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Dance: Performance and Professional Practices


School - School of Arts & Media

Subject area - Performing Arts

Start Date(s): July


One year full-time 
Two years part-time

Fees 2018-19:

2019-20 fees will be displayed shortly.

Full-time - £12,420

Part-time - £2,070 per 30 credits

In Brief:

  • Grow as performers through opportunities to work with Joss Arnott and top international choreographers
  • Develop your work as both a professional dancer and dance professional, developing your skills as a  creative entrepreneur and enabling you to pursue a sustainable career in dance
  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant arts and performance scene in Salford and Manchester, and expand your creative horizons in a national tour
  • Part-time study option
  • Work/industrial placement opportunity
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

The MA Dance Performance and Professional Practice is a professionally focused course, co-designed and co-delivered with industry partner Joss Arnott Dance. The course explores dance performance in a ‘company model’: as a dancer in a small ensemble, you will work with a collection of international choreographers to co-produce a programme of new performance works. The student company will tour nationally under the artistic direction and guidance of Joss Arnott and a wider team of dance professionals.  

This programme not only focuses at contemporary dance performance at the highest level, but also addresses the wider needs of the dance professional.  As such, the course includes modules on teaching/pedagogy and small scale touring, widening their skills and knowledge for their portfolio careers. Students will be involved in production and workshop delivery as part of the tour, equipping them with the skills, knowledge and experience to expand your professional opportunities upon graduation.

This is prestigious and highly selective programme has industry collaboration at its very heart and mirrors working environments in the creative industries. Join us to expand yourself as a performer, an artist, a collaborator and a well-rounded dance professional in the thriving cultural scene in Salford and Manchester.

Course Details

MA Dance Performance and Professional Practices supports you to expand and refine your approaches as a dancer in the choreographic process, hone your skills in dance performance and develop the professional experiences central to a sustainable career in dance.

Through the programme, you will:

  • Collaborate with Joss Arnott, other international choreographers and other student company members to develop new dance works
  • Develop technically and creatively in preparation for a national tour
  • Expand your professional skillset in producing, touring, workshop development and delivery
  • Engage with creative trends and current issues within the field of professional dance and performance
  • Develop your own creative research project, drawing on your experiences within the student company and positioning your future practice in the wider creative field after graduation

Semester 1            

In this first semester, you will establish the new student company and work intensively with international choreographers to create new pieces of repertory.  This module is wholly practical in nature and is focused solely on the rehearsal and development process.                  

Semester 2            

This module shifts the company from an intensive creative mode into a deeper period of rehearsal and development.  Contemporary technique classes support the rehearsal and refinement of the new works, as well as developing a new ensemble work with Joss Arnott. This module supports you to reflect        on your specific development as a dancer and collaborator, building on strengths and addressing areas for development: physically, creatively and professionally. The module is delivered in 3 blocks throughout the autumn semester and will include the premiere performance of the new programme of work.            
In this module, you will be introduced to the creative and physical techniques implicit in dance workshop development and delivery. The course will be delivered intensively in a two-week block. This course explores the methods and practices of teaching dance, but specifically to a workshop setting,        including areas such as:                
  • Talent development for young dancers                              
  • Engagement with current issues through dance experience                              
  • Workshop design                              
  • Educational aspects of dance performance and touring                              

Optional Modules            

Students have choice of a second module option in Semester 2, choosing from one of the following two modules:    

This classroom-based module digs into the knowledge, skills and professional context surrounding producing and touring.  Taught by professional producers, this module deals with aspects such as funding, programming, liaising with venues, programmers and technical teams, marketing and audience        development. The module content is designed to support skills in self-producing as a part of your portfolio career development.            
This practical and theoretical module delves into the concepts and approaches central to dance teaching within a curriculum setting. Module content will consider the function of curriculum as the ‘spine’ of the learning experience and explore creative and physical approaches to engage students        with new skills and knowledge within and through dance. This module is taught in an intensive, two-week block and will equip you with a foundation of pedagogic theory and practical knowledge central to work in the dance studio as a classroom,            

Semester 3            

This module is embedded into the performance and professional practices involved in touring. In a six-week block, your learning will occur both on campus in rehearsal and in various national venues during performance. You will also have a professional role in supporting of the wider tour, which may        include elements of workshop delivery, supporting the tour producer, engaging with the technical team, etc. The module will focus on students’ practical knowledge of dance performance, but in the professional contexts specific to a touring company.            
In this final project, you will be asked to propose an area of exploration, arising from your experiences in the previous modules and focused on future work within profession. Upon submitting a proposal, you will be assigned a supervisor to support you on this journey of enquiry. Either individually        or in collaboration with others, the results of these investigations will be presented at New Adelphi alongside a wider programme of dance performances and events.

