Thank you for your interest in Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies.
We hope this FAQ will be helpful in your decision-making process, and we encourage you to visit the websites listed throughout these pages for more information. Please contact us if you have questions and want to learn more about the program.
Do I have to audition to be a Theater Studies major at Yale?
No. Any student who wishes to major in TDPS at Yale may do so without auditioning. If you are interested in the major, make an appointment with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) as soon as possible.
What are the prerequisites for the major?
There are two: THST 110: Collaborations and THST 111: Modes of Performance. Those interested in acting should take THST 210: Performance Concepts, a class in fundamental acting techniques. While no longer a prerequisite for the major, THST 210 may be required for upper-level acting and directing courses, including a senior thesis in acting.
How many courses do I need to complete the major?
The major consists of ten term courses beyond the two introductory prerequisites, THST 110 and THST 111. Of the ten required term courses, students must take two courses in each of four domains: Artistic Practice, Interarts, Histories, and Performance Theory. Some courses are listed in more than one domain, though they may count for only one domain requirement for a given student. Students may take term courses concurrently with prerequisite courses. For this year’s course offerings, please see the Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies section of the Yale College Programs of Study (YCPS) website.
An elective and a senior thesis project complete the ten-term courses; the senior project counts as one course.
What is the Senior requirement in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies? How can it be fulfilled?
There are multiple paths towards fulfilling the senior requirement in TDPS.
THST 491 - Curricular productions: Combining creative and critical strategies, seniors engage in a sustained, in-depth inquiry over one semester or year. They may choose to work on a production as an actor, director, designer, dramaturg, or choreographer. The Senior Project in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies gives students an opportunity to engage with theater, dance, media, and performance studies as interdisciplinary research methods. Seniors pursuing these types of projects enroll in one semester of Senior Project in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (THST 491a/b) and write a substantial research paper emerging from their work on the production.
THST 492 - Seniors can also do more research-based work fulfilling the Senior Requirement. Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies Majors may pursue thesis projects in three broad areas: 1) Literature, History, Theory, and Criticism; 2) Writing for Performance-based Art and Media; and 3) Performance Research, Analysis, and Design. Examples of this kind include writing a full-length play, a thesis-length research paper, and participation in an Extra-Curricular Project in association with TDPS to fulfill the Senior Project requirement. These students will take THST 492 a/b.
Production Seminars: When offered, students may take a production seminar and count it towards their thesis. The grade that is received in this kind of curricular production goes towards fulfilling the senior thesis. Additionally, a senior requirement can be fulfilled via senior seminars.
*A faculty member advises all written and performance-based work.
May I double-major if I decide to major in TDPS?
Absolutely. More than a third of our current TDPS majors double-major in other disciplines, including Anthropology, American Studies, Computer Science, English, French, Humanities, Literature, Political Science, Psychology, and others. We have learned from experience that some double majors are more manageable than others. Please talk to your adviser and the Directors of Undergraduate Studies of both majors as you consider your options. For more information, please see Advising Resources: Course and Majors.
Does Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) at Yale determine my admission? How does my past professional or nonprofessional experience weigh my chances of acceptance?
Only Yale College Undergraduate Admissions decides who is admitted to Yale College. Individual departments and programs, like Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, have no part in the process, and faculty have no say in who is admitted. For this reason, Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies does not schedule interviews or accept performance reels in any form. You will have ample opportunity in the application to discuss your involvement in theater.
For those who have pursued dance, music, film, or visual art at a high level, it is possible to submit materials as part of the Supplementary Materials section of the application. However, heeding the guidance of the Admissions Office, we encourage you to think carefully before submitting supplementary materials with your Yale College application. Because the Admissions Committee gives the most significant weight to the required documents, we recommend focusing your energy on those application elements. Again, please remember that Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies faculty do not participate in the admissions process.
Once admitted to Yale, you become a Yale undergraduate and can major in whatever you wish. At that time, we will be glad to meet with you, whether at Bulldog Days, a Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies Information Session, or at another time. Although some students at Yale have already worked professionally, it is also the case that students who have never taken part in a production before getting to Yale have started their careers here. Our students arrive at Yale with a wide range of experiences in theater, dance, and media—or none at all. We encourage all Yale students to come and meet with us. Please get in touch with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to arrange a meeting once you’ve been admitted.
Where and how do curricular productions occur in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies?
Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies uses The Blackbox Theater for its senior projects and other curricular productions. Our season can feature up to nine productions in a given academic year. Most of these have been proposed as senior projects by Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies majors in their final year. Other senior projects take place in residential college theaters and elsewhere. These productions may be student- or faculty-directed. Yale TDPS produces an impressive range of projects, and our seasons often include multiple world premieres. Please see our website for more information.
There are several full-time technical supervisors for undergraduate theater at Yale to oversee safety and help with design and technical questions. Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies has its own full-time technical director who works in collaboration with a production and design faculty member and with Yale Undergraduate Production (YUP), which supports all aspects of the undergraduate production process and serves as a primary resource for all students whether or not they major in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies.
What other performance opportunities exist at Yale?
In addition to Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies curricular productions, several other departments and programs at Yale, particularly the Department of Music and the Department of Art, provide performance opportunities. There is so much theater, music, film, dance, and art activity going on at Yale at any given time, in so many different venues and of so many different kinds (improv comedy, opera, chamber music, performance art, and more) that there is no way to take part in or even see it all. They are not all under one aegis or in one performing arts complex. Please visit the Yale Arts Calendar to see what is happening this week and in the coming months.
In addition to opportunities within the curriculum, many options are available through Yale’s numerous undergraduate student organizations. See the Student Organizations Directory to find those that suit your interests. Last year there were over a hundred undergraduate productions, most directed and produced by students. On any given weekend, there are 4-5 productions in residential college theater spaces, the Off-Broadway Theater, common rooms, multipurpose spaces, and college courtyards. Prominent among the many thriving undergraduate student organizations are the Yale Dramat and the Yale Drama Coalition. The Yale Drama Coalition offers an umbrella for all theater activity on campus. They publicize auditions, shows, and production opportunities and coordinate ticketing. The Dramat is a student organization that annually brings professional directors and designers to work with students on the mainstage.
Within and beyond these organizations, Yale students can access unique resources, including the Creative and Performing Arts Fund (CPA). Each semester, any undergraduate student—whether majoring in an arts program or not—can apply for support for a project.
What playwriting opportunities are there through Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies?
We host a robust playwriting curriculum for students throughout their years at Yale. Resident playwriting faculty and visiting instructors offer beginning, advanced, and special topics playwriting classes. Each year, students write full-length plays or musicals as their senior projects, or as a Directed Independent Study (THST 471a/b), under the mentorship of our playwriting faculty. Student playwrights may arrange a public reading of their final script for their senior project.
The Yale Playwrights Festival is an annual event featuring Yale undergraduates’ original work. Chosen from a competitive pool of applicants, Festival playwrights receive the mentorship of professional playwrights as they revise their scripts in the months leading up to the festival and work with a student director and actors to present a reading of their play. The festival performance includes a talk-back with mentors and audience members. Some student plays that have been featured in the Yale Playwrights Festival have gone on to New York and regional production soon afterward. Recent student scripts have been presented at the NY International Fringe Festival with a full Yale complement of actors, designers, and production staff.
What opportunities in musical theater does Yale provide?
Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies offers upper-level musical theater history, lyric, and libretto writing seminars that are cross-listed with the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale. Seminars in musical theater composing, directing, and performance are offered with the Department of Music. These courses comprise the Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater. There are also opportunities for voice training through the Department of Music, usually in noncredit-bearing courses.
Several student organizations, including the Musical Theater Group, the Gilbert & Sullivan Society, the Opera Theater of Yale College, and the Yale Baroque Opera Project, specialize in producing musicals and opera. The Yale Dramat produces a commencement musical yearly and one or two other musicals per season. In addition, students occasionally mount musical theater productions at the Off-Broadway Theater, a black box devoted to extracurricular productions, or in one of the college theaters. Most of these productions have a full student orchestra, student choreography, student musical direction, and almost always a full and lively house.
Is there dance at Yale?
Opportunities to dance at Yale abound. Since 2006, Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies has offered Dance Studies courses to majors and non-majors. The curriculum integrates the study of technique with history and theory, honing movement technique and composition alongside research and critical writing skills. Dance courses focus on diverse subjects, including traditional and contemporary West African dance, Balanchine ballet, American modern and postmodern dance, dance in musical theater, dance composition, and theories of the body drawn from cultural, dance, and performance studies. Courses foster interdisciplinary discourse between dance and other artistic disciplines (music, visual art, film) and disciplines within the humanities and sciences. Many courses are cross listed in departments and programs such as American Studies, African Studies, African American Studies, Film Studies, and Physics.
