Dance students rehearsing in white room

MA Dance, Somatics and Dance Science

Develop your interest in somatic approaches to dance practice on this immersive 12-month programme

1 year Full Time
Bishop Otter Campus

Overview

This MA Dance, Somatics and Dance Science degree is an immersive 12-month, full time programme designed for students with an undergraduate degree in dance or dance science and a particular interest in somatic approaches to dance practice.

This course has an interdisciplinary approach and explores the confluence (and potential divergence) of a somatic and scientific approach to dance practice. The course is aimed at dancers and graduates with some experience of dance science and/or somatics who want to extend their knowledge and studio, applied or experiential practice to gain the skills necessary to pursue a career in these disciplines.

You will develop an awareness of your own movement potential in terms of structure, function and efficiency from both a somatic and movement science perspective, and develop the experiential and scholarly language you need to reflect and critically document your practice. These skills can be applied in professional, community and educational dance contexts, as a dance artist, pedagogue, practitioner or researcher. The creative, critical and reflective skills you develop during the course are also transferable to a range of employment opportunities.

This course requires practical and theoretical enquiry as you interrogate first and third person perspectives within dance practice. You will need a certain level of maturity, discipline, a willingness to delve into complex phenomena, and an acceptance of periods of uncertainty and ‘not-knowing/unknowing’.

Teaching and Assessment

How you will learn

You will study through theoretical and practical workshops, lecturers, seminars and rehearsals. You will be assessed through a range of assignments depending on which study options you choose. These assessments include practical choreography presentations, essays, reports, presentations, learning journals, portfolios, online tasks and group working.

You will learn from specialist tutors in your weekly sessions and have one-to-one tutorial support as required. Alongside the module-specific tutors, a range of departmental and University-wide academic and pastoral support is also available.

Charlotte

MA Dance Research graduate
"Studying the MA gave me the opportunity to choose my own pathway, pursuing areas that interest me. Working part-time and eventually full-time, I was very grateful for the flexibility the course provided. I explored dance through philosophical fields which both challenged and intrigued."

The Course

What you will study

You will study core and optional modules on this course. You will study the core modules including a dissertation, Awareness in Motion, Scientific Principles of Dance Practice and Examining Practice, and three optional modules.  

This list is indicative and subject to change.

Select a year

Dance Dissertation (Level 7)

On this independent dissertation project you will choose a research area to investigate which you will agree with your tutors. Your research could focus on performance practice, professional practice (i.e. teaching and community dance practices) applied critical, historical or epistemological issues.

Awareness in Motion

This module will give you the opportunity to discover more about your own movement potential through a somatic practice, focussing particularly one somatic practice, such as the Feldenkrais Method. By drawing attention to functional anatomy of the skeleton, you will discover more about efficiency and ease of motion through somatic practice lessons and become more aware of your potential as a mover. You will explore the philosophy and principals of the method to support and inform your practice. This learning and enriched body knowledge will provide you with more awareness, understanding and potential as a mover and will also challenge the way you think, learn and experience movement. This module will provide a foundation of understanding and practice to enable you to choose Awareness in Performance as an elective in semester 2, where the learning is taken a step further with the aim to enhance and heighten the experience of performance for the dancer.

Scientific Principles of Dance Practice

You will use a combination of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and independent exploratory tasks to examine interrelated theories from motor learning and control, physiological training principles, psychological approaches to dance practice and embodied perception. You will consider how to apply these principles to advance and enhance dance practice.

Examining Practice: Subjective Perspectives in Dance

This module examines and explores subjective perspectives as a way of examining practice. You will use a range of theoretical principles, embodied and methodological approaches and qualitative methods to place knowledge in the context of your existing practice. The module encourages you to interrogate an area of your own dance practice and will challenge you to consider relevant frameworks of research across a range of contexts. Through subjective-led enquiry, you will research your practice in relation to developments in research and will be challenged to question (and explore) how methodological approaches relate to your own practice.

Principles of Motor Learning for Dance

Theories and practices of motor learning and control will be identified and explored. Specific topics that will be covered include (but are not limited to) organisation of motor control, perception, anticipation, instructional strategies, conditions of practice, attention and feedback. The intersection of somatically informed approaches to practice will also be considered. Consideration of different learners will be addressed in relevant weeks in relation to the novice or advanced dancer. Students will be required to reflect on their own learning preferences and critique existing approaches to practice that they have been exposed to.

Technical Dance Practice (Level 7)

This module aims to develop and strengthen contemporary dance understanding and performance through regular attendance and practice in a variety of dance technique classes. Daily classes allow you to develop and refine technical skills through reflective practice directed toward performance artistry. Motional complexity, qualitative interpretation, musicality, alignment, flexibility, core strength and stamina will be priorities in developing technical skills. Alongside this, classes will emphasis experiential learning, developing sensory awareness, physical efficiency, anatomical knowledge and skeletal imagery through taught material, improvisation and partner work. The variety of techniques taught are designed to challenge your movement memory and problem-solving skills as well as develop an athletic and more technically tuned body.

