Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies

Director of undergraduate studies: Hal Brooks, Rm. 102C, 220 York St., 432-1310;; dance studies; musical theater

The mission of the program in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) is to cultivate adventurous artists and scholars with a serious commitment to craft and extensive understanding of the contexts in which cultural productions emerge. Introductory, term, and capstone courses reiterate the core learning objectives of the program: collaboration, craft, the integration of practice and theory, interdisciplinarity, and new work development.

Students are encouraged to gain experience in an array of disciplines including theater, dance, performance studies, musical theater, intermedia arts, and design. As research in theater, dance, and performance studies is interdisciplinary in scope and global in perspective, students are expected to take courses in cognate disciplines such as history, philosophy, anthropology, political science, film, art, and literature. The major provides a solid education in the humanities, as well as preparation for graduate studies or for careers in theater, dance, and the performing arts.

Faculty members are affiliated with a range of departments; their diverse expertise lends breadth and depth to course offerings and enables students to devise a course of study that reflects their developing interests. Faculty affiliated with the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale (DGSD) regularly teach Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (THST) courses, and students have ample opportunities to interact with graduate students in the various departments of DGSD. Courses and events across the TDPS curriculum provide opportunities for students to attend performances by professional companies and artists and learn from discussions, workshops, and lectures offered by prominent guest artists and scholars.

Special features of the program are its production seminars, independent studies, research- and writing-based senior theses, and production-based senior projects. Production seminars, taken with the permission of the instructor, offer immersive, semester-long performance research and development, culminating in public productions. Independent studies, taken under the supervision of a faculty adviser, give students the freedom to pursue individual and group-generated projects and to investigate areas of scholarship not offered elsewhere in the curriculum. Independent study courses are typically open only to juniors and seniors in the major. Production-based senior projects as well as research- and writing-based senior theses are described in the Senior Requirements section.

In addition to the theater, dance, and performance studies curricula, three programs are integrated into the mission of the major.

The Dance Studies curriculum features studio and seminar courses that cover the practice, history, and theory of diverse dance forms and movement phenomena. Students are guided in physical techniques and movement research across a wide range of temporal, geographic, and cultural sites, linking dance to the other arts, the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, and they explore the fluid and fraught relationship between movement and language. Contact: Emily Coates, Director of Dance.

The Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater examines American Musical Theater as a unique art form, one informed and influenced by changing cultural and socio-economic conditions as well as musical tastes and styles. Shen courses combine a grounding in skill-based study with history, analysis, and theory. The faculty consists of scholars and working professionals, including composers, directors, lyricists, librettists, directors, and performers. Additionally, the Shen Curriculum supports a co-curricular program that includes the Fridays at Five series of master classes and voice lessons in musical theater technique. Contact: Daniel Egan, Coordinator of the Shen Curriculum.

Computing and the Arts is an interdepartmental major designed for students who wish to work at and across intersections between computing and theater, dance and/or performance studies. Through a mix of practical and theoretical exploration, students consider how the live body on stage is reconfigured, reimagined, and reified through technological intervention. Contact: Elise Morrison, affiliated faculty in Computing and the Arts.

The Theater, Dance, and Performing Studies department also supports three substantial co-curricular initiatives: the Performance Studies working group, the Yale Playwrights Festival, and the Yale Dance Lab.


The prerequisites for the major are THST 110 and THST 111.

Requirements of the Major 

The major consists of ten term courses beyond the introductory prerequisites. Of the ten required term courses, students must take two courses in each of four domains: Artistic Practice, Interarts, Histories, and Performance Theory, one related elective and one senior requirement course. Most 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.

Artistic Practice Domain (YC THST: Artistic Practice) This domain encompasses techniques and compositional strategies in theater, dance, musical theater, design, and intermedia performance. Practice-based courses emphasize the knowledge of doing, moving, creating, devising, composing, designing, and craft. Courses move through existing aesthetic practices and histories as a means of cultivating individual and collective expression and new creation. Skills: heightened attention to energy, time, and space; the artist’s self-knowledge and body; fluency synthesizing movement and language in compositions; and innovative approaches to researching history and culture through performance.

Interarts Domain (YC THST: Interarts) This domain invites students to experience art-making between disciplines and within interdisciplinary forms. Courses in this area may draw connections and inspiration between established artistic disciplines, such as theater and dance, or reach beyond the program, putting the performing arts in conversation with ideas and approaches in diverse fields including film, visual art, new media, psychology, and science. Ideally, students use the Interarts requirement to explore disciplinary practices outside of their main track and comfort zone, expanding the boundaries of methods, resources, and questioning that feed into their creative practice. Skills: collaboration; interdisciplinary research and creation; and the integration of methods and systems of knowledge drawn from diverse fields. 

Histories Domain (YC THST: Histories) This domain includes courses in which the scope of study is defined by period, genre, and/or geographic region, in which students research past practices, texts, performances, and cultures. Courses in Histories may also ask students to employ performance-based research methods to analyze, discover, reconstruct, or intervene in diverse global, local, and personal historical narratives. Skills: engaging with material from disparate time periods, geographies, and cultural forms; methods of archival research and oral histories; and reenacting historical performance and adaptation in new forms.

Performance Theory Domain (YC THST: Performance Theory) Courses in this domain introduce students to foundational theories of performativity and theatricality as applied to a range of cultural contexts and global histories. Theory courses bring together intersecting literatures of feminist and queer theory, linguistic theory, critical race studies, dance studies, and anthropology that together form the theories and methods of Performance Studies and Dance Studies as fields of study and practice. These courses may also invite students to respond to and use theoretical concepts in the creation of live art. Skills: facility with performance studies analysis; application of theory to dramatic texts and embodied practices; and investigating dynamic relationship between archives and repertoires.

Credit/D/Fail Courses taken Credit/D/Fail may not be counted toward the requirements of the major in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. 

Courses graded P/F  Courses taken Pass/Fail may not be counted toward the requirements of the major in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies.

Searchable attributesYC THST: Artistic PracticeYC THST: InterartsYC THST: HistoriesYC THST: Performance Theory

Senior Requirements 

Majors are held to the senior requirements that were in place when they declared their major. However, with approval from the director of undergraduate studies (DUS), the following senior requirement options, updated for the academic year 2024-2025, may be fulfilled by students who declared the major in a prior term.

Majors satisfy the senior requirement in one of three main ways: a substantial senior essay written in an upper-level seminar, THST 491, or THST 492.

With the approval of the DUS, a student may take a one-term, upper-level seminar as a senior seminar. In such cases, the expectations for the final thesis will be substantially higher than for other students not taking the class as a senior seminar. Participation and enrollment in a production seminar may similarly fulfill the senior requirement. 

Under the supervision of a faculty adviser, a student may undertake a one-term senior project in either the fall or spring semester by enrolling in THST 491 which culminates in a production as part of the curricular production season. Depending upon an individual student’s preparation, coursework, and research objectives, a senior enrolled in THST 491 may direct, design, or devise a theatrical production, create a documentary film or digital media production, perform a role, choreograph a dance piece, or design an original work of performance art. Seniors engaging in production-based senior projects (THST 491) must complete an essay (15-25 pages in length). For a production-based project to be considered for inclusion in the TDPS curricular season, a proposer must have previously served as a producer of a TDPS curricular production (or partner with someone who has).

Under the supervision of a faculty adviser, a student may undertake a one-term senior research project in either the fall or spring semester by enrolling in THST 492 which culminates in a full-length essay (35-50 pages in length), a writing portfolio or other work of performance-based writing (plays, screenplays, etc.). In THST 492 students' research falls into one of these three areas: 1) Literature, History, Theory, and Criticism 2) Writing Performance-based Art and Media, and 3) Performance Research, Analysis and Design. Seniors pursuing this thesis path are permitted to use their curricular thesis research to support their extracurricular work in a production that is organized and funded through the Creative and Performing Arts process or other approved entities.

To ensure that their coursework aligns with their goals, students should begin discussing senior project ideas and plans with the DUS at the start of their junior year. Senior Project orientation meetings for all juniors are held once in the fall and twice during the spring semester, with research and production proposals due the Friday before spring break.



