History of the school

Read about the evolution of the Dance Studies Programme at the University of Auckland.

The Dance Studies Programme was originally part of the School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA), located in the former TVNZ building on Shortland Street.

The programme was based on a conservatoire model of dance education, offering a Graduate Diploma in Performing Arts from 1997 to 1999. In 2000 the diploma was replaced with the Master of Creative and Performing Arts (MCPA), with one lecturer on staff and many visiting guest lecturers teaching ten students.

From conservatoire to liberal arts

In 2005, the Vice Chancellor and new dean of the Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries employed Associate Professor Ralph Buck as the Head of Department. Ralph rewrote the curriculum, shifting the focus from a conservatoire dance education model to a liberal arts model.

Five key competencies were developed: specialist knowledge, effective communication, general intellectual skills and capabilities, independence, creativity and learning, and ethical and social understanding.

International success

This change in direction resulted in a highly successful international tour to Kuala Lumpur in 2007, profiling indigenous, Pacific and contemporary dance. The Dance Studies Programme has promoted international performance opportunities for students. Dance Studies also engages with diverse communities, and work with local school children, children with special needs, elderly and youth at risk.

From strength to strength

The programme continues to grow and flourish, with the undergraduate degree becoming the:

  • Bachelor of Dance Studies
  • Bachelor of Dance Studies (Honours)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Dance Studies
  • Master of Dance Studies
  • Master of Community Dance
  • Master of Dance Movement Therapy
  • A world-leading Dual Masters programme with Beijing Dance Academy in China
  • Doctoral study

Find out more about our study options here.

Dance Studies students work with the Pegasus Unit

A unique partnership between the Pegasus Unit - a special education unit at Pakuranga College and the University of Auckland Dance Studies students. The Pegasus Unit students blossom, and both groups of students learn from each other as they work together through dance.