Department of Dance

Degree Programs & Courses

Ph.D. in Critical Dance Studies

The Program

The Ph.D. in Critical Dance Studies (formerly the Ph.D. in Dance History and Theory) at UC Riverside provides an advanced interdisciplinary base for innovative research in the field of cultural, political, and historical studies of dance. Inaugurated in 1993, the program has achieved world-class status as the preeminent site for intellectual inquiry into dance, corporeality, movement, choreography, and performance. The specificity of the program's focus on dance studies distinguishes it in the fields of performance studies, theater studies, and cultural studies.  At the same time, the program is committed to interdisciplinary models of dance scholarship and accordingly pursues a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches.  The critical dance studies approach of our Ph.D. program is equally distinct for the close relationship it maintains with the department's M.F.A. in Experimental Choreography, inaugurated in 2001.  Depending on the nature of individual projects, the work of Ph.D. students is informed by their exposure to specific, intersecting curricula that bring Ph.D. and M.F.A students together.  This environment of close cooperation between our graduate programs contributes to the department's embrace of both dance making and written scholarship – dancing and writing about dancing – as complementary, intertwined modes of theorizing corporeality.  The education offered in the Ph.D. in Critical Dance Studies program at UC Riverside prepares students to become the next generation of dance scholars.

UC Riverside's Dance Department is unique for its outstanding faculty of nationally and internationally recognized scholars and artists.  In addition to three faculty in Experimental Choreography, the sheer number of Critical Dance Studies faculty - currently five - sets it apart from other dance departments in the U.S.  The faculty draw from a wide range of academic and creative backgrounds, including history, critical race theory, feminist studies, gender and sexuality studies, choreography, improvisation, theater and performance studies, and ethnography, as well as specific areas of study such as American Studies, African American Studies, Indigenous Studies, Latin American Studies, and Eighteenth-Century Studies.   UC Riverside faculty continuously strive to expand the boundaries of the disciplines of dance making and dance studies.

Our Ph.D. students pursue an extraordinary diversity of research agendas.  Recent projects include: “Danzas Fronterizas: Contemporary Dance at the U.S.-Mexican Borderland,” “Forbidden Bodies: Dancing Christian from Ruth St. Denis to Pole Dancing for Jesus,” “White Nose, (Post) Bawdy Bodies, and the Un/dancing Sexy Jewess,”  “Women on the Move: Mapping the Transnational Labor of British Indian Female Dancers in the Age of Globalization,” “Expanding Nations, Moving Bodies: Bharata Natyam Dance Practice in Sri Lanka,” and “Black Male Dancers and the Performance of Masculinity On- and Off-Stage: Bill T. Jones, Desmond Richardson, Dwight Rhoden, and Ronald K. Brown.”  The program also has an impressive placement record. Graduates have gone on to secure full-time academic positions nationally and internationally at such schools as UCLA, Florida State University, Davidson College, Colorado College, University of Minnesota, University of Illinois, Rutgers University, University of Washington, California State University, Long Beach, University of Kansas, York University, Middlesex University, University of Surrey, and Taipei National University of the Arts.

During the first two years of doctoral work, students will take a total of eleven required and elective courses. Required courses introduce students to rhetorical, cultural, historical, and political approaches to dance studies. The curriculum will also require students to conceptualize dance as a cultural endeavor and to confront issues involved in writing about movement-based performances. Students are strongly encouraged to pursue several of their graduate courses outside of the Department of Dance; these will be selected under the guidance of a faculty advisor and should help students create an interdisciplinary approach to their research.  Ph.D. students must also demonstrate competence in at least one foreign language.

In the third year, students prepare for and take the Written Qualifying Exams. These are followed by preparation for a Qualifying Essay, and then completion of an Oral Qualifying Exam, by the winter quarter of their fourth year. In the following years, students will complete the research and writing of the doctoral dissertation.