TDPS majors in their junior and senior years are required to meet with the DUS at the beginning of each of their final four terms. Students in their first and second years of study who may be interested in the TDPS major are encouraged to meet with the DUS once a semester to discuss goals, learn about opportunities, and ask questions.


With the exception of THST 110 and THST 111, many courses in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies are limited enrollment courses that may require a short statement of interest, writing sample, or audition in order to obtain instructor permission to register. When there are more applicants for a course than can be admitted, priority is given to juniors and seniors who have declared a major in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies or first-year students and sophomores who have completed one or both prerequisite courses (THST 110 and THST 111). Undergraduate students in all years of study and in all majors are encouraged to apply to courses in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies.


Majors in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies are eligible to take DGSD courses in design, theory, dramaturgy, and theater management, with permission of the instructor, the DUS, the DGSD Registrar, and "blue form" approval submitted by their academic dean to the Registrar's Office. Undergraduates may not, however, enroll in acting or directing courses offered by the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale. Students enrolling in DGSD courses should note that a maximum of four term courses from the professional schools (of which DGSD is one) may be offered toward the bachelor's degree. Students also should note that the academic calendars of DGSD and of Yale College differ. The DGSD calendar should be consulted for scheduling. A student interested in taking a course at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale should begin by seeking the permission of the instructor and contacting their academic dean.


Prerequisites THST 110, 111

Number of courses 10 term courses beyond prereqs (incl senior req)

Distribution of courses 2 courses in each of four domains: Artistic Practice, Interarts, Histories, Performance Theory; plus 1 related elective.

Senior requirement Senior seminar with substantial final essay, THST 491, or THST 492



10 courses (10 credits), including the senior requirement, but not the prerequisites

  • 2 courses from each of 4 domains (Artistic Practice, Interarts, Histories, Performance Theory)
  • 1 related elective
  • Senior seminar with substantial final essay, or THST 491, or THST 492

Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies offers courses in performance history and theory as well as performance practice: acting, directing, playwriting, design, dramaturgy, dance, musical theater, and digital media performance. It involves the study of performance techniques, new work development, creative and critical approaches to analysis, and the study of performance as a medium of artistic, cultural, social, and political expression. 

In the fall, first-year students interested in the major should make an appointment with the program's director of undergraduate studies (DUS), Hal Brooks. They should take THST 110 and THST 111, a two-semester sequence that introduces students to collaborative performance making and research practices as well as to the disciplinary breadth housed within the major. Both courses integrate practical, experiential immersion with conceptual and theoretical frameworks. This course sequence is open to all students and is a requirement of the major. First-year students are also encouraged to take Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies first-year seminars.


Professors James Bundy (School of Drama, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies), David Chambers (Adjunct) (Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies), *Toni Dorfman (Adjunct) (Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies), Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Practice) (Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies), Joan MacIntosh (Practice) (Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, School of Drama), *Lawrence Manley (English), *Deb Margolin (Practice) (Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies), Donald Margulies (Adjunct) (English, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies), *Charles Musser (Film & Media Studies, American Studies, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies), Tavia Nyong'o (Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, American Studies), *Marc Robinson (School of Drama, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, English), Shane Vogel (African American Studies, English, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies), Gregory Wallace (Practice) (School of Drama, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies)

Associate Professor Emily Coates (Adjunct) (Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, School of Drama)

Assistant Professors Elise Morrison (Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies), Amanda Reid (Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies)

Lecturers Hal Brooks, Lacina Coulibaly, Daniel Egan, Grant Herreid, Iréne Hultman, Annette Jolles, Michael Korie, Bronwen MacArthur, Elijah Martinez, Lynda Paul, Emmanuele Phuon, Kelsey Rainwater, Nathan Roberts, Renee Robinson, Michael Rossmy, Brian Seibert, Dexter Singleton, Sohina Sodhu, Shilarna Stokes, Daniel Ulbricht, Daniela Varon.

*Member of the Executive Committee for the program.

See visual roadmap of the requirements.