Dance and Performance Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Within the Dance and Performance Studies curriculum, we understand performance to be a mode of critical inquiry and research, a means of creative expression, and a vehicle for public engagement. We engage with dance on physical, intellectual, and aesthetic levels. It is our hope that dancers not only grow as performers, but also as artists, thinkers, makers, viewers, researchers, and participants. The practical focus of the major is on the performance and choreography of contemporary dance and dance theater. Of equal importance is the study of theater and dance theory, history, culture, and literature.

The dance training and academic courses offered by our department are rigorous and geared toward the student who is interested in learning about dance and performance from multiple perspectives. As either a major or minor in Dance and Performance Studies, you will study with faculty known nationally and internationally for their scholarly research and creative work. Many of our graduates have careers in professional dance companies. Other students have gone on to graduate study in a wide variety of arts-related fields and have developed careers in universities, non-profits, and professional fields in health care, education, and business.

The opportunities in our department are many and varied. They include regular student-led performances, an annual spring concert series where students perform in faculty and guest-artist repertory pieces, the option to participate in an honors thesis/project, and exposure to a myriad of diverse and exciting lectures, speakers, guest artists, and performances.

Declaring the Major

For further information regarding the prerequisites for declaring the major, please see the Major Requirements tab on this page.

Honors Program

Majors in the Department of Dance and Performance Studies with an overall GPA of 3.3 in the University may, with the approval of the department, apply to complete an honors project. There are two types of honors projects:

  1. Written-Only Thesis
  2. Written Honors Essay and Production

Students should apply through the Undergraduate Academic Adviser and can find more detailed information on the TDPS website. 

Minor Program

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) offers a minor in Dance and Performance Studies. For further information regarding the minor requirements, please see the Minor Requirements tab on this page.

Confirm your intention to minor after enrolling in 1 course in the department. Transfer students can discuss coursework transfers into the minor, as well as dance level placement, with the Undergraduate Academic Adviser. Since your minor will be from the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, it is likely you will do most of your minor coursework here.

Other Major and Minor Program Offered by TDPS

Theater and Performance Studies (Major and Minor)

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements (listed on the College Requirements tab), students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for letter-graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only. 
  2. No more than 1 upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Declaring the Major

Students may declare the major after passing 2 of the following 4 required lower division courses. Take 1 course from the practice courses (THEATER 14THEATER 40, or THEATER 60) and take 1 of the performance studies courses (THEATER 25ACTHEATER 26, or THEATER 52AC). Students will then be required to complete the other 2 required courses after declaring your major.

Lower Division Requirements

Required Lower Division Courses
Take 4 required lower division courses:
THEATER 40Beginning Modern Dance Technique (trained dance students may audition into more advanced levels of modern dance technique to complete this requirement )3
or THEATER 14 Performance Workshop
THEATER 26Introduction to Performance Studies4
THEATER 52ACDance in American Cultures4
or THEATER 25AC The Drama of American Cultures: An Introduction to Our Theater
THEATER 60Introduction to Technical Theater and Production3

Upper Division Requirements

Take all required courses as indicated:
Required Performance History
THEATER 151AHistories of Performance: Performance and Community4
Required Performance Studies
Choose 2 Performance Studies courses from this list. You may repeat the same-numbered course with different content (see the exception below that applies to Theater 113A, Theater 113B, and Theater 114).
THEATER 117ACCalifornia Stories: Theatrical Representations of Race, Labor, and Tourism4
THEATER 118ACPerformance, Television, and Social Media4
THEATER 119Performance Theory4
THEATER 121Performance and Culture4
THEATER 125Performance and History4
THEATER 126Performance Literatures4
You may select 1 of the following 3 courses (summer study abroad opportunities or research workshop) to fulfill 1 of your 2 Performance Studies required courses.
THEATER 113AInternational Performance and Literature: Irish Theater: Origins and the Contemporary Scene6
THEATER 113BAfro-Feminist Perspectives on Brazil, Dance, and Arts of the African Diaspora6
THEATER 114Performance Research Workshop4
Required Semesterly-Technique Courses
After declaring the major, students are required to take 1 technique course every semester, selected from the following courses. A minimum of 4 semesters of technique are required. The same numbered technique course may be repeated if the topic changes. The same numbered course may not be taken more than 2 times with the same instructor. Theater 40 may be taken to fulfill the upper division technique requirement by approval of Chair.
THEATER 40Beginning Modern Dance Technique3
THEATER 45Beginning African Dance in Hip Hop3
THEATER 141Intermediate Modern Dance Technique3
THEATER 142Advanced Modern Dance Technique3
THEATER 145Intermediate African Dance in Hip Hop (advised to take Theater 45 before auditioning for Theater 145)3
Students may substitute 1 of the following courses for their semesterly technique requirement 1 time during any 1 semester of their studies.
THEATER 144Sources of Movement3
THEATER 148Movement Improvisation3
Required Choreography
Select 1 course from each of the categories below:
Choreography Preparation (required pre-requisite for Theater 146A or Theater 146B)
THEATER 144Sources of Movement3
or THEATER 148 Movement Improvisation
THEATER 146AChoreography: Solo/Duet Showcase3
or THEATER 146B Choreography: Compositional Study
Required Production and Design
Select 1 design course from the list below:
THEATER 172Stage Management3
THEATER 173Scenography: Scenic Design for Performance3
THEATER 174Scenography: Costume Design for Performance3
THEATER 175AScenography: Lighting Design for Performance4
THEATER 175BScenography: Advanced Lighting Design for Performance4
THEATER 177Sound Design for Performance4
Required Technical Theater:
Select 1 of the following courses:
THEATER 167Technical Theater: Performance Practice1
or THEATER 168 Technical Theater: Shop Practice
Because of the semesterly technique requirement, most majors do not need any additional electives to complete the upper division units for the major (24 units minimum). Majors are encouraged to pursue depth in their studies (dance, performance studies, acting, or technical theater). Elective coursework includes Independent Studies, teaching a DeCal course, Honors Projects, internships, 196 Projects, and Education Abroad Programs. Please note "taking" DeCal courses do not count toward your major.

