MA Advanced Professional Practice (Dance)

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MA Advanced Professional Practice (Dance)

Designed for dance artists and practitioners who aspire to be at the cutting-edge of dance practice. Develop your skills as a versatile practitioner able to work at the highest level in a constantly evolving industry. Be taught by leading arts practitioners and educators.

Key Facts

Duration: 1 Year

Full Time

Tuition Fee: £8,000

Course Code: CID1310

Next start date: January 2021

Application deadline: 5 October 2020

Course Information

This MA is offered by Dance City in partnership with the University of Sunderland. The course is delivered by Dance City primarily at its Sunderland studios based in The Fire Station Arts Centre, with opportunities to utilise studios and facilities in Dance City Newcastle.

The MA Advanced Professional Practice (Dance) is practice-based and industry focused and offers the opportunity to use your own work and connect it with your studies. This means your studies may focus around a project you’re already working on.

Within this course the creative process is equally as important as the content. It will teach you how to be an effective, reflective, and advanced practitioner capable of highly original thinking within your professional practice.

Why Choose the MA Advanced Professional Practice (Dance)?

  • Increase your earning and employability potential
  • Learn from leading sector professionals
  • Fit study around your professional working life
  • Access state of the art facilities at Dance City Sunderland and Newcastle
  • Structure your own independent study, supported by e-learning
  • As a University of Sunderland student, you will also benefit from all of the University facilities and support on offer

Who is it for?

The programme is designed for dance artists and practitioners with several years’ experience. You will have a good undergraduate degree in a dance or performing arts discipline, relevant experience or equivalent qualifications.

Final MA Advanced Professional Practice Dance Brochure 4pp A4 21.08 v4

Course Structure

The course comprises a series of intensive workshop-based learning experiences designed to meet the needs of the professional practitioner.

Throughout the course you will develop the advanced skills, understanding and knowledge that are required to work as a dance practitioner at the highest level.

You will take an active role in structuring your own learning, and engage with the relevant methods and underpinning theories of your discipline. Learning and teaching methods and course delivery patterns are designed to align with industry practice and will consist of significant input from leading dance professional practitioners and educators.

Practical workshops and classes, keynote presentations, seminars and discussions will be supported by peer-to-peer learning and feedback (both face to face and online), live industry project briefs, action research projects and individual tutorials (both face to face and online).

The assessment methods are primarily ‘in-course’ assessments, where you will submit work on a module by module basis, rather than sitting an exam at the end of the course. They will include presentation of a position statement, project proposal proposition, a case study using personal or professional practitioner’s work, critical evaluation, Personal Development Portfolio, a project plan, realisation of the practical project, Viva of 15 minutes and creation and realisation of a dance project.

The course culminates in a practice-based research project which will typically focus on aspects of your own professional practice or dance enterprise.


Module 1 – Creative Dance Practice – Tutor TBC

This practice-based module explores current developments in creative dance practice though a series of intensive workshop sessions and is designed to enable you to explore a range of contemporary approaches to making dance work, whilst evaluating and reflecting upon your own professional practice and identifying key aims and objectives for personal professional development.

Module 2 – Advanced Facilitation – Rosie Kay, Artistic Director

This module explores the extensive range of facilitation methodologies used in current Dance practice. The focus is on the skills required of the advanced practitioner working in areas of Education (both formal and informal) and community engagement. Practice-based learning is underpinned by critical analysis of relevant theoretical frameworks drawn from both sector-specific and subject discipline contexts.

Through a series of practical workshops supported by case study analysis and current research, you will have the opportunity to apply new knowledge to your own professional practice and to engage in a high level reflective critical analysis of your own work.

Module content incorporates the requirements of safe, healthy and effective working practices as informed by Dance UK and includes the concepts and principles of good ethical practice in the Performing Arts subject disciplines.

On completion of the module, you will be required present your findings in a case study using either your own or a professional practitioner’s work. In order to support work-based learning, the final form of the case study presentation will be negotiated with the tutor but may include practical exercises/workshop/ online materials/class observation/presentation/ portfolio. Case study presentation is accompanied by a critical evaluation of the impact of module learning in the development of your own professional practice.

Module 3 – Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Dance – Jen McLachlan and Dawn Prentice

This module is designed to enable you to develop the advanced skills and knowledge required by professional dance artists in order to lead and manage projects and companies in the cultural and creative sectors and in other contexts such as Education (formal and informal), Health and Community Engagement.

The module content includes strategic planning, project management, project design, cultural policy, effective team working, leadership skills, essentials of arts finance and funding for working artists, pitching/presenting ideas and entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial skillset in the creative sector.

Assessment is via a Personal Development Portfolio that will reflect the student’s individual professional work context and may include elements such as; business development plan, funding proposal/bid project plan, personal action plan, critical evaluation of business/leadership models relevant to the creative and cultural sector, a personal development plan critically reflecting on a leadership role.

