Program Overview

Who are the instructors?
The Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance has a core group of instructors who hold year-round academic positions at Wesleyan and other universities, as well as guest instructors who have specialized knowledge in theoretical and professional aspects of the field, including curators, writers and presenters. Through a deep engagement with instructors and other students, the program is designed to create a national network of professionals who are invested in the rigorous application of curatorial practices to performance.

What do we mean by performance?
ICPP considers performance in its broadest sense. The curriculum addresses time-based art practices of artists, curators and cultural leaders working in dance, performance art, experimental theater and traditional/culturally specific programs and various combinations of these and other disciplines.

Why Wesleyan?
Wesleyan is a top tier university with an international reputation for academic excellence and experimentation and creativity in the arts. ICPP draws on Wesleyan's multiple aesthetic traditions, its institutional commitment to interdisciplinary and intercultural approaches and its vast network of alumni in the arts. Wesleyan is located in Middletown, Connecticut, a short two-hour drive from New York City, making it easily accessible for visiting artists, scholars and curators.

Who else is involved?
Danspace Project, a leading presenter of cutting-edge dance in New York City since 1974, is a core collaborator on the design and implementation of ICPP. In January 2010, Danspace Project launched a series of artist-curated dance initiatives, the PLATFORMS series, which serves as a prime example of new directions in curatorial practices in performance. Through partnerships such as this, ICPP is committed to artistic exchange, opportunities for student mentorship, and peer-to-peer networking.

Master's Degree

Program Description 
Offering a Master of Arts in Performance Curation, this 2-year low-residency graduate program is currently the only curatorial studies MA of its kind.

• Program can be pursued simultaneously with other professional responsibilities 
• Small class sizes and individualized learning environment 
• Classes meet on campus three times each year

Who Should Apply?
The MA is for those who seek a deep immersion in the theory and practice of performance curation and desire more opportunities for substantive critical writing, as well as those who require an advanced graduate degree to be considered for higher-level positions in the field.

The ICPP MA curriculum addresses performance curation from both theoretical and practical models, includes courses on diverse curatorial practices, social and cultural contexts, entrepreneurial strategies, off-site residencies and semester-long field placements, advanced level writing and research methods, and thesis advising. See below for course descriptions.

Writing On & As Performance
Entrepreneurial Strategies
Social and Cultural Context I
Perspectives in Performance 
Field Practicum 
Curatorial Practice
Considering Site (combined class with MA2)
Thesis Tutorial I

Research Methodologies
Field Practicum 
Considering Site (combined class with MA1)
Adv. Topics in Curatorial Practice
Thesis Tutorial II


Class Schedule — On Campus Intensives
Each year of the 2-year program will include a 2-week intensive at Wesleyan each July, as well as a 4-day weekend intensive each Fall and Spring.

Fees for 2018-19

Total $31,400
• Tuition: $28,090 per year
• Room & Board: $3,060 per year
• Fees: $250 per year

Financial Aid
ICPP and Wesleyan University are pleased to offer financial aid options to help students pursue the MA program. More information is available here and on Wesleyan's financial aid website.




Sample Curriculum 2017-18:

Social and Cultural Context I and II (1.0 credit each)
This two-part course familiarizes students with key movements in performance from the late 19th century to the present. Performance in a variety of forms is examined in relation to social and cultural history as well as a range of influential ideas from cultural studies, gender studies, ethnic studies, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, performance studies, and critical theory. SCCI examines the history of performance and theory primarily in Europe and the United States from the late 19th century through the 1940s. SCCII focuses on the history of performance and theory in a global context from the 1950s to the present. The instructors emphasize their particular areas of expertise (be it music, poetry, or visual art), while adopting a transdisciplinary, transnational approach to the material. Past readings for SCCI include works by Roger Shattuck, Rose Lee Goldberg, Dada, Futurist, and Surrealist Manifestos, Peggy Phelan, Jaques Lacan, Victor Turner, Julia Kristeva, Theodor Adorno, and Louis Althusser; and past readings for SCCII include works by Allan Kaprow, George Maciunas, Raoul Vaneigem, Lucy Lippard, Adrian Piper, Gayatri Spivak, Sven Luttecken, Trinh T. Minh-ha, William Pope.L and Femi Osofisan, and Bruno Latour.

Perspectives in Performance (1.0 credit)
Taking advantage of the program’s artists-in-residence, as well as other visiting artists, scholars, and lecturers, this course examines contemporary performance practices through cultural, critical, and historical perspectives and using multidisciplinary research methodologies. Students trace artists’ lineages, investigate their aesthetic rationales, and explore their relationship to contemporary theoretical discourses. Within this framework, students are also given the opportunity to critically reflect on their own positions as viewers, practitioners, and curators. Past readings have included Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Anne Cooper Albright, bell hooks, Paul Gilroy, Coco Fusco, and Gina Ulysse, among others. 

Entrepreneurial Strategies (.5 credit)
Entrepreneurial Strategies examines conditions and strategies relevant to the performance economy, looking at histories, theories, and case studies. Past guests have included Paul Bonin-Rodriguez (University of Texas at Austin) and Kaneza Schaal (NYC-based artist).

Curatorial Practice I and II (2.0 credits)
Curatorial Practice is the anchor of the ICPP curriculum and uses the diverse curatorial experiences of the core faculty and guest artists as pedagogical models for exploring various approaches to curating performance. This course also addresses the curator’s role in mediating the relationship between artists and audiences, building community partnerships, and developing new interpretive strategies. By interacting with on-site curators and artists, students become better equipped to articulate their own curatorial work. Additionally, this course’s curatorial rationale assignment offers students an opportunity to test out different rhetorical models for presenting curatorial ideas.

The course culminates in an Independent Project which typically takes the form of, but is not limited to, a performance event, exhibition, or publication. Students can undertake this project at a professional institution they may already be affiliated with, one of ICPP's partner institutions, or as a fully independent initiative. In all cases, students are paired with an ICPP faculty member or a field professional who will serve as a project advisor. The advisor provides guidance and feedback on the project plan throughout its development. The project’s development happens largely off-site, so that students are putting their professional skills into practice in their daily lives, while the ICPP residency times are used for concentrated discussions, reflection, and design. Although the scale and timeline of the projects may vary, all students are required to produce a curatorial rationale for the project, positioning it within a larger artistic context. Oral presentations of this material are shared with classmates and faculty during the final spring residency.

Field Practicum I (1.0 credit)
MA students will complete 2 terms of the Field Practicum, one with a presenting/exhibiting organization and one with an artist-directed organization.  The Practicum could be designed to take place in the community in which the student lives, the site of their existing professional home base, or another institution.  Each student’s Practicum sites will be determined in consultation with the program director, and will be tailored to individual curatorial goals and experiences.

Writing On & As Performance (0.5 credit) 

This course taught by a Wesleyan faculty member focuses on developing descriptive critical writing skills. Through close readings of texts by authors including José Muñoz, Jennifer Doyle, Eileen Myles, Lydia Davis, Hilton Als, Claudia Rankine, Eve Sedgwick, Ann Pellegrini, and others, this course will challenge students to craft ideas and arguments by enhancing critical reading, creative thinking, and clear writing. Students will experiment with style and form from academic essays to performative writing to freeform prose and complete in-class writing assignments and exercises in response to written, recorded, and live performances. 



Sample Curriculum 2017-18:

Topics in Research Methodologies (.5 credit)

Offered during Year 2, this course establishes a foundation for conducting research in areas related to the arts and humanities. Students will learn how to pursue fieldwork through conducting interviews and advanced library and online scholarly research. In addition to developing interpretive, analytical, and organizational research competencies, students will focus on building advanced academic and professional writing skills through a series of assignments linked to other courses within the curriculum.

Field Practicum II (1.0 credit)

Considering Site (.5 credit) 
This course provides an introduction to the role of place in performance-based work by analyzing examples in which the site itself is critical to the conception of the work. Conceptualizing site as a condition defined by physical and social parameters, the readings and case studies in this course provide a cross-section of approaches to the links between site and performance.

Advanced Topics in Curatorial Practice (1.0 credit)
Building on the first year’s focus on the development of curatorial rationales, this seminar deepens the exploration of curatorial practice as it relates to performance and provides specific opportunities to develop the foundation of a thesis. This course requires MA students to explore more specific topics and areas pertinent to their field of study within the curatorial practice framework and will result in a final research paper/presentation.

Thesis Tutorial (2.0 credits)
The thesis should show evidence of original research, but the format is flexible.  It could consist of a creative project – for example, the development of a festival, exhibition, website, or catalogue – and a paper (suggested 30-60 pages), or comprise an extended written work (80-100 pages). If the project incorporates a plan for a live event, although this event need not be realized within the time of the MA, the project must be fully developed and ready to be produced by the end of the degree program. The program director will work with students to find a project-specific lead advisor who will then be a part of a 3-member thesis committee.


Calendar 2018-19


Summer Intensive: July 6 - 22, 2018

Fall Intensive: November 8 - 12, 2018

Spring Intensive: February 28 - March 3, 2019


International students need an F-1 student visa for each residency period. This visa requires you to report to Wesleyan's Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) within 24 hours of your arrival to the U.S. and to remain in the U.S. for a minimum of 11 days. Canadian citizens do not need visas to study in the U.S. However, Canadian students do need to obtain an I-20 (or DS-2019) Certificate of Eligibility from the University. Click here for more information. While the Summer intensive fulfuills this requirement, the Fall and Spring intensives are modified for international students.

In consultation with the ICPP Program Director Sam Miller, international students will select a site for each Field Study. This study is a module of the Independent Project course, and students will outline a question to be researched during the residency, complete a written report/paper of their findings, and share the results of their research with other students.


Prior to attending the Summer Intensive, students are expected to begin preparing for the program by completing all advance course readings and participating in an online orientation in May 2018.


Policies, Procedures & Academic Expectations

ICPP is an academic program developed by an advisory committee composed of Wesleyan faculty and field professionals. All students will be asked to uphold the University's academic standards (outlined in the Wesleyan University Student Handbook) and apply themselves rigorously to the program. As such, ICPP seeks to admit students who demonstrate the ability and intention to make ICPP their priority for the duration of the program they select.

ICPP Student Handbook 2017-2018

Image above: Center for the Arts Courtyard, Wesleyan University