MA Contemporary Dance Performance

The Master of Arts in Dance Performance (Contemporary) is a one-year, full- time, post-graduate programme. It offers students an opportunity to undertake a period of intensive, primarily studio-based, research into contemporary dance, performance and choreography. The programme is designed to provide each student with the tools to develop his/her own unique strengths and interests as a dance artist.

The programme addresses the hierarchies within traditional perceptions of contemporary dance creation by honouring the creative process of dance performers and situating contemporary dance performance in and of itself as a creative act.  Students have the opportunity to engage as dancers in devising ensemble choreographic works under the direction of Irish and international guest choreographers and to create and perform their own solo choreographies. Furthermore, they engage with media technologies for performing arts and study choreography-for-camera which supports them in documenting and reflecting on personal processes of making and in finding new outlets for their creative work. The programme introduces students to creative practice research methods to support them develop a critical awareness of their own unique approach to creating and performing dance and to contextualise this within both a wider professional dance and academic framework.

Through its Elective Bundle module, students have the opportunity to interact with other MA programmes at the academy.

Guest tutors and choreographers to date have included Mark Baldwin, Rosemary Butcher, Jean Butler, Hélène Cathala, Jazmin Chiodi, Yoshiko Chuma, Patricia Crosbie, Sean Curran, Joan Davis, Colin Dunne, Rob Heaslip, Wendy Houstoun, Alexandre Iseli, Eva Karczag, Charles Linehan, Jodi Melnick, Henry Montes, Charlie Morrissey, Laura Murphy, Lisa Nelson, Mary Nunan, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Sandra Reeve, Liz Roche, John Scott, Mairead Vaughan, Mary Wycherley and Catherine Young. Students are also provided with the opportunity to engage with programmes taking place at Dance Limerick and the Light Moves Festival of Screendance.

Some students may also have the option to undertake the programme as a 2-year full-time programme of study.

Programme of Study

The MA in Contemporary Dance Performance is a one-year full- time postgraduate programme. Students may be permitted to extend their study over a second full-time year, subject to available places, the agreement of the Course Director and the Director of the Irish World Academy.

The programme consists of five core modules per semester and one Elective Bundle.

Semester 1

DA6031 Contemporary Dance Techniques for Performance 1

DA5141 Dance Practicum: Dance Performance Repertoire 1

MD6031 Media Technologies for Performing Arts and Arts Research

MD6o61 Introduction to Somatics 1

MD6071 Writing & the Documentation of Arts Practice 1


MD6111 Colloquium 1

MD6091 Professional Development for the Performing Arts

MD6021 Introduction to Fieldwork Techniques

MD 6051 Independent Study 1

Semester 2

DA6022 Contemporary Dance Techniques for Performance 2

DA5142 Dance Practicum: Dance Performance Repertoire 2

MD6082 Choreography for Camera

MD6072 Writing and the Documentation of Arts Practice 2

MD6062 Critical Contexts for Arts Management and Cultural Policy


MD6061 Introduction to Somatics 2

MD6111 Colloquium 2

MD 6052 Independent Study 2

Semester 3

MD5522 Final Performance Exam with Written Component


Entrance Requirements:

A primary degree with first or second class honours


an approved equivalent qualification or an equivalent capability based on prior professional experience.

A performance audition will be required in all cases. Oversees students may audition by videotape containing two or three contrasting pieces of their choice.



Postgraduate Admissions Office
Graduate School
Foundation Building
University of Limerick

Tel: +353 61 234377
Fax: +353 61 233287


Click here for UL Academic Calendar


Click here for UL International  Office 


Click here for Postgraduate Fees


Click here for a list of scholarships available to prospective Irish World Academy of Music and Dance students.


“The level of personal feedback and discussion was hugely beneficial.  I think this facet of the course meant that I engaged with dance in a deeper way and was able to analyse my own work more objectively.  It also gave me a language with which to write about my work.”

(Siobhán Ní Dhuinnín, former MA Student, Independent Dance Artist)

“The course engages with and nurtures each individuals creative voice finding ways for each student to create new work and perform in the work of others. The course embraces the multi-dimensional nature of a dance practice as it exists today by integrating a focus on collaborative processes as well as solo making and dance with media.”

(Mary Wycherley, Choreography for Camera Tutor, Dance Artist and Filmmaker)

“It is inspiring to see over the months the amount of progress the entire group makes and how they actually begin to gel and develop a sense of ensemble – a great training for development as an artist. Also the focus on performance coupled with the academic dimension is a unique attribute to the course.”

(John Scott, Choreographer, Artistic Director Irish Modern Dance Theatre and Guest Tutor)



Frequently Asked Questions

Please find below answers to frequently asked questions that have arisen over the years since the course commenced.


What is the closing date for applications?
Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis if there are vacancies in the programme. It is advisable to apply as early as possible as there is a maximum number of 8 places available each year.

What is the application process?
Step 1
Fill out your application online. You will find the application form at:

Step 2
Send via email Vimeo/YouTube links of your work to the Course Director at

Links should include all or some of the below:

  • Footage that shows your ability as a dancer, preferably Contemporary Dance but other styles are accepted. Footage maybe as a solo dancer and/or in an ensemble work. (Please highlight your role in the ensemble by your clothing or exact time of your participation and/or your position in space).
  • Samples of your choreographic work e.g. Dance film work, works-in-progress showings, theatre productions.