Module 4 – Dance in Context – Björn Säfsten, Choreographer

This practice-based module enables you to apply the knowledge skills and understandings gained in the previous Advanced Facilitation in Dance module in the realisation of the creative project undertaken in a community engagement context.

A series of workshops, seminars and individual tutorials will support you to develop and plan a facilitation/participatory or choreographic project working in areas such as Education (formal and informal), Health or other community contexts. Working at an advanced level, you will have the opportunity to undertake specialist, specific research, including negotiating the parameters of the project with key stakeholders and the module tutor and critically reflect upon your own professional development as a Dance practitioner.

Assessment is via the realisation of a project including a project proposal contextualisation, project plan, the realisation of the practical project and a Viva.

Advanced Research Project – Sarah Riach, Senior Lecturer in Programming Leader Performing Arts at Sunderland University

This module provides the opportunity for you to undertake an advanced major project in practice as research. You will develop an individual research proposal which will identify a research question to be addressed through delivery of a practice/work based project. The project proposal and project delivery plan will be agreed with your project tutor.

The project will develop your knowledge and skills as an advanced reflective practitioner by delivering an in depth study of an area of professional Dance practice. You will be able to demonstrate your ability to work at an advanced level by creating work which evidences a high level of originality and an innovative approach to a self-determined creative brief. You will interrogate and apply appropriate practice as research frameworks, engage in thorough and comprehensive project planning and deliver a practical Dance project. On completion of the practice-based project, you will critically reflect on your work and present your research findings to tutors, peers and Dance professionals.

Assessment is via the creation and realisation of a dance project, a presentation and following discussion, providing context, and background on theoretical research and professional outcomes.

Tuesday 4 September 2018, 3 – 5.30pm, The Fire Station, Sunderland


Candidates are invited to attend the Postgraduate Open Day in order to visit the studios and tour the University. You will be able to speak with the course leader, tutors and graduates of the MA Advanced Professional Practice (Dance).

Applicants will normally have a good undergraduate degree in a dance or performing arts discipline, relevant experience or equivalent qualifications.

To apply for this course please fill out the application form via University of Sunderland.


If you are interested in this course and would like to find out more before making an application please email:

Application deadline for January 2019 is 5 October 2018.

Lectures and seminars will take place at Dance City’s Sunderland studios housed in The Fire Station Arts Centre where you will find excellent facilities in the dance studios and a state of the art theatre space. Independent learning space for practical work is allocated at Dance City in Newcastle and Sunderland for Masters level students to develop their projects and undertake practical self-study.

IT, library and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) resources are accessible through the University of Sunderland.

You can also access a range of student support services, student accommodation and generous scholarships through the University of Sunderland.

The University Library subscribes to a comprehensive range of academic journals and databases so you can access reliable and up-to-date information.

The experienced Library team provide a high-quality service and are sensitive to the requirements and working methods of students. A dedicated Academic Liaison Librarian supports students and staff in the arts, design and performing arts disciplines.

Students are encouraged to develop their research skills, working with lecturers and library staff to cultivate their knowledge of contemporary and historical perspectives of performing arts, as well as the wider contexts of their subject.

The key resources for your course include:

Discover: The Library’s multi-disciplinary search tool

Art Full Text: A major resource for media and arts information

Dance in Video: Giving access to dance productions and documentaries in the 20th century

JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’): Providing access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences

Lexis: A major resource of full-text newspaper articles and legal information

What career opportunities may this lead to?

You will develop advanced skills and an understanding about working at leading-edge level as a professional dance artist or practitioner in a range of contexts such as health, education and community engagement. You will leave this course with the knowledge required to work at the highest level in the dance sector.

Case Study – Geoff Hopson

Case Study – Cheryl Day

Rosie Kay - Advanced Facilitation Tutor

Rosie Kay BA (Hons) FRSA, trained at London Contemporary Dance School graduating in 1998 and after a career as a performer formed Rosie Kay Dance Company in 2004.

Kay has created award-winning theatre work that include: MK Ultra (2017); Motel & Double Points: K (2016); Sluts of Possession (2013) in collaboration with the Pitt Rivers Museum; There is Hope (2012) exploring religion; 5 SOLDIERS – The Body Is The Frontline (2010/11 and 2015/16), based on extensive research with the British Army which toured in the UK and Internationally and Double Points: K (2008) in collaboration with Emio Greco| PC.

Site-specific works include: Haining Dreaming (2013) a Get Scotland Dancing project; The Great Train Dance (2011) on the Severn Valley Railway, a Cultural Olympiad London 2012 commission and Ballet on the Buses (2007) in collaboration with Birmingham Royal Ballet and Fierce! Festival.

Kay creates installation and dance film, with 5 SOLDIERS- the film, exhibited in The Herbert Gallery’s ‘Caught in the Crossfire- Artists responses to Conflict, Peace and Reconciliation’, Stadtmuseum Dresden, La Médiathèque du Centre National de la Danse, Paris. Feature Film credits include: Choreographer to the Box Office hit Sunshine on Leith (2013), and Brummoves (2014).
Kay has initiated LAB and Scratch training courses for recent graduates cross-arts and continues to teach, lecture and speak on dance, research methods and running an arts business.

