Dance & Performance Studies | Major & Minor

Berkeley Dance Project: The Body Remembers (2019) | Photo by Natalia Perez

Major in Dance & Performance Studies

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Within the Dance and Performance Studies curriculum, we understand performance to be a mode of critical inquiry and research, a means of creative expression, and a vehicle for public engagement. We engage with dance on physical, intellectual, and aesthetic levels. It is our hope that dancers not only grow as performers, but also as artists, thinkers, makers, viewers, and participants. The practical focus of the major is on the performance and choreography of contemporary dance and dance theater. Of equal importance is the study of theater and dance theory, history, culture, and literature.

The dance training and academic courses offered by our department are rigorous and geared toward the student who is interested in learning about dance and performance from multiple perspectives. As either a major or minor in Dance and Performance Studies, you will study with faculty known nationally and internationally for their scholarly research and creative work. Many of our graduates have careers in professional dance companies. Other students have gone on to graduate study in a wide variety of arts-related fields and have developed careers in universities, non-profits, and professional fields in health care, education, and business.

The opportunities in our department are many and varied. They include regular student-led performances, an annual spring concert series where students perform in faculty and guest-artist repertory pieces, the option to participate in an honors thesis/project, and exposure to a myriad of diverse and exciting lectures, speakers, guest artists, and performances.


Declaring the Major

Students may declare the major after passing two of the four required lower-division courses. Take one practice course (Theater 14, Theater 40, or Theater 60) and take one performance studies courses (Theater 25AC, Theater 26, or Theater 52AC). Students will then be required to complete the other two required courses after declaring the major.

Contact the Undergraduate Academic Advisor to declare the major.


Requirements for the Major


Electives & Focus Areas


Transfer Credit for the Major

  • A maximum of 8 units of equivalent coursework from EAP or other 4-year colleges transfer into the major as electives, upon departmental approval.
  • All L&S-approved credits from other colleges transfer into your degree, but rarely into the major.
  • Transfer students should bring a copy of previous transcripts/course descriptions to the Undergraduate Academic Advisor for evaluation.

Guidelines for the Major

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for letter-graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only.
  2. No more than 1 upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

Learning Goals

Learning Goals

By the end of their time in Dance & Performance Studies, students should possess:

  • The ability to synthesize a well-organized argument from textual or other evidence and to express it in formal, written form
  • Proficiency in research methods (i.e. utilization of public and private archives, libraries, electronic databases, oral histories; textual and performance analysis)
  • Collaborative skills
  • Foundational stagecraft and production skills and knowledge (design, craft and technology, stage management, new media)
  • Literacy in foundational dramatic texts and fundamental concepts of performance theory
  • Basic knowledge of the history of Euro-American dance practice, including issues of race, ethnicity, and multiculturalism in the performing arts.
  • Basic modern/contemporary dance technique in the Western concert dance tradition
  • Understanding of the choreographic process and the tools necessary for this process.

Through upper-division course work, electives, and capstone experiences students should also possess advanced training in at least one of the following:

  • Choreography
  • Advanced Dance Technique
  • History & Theory of Dance

Path to Achieving Goals

Path to Achieving Goals

The path to achieving the aforementioned Learning Goals includes building Foundational Skills, developing Advanced Abilities and undertaking Capstone Experiences.

Foundational Skills

  • Beginning Modern Dance Technique (40A/B)
  • Introduction to Performance Studies (26)
  • Stagecraft (60)
  • EITHER Drama of American Cultures (Theater 25AC) OR Reflections of Gender, Culture and Ethnicity in Dance (52AC)

Advanced Abilities

  • Dance Technique: Once a declared major, students take technique classes every term at their appropriate level (Intermediate Modern Technique 141A/B, Advanced 1 Modern Technique 142A/B, or Advanced 2 Modern Technique 143A/B)
  • Performance Studies: Three courses from areas of Performance Theory, Performance History, Performance Literatures, or Performance and Culture
  • Technical Theater/Design: One lab requirement (167 or 168) AND one design requirement (Adv. Production Study 172, Scenic Design for the Theater 173A/B, Costume Design for the Theater 174A/B, Lighting Design for the Theater 175A/B, Sound Design 177, Music Resources for Performance 145)
  • Choreography Series: choose EITHER Sources of Movement 144 OR Performance Workshop 114 and Beginning Choreography 146A.