List of Completed Dissertations (PDF format)

Course Work

The core curriculum, normally to be completed in the first two years of residency, includes the following:

  • Dance 239: Introduction to Graduate Study of Dance
  • Dance 254: Political Approaches to Dance Studies
  • Dance 255: Historical Approaches to Dance Studies
  • Dance 257: Rhetorical Approaches to Dance Studies
  • Dance 258: Cultural Approaches to Dance Studies

Students must also take Dance 301 plus six additional graduate-level courses: two from other disciplines related to the student's research interest, and four from Dance. A maximum of one Dance M.F.A. core course may be included as one of the four additional graduate-level dance courses required.

Language Requirement

All students must show competence in at least one language other than English. Further requirements in specific forms of dance or music notation or ancient or contemporary languages may be determined for each student in consultation with relevant faculty and the graduate advisor of the program.

Written Qualifying Examination

Students must prepare one field for examination with each of four members of the committee in whose courses the student has completed degree requirements. The committee is composed of two Dance faculty members, one of whom is chair, and two other members who may be Dance faculty or "outside members" (not a UCR Dance faculty member or cooperating faculty member). The written qualifying examination may be completed as a "take-home" format (seven-day, open-book) or a "sit-in" format (two-hour exam periods for each field, conducted on site in the department, and completed in one five-day work week).

Qualifying Essay

One quarter after successfully completing the written examination, students complete a rough draft of the qualifying essay, under the direction of the same group of faculty members who monitored the written examination. Students finalize the qualifying essay and sit for the oral examination before the end of the following quarter. The qualifying essay is generally 25 pages in length and demonstrates the student's ability to articulate a viable dissertation research project. It must consist of written work but may include other forms of video or film productions with the approval of the relevant committee and the graduate advisor.

Oral Qualifying Examination

Students must prepare qualifying essay and be examined by a five-person oral qualifying examination committee. The committee, nominated by the department and appointed by the dean of the Graduate Division, consists of all four written examination committee members, plus a fifth member chosen so that the five-person committee would be comprised of no more than two "outside faculty members," and no fewer than one "outside faculty member." All members of the committee must be physically present for the exam. The committee examines the adequacy of the student's preparation to conduct the research proposed in the qualifying essay. Advancement to candidacy for the doctoral degree depends on completing required course work, fulfilling language requirements, and passing the written examination, qualifying essay, and the oral examination.

The Dance department expects students to complete the entire examination process by the end of their tenth quarter in the program (end of the first quarter of their fourth year) to make satisfactory progress toward completing the degree.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

A dissertation committee is composed of three members: a chair from Dance, a Dance faculty member, and either a Dance faculty member, or an outside faculty member. The committee directs and approves the research and writing of the dissertation. The dissertation must consist of written work but may include other forms of video or film productions with the approval of the relevant committee and the graduate advisor. It must present original scholarly work and be approved by the dissertation committee before the student takes the final oral examination. Students must have satisfactory performance on a final oral examination, conducted by the dissertation committee and open to all members of the faculty. The examination emphasizes the dissertation and related topics.

Normative Time to Degree

Normative time toward the completion of the Ph.D. in Critical Dance Studies is degree is 18 quarters.

M.F.A. in Experimental Choreography

The Program

UC Riverside's Master of Fine Arts in Experimental Choreography offers emerging and established artists a site for rigorous investigation in dance making, performance, and physical practice. Students in the MFA program, typically six quarters long, engage in a series of core choreography courses and select critical dance studies seminars, and fulfill the degree through design and direction of a choreographic project unique to their cumulative research. MFA students are equally enriched by the professional relationships they develop with our undergraduate population through teaching, directing, producing, and community engagement.

UCR’s MFA program is unique for the close relationship it maintains with the Dance Department's PhD in Critical Dance Studies, one of the preeminent programs for intellectual inquiry in the field of cultural, political, and historical studies of dance. Cooperation between these two programs, both conceptually and through intersecting curricula, contributes to the department’s embrace of dance making and scholarship as complementary modes of investigation.