In 2011, we launched Yale Dance Theater (YDT), a faculty-directed, co-curricular dance research initiative. YDT meets twice weekly during the spring semester for three-hour rehearsals with professional rehearsal directors, culminating in a final performance. Past projects have involved licensing works by Twyla Tharp (2011), Merce Cunningham (2012), Reggie Wilson and Akram Khan (2013), Trisha Brown (2014), and Alvin Ailey (2015). In 2015, Matthew Rushing created a new work for the YDT dancers. In 2016, YDT worked with the Yale University Art Gallery to commission a new work from LeeSaar The Company, grounded in the study of Gaga. More recent projects have been run by Urban Bush Women (2017) and the Paul Taylor Dance Company (2018). Students write about the studio process on an online blog. These writings form the basis for the Yale Dance Theater Journal, student-edited and printed annually. Admission to YDT is by audition. Please see the links below for more information.
Outside of YDT, guest workshops and dance technique classes are often offered during the year, coordinated by the Dance Studies curriculum and the Alliance for Dance at Yale (ADAY), the umbrella organization for student-led extracurricular dance. These classes are open to the Yale community. Look for announcements during the semester on these special offerings. ADAY also supports many—at last count, twenty—extracurricular student dance groups that regularly perform at Yale.
Is it possible to major in dance at Yale?
Students who wish to pursue dance studies major in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, concentrating in dance studies. Other students major in other disciplines while passing through the total of dance courses. Upon completing one or more courses in dance studies, it is possible to undertake an independent study or senior thesis related to dance, either within or outside of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. Interested non-Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies majors should explore this option in conversation with their DUS, as regulations vary between departments.
Senior Project productions in dance (via the Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies major) range widely—the possibilities are endless. In 2011, Alejandro Bustillos conceived and choreographed a senior project production called STR-CRS’D, which integrated queer theory and Shakespeare’s tragedies to probe gender politics through dance. Derek DiMartini ’13 created The Void (2012), a dance and visual art installation that explored the instabilities of individual and interpersonal identity. In 2013, Aren Vastola ‘14 choreographed a series of movements that he and his colleagues performed in unexpected quotidian situations, such as crossing the campus, eating in the dining hall, or waiting in line at the post office. Through these mini dances, he interrogated the performance inherent in everyday life. Rebecca Brudner ’16 created an original dance theater piece, We Wove a Web, based on the lives of the Brontë sisters, with original music composed by Gideon Broshy ’16, performed live by a 9-piece orchestra.
What level of training must a student have to enroll in the dance studies courses?
The dance studies curriculum consists of a mix of studio-based and sit-down seminars. The dance training level required for the studio seminars varies depending on the course. Dance Theater (THST 235) is an introductory course open to students of all levels. Courses such as Advanced Dance Repertory (THST 386) and West African Dance (THST 335) require a higher level of dance technique. However, there are always exceptions: students with no background in dance have enrolled in these courses and done well out of sheer determination and passion for the subject. The studio courses require an audition and permission from the instructor to ensure that the student is fully capable of handling the practical work. If you are interested in one of the dance studies courses but unsure whether your level of training equips you to handle it, it is best to contact the instructor directly or reach out to the Director of Undergraduate Studies so that they can direct you to the appropriate faculty member.
Is Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies a preprofessional theater program? Does Yale offer a BFA or a BA in theater?
There are two kinds of undergraduate Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies programs in the United States. One is the conservatory program, in which students are offered intensive training in acting (usually) and in which they emerge with a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) degree. The other is the liberal arts program, where Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies are pursued as part of a broad-based curriculum, and students earn a BA (Bachelor of Arts) degree.
Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies is a liberal arts program offering a BA in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. We believe that the best preparation for a career in the theater is the same as the best preparation for life in the twenty-first century: a broad and deep liberal arts education. Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies emphasizes the reciprocal relationship between theory (criticism, literature, history, and performance studies) and practice (acting, directing, playwriting, design, dance, etc.). After earning a BA in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies from Yale, numerous majors have gone on to graduate work in theater and dance to prepare for professional careers.
Is there any contact between undergraduate and graduate theater students at Yale?
Indeed, there is. Yale undergraduates sometimes perform in the Yale Cabaret and, from time to time, in small parts in the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale (DGSD) or Yale Rep productions. Because of shared interests and proximity (they are on the same block), there is also a great deal of informal contact between DGSD students and Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies students. DGSD students often serve as Teaching Fellows for THST 110 and 111, as mentors for undergraduate playwrights in the Yale Playwrights Festival, and in many other ways.