Links should be as recent as possible. Please send 3-4 links maximum.

Step 3
Based on your application you may be required for an interview/audition at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance or via Skype. You will be notified of the date, time and venue by the Course Director. Your application will then be processed.

I live overseas, how can I audition for the course?
If you live outside of Ireland you will be requested to send video footage of your work to the Course Director via YouTube/Vimeo. She will the interview you via Skype.

What are the scholarship opportunities?
There are currently no specific MA Contemporary Dance Performance scholarships. However, the Irish World Academy offers Stepping Stones Scholarships for (Non-EU and General). You are also advised to examine the scholarships available for students in your country or at SUSI if you are in Ireland.


I do not have a primary degree in dance, can I still apply?
The programme requires applicants to have either a primary degree with first or second-class honours or an approved equivalent qualification or an equivalent capability based on prior professional experience.

If your primary degree is not in dance you will need to demonstrate relevant degree level qualifications (and these would be reviewed on a case by case basis) as well as exceptional activity in dance. We encourage you to be thorough with the original application, highlighting your relevant performance and dance experience alongside any courses, classes and workshops you have attended.

Additionally it is important to indicate why you want to do the programme, questions you may have about your dance/artistic practice and what you hope to achieve in the programme. You can also refer to persons you have worked with and/or any choreographic work you have undertaken and shown in a public arena. Please include the above information in the supporting statement in your application.

The Programme
The MA Contemporary Dance Performance comprises of 3 Semesters.
There is no requirement for students to be on campus during the third (Summer) Semester.

Weekly Schedule for Autumn and Spring Semesters
The schedule for the first and second semester is such that students are required to attend classes/workshops/lectures for 3.5/4 days of the week (Monday -Thursday) over 12 weeks each semester.
Final Performance Exam (Part 1) – a programme of ensemble and solo choreographies will take place in May following week 12 (exact date to be confirmed). This performance is 60% of the Final Exam.

Semester Three
During the Third Semester students are required to complete an independent performance project. There are no scheduled classes and/or workshops during the Third Semester but the Course Director will be available to provide feedback to the students on their projects. This project has to be submitted at the end of August/beginning of September (exact date to be confirmed). This project is submitted as the Final Performance Exam (Part 2). This is 40% of the Final Exam.

What is a typical day on the MA programme?
The MA programme is intensive and primarily studio based. A typical day commences at 9.00am/10.00am and finishes at 5.00pm/6.00pm.
Classes are held Monday to Thursday with Fridays allocated for personal practice and research.

Each day commences with a morning technique class. This is supported by aligned techniques classes such as Somatics and ballet.
The afternoons are spent working with guest choreographers on ensemble choreographies, solo mentoring or workshops with selected guest dance specialists.

Is there a way to do the programme part-time?
The programme is full-time for one year and 100% attendance is required. It is difficult to complete the course unless you are able to be on campus from Monday to Thursday during Semester 1 and 2.

How intensive is the timetable? Can I organise part-time work?
Some students have taken part-time work during the MA Programme, however it is encouraged to devote as much time as possible during the year to the programme.

The timetable for all university students is advised in the first week of semester. Please be assured that faculty will advise you of your timetable as soon as this is finalised in the university system. Full attendance is expected at all classes. We do understand that life events and health issues can arise. In such cases the student may be asked to provide a medical certificate. Occasionally unexpected seminars or guest lectures are scheduled outside of the regular class times. These will be advised to students well in advance.

While students are required to be on campus each week from Monday – Thursday during semester 1 and 2, during semester 3, students are only required to attend three tutorials over the summer semester either via Skype or in person depending on the project.

What are the number of credits for the overall programme?
The programme of study for semester one, two and three totals 90 credits.

What are the academic/written modules on the programme?
In Semester 1 there is one module/three credits which requires written documentation.
In Semester 2 there are 2 modules/six credits that require written documentation.
The Final Performance Exam and Semester three is also mainly practical with 90% for a practical presentation and 10% for a written portfolio (i.e. 27 credits for a practical presentation and 3 credits for a written portfolio).
In summary from a total of 90 credits for the MA Contemporary Dance Performance Programme, 12 of these are allocated to written assessments.

What do previous students go on to do?
The programme is beneficial for students wishing to pursue careers in dance performance (solo and ensemble), improvisation, choreography, devising original works for performance and community arts practice, as well as teaching dance. Furthermore, some graduates have secured positions as dancers-in-residence, dance consultants with state funding agencies, festival producers, university lecturers, doctoral researchers and dance company directors.

If I have further questions, what should I do?
Any additional questions about the programme should be directed to Dr Jenny Roche
Course Director, MA Contemporary Dance Performance –

Information about tuition fees, scholarships please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Office:
Information about accommodation options can be found at


Applicants wishing to discuss detailed elements of the programme may contact the course director:

Dr Jenny RocheCourse Director

IW1.21, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance,
University of Limerick,
Limerick, Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)61 203464


For further details, information and brochures about the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance:

Irish World Academy of Music and Dance,
University of Limerick,
Phone: + 353 61 202590

For queries to the University of Limerick Postgraduate Admissions Office:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Graduate School
Foundation Building
University of Limerick

Tel: +353 61 234377
Fax: +353 61 233287