Riverside, CA is an integral part of a dynamic constellation of landscapes including the high desert, the San Gorgonio Mountains, Los Angeles, and the US-Mexico border. UC Riverside is a place for our MFA students to participate artistically and intellectually in a generative environment of diverse economies and cultural perspectives. Several venues on and off campus, including our performance lab and the Culver Center of the Arts downtown, are available to foster this exchange.

List of Completed MFA Projects (PDF format)

Course Work

Students must complete 40 units of course work (10 courses) and 12-14 units of independent research for a final project.  Students’ total number of units of graduate and upper division undergraduate courses must equal at least 54.

The core curriculum, normally to be completed in the first two years of residency, shall comprise the following 16 units:

  • Dance 240: Improvising Choreography: Scores, Structures, and Strategies (4 units)
  • Dance 241: Creating the Experiment: Identifying the New (4 units)
  • Dance 242: Dancing Representation: Figures, Forms, and Frames (4 units)
  • Dance 243: Collaborating in Dance Making: Material, Methods, and Interactions (4 units)

Students must also take 4 units in each of the following:

  • Dance 180R (Dance Practicum: Pedagogy)
  • Dance 239 (Introduction to Graduate Study of Dance)
  • Dance 244 (Special Topics in Dance Making)

In addition, students must complete 8 units from the following critical dance studies courses:

  • Dance 254: Political Approaches to Dance Studies (4 units)
  • Dance 255: Historical Approaches to Dance Studies (4 units)
  • Dance 257: Rhetorical Approaches to Dance Studies (4 units)
  • Dance 258: Cultural Approaches to Dance Studies (4 units)

Students must also take Dance 301 (which does not count toward the total 54 units required for the degree) plus 4-6 graduate-level units of electives either within or outside the Dance Department. These units should be taken for a letter grade and can include, but are not limited to: any of the core PhD courses (Dance 254-258) not previously taken; a Dance 200-level seminar course in history and theory; Dance 280 (the Colloquium); the bundling of an upper-division undergraduate-level course with 2 units of 292 (Concurrent Analysis).

An additional 12-14 units are taken through Dance 297 or Dance 299 for work on phases of the final project. During the second year, students form a committee consisting of three faculty members, one of whom may be outside the department. The committee approves the project proposal and supervises the final project. The student's progress through the program culminates in the final project, which reflects a serious investigation of a specific choreographic problem. 

Final Project

During the second year, the student writes a 5-15 page proposal for the final project to be approved by the committee.

The final project could take the form of a concert of dances or some other performance event in which the student's research is made evident. Because of the experimental nature of the program, it is difficult to specify the exact form the project may take. For example, students may 1) undertake to create site-specific dances occurring in different locales over several months, 2) organize opportunities for interactive choreography with distinct groups of performers, or 3) choreograph a dance to be viewed on CD-ROM. 

Whatever its final form, the MFA project must demonstrate a thorough investigation and committed execution of a defined aesthetic concern. The MFA final project includes a written componentto be completed within one quarter following the performance event. This written component, a document, 20 to 40 pages long, articulatesthe aesthetic focus of the student’s research and provides a historical, theoretical, and even philosophical contextualization for the project. The written component should:

  1. describe and assess the process, choreography and final project performance(s), including references to the core studio courses, theory and historycourses and faculty dialogue, as well as lines of independent research.
  2. position the work in relation to the field – lineage, direct influences, similar inquiries by others -- and in relationship to other disciplines artistic or theoretical
  3. use the writing as an opportunity to develop language for articulating the work -- significance and potential next directions of creative research – for job talks, grant proposals, promotion, etc.
  4. addressissues posed by the chair and committee members
  5. not attempt to be a THESIS per. se., but be flexible andadapt in format to the particular project, with the guidance of the chair and approval by committee members.  It can (but is not necessarily required to) include or attach as appendix a pivotal paper written in a course, different kinds of writing, journal entries, scores, photographs and/or other relevant elements. Such appendices must be in addition to at least 20 written pages, in order to fulfill the catalogue requirement.

