Department Requirements

The Department of Theater and Dance offers a major in Performance Arts that integrates studio technique, history and theory, and original creative work within the performance and study of theater and dance.

Students may major in Performance Arts with a concentration in either theater, dance, or interdisciplinary performance. Students may also choose to minor in theater or dance.

In addition, students with special interest may, with faculty advice, create a Student-Designed Major in conjunction with another academic discipline. Students may also choose to participate in an Interdisciplinary major in English and theater.



Requirements for a major in Performance Arts

The major consists of ten credits (eleven if a student pursues honors). The core requirements are:

  • THTR 1500 Art of Performance
  • THTR 1700 Performance in Production (.5 credit)
  • THTR 1750 Technical Production (.5 credit)
  • THTR 4040 Performance Studio (alternately, THTR 4050 Honors Project in Theater)

Area of Concentration Requirements

Theater Concentration

The theater concentration at Bowdoin combines practice and theory to develop students’ skills as innovative theater artists and thinkers. Students explore theatrical performance through critical study, collaborative productions, and the development of independent student projects. The curriculum includes studio-based courses in production (e.g., acting, directing, design, and playwriting), as well as courses focused on performance history, theory, and criticism.

  • Introductory Theater, two of:

    • Performance and Theory in James Bond, Making Theater, Acting I, Improvisation, Performance and Narrative, Principles of Design, Performance for Social Change
  • Dramatic Literature, one of:

    • Theater as Social Media, Introduction to Drama, Playwriting, Theater History and Theory, Performing America, English Renaissance Drama, Modern Drama and Performance; Shakespeare on Film, Race in English Renaissance
  • History/Theory, one of:

    • Theater as Social Media, Intro to Musical Theater, Theater History and Theory, Performance in the 21st Century, Performing America, Performance Histories
  • Intermediate Theater, one of:

    • Acting II: Voice and Text, Acting II: Physical Theater, Directing, Advanced Design, Playwriting, Interdisciplinary Performance Making, Theater History and Theory, Performance in the 21st Century, Intro to Black Performance, Drag in Art and Performance, Performing America, Performance Histories
  • Advanced Theater, one of:

    • Theater Styles, Comedy in Performance, Acting Shakespeare, Advanced Acting, Advanced Theater Topics, Digital Performance, Ensemble Devising
  • Elective, one of:

    • Any Theater or Dance course at the 2000 level or above (except by permission of advisor); or by a course outside the Department by permission of advisor.

Dance Concentration

The dance concentration provides a coherent course of study through a range of classes in dance technique and repertory, choreography, improvisation, and critical dance studies, among others. It offers multiple levels of technique in modern dance—a term designating a wide spectrum of styles that focus on an inventive, unrestricted approach to movement. Other dance techniques and styles (e.g., ballet, Afro-modern, jazz) are also offered periodically.

  • Introductory Dance, two of:

    • Making Dances, Cultural Choreographies, African-Derived Dances in America, Dance Improvisation, Modern I: Technique, Modern I: Repertory and Performance, Ballet I: Technique
  • History/Theory, one of:

    • Dancing Histories, Intro to Musical Theater; Performance in the 21st Century, Performing America, Performance Histories
  • Intermediate Dance, one of:

    • Modern II: Technique, Modern II: Repertory and Performance, Afro-Modern I: Technique, Afro-Modern I: Repertory and Performance, Afro-Modern II: Technique, Afro-Modern II: Repertory and Performance, Advanced Design, Choreography for Dancers, Interdisciplinary Performance Making
  • Advanced Dance, one of:

    • Modern III: Technique, Modern III: Repertory and Performance, Dance and the Camera; Digital Performance
  • Electives, two of:

    • Any Theater or Dance course at the 2000 level or above, (except by permission of advisor); or by a course outside the Department by permission of advisor.

Interdisciplinary Performance Concentration

The interdisciplinary performance concentration allows students to take courses in both theater and dance to create an individualized curriculum across these disciplines. Students work closely with an advisor to determine a coherent course of study and appropriate electives as needed. 

  • Introductory Performance

    • One of: Making Dance, Cultural Choreographies, African-Derived Dances in America, Dance Improvisation, Modern I: Technique, Modern I: Repertory and Performance, Ballet I: Technique
    • One of: Making Theater, Acting I, Improvisation, Performance and Narrative, Principles of Design, Performance for Social Change
  • Dramatic Literature, one of:

    • Theater as Social Media, Introduction to Drama, Playwriting, Performing America, Shakespeare: Comedies and Romances, Shakespeare’s Tragedies, English Renaissance Drama, Modern Drama and Performance
  • History/Theory, one of:

    • Dancing Histories, Intro to Musical Theater; Theater as Social Media, Theater History and Theory, Performance in the 21st century, Performing America, Performance Histories
  • Intermediate Performance, one of:

    • Modern II: Technique, Modern II: Repertory and Performance, Intermediate Ballet and Beyond, Jazz II: Technique, Jazz II: Repertory and Performance, Afro-Modern I: Repertory and Performance, Afro-Modern II: Technique, Afro-Modern II: Repertory and Performance, Choreography for Dancers; Acting II: Voice and Text, Acting II: Physical Theater, Directing, Advanced Design, Playwriting, Interdisciplinary Performance Making, Performance in the 21st Century, Intro to Black Performance, Drag in Art and Performance
  • Advanced Performance, one of: The Intermediate and Advanced Performance classes must be in different sub-disciplines; one must be in DANC and one in THTR.

    • Advanced Technique, Advanced Repertory and Performance, Dance and the Camera; Theater Styles, Comedy in Performance, Acting Shakespeare, Advanced Acting, Advanced Theater Topics, Digital Performance, Ensemble Devising
  • Elective, one of:

    • Any Theater or Dance course at the 2000 level or above, (except by permission of advisor); or by a course outside the Department by permission of advisor.




Requirements for the Minor in Theater

The minor consists of five credits to include the following required courses:

  • one course at the 1000 level (Performance & Theory in James Bond, Making Theater, Acting I, Improvisation, Performance and Narrative, Principles of Design, Performance for Social Change)

  • one course in history or theory (Theater as Social Media, Introduction to Musical Theater, Theater History and Theory, Performance in 21st Century, Performing America, Performance Histories)

  • three additional courses, including at least two taken at the 2000 level or above

    • One of the three additional courses may be taken in dance. One 2000-level course taken abroad may count toward the minor.




Requirements for the Minor in Dance

The minor in Dance consists of five course credits to include the following required courses:
  • one course in creative process (Making Dances, African-Derived Dances in America, Dance Improvisation, Choreography for Dancers, Theater and Dance for the Common Good, Interdisciplinary Performance Making, Advanced Dance Composition)

  • one course in history or theory (Cultural Choreographies, Dancing Histories, Performance in 21st Century, Intro to Black Performance, American Queen: Drag in Contemporary Art and Performance, Introduction to Musical Theater, Performing America, Performance Histories)

  • one full credit in studio technique (Modern I: Technique, Ballet I: Technique, Modern II: Technique, Ballet II: Technique, Jazz II: Technique, Afro-Modern II: Technique)

  • one full credit in repertory and performance (Modern I: Repertory and Performance, Intermediate Repertory and Performance, Ballet II: Repertory and Performance, Jazz II: Repertory and Performance, Afro-Modern II: Repertory and Performance, Modern III: Repertory and Performance)

  • one elective


Additional Information

  • Students must earn a grade of CR (Credit) or C- or better to have a course count toward their major or minor.

  • Students may not count more than one full credit from courses graded Credit/D/Fail, including those offered only on a Credit/D/Fail basis.

  • Students taking a .5 credit course may repeat the class to earn a full credit.

  • Typically, one course taken at another college or university may count toward the major or minor with departmental approval. No more than one course taken outside the department may be counted toward the major or minor, except by advance departmental permission.

  • One course cannot fulfill more than one requirement for the major or minor.

  • First-year seminars can count toward the major and minors.

  • Independent studies count toward the major or either minor. 

  • No credit is given for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate.


Requirements for the English-Theater Major

Please see the English-Theater website for requirements.

NOTE: For additional perspective on areas of study within a Discipline, please refer to the Theater and Dance Course Numbering Conventions. For a complete description of a specific course, check the College Catalogue.