Kay was the first Leverhulme Artist in Residence to the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, 2013-2014 and has continued as a Research Associate. She is Associate Artist of DanceXchange, Birmingham and Dance City, Newcastle.
Awards include Best Dance Company 2015, National Dance Awards,1st Prize Choreography, International Solo Dance Festival Stuttgart, Award from The Queen as ‘Young Achiever of Scotland’, Bonnie Bird New Choreography Award. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Artists, listed in Debretts and an MCR of St Cross College, Oxford.

Jen McLachlan - Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Dance Tutor

Jen is a highly experienced Consultant with a demonstrated history of senior level roles within the cultural industries. Skilled in cultural capital projects, organisational development, business planning and project design and implementation. Having trained at London Contemporary Dance School and Trinity Laban, Jen entered the strategic side of the dance sector.

Jen is currently Project Director for English National Ballet's purpose built home at London City Island. At 93,000 square feet the building is three times the size of current premises and will create a world-class dance hub with collaboration and learning at its core. 

Consultancy work includes a structural review for the Michael Clark Company; support for the development strategy for Dance Umbrella; and Trust and Foundation relationship management for Paisley 2021.

Jen was Project Director for Wayne McGregor's new world class arts space within Here East on the Olympic Park. Designed by architectural practice We Not I, Studio Wayne McGregor was the first arts organisation to be based on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. 

As Director of Dance for the Australia Council for the Arts, Jen drove strategic direction for dance in Australia through leadership of the Dance Board and key stakeholders at sector, government and community levels

Dawn Prentice - Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Dance Tutor

Dawn has 30 years’ experience in producing and managing live performance projects. Her current role is as a creative producer, specialising in international projects and worldwide touring of mid & large-scale productions of artist-led, devised work. She has a particular interest in dance, physical theatre and inclusive/integrated work.

Dawn’s strengths are working with artists and creative teams; brokering relationships and forming partnerships across a wide range of stakeholders; project planning and implementation; creation and management of complex budgets; facilitating development of artistic process; team management, leadership and mentoring; contracts and negotiation.

Having spent nine years as Tour Producer and Head of Touring at Sadler’s Wells, Dawn left to start up her own consultancy. She is currently working with a range of artists in a producing capacity as well as consulting on international and touring strategies for larger organisations. Clients include Manchester International Festival, Wildwood Productions and Michael Clarke Company.

Björn Säfsten, Choreographer - Module 4 Dance in Context tutor

In the work and practice of choreographer Björn Säfsten, the body and the mind and its connected actions are scrutinized, dissected and exposed. The focus is on creating “another body”, another notion of human physicality, bringing images to life that visually problematize our notion of human nature. The physical practice exposes images that result from a certain physical action, in a random way. The work thus takes visual twists and turns, often moulding itself while being performed, establishing itself anew each time for each audience encounter.

Säfsten Production is a platform for choreographic creation and experimentation. An intertwinement of theory and practice, it manifests itself through artists joining forces in speculation and critical formation within the fields of choreography, politics, language and identity production. A platform for experimentation, a platform for a changing constellation of artists and a base for continuous artistic research within the field of choreography.

Säfsten is a highly respected researcher and teacher. He was Researcher in Choroegraphy with Philosopher Per Nilsson at The University of Fine Arts Umeå Sweden 2012 – 2015. Almost every year he gives courses in different Arts Universities in Stockholm including Konstfack Stockholm, External critic, MA in Fine Arts 2017 STDH, Choreography for Dramaturg students BA level 2017 STDH, Choreography for directors and mime actors 2015 DOCH, Choreographic tutoring, choreographic praxis and process for the pedagogic education 2013 – 2015.

Sarah Riach - Advanced Research Project Supervisor

Sarah is currently Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer at University of Sunderland, teaching across Dance and Performing Arts. She is also project manager/choreographer for DUSC which includes 3 strands: DUSC community projects - delivering and designing numerous dance and creative arts based projects across the City, DUSC dance company - an undergraduate company made up of students who annually tour local schools, community and arts venues, performing original work and DUSC G - a graduate dance company which seeks external funding to create original dance work, employing graduates from the University on a freelance basis.  

Sarah’s specialist areas of expertise include Arts in Education, Community Arts, Contemporary Dance, Jazz Dance, Choreography, Musical Theatre, and Social Media. 

Rosie Kay - Advanced Facilitation Tutor
Jen McLachlan - Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Dance Tutor
Dawn Prentice - Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Dance Tutor
Björn Säfsten, Choreographer - Module 4 Dance in Context tutor
Sarah Riach - Advanced Research Project Supervisor

Photos coming soon

The annual fee for this course is £8,000.

Please note that this course is not available to international students.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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