Entry Requirements

Applicants to this programme must have a good degree in a dance-related subject.

The application process will also involve a series of two practical auditions and a personal statement (approximately 400 words). Students will be asked to write about the ways that this specific MA programme will help them advance from their current work within dance towards specific career aspirations.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English Language Requirements

International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5 (with no less than 5.5 in any band) as proof of this.

Suitable For

This course is for early career dance professionals who are engaging performers, brave and committed collaborators and are ready for an intensive and exciting learning experience. In the frame of Joss Arnott’s “stunning and dynamic classical contemporary choreographic style,” we are looking for dancers will a strong technical base in contemporary dance, but with a willingness to experiment creatively and a hunger to develop as a dancer. We are interested in our applicants as professionals and as people, as well as technically-proficient performers

This programme will require students to challenge, explore, expand and potentially re-think their practices in dance performance.  As such, students will need to be prepared for intensive rehearsal and touring, as well as rigorous, independent research.

Fees 2019-20

Fees for entry in 2019 will be displayed shortly.

Fees 2018-19

Type of StudyFee
Part-time£2,070 per 30 credits
Full-time International£14,400

Additional Costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships and Bursaries

For more information please see our funding section


  • As the course is highly practical in nature, students will be taught in a mixture of physical and practical methods.  This includes practical demonstration in technique classes and rehearsal, with a mixture of verbal and embodied feedback given throughout.
  • Modules are also supported by practical workshops, lectures, seminars and facilitated student discussion/debate. In many areas, theoretical or screened content is related directly to the students’ practical experiences to underpin their holistic development as dancers.
  • Students will also be supported by staff supervision in their own independent research projects. In these projects, student-centred approaches consider the individual’s chosen area of enquiry and combines instruction with guidance and feedback to support their personal development and exploration.


  • Assessment on this course is done through a combination of formative and summative assessment, supporting and promoting the slow and ongoing nature of your personal development.  There will also be formal means to present the outcome of your learning through writing, practical presentations and performances.
  • You will be assessed through: performances (25%), portfolios of creative, reflective and analytical written work (25%), practical/creative presentations (17%), as well as essays (17%).  Some ongoing assessment of the student’s process will also be considered (16%).

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Sarie Mairs Slee-  Programme Leader, MA Dance Performance and Professional Practices

Sarie is an artist/academic who has been working in the messy hinterlands between dance and theatre for the past 15 years. Originally from the US, Sarie emigrated to the UK from Washington DC in 2003, leaving her work with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange for postgraduate study at Laban.  Her work in physical performance led her into Grotowski’s tradition of theatre laboratories and, from 2010-2013, she worked with Studio Matejka at the Grotowski Institute (PL) as lead academic and rehearsal director. 

Her current practice takes ‘laboratory frameworks’ into interdisciplinary collaborations.  Since 2013, she has been working with poet Scott Thurston in the exploration of poetic language, movement and the creative possibilities of writing as a physical act. Her work with composer Alan Williams has spanned from work with opera singers to percussionists, including an ongoing collaboration with Evaristo Aguilar in Tampico, Mexico.  

Sarie’s research and practice also delves into the intersection between artistic career development and creative entrepreneurship. Through collaborative work with Arts Council England, the Lowry, Castlefield Gallery, Salford City Council, Dance Manchester and a range of other regional arts organisations, we explore how artists can feed into the development of their cities and communities and develop sustainable and interconnected careers.


Graduates will be able to work in a range of environments within the cultural sector. This may include career opportunities as:

  • A freelance dance artist
  • A performer with established dance company/companies
  • A dance animateur
  • An arts administrator
  • A creative educator/lecturer

Links with Industry

This programme has links with a number of industry bodies, including:

  • Joss Arnott Dance
  • The Lowry
  • HOME
  • Dance Manchester
  • Ludus Dance.

In addition, we have an annual dance artist-in-residence scheme which has engaged with companies such as Company Chameleon, Hawk Dance Theatre, Kapow Dance Theatre, along with many independent dance artists.  These schemes bring workshops, apprenticeships, performance and project opportunities, mentoring opportunities to our dance students.  In addition, we hold two intensive masterclass weeks each academic year, hosting a range of national and international dance artists to work with our under- and postgraduate dance students, recently including work with choreographers Gary Clarke and Gemma Nixon, among many others.  

As part of the annual tour, students will also be performing at a range of UK venues and the industry professionals at each. In addition to personal networking, this will strengthen students’ understanding of the ecology of venues for dance performance in the UK.

Further Study

Graduates of this programme would be well-positioned to pursue practice-based MPhil/PhDs, which would build on and further develop the work established within this MA.


New Adelphi Theatre, Studio Theatre and specialist dance spaces

Digital Performance Lab at the MediaCityUK campus

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