Dancers holding each other in MFA thesis concert by Jinglin

Focused on the art of choreography, this nationally recognized MFA Program is designed for experienced dance artists who aim to pursue professional careers as choreographers and educators.


The internationally recognized two-year MFA program in Choreography at CalArts is designed for experienced dance artists who want to further develop their choreographic practice and artistry in order to pursue professional careers in a range of dance-based trajectories, from choreography to education to performance curation and dramaturgy. Choreography at CalArts is broadly construed, and MFA students are encouraged to experiment with content and present work in a variety of contexts. Due to choreographic residencies and performance workshops with internationally-renowned artists working in dance and performance, MFA students are able to work closely with contemporary choreographers working to expand the notion of dance itself. In addition to a flexible schedule of daily technique classes in ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, and more, there are ample opportunities for production and collaboration both within CalArts Dance and across the wider institute. Students take courses in composition, technique, theory, and history, and the curriculum is crafted to encourage each MFA student to refine a personal aesthetic in dance and related disciplines. CalArts MFAs in Choreography ultimately become well-versed in the organizing concepts of choreography and dance theory while meeting the practical demands of producing work. All Choreography faculty members are noted professionals actively working in the field of dance and performance. Their wealth of professional experience provides students with a realistic perspective of the artistic and professional challenges of careers in dance and academia. Students benefit from a program grounded in individualized mentorship, as each student is paired with a faculty member who serves as an artistic and academic mentor for the duration of the program. Those pursuing an MFA in Choreography at CalArts also have opportunities to teach for the institute, study abroad, engage in interdisciplinary programs at CalArts such as Integrated Media, or pursue an Interschool degree. Alumni of the MFA in Choreography have gone on to reimagine and reinvigorate the international field of contemporary dance and performance.

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Program Faculty

Alumni Story

Daniel Charon
Daniel Charon MFA 13 Artistic Director, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Salt Lake City, Utah

By the time I enrolled at CalArts, I had performed for 15 years, and was focused on my choreography and teaching. CalArts gave me the time, space and support—with my mentors, faculty and my peers—pushing me forward saying, "Yes, you are capable and ready to do other things. Yes, you can take risks; that’s how you’re going to grow as an artist." The experience transitioned me into a whole new realm of my career by giving me confidence and skills. At CalArts, dancers are asked to think as artists. That’s unique and profound. As someone who now hires dancers, I don't want people who only know how to dance. I want artists who know how to speak through movement. Today, many choreographers work collaboratively, and look to dancers for inspiration. I think because CalArts has such a strong creative side, its dancers are well equipped to participate in that process. When they’re asked for ideas, they’re exceptionally creative.

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