Transferring Units

A maximum of 8 units of equivalent upper division coursework transfer into the major from education abroad programs, other UCB departments, or other 4-year colleges as electives upon departmental approval. All L&S-approved units from other colleges transfer into your BA degree, but rarely into the Dance and Performance Studies major. We remind transfer students to bring a copy of previous transcripts/course descriptions to Undergraduate Academic Advisor for evaluation. 

Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared before the first day of classes in your Expected Graduation Term (EGT). For summer graduates, minors must be declared prior to the first day of Summer Session A. 

  2. All upper-division courses must be taken for a letter grade. 

  3. A minimum of three of the upper-division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.

  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required in the upper-division courses to fulfill the minor requirements.

  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.

  6. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.

  7. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which the student plans to graduate. If students cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, they should see a College of Letters & Science adviser.

  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)


Lower Division Required Courses
Select 1 lower division practice course from the following:
THEATER 14Performance Workshop3
THEATER 40Beginning Modern Dance Technique3
THEATER 60Introduction to Technical Theater and Production3
Select 1 lower division performance studies course from the following:
THEATER 25ACThe Drama of American Cultures: An Introduction to Our Theater4
THEATER 26Introduction to Performance Studies4
THEATER 52ACDance in American Cultures4
Upper Division Required Courses
Select 1 upper division dance technique course from the following:
THEATER 141Intermediate Modern Dance Technique3
THEATER 142Advanced Modern Dance Technique3
THEATER 145Intermediate African Dance in Hip Hop (advised to take Theater 45 before auditioning for Theater 145)3
Select 1 upper division course from the choreography series:
THEATER 144Sources of Movement3
THEATER 146AChoreography: Solo/Duet Showcase1-3
THEATER 146BChoreography: Compositional Study1-3
THEATER 148Movement Improvisation3
Upper Division Electives
Select a minimum of 3 upper division elective courses to build a focus in the minor. If you find a course in another department that may be considered for inclusion in your minor as an elective, come discuss it with the Undergraduate Academic Advisor.


  1. In certain circumstances, students may use THEATER 141, THEATER 142, or THEATER 143 to fulfill THEATER 40, in which case, they will then take a total of four upper-division elective courses instead of three.
  2. THEATER 146A and THEATER 146B have two types of enrollment: Dancers enroll for one unit in the course and must be enrolled concurrently in a technique class, or choreographers enroll for three units in the course and must complete the prerequisite of THEATER 144 or THEATER 148 in advance.
  3. If a student is not admitted to an upper division Dance Technique course or chooses not to take one, they then must take four upper-division elective courses, instead of three courses.
  4. A course with the identical course number may only be counted twice toward the minor and only if they have different focus topics. Only two courses may be repeated in this way. (Exception: THEATER 147A or THEATER 147B may only count once toward the minor.)
  5. Transfer Units: It is rare that Community College coursework will transfer into the Dance and Performance Studies Minor because they are lower division. If you have a strong dance background, continue your dance training in the department at the appropriate level. Audition for that course on the first day of class and enroll after being admitted. Since your minor will be from this department, it is likely you will do most of your minor coursework here. If you have a question about coursework transfer into the minor, bring unofficial transcripts and course descriptions to the Undergraduate Academic Advisor.

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses in sequential order by the end of their fourth semester.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years, or two years for transfer students. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Student Learning Goals


The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies (TDPS) teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, the department creates liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, diversity and inclusion is a key part of teaching, art making, and public programming.

Undergraduate majors and minors are well prepared for the future, both as artists and engaged citizens of the world. At a time when scholars and practitioners across a variety of fields call for more cross-disciplinary intellectual collaboration and project-based learning in higher education, the department takes pride in its daily commitment to collaboration and to the kind of rigorously critical, team-based projects the department develops with its students, staff, and faculty both in the classroom and in its production season.

Learning Goals for the Major

By the end of their time in D&PS, beyond TDPS goals, students should possess the following:

  1. Ability to synthesize a well-organized argument from textual or other evidence and to express it in formal, written form.
  2. Proficiency in research methods (i.e., utilization of public and private archives, libraries, electronic databases, oral histories; textual and performance analysis).
  3. Collaborative skills.
  4. Foundational stagecraft and production skills and knowledge (e.g., design, craft and technology, stage management, and new media).
  5. Literacy in foundational dramatic texts and fundamental concepts of performance theory.
  6. Basic history of Euro-American dance practice, including issues of race, ethnicity, and multiculturalism in the performing arts.
  7. Basic modern/contemporary dance technique in the Western concert dance tradition.
  8. Understanding of the choreographic process and the tools necessary for this process.


Through upper division course work, electives, and capstone experiences students should also possess advanced training in at least one of the following:

  1. Choreography.
  2. Advanced Dance Technique.
  3. History & Theory of Dance.

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the Dance and Performance Studies Major Map PDF.


Dance and Performance Studies

Contact Information

Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies

15 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-1677

Fax: 510-643-9956

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Prof. SanSan Kwan

15F Dwinelle Hall

Undergraduate Student Academic Advisor

Laxmi Kumaran

15B Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-643-4050

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