Applied Dance Science: Case Study

The aim of this module is to provide you with the opportunity to plan, implement and evaluate dance-specific monitoring and observations of an individual dancer within a real-life setting, over a specified period of time. The module is designed to help you gain insight into applied dance science and prepare you for the type of reflective and academically grounded experience that is central to working with individual dancers to monitor and optimise performance potential. The module provides an opportunity for you to learn and develop skills required in a real-world setting, whilst having access to specialist support, equipment, and training mechanisms.

Awareness in Performance

This module will give you the opportunity to discover more about your own movement potential through, for example the Feldenkrais Method, Awareness in Motion, and improvisation. By drawing attention to functional anatomy of the skeleton, you will discover more about efficiency and ease of motion through somatic lessons and become more aware of your potential as a mover by introducing questions within a variety of improvisational scores. This work will be influenced, for example, by the philosophies of Moshe Feldenkrais and Deborah Hay, together engaging with the body as an active processing organism, encouraging attention to perception and noticing to enhance the studio-based practice of performance and awareness of the body in motion. This learning and enriched body knowledge will provide you with more understanding, potential and confidence as a mover and be valuable preparation for further training or performance work within the dance field.

Pedagogical Approaches in Dance

You will analyse, deconstruct and reconstruct technical exercises and phrases to build a critical base of teaching material. You will explore planning, phrase construction and giving corrections in dance teaching in the context of somatic development and consideration of issues relating to health and safety. As well as being introduced to lesson planning, devising schemes of work for different levels and abilities you are expected to undertake critical analysis and evaluation of professional dance classes. 

Improvisation in Professional Contexts

In this module you are introduced to a variety of improvisational methodologies and approaches. Taught sessions offer a practical and historic overview, drawing on key postmodern and current improvisational dance artists and touching on aspects of contact improvisation. Sessions focus on somatic experience and embodiment alongside developing contextual and theoretical understanding and applications of improvisation. It aims to develop your bodily and mindful sensory and spatial awareness; to cultivate attention to movement vocabulary, articulation and qualitative engagement with ‘in-the-moment’ improvisational choices.

Facilities

Rehearse and perform in practical spaces

You will perform in an Arts Council funded Dance Theatre Space and rehearse in four superb dance studios, the large gymnasium and two sprung-floor spaces. You will also be able to take advantage of a programme of dance company performances, workshops and events supported by Arts Council funding. 

Careers

Where this course could lead

This MA Dance, Somatics and Dance Science course gives you the skills and values you need to succeed in the dance sector. You will learn to share your knowledge and learning in a range of ways as an artist, performer, pedagogue, choreographer, community practitioner or researcher.

You will prepare for a fulfilling and flexible career pathway where you can be creative and inspiring as you nurture your key dance, somatic and science skills.

You could also continue your studies to practical or theoretical research at MPhil or PhD level.

Course Costs

Course Fees 2022/23

UK fee
£8,640
International fee
£15,300

For further details about fees, please see our Tuition Fee page.

For further details about international scholarships, please see our Scholarships page.

Entry Requirements

Typical offers (individual offers may vary):

Honours degree
2:1 or higher
in a related discipline from a recognised university.
IELTS
6.5
with no element lower than 5.5.

You will also be need to complete an interview, submit a brief written task, and evidence their movement capacity via submission of recorded material (see details below).

Applicants who have met the general entrance requirements of their programme but who have an IELTS score 0.5 below that required (or equivalent other qualification) may be admitted to the University’s Pre-Sessional Programme.

FAQs

Frequently asked questions

How do I apply?

Apply for this course with our online application form.

You will need to complete a:

1. Written element

  • An essay providing a critical and reflective discussion on the potential for an integration between somatic and dance science within your practice. Within your essay you should identify existing theories and / or practitioners who work in this way. Please include refences to any external sources supporting your content (a specific referencing format is not required). (approx. 800 words).

2. Practical submission

  • Required: 2-3 minute showreel which demonstrates your movement capacity and illustrates an improvisatory and/or somatic movement approach. You can share existing recorded content which illustrates this or you can generate something new working with the theme of folding and unfolding.
  • Subsequent, if relevant: If accepted onto the programme and you wish to opt for the dance techniques elective module, further evidence of technical competencies may be required. Information on this will be provided in due course, if relevant.

3. Interview: 1 to 1 interview 20-30 minutes online

4. Reference: 1 reference for external candidates who can comment on physical and academic skills

When does this course start?

This course starts in September 2022.

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