Moving-image documentation of the MFA project in 2016 takes place at the student’s initiative.  The Department is in process with the UCR Library to transfer from Dance to Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) moving-image documentation from previous MFA projects where such documentation has been given to the Department by the MFA student.  Publicity material posters generated by Kathy Deatley/the Promotions and Publicity Manager are archived on the Department of Dance website, usually annually.  Grad Division does not require formal filing of the written component document, which eases the time frame for completion in some ways. However it also means that Rivera Library does not shelve print copies of the written components. 

Normative Time to Degree

The normative time toward the completion of the MFA in Experimental Choreography is 7 quarters (2 years plus one quarter).

B.A. in Dance

The Program

The Bachelor of Arts in Dance at UC Riverside is distinctive for its outstanding faculty of nationally recognized scholars and artists who draw from a variety of academic and creative backgrounds, including choreography, history, literature, performance studies, and cultural studies.

The program focuses on choreography and cultivation of cultural and historical perspectives on dance. Courses on movement practices, dance composition, performance, pedagogies, cultural and historical studies, and digital and screen studies are required. Movement practice courses are offered in modern dance, ballet, tap, and other dance/movement forms as they are practiced in various cultures of the world.

Students must participate in at least one production of “UCR is Dancing,” the annual concert series featuring original choreography and performance projects by students. This concert series also includes historical dance reconstructions by department faculty as well as original repertory created by visiting guest artists.

Visiting guest dancers, choreographers, and scholars come to UC Riverside frequently to give special workshops, master classes, and lectures. Past visiting guest artists include Bill T. Jones, Ann Carlson, Sara Shelton Mann, Joe Goode, Jacques Haim, Lula Washington, and Serge Benathan.

Opportunities to perform include “UCR is Dancing,” the Faculty Dance Concert, the Graduate Dance Concert, M.F.A. Dance Concerts, and the Contemporary Dance Ensemble, the Tap Troupe, and the Ballet Folklorico touring ensembles for the Gluck Fellows Program of the Arts.

College Requirements

Students must complete the breadth requirements of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. For a detailed list of requirements, see Degree Requirements.

Major Requirements

The major requirements for the B.A. degree in Dance are as follows: A minimum of 74 units of course work in Dance, 38 of which are upper division.

Lower-division requirements (8 units):
DNCE 014, DNCE 019

Choreographies (12 units):
DNCE 114A, DNCE 114B, DNCE 114C

Histories/Cultures (8 units) 2 courses from:
DNCE 131/WMST 127, DNCE 132, DNCE 133, DNCE 134, DNCE 135

Performance/Productions (10 units):
DNCE 167, DNCE 180G and one quarter of DNCE 180J

Movement Practice (up to 24 units):
Dance majors must enroll in at least one movement practice course per quarter, and must pursue a concentration in two different dance genres of at least 6 units each. Up to 24 units may be counted towards the major from:

  1. DNCE 067A, DNCE 067B, DNCE 067C (Modern Technique)
  2. DNCE 071A, DNCE 071B (Ballet) DNCE 073A/LNST 073A, DNCE 073B/ LNST 073B (Dance of Mexico) DNCE 075A, DNCE 075B (World Dance Forms) DNCE 081A, DNCE 081B, DNCE 081C (Dance Cultures, Culture in Dance)

Electives (12 units) 12 units of additional coursework as follows:

  1. At least 8 units must be drawn from the following upper division courses: DNCE 131/WMST 127, DNCE 132, DNCE 133, DNCE 134, DNCE 135, DNCE 155 (E-Z), DNCE 161/MCS 162, DNCE 162/MCS 162, DNCE 171 (E-Z), DNCE 172 (E-Z), DNCE 173 (E-Z), DNCE 180R
  2. No more than 4 units may be drawn from the following movement practice and dance practicum courses: DNCE 067A, DNCE 067B, DNCE 067C, DNCE 071A, DNCE 071B, DNCE 073A/LNST 073A, DNCE 073B/LNST073B, DNCE 75A, DNCE 075B, DNCE 081A, DNCE 081B, DNCE 081C, DNCE 168, DNCE 180J, DNCE 180K

For more information, contact:

Judith L. Llausás
Academic Advisor
Art, Art History, Dance, Theatre, Film & Digital Production
Arts 235
(951) 827-2676



  • Walk-ins: 1:00pm-3:30pm
  • Appointments: 8:30am-11:00am. If you would like to schedule an appointment to meet with Judith, please use the link here.