There are also numerous Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies/David Geffen School of Drama at Yale School joint faculty appointees. With instructor permission, undergraduate students may also petition to enroll in courses at DGSD in areas such as dramaturgy, design, and management. There is no admission of undergraduates into graduate acting or directing classes. Yale undergraduates, on a case-by-case basis and with permission from the Director of Undergraduate Studies, may take up to four graduate courses in the Drama School for undergraduate credit.
I have heard that Yale offers a DFA in Theatre. How can I obtain information on the program?
Contact the Yale School of Drama, which confers graduate degrees (MFA and DFA). It is a separate unit from Yale Theater Studies, an undergraduate program within Yale College.
Do most School of Drama students get their undergraduate degrees from institutions other than Yale College?
Yes, most students at the School of Drama get their undergraduate degrees elsewhere. A few have no undergraduate degree. Most first-year students in the MFA acting program have already worked for several years in theater and have built professional résumés. Most first-year students in the directing program have been directing for a while or have started a theater or written a book. The Drama School seems to favor applicants who have already demonstrated their resolve and talent by working in theater for several years. Many Drama School graduate students earned undergraduate majors in fields other than theater. That said, one or two recent Yale College students are frequently offered places in the Yale School of Drama in a given year.
Does Yale provide internships for undergraduate majors?
Yale undergraduates have apprenticed and interned in recent summers at the Williamstown Theater Festival, the Goodman Theater and Steppenwolf in Chicago, Manhattan Theater Club, Playwrights Horizons, and New Dramatists in New York, and many other places, including venues in Paris, Avignon, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Oxford, and London. There is a small stipend for student actors cast in the acting company of the Yale Cabaret summer season. Yale Theater Studies maintains an up-to-date file of internship opportunities, though it does not offer college credit or funding for them. Yale’s residential colleges have special endowment funds designated for travel and expenses for which students going on internship may apply. Contact the Dean of your Residential College for more information about these opportunities.
What is Yale’s policy on study abroad?
Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies encourages students to pursue coursework outside the United States. In the past few years, students have spent a summer or a semester studying acting, dance, and design in Paris and its environs, in London at RADA, BADA, or LAMDA, in Moscow at the Moscow Art Theater, and near Lublin, Poland, at Theater Gardzienice. Others have worked with the Yuyachkani troupe in Peru, and one student spent a summer studying and working in theater in China. To earn credit for non-Yale courses, whether in the US or abroad, students should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies before their departure and expect to apply for credit once they return. Yale Study Abroad also offers summer courses in London, Paris, Swaziland, and Umbria. Although Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies does not fund or organize application processes for these programs, funding sources may be identified through the Yale Funding and Fellowships website.
Does Yale offer summer classes for high school students interested in theater?
Yes. For more information about these, see Yale Summer Session. These classes are not under the auspices of Yale Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, the offices of which are closed during the summer months.
Yale Theater Studies - https://theaterstudies.yale.edu/
Yale College Undergraduate Admissions - https://admissions.yale.edu/
Yale College Programs of Study - http://catalog.yale.edu/ycps/
Yale College Programs of Study: Theater Studies http://catalog.yale.edu/ycps/subjects-of-instruction/theater-studies/
Advising Resources: Course and Majors - https://advising.yalecollege.yale.edu/courses-and-majors-0
Yale Undergraduate Production - https://up.yalecollege.yale.edu/about-us
Dept of Music - https://yalemusic.yale.edu/
Dept. of Art - http://art.yale.edu/undergraduate
Yale Arts Calendar - http://artscalendar.yale.edu/
Student Organizations Directory - https://studentorgs.yalecollege.yale.edu/directory
The Yale Dramat - https://yaledramat.org/
Yale Drama Coalition - https://collegearts.yale.edu/organizations/yale-drama-coalition
Creative and Performing Arts Awards - https://creativeandperformingarts.yale.edu/cpa-guidelines
Yale Playwrights Festival - https://advising.yalecollege.yale.edu/event/2019-yale-playwrights-script-competition-deadline
Yale School of Drama - https://www.drama.yale.edu/
Dance Studies at Yale - https://theaterstudies.yale.edu/dance-studies-yale
Yale Dance Theater 0 https://ydt.yale.edu/
Alliance for Dance at Yale - https://collegearts.yale.edu/organizations/alliance-dance-yale
Yale Rep Theatre - https://www.yalerep.org/
Yale Cabaret - https://www.cab51.org/
Yale Study Abroad - https://studyabroad.yale.edu/
Yale Fellowships and Funding - https://funding.yale.edu/