Capstone Experiences

  • Productions (from blackbox workshops to main stage productions)
  • Professional workshops and classes with Artists-in-Residence
  • Honors Theses (both written and production projects)
  • Independent Studies
  • Internships with professional companies, studios, agencies
  • Student-created performance projects
  • Leading/teaching DeCal courses
  • Research assistantships

Methods of Evaluation and Feedback

Methods of Evaluation and Feedback

In addition to traditional methods of assessment such as analytical papers, research projects, and examinations (which are used primarily in the Performance Studies courses), the TDPS faculty and lecturers use a variety of qualitative and competitive feedback methods. Among these are:

Graded, Written, and Oral Assessment

Competitive Evaluation and Selection

  • Students compete with one another for limited spaces in classes and productions.
  • Those who work hard, perform well, and show promise in classes are provided increasing challenges and opportunities.

Distribution of prizes

  • Every year, the faculty distributes endowed awards to our students. These awards are given to students whom the faculty have known in both classes and productions, and who have been seen to excel in all areas of the curriculum. While production work is often the immediate anchor of these awards, academic achievement and good collaborative skills are also required of students who receive awards. Students lacking in either of these arenas can be disqualified from receiving awards.
  • These awards are the culmination of long-term assessment over the student’s time in TDPS. In other words, it is highly unlikely that a student will receive an award without having received extensive feedback leading up to that award.

One-on-one mentorship and supervision

  •  Students in choreography, dance technique, design, acting, directing, and stagecraft classes are encouraged (and often required) to solicit detailed assessment on particular projects from their faculty
  • For classes that require group projects, faculty give feedback to individual groups within a course, rather than one-on-one. However, these groups are generally small (4-6 students)
  • Students may ask for more detailed feedback on auditions from relevant directors or faculty
  • Guidance on written thesis
  • Supervision of internship or apprenticeship projects
  • Guidance through the major tailored to student’s long-term goals
  • Professional career feedback
Berkeley Dance Project , the undefended heart (2019) | Photo by Natalia Perez

Minor in Dance & Performance Studies

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements and are noted officially on the transcript in the memoranda section, but are not noted on diplomas.


Confirming the Minor

Students can confirm their intention to minor in Dance and Performance Studies after enrolling in one course in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. Contact the Undergraduate Academic Advisor to confirm your intention.


Requirements for the Minor


Guidelines for the Minor

  • All courses in the minor must be taken for a letter-grade.
  • You must keep a GPA of 2.0 or better in the upper division minor units.
  • A course with the identical course number may only be counted twice toward the minor, and only 2 courses may be repeated in this way.
  • See the Undergraduate Handbook for further information.

Sample Minor Tracks

Sample Minor Tracks

The sample minors provided below illustrate different potential focus areas, and are intended to help you imagine how you could build a unique focus of your own choosing. You DO NOT have to choose one of these samples in order to minor in our department. We recommend you tailor your chosen electives to your personal interests.


Sample Minor: Choreography Focus

  • 40 Beginning Modern Dance
  • 141 Intermediate Modern Dance
  • 144 Sources for Movement
  • 146A Choreography
  • 146B Choreography
  • 125 Topics in Performance History

Sample Minor: Performance Focus

  • 40A Beginning Modern Dance
  • 141A Intermediate Modern Dance
  • 141B Intermediate Modern Dance
  • 144 Sources of Movement
  • 121 Topics in Performance Culture
  • 180 Dance Performance

Sample Minor: Performance Studies Focus

  • 40 Beginning Modern Dance
  • 114 Movement for the Theater
  • 119 Topics in Performance Theory
  • 125 Topics in Performance History
  • 126 Topics in Performance Literature
  • 122 Topics in Performance Culture

Sample Minor: Technical Focus

  • 60 Stagecraft
  • 141 Intermediate Modern Dance
  • 114 Movement for the Theater
  • 119 Topics in Performance Theory
  • 174 Costume Design
  • 179 Costume Production

Transfer Credit for the Minor

  • It is rare that community college courses will transfer into the Dance and Performance Studies Minor because they are lower division units.
  • The Dance and Performance Studies Minor requires five upper-division courses; at least three of these courses must be taken in the Department. Since your minor will be from this Department, it is likely you will do most of your minor coursework here.
  • If you have a strong dance background, continue your dance training in the Department at the appropriate level. Audition for the desired course on the first day of class and enroll after being admitted.
  • If you have a question about how coursework transfers into the minor, bring unofficial transcripts and course descriptions to the Undergraduate Academic Advisor.

Contact the Undergraduate Academic Advisor:
Michael Mansfield
tdpsugadvisor@berkeley.edu