The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression, and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical, and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making, and public programming.
Overview of the Department
Located within the College of Letters and Science, the faculty, staff, and students in TDPS — and in the allied Ph.D. 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.
The 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.
All professors teach at all levels, and students have an ample opportunity to study with important scholars and practitioners in theater, dance, and performance studies. Playhouse Productions and Workshop Performances breathe life into an annual season of classic, modern, and original works, along with the annual concert of the 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.
The 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 colleague students, and multiple opportunities to pursue your artistic creativity and intellectual adventures in ways that are both challenging and fulfilling.