Jun 18, 2024  
College Catalog 2019-2020 
College Catalog 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Theater and Dance

Full-Time Faculty and Instructional Staff: Thomas Barrett, Beth Cleary, Lynn Farrington, Wynn Fricke, Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento (Chair), Harry Waters Jr.

Visiting Artists and Part-Time Faculty: Sarah Bellamy, Barbra Berlovitz, Sarah Brandner, Cheryl Moore Brinkley, Patricia Brown, Kaori Kenmotsu, Mina Kinukawa, Krista Langberg, Jill Lile, Kathy Maxwell, Giselle Mejia, Randy Reyes, Robert Rosen, Uri Sands, Marciano Silva dos Santos, Darrius Strong

The Theater and Dance Department (THDA) welcomes students who want to explore or build a future in various area of performance. We offer small academic and studio courses at all levels, and students are closely mentored by expert faculty. We encourage those without previous experience to try a beginning course in acting, dance, design, performance technologies, or playwriting. THDA offers a major in Theater and Dance, and minors in Dance, Theater, and Performance Design and Technologies. Our Department is home to many students pursuing double majors. With the exception of dance technique courses, THDA classes fulfill Macalester’s Fine Arts requirement.

THDA aims to prepare the next generation of performers, choreographers, designers, directors, playwrights, researchers, and stage technicians. We have a longstanding commitment to exploring performance as a global endeavor, and THDA productions reflect that commitment. Each year, more than 300 students participate in these productions. Auditions are open to all.

Located in the Twin Cities, Macalester College is in the heart of a thriving arts community, with more theater companies per capita than any other city in the country besides New York City. Here you will find nationally recognized LORT theaters such as the Guthrie, attend international performances at the Walker Art Center, and see new works by exciting companies such as Penumbra Theatre, Mixed Blood, Jungle Theatre, among many others. THDA courses often bring students to off-campus theater and dance productions. You will learn the vocabularies of the discipline, take classes with guest artists, and become part of a vibrant arts community.

In all of its formal curricular programs, the Department emphasizes:

  • Acquisition of skills in a student’s chosen emphasis within the major: acting; historical/theoretical research in performance; dance performance; choreography; directing; design (scenic, lighting or costume); technical direction; stage management; playwriting.
  • Ongoing practice in the theories and methods of collaboration; application of the arts of collaboration to wider campus and community practices of civic engagement.
  • Instruction and progressive curricular expertise in four kinds of crucial research: a) practice-based; b) analytical; c) archival; d) devised.
  • Instruction and progressive curricular expertise in the histories of theater, dance and performance.
  • Instruction and progressive curricular expertise in the inter-disciplinary fields and methods of performance studies.
  • Development of three crucial forms of communication: a) written; b) oral; c) artistic.
  • The ability, upon graduation, to craft a theoretical framework for making and experiencing performance.
  • Exposure to professional theater and dance artists, whose participation in the program as guests and collaborators propels students’ dreams of living and working sustainably as artists and theorists of performance beyond college.

Theater and Dance Productions

Participation in theater and dance productions at Macalester is available to all students at the college, regardless of major or minor affiliations with the Department. Open auditions are conducted for productions each semester and technical positions are filled from a combination of experienced and new students who are willing to learn the skills necessary to accomplish the tasks. Productions are courses for which students may either receive credit (S/NC) or audit. 

General Distribution Requirement

All four-credit theater and dance courses count toward the fine arts general distribution requirement. Two semesters of African-based Movement also count toward the fine arts general distribution requirement. 

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and U.S. identities and differences will be posted on the Registrar’s web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements  section of this catalog.

Majors and Minors

The Theater and Dance Department offers a Theater and Dance Major, as well as three minors: Theater, Dance, and Performance Design and Technologies.

The Theater and Dance Major consists of a sequence of courses designed to prepare theater and dance artists and scholars for immediate and excellent work in the fields, and for graduate study in M.F.A. or M.A./Ph.D. programs.

The minors in Theater and Dance are very flexible to allow a wide range of Macalester students to pursue the coursework in the performing arts in their particular areas of interest.

The minor in Performance Design and Technologies prepares students who prefer to engage with the applications of the visual arts in performance and technical expertise.

Theater and Dance Capstone and Honors

Theater and Dance majors are required to enroll in THDA 490 Capstone and Honors Seminar, and complete a senior capstone project that consists of individual research leading to an essay of 20-25 pages. 

The Department participates in the Honors Program, but Honors projects are accepted at the discretion of the faculty and staff. The Honors Project in Theater and Dance is a year-long research project that builds on the individual research developed during the Capstone Seminar. Honors Projects may take the form of a monograph (60-90 pages) or consist of a creative component accompanied by a critical essay (30-45 pages). The Department encourages majors with a demonstrated record of excellence in Department coursework and production to pursue Departmental Honors in their senior year. Capstone and Honors proposals are due the week after spring break of the applicant’s junior year.

The Department recommends that majors begin planning for the Honors Project as early as possible in their studies in order to meet the qualification requirements. Rising seniors should submit a Capstone Proposal the week after Spring Break and begin work during the summer preceding their senior year. Students who elect to study abroad in the spring of their junior year should make all the necessary arrangements to submit their Capstone Proposals by the deadline. Those pursuing a fall graduation should enroll in the Capstone Seminar their junior year.

Proposals are evaluated based on the candidate’s preparation; quality of preliminary research; clarity of the objectives of the process; and, when applicable, the rationale for staging a given production. The Theater and Dance Department may request the submission of a revised proposal addressing the faculty’s questions and/or concerns. The THDA faculty and staff will determine a candidate’s primary advisor and the composition of the Honors Project Committee.

Students are eligible to pursue an Honors Project in Theater and Dance if they have a Macalester College GPA of 3.30 or better, and a Theater and Dance GPA of 3.50 or better. Additionally, applicants should have completed, or be enrolled in, the following seven courses required for the Theater and Dance major. Please note that eligibility does not guarantee the acceptance of a project for Honors.

Study Abroad in Theater and Dance

Students wanting to study performance-history, performance training, design/architecture at another international or U.S. campus should consult with Theater and Dance for recommendations of well-regarded programs. Any student seeking conservatory-style training (for instance, in Moscow) should plan their Macalester major carefully and early, in consultation with the Theater and Dance faculty. It is strongly advised that students plan to study away in the fall of their junior year.

Independent Study

The Department offers independent study options in the form of internships, independent studies with a faculty member, tutorials and preceptorships. Recent internships have included work with local theater educators in their classrooms, and rehearsing/performing in a semi-professional production over January break. When students pursue Honors Projects, they are encouraged to enroll in a supervised independent study to support that work. For more information contact the Department and review the Curriculum section of the catalog.

Topics Courses

THDA 194 , THDA 294 , THDA 394 , THDA 494  

Topics courses in theater and dance focus on current and often inter-disciplinary issues in performance history and theory, methods and design. Many topics courses enter the curriculum of theater and dance as permanent courses. Recent topics courses have included: “Magic in Motion: Advanced Technical Production;” “Dance for the Camera;” and “Gender and Race Theory in Performance.” Topics courses are announced every year in advance of the registration period.