Apr 14, 2024  
College Catalog 2024-2025 
College Catalog 2024-2025

Theater and Dance

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

Visiting Artists and Part-Time Faculty: Sara Bahr, Barbra Berlovitz, Alayna Jacqueline, Krista Langberg, Jill Lile, Jarek Pastor, Toni Pierce-Sands, Robert Rosen, Marciano Silva dos Santos

Instructional Staff: Thomas Barrett, MaryBeth Gagner, Wu Chen Khoo

THDA aims to prepare the next generation of choreographers, designers, directors, performers, playwrights, researchers, and stage technicians. We believe that a liberal arts education equips students to break new ground in the performing arts. THDA offers a major in Theater and Dance, and minors in Dance, Theater, and Performance Design and Technologies.

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.

THDA welcomes all levels of students interested in exploring the performing arts. We offer academic, playwriting, 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.

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 and attend international performances at the Walker Art Center. Our majors and minors have enjoyed paid internships at local arts organizations such as Children’s Theater Company, Open Eye Theater, Ragamala Dance Company, Theater MU, Threads Dance Project, and more. 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.

The Department’s location facilitates our students’ transition to the profession. THDA’s alumni of the past five years have been accepted to prestigious graduate programs such as the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University (acting, theater management), Boston University (MBA, Social Impact), Columbia University (acting), and University of South Carolina (acting); received fellowships and apprenticeships from nationally-recognized producing venues such as Ananya Dance Theater and the Showngrām Institute for Performance and Social Justice (choreography), Berkeley Repertory Theater in San Francisco (stage management, the Peter F. Sloss Artistic Fellowship), Jerome Foundation (dance), Playwrights’ Center (administration), Pillsbury House + Theater (solo choreography), and Children’s Theater Company (acting, production management, education). They have been/are employed as actors, designers, technical staff, assistant directors and designers, casting associates, and stage and production managers at Arena Stage (Washington D.C.), Barrington Stage Company (MA), Exposed Brick Theater, Fugazi Club (San Francisco), Penumbra Theatre and Center for Racial Healing, History Theater, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Mixed Blood, MN Opera, Old Log Theater, Open Window Theater, PlayGround-Chicago, Stages Theater Company, and Theater Latte Da. They are the recipient of experimental dance film awards (Huntington Beach Cultural Film Company) and on tour (Hip Hop Nutcracker). They are Miranda Family and Jerome Foundation alumni. Moore Creative Talent represents a number of them.

In line with Macalester’s liberal arts focus, the Theater and Dance Department at Macalester College prepares students to:

Create of new artistic and scholarly work (authorship);
Engage in intellectual and embodied research;
Demonstrate a range of creative and scholarly skills;
Employ arts and cultural studies theories;
Productively foster and participate in community engagement;
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.

General Education Requirements

The Theater and Dance Department offers courses that meet the general education and distribution requirements in Writing, Quantitative Thinking, Internationalism, and U.S. Identities and Differences. These are posted on the Registrar’s webpage 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 Theater and Dance major equally caters to dance, design, and theater students, who can select elective courses in their particular areas of interest.

Similarly, 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 Senior Seminar, and complete a senior capstone project that consists of individual research leading to an essay of 25-30 pages.

The Department participates in Macalester’s Honors Program. The Honors Project in Theater and Dance is a year-long research project that builds on the individual scholarly research developed during the Senior Seminar. Honors Projects may take the form of a monograph (60-90 pages) or consist of a creative component (directing, acting, design, choreography) accompanied by a critical essay (25-30 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 at the start of the spring 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 or Honors Proposal early in the spring of their junior year 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 or Honors Proposals by the deadline. Those pursuing a fall graduation should enroll in the Senior 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.

Performance and Technical Practice

No more than four (4) credits of THDA 80 , Performance Practice and four (4) credits of THDA 81 , Technical Practice may be counted toward the total number of credits required for graduation, though students are welcome to continue to enroll in these production courses.

Study Abroad in Theater and Dance

Students wanting to study performance history, conservatory 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 planning to study away should plan their Macalester major early and 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.

Topics Courses

THDA 194 , THDA 294 , THDA 394 , THDA 494  

Recent topics courses have included: “Acting for the Camera,” “Auditions,” “Dance and Performance Design,” “Model Building and Rendering,” “Magic in Motion: Advanced Technical Production,” “Digital Design for Live Performance,” and “Sound Design.” Topics courses are announced every year in advance of the registration period.