About TDPS

Background image: Berkeley Dance Project: The Body Remembers (2019) | Photo by Natalia Perez
Image credit:
"Groundworks Huichin" by Rulan Tangen / Berkeley Dance Project 2019

Our Mission

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, innovation, creativity, knowledge production, and public engagement.

Our Vision

Within our active experiential learning spaces, our students develop strong analytical and technical capacities. Our graduates are uniquely equipped to bring a just, creative, interconnected, and relational approach to the pressing challenges of our time.

Our Values

We believe that the making and sharing of public performance plays an essential role in a healthy and just society. We embrace our mission and foreground social justice by striving to: 

  • Foster a climate of trust and belonging in all of our spaces and activities 
  • Embrace collaboration and experimentation as core methodologies for our work
  • Investigate and honor a diversity of historical and cultural perspectives
  • Develop generative, ethical, and reciprocal relationships with surrounding communities by sharing resources, knowledge, and creative opportunities
  • Offer productions that are relevant, meaningful, and accessible to members of the UC Berkeley community and beyond
  • Engage the arts to build more just and equitable futures

Department Overview

Located within the College of Letters and Science, the faculty, staff, and students in TDPS — and in the allied Graduate Group in Performance Studies — pursue a wide spectrum of research and production activities. We see performance as an interdisciplinary form, exploring verbal, visual, spatial, and embodied registers of experience. We see performance as a transnational cultural form, exploring the politics and poetics of social life in all parts of the world. We see performance as a public forum for contemporary ideas, allowing us to test and debate the central concerns of our time in a space that is at once critical, emotional, and collective.

Our faculty and staff are nationally and internationally known, both for their scholarly research and their artistic work in design, directing, choreography, acting, and experimental performance. Our curriculum ranges from the classics to the contemporary; it cuts across theatrical, dance, and visual art forms; it spans all corners of the globe, using the site of performance to deepen UC Berkeley’s critical education in the humanities.

Undergraduate majors and minors are well prepared for the future, both as artists and as engaged citizens of the world. Through the course of their studies, students pursue intensive work in acting, technical theater/design, or dance. At the same time, they take critical and cultural studies courses that set the literary, historical, political, theoretical, and aesthetic concerns of performance in dialogue with other disciplines in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. This flexibility and integration of our programs in Theater and Performance Studies and in Dance and Performance Studies make our students excellent candidates for a variety of professions in the social, corporate, legal, and arts sectors, as well for admission to graduate programs in the arts and to professional schools.

Our professors teach at all levels, and students have an ample opportunity to study with important scholars and practitioners in theater, dance, and performance studies. Our Playhouse Productions and Workshop Performances breathe life into an annual season of classic, modern, and original works, along with our annual concert of new dance works, Berkeley Dance Project. Auditions are open to all students, staff, and faculty on campus, and students receive course credit for successfully completing a production. Most entry-level performance courses (acting, directing, dance technique, playwriting, choreography, and technical design) are open to all Berkeley students. Declared majors and minors can deepen their study with challenging courses and performance projects. Advanced students can also receive course credit for internships and apprenticeships and can propose Honors Projects (in both critical writing and performance) for their final year.

Our faculty, staff, and students welcome you to our diverse and energetic department. In the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, you will find small class sizes, inspiring faculty, engaged staff, talented student colleagues, and multiple opportunities to pursue your artistic creativity and intellectual adventures in ways that are both challenging and fulfilling.

Explore Our Academic Programs