze Eurhythmics classes.
This three-year, full-time program won’t leave time for you to work on the side, but it will prepare you to reach new heights in the career you’ve dreamt about. Many graduates of our program have enjoyed academic appointments at the associate or assistant professor level. Several alumni chair departments or lead dance programs. Many have danced with renowned companies such as the Martha Graham Dance Co., the Erick Hawkins Dance Co. and Mark Dendy Dance, all in New York. And with the Dancer Wellness program serving as a springboard, some alumni transitioned to the medical field and are practicing physical therapists. Where will your MFA take you? 

I learned so much from [CWRU]. … The in-depth dance training and coursework shaped my way of moving, feeling and seeing my body and prepared me for my current job as an assistant professor in dance. The most precious experience I received during my time at [CWRU] was the mentorship, which still continues today—even though I graduated from the school five years ago.

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Beyond the Classroom

In this program, sometimes the stage will be your classroom. Other times, your classroom will be whatever you make it—a conference, a festival or a workshop. 

Rather than participating in established internships, you’ll be encouraged to take summer workshops, which can sometimes be related to internships with dance companies in New York. Past students have interned with the Mark Morris Group and the Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre.

By the Numbers


student-to-faculty ratio


students in the program at any given time


credit hours


Dancer Wellness Program in a graduate program in the U.S. (founded 2000)


new students offered fellowships or assistantships each year

Admission Requirements

Our program thrives when we have students with diverse perspectives and a range of educational, professional and life experiences. We look forward to learning more about you!

The application process requires:

  • Online application
  • Transcript
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Written statement of goals
  • Samples of performance and choreography (video links)

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