What's New with MFA Choreography Faculty Spotlight, September 2018

Written by: Artist-In-Residence in Dance Christina Teague-Mann 

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Choreography at Jacksonville University (JU) is in its ninth year. The program was one of the first low-residency MFA’s in Choreography in the United States. The low-residency format has been extremely successful in dissolving geographical boundaries, allowing artist/researchers to stay in their career locally, while engaged in global dialogues. In year one and year two, a student completes a 6-week summer residency and a one-week residency for pedagogy. In the fall and spring semesters, all MFA students come together as a single group within the Blackboard LMS platform.

Photo of MFA students on stageThe co-directors of the MFA Choreography are:

  • Cari Martin-Freiberger, Professor of Dance Linda Berry Stein College of Fine Arts
  • Christina Teague-Mann, Artist in Residence Linda Berry Stein College of Fine Arts

This shift in delivery of an MFA in Choreography gives artist/researchers the opportunity to examine their artistic practice without relocating while extending their global perspective. This dual frame of reference is unique, advanced by the content of the courses that consider the process of creating a choreographic event as the core of the research itself. The immersion in an on-going dialogue between local culture, global considerations and the process of creating provides each artist/researchers the opportunity to work in formative ways with complex issues of heritage and environment. 

The sixth year of the program brought forward the recognition that there had been several international students, as well as students located throughout the United States enrolled in the program. Since the beginning of the program, the summer residency has been at White Oak Conservation Center and Jacksonville University where the residency has hosted esteemed artists like Alonso King, Jill Johnson, Jüri Nael and John-Paul Zaccarini. Teague-Mann and Martin-Freiberger wanted to further the potentialities and demand for the program by providing future students greater access to the program’s summer residencies. Teague-Mann proposed an expansion of the summer residency that would add residencies in Latin America, Europe and Asia. The commitment to expansion advanced the recognition that dance practice is no longer one of national scale but one of transnational and international dimensions.

Teague-Mann and Dr. Ana Sánchez-Colberg (Creator, BA Dance, Puerto Rico) began dialoguing about ways to continue to develop the unique profile of the JU MFA Choreography within Latin America. Both recognized the abundance of artistic experience that is in Latin America and wanted to provide an opportunity for Latin American dance practitioners choosing to pursue an MFA to have an opportunity to earn it through a low-residency format. Presence of the MFA in Puerto Rico was the first graduate level degree in dance in Puerto Rico, and the first low-residency MFA in Latin America. The Latin American residency enrolled nine notable artists and provided an environment that cultivated familiarities of Latin American culture while hosting one of Latin America’s most renowned choreographers Marianela Boan a paramount artist of contemporary Cuban dance. As a result of damage sustained by hurricanes in 2017 the residency in Puerto Rico combined with the residency at White Oak/ JU in the summer of 2018 and brought thirty- four artist/researchers together in one unprecedented residency.

Martin-Freiberger and Teague-Mann plan to maintain the commitment to remain at the leading edge of MFA level professional dance practice and education with an opening of the European residency in the near future.

MFA Choreography students