Jul 14, 2024  
College Catalog 2023-2024 
College Catalog 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Theater and Dance

Full-Time Faculty and Instructional Staff: Wynn Fricke, Mina Kinukawa, Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento (Chair)

Visiting Artists and Part-Time Faculty: Lucas Baisch, Barbra Berlovitz, Patricia Brown, Karen Charles, Sun Mee Chomet, Wu Chen Khoo, Marvin Gonzalez, Krista Langberg, Jill Lile, Toni Pierce-Sands, Randy Reyes, Robert Rosen, Dominic Rodgers, Marciano Silva dos Santos, Davey Steinman, Wendy Weckwerth

Instructional Staff: Thomas Barrett

The Theater and Dance Department (THDA) welcomes students who want to build a career or explore acting, choreography, various styles of dance technique, design, directing, performance technologies, or playwriting.  

We believe that a liberal arts education equips students to break new ground in the performing arts. THDA aims to prepare the next generation of choreographers, designers, directors, performers, 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.

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. THDA offers a major in Theater and Dance, and minors in Dance, Theater, and Performance Design and Technologies. 

Located in the Twin Cities, Macalester College is in the heart of a thriving arts community, with more theater seats 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 Ananya Dance Theatre, James Sewell Ballet, Jungle Theatre, Mixed Blood, Penumbra Theatre, and Ragamala Dance Company, among many others. The Department’s location facilitates our students’ transition to the profession. 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 line with Macalester’s liberal arts focus, the Theater and Dance Department at Macalester College prepares students to:

  1. Create of new artistic and scholarly work (authorship);
  2. Engage in intellectual and embodied research;
  3. Demonstrate a range of creative and scholarly skills;
  4. Employ arts and cultural studies theories;
  5. Productively foster and participate in community engagement;
  6. Be skilled collaborators.

Theater and Dance Productions

Every semester, THDA holds auditions open to all Macalester students. In faculty and guest artist productions, students are involved as assistants in all areas of performance, including design, directing, dramaturgy, and choreography. Technical theater positions are filled by experienced and new students interested in acquiring proficiency in these skills. The Theater and Dance Department also produces student-led performances, including those in fulfillment of Honors in Theater and Dance.

General Distribution Requirement

All four-credit theater and dance courses count toward the fine arts general distribution requirement. Two semesters of Brown Spirits Dance Ensemble also count toward the fine arts general distribution requirement. 

General Education Requirements

The Theater and Dance Department offers courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism, and U.S. identities and differences. These are 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 is available 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. 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. Honors projects are accepted at the discretion of the faculty and staff.

The Department recommends that majors begin planning for the Honors Project as early as possible in order to meet the coursework required for different areas of study. 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 near completion, of the Theater and Dance major requirements, as well as required coursework for their field of interest. Please note that eligibility does not guarantee the acceptance of a project for Honors.


No more than eight (8) credits of theater practica (THDA 60 THDA 79 THDA 80 THDA 81 ) may be counted toward the total number of credits required for graduation, though no limit is placed on continued participation.

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, Dublin, or at the O’Neill/NTI) 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 at Cowles Center, Full Circle Theater Company, the Minnesota Jewish Theater Company, Park Square Theater, Penumbra Theatre, Playwrights’ Center, Theater Mu,  Threads Dance Project, and Walker Art Center, among others.

Topics Courses

THDA 194 , THDA 294 , THDA 394 , THDA 494  

Topics courses in theater and dance focus on current and often interdisciplinary issues in performance history and theory, methods and design. Recent topics courses have included: “Acting for the Camera,” “Auditions,” “Dance and Performance Design,” “Gender and Race Theory in Performance,” “Model Building and Rendering,” and “Magic in Motion: Advanced Technical Production.” Topics courses are announced every year in advance of the registration period.