Student Advising Forms

Minor in Dance

The Program

Students who minor in Dance receive an introduction to choreography, movement practice, and cultural and historical studies of dance that enable them to pursue upper-division courses germane to a particular focus in dance.

Students must declare the minor before their final degree check before graduation, by completing a petition with the Student Affairs Office in the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Prior approval by the Department of Dance is required. The minor is noted on the transcript at the time the degree is conferred.

See Minors under the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences in the Colleges and Programs section of the catalog for additional information on minors.


To complete a minor in Dance, students must complete 30 units in Dance as follows:

Lower Division (14 units required):

  1. Introductory Courses (8 units required)
    • Dance 014: Introduction to Choreography (4 units)
    • Dance 019: Introduction to Dance Studies (4 units)
  2. Movement Practice Courses (6 units required)
    • Dance 067A: Beginning Modern Dance (2 units)
    • Dance 067B: Intermediate Modern Dance (2 units)
    • Dance 067C: Advanced Modern Dance (2 units)
    • Dance 071A: Beginning Ballet Technique (2 units)
    • Dance 071B: Intermediate Ballet Technique (2 units)
    • Dance 072A: Beginning Tap Technique (2 units)
    • Dance 072B: Intermediate Tap Technique (2 units)
    • Dance 072C: Advanced Tap Technique (2 units)
    • Dance 073A: Dance of Mexico — Beginning (2 units) — cross listed: Latin American Studies 073A
    • Dance 073B: Dance of Mexico — Intermediate (2 units) — cross listed: Latin American Studies 073B
    • Dance 075A: Beginning World Dance Forms (2 units)
    • Dance 075B: Intermediate World Dance Forms (2 units)
    • Dance 081A: Dance Cultures, Culture in Dance — Beginning (2 units)
    • Dance 081B: Dance Cultures, Culture in Dance — Intermediate (2 units)
    • Dance 081C: Dance Cultures, Culture in Dance — Advanced (2 units)

Upper Division (16 units required):

  • Dance 114A: Dance Composition I (4 units)
  • Dance 114B: Dance Composition II (4 units)
  • Dance 114C: Dance Composition III (4 units)
  • Dance 131: Dance, Gender, Sexuality (4 units) — cross listed: Women’s Studies 127
  • Dance 132: Dance, Citizenship, Location (4 units)
  • Dance 133: Dance, Space, Time (4 units)
  • Dance 134: Dance, Genre, Institutions (4 units)
  • Dance 135: Dance, Race, Property (4 units)
  • Dance 155 (E-Z): Seminar in Music and Dance (4 units)
  • Dance 161: Choreographing the Screen (4 units)
  • Dance 162: Tool, Technology, Technique (4 units)
  • Dance 171 (E-Z): Filmic Bodies (4 units)
  • Dance 172 (E-Z): Televisual Bodies (4 units)
  • Dance 173 (E-Z): Digitized Bodies (4 units)
  • Dance 180 (E-Z): Dance Practicum (4 units)

For more information, contact:
Academic Advisor
Department of Dance
University of California, Riverside
Riverside , CA 92521-0328
Phone: (951) 827-3343
Fax: (951) 827-4651



For more information, contact:
Academic Advisor
Department of Dance
University of California, Riverside
Riverside , CA 92521-0328
Phone: (951) 827-3343
Fax: (951) 827-4651

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Department of Dance
121 Arts Building

Tel: (951) 827-3944
Fax: (951) 827-4651

Graduate Program Inquiries:

Undergraduate Program Inquiries: