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.

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 2019-20

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

Total: $31,400

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.



Course Descriptions

Curatorial Practice and Advanced Topics in Curatorial Practice
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.

Building on the first year’s focus on the development of curatorial rationales, Advanced Topics in Curatorial Practice 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.

Entrepreneurial Strategies 
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).

Perspectives in Performance 
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. 

Social and Cultural Context I&II 
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. 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.

Writing On & As Performance 
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.

Considering Site
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.

Field Practicum 
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.

Thesis Tutorial I & II
The thesis is the culmination of work toward the degree and consists of a written analysis on a specific question, topic, or case study. With supervision, each student explores and develops her or his own research and professional concerns in dialogue with existing examples of critical and creative practices in the performance and curatorial fields. The research thesis consists of a scholarly inquiry into a specific phenomenon or practice. It may entail the collection and analysis of primary information, and it engages a series of secondary sources on the topic. The written document outlines an area of research and provides an in-depth analysis of a question through a clear methodological and theoretical lens.

Topics in Research Methodologies
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. 


2019-2020 ICPP Academic Calendar





Writing On & As Performance



Social and Cultural Context I



Perspectives in Performance



Entrepreneurial Strategies



Curatorial Practice I



Curatorial Practice II



Field Practicum I



Thesis Tutorial I


MA1 Credits



Research Methodologies



Field Practicum II



Social and Cultural Context II



Adv. Topics in Curatorial Practice



Thesis Tutorial II-A



Thesis Tutorial II-B


MA2 Credits


Total Credits



Calendar 2019-20


Summer Intensive: July 12 - 28, 2019

Fall Intensive: November 7 - 11, 2019

Spring Intensive: February 27 - March 1, 2020


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.

Image above: Center for the Arts Courtyard, Wesleyan University