Program Overview

Who are the instructors?
The Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance works with a core group of instructors who hold year-round academic positions at Wesleyan and other universities. The program also collaborates with guest instructors as well as advisors for independent projects and theses who have specialized knowledge in theoretical and professional aspects of the field, including curators, artists, writers, dramaturges, scholars, and presenters. By creating a platform for diverse and sustained exchanges between instructors, advisors, and students, the program is designed to develop a robust network of professionals who are invested in the study and 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 through the work of numerous artists, curators and cultural leaders across the fields of dance, performance art, theater, and music.

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 
ICPP offers a 2-year low-residency Master of Arts in Performance Curation. The first program of its kind, ICPP features:

  • The opportunity to pursue a MA's degree simultaneously with other professional responsibilities
  • An individualized learning environment with small-sized classes
  • 3 residencies on Wesleyan's campus 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 and professional development, as well as those who require an advanced graduate degree to be considered for higher-level positions in the field.

The ICPP MA curriculum examines performance curation across theoretical and practical models, including courses on a range of curatorial practices, social and cultural contexts, entrepreneurial strategies, off-site residencies and semester-long practicums, graduate-level writing and research methods, and thesis advising. See below for course descriptions.

Class Schedule — On Campus Intensives
ICPP is a 2-year low-residency program. During each year, students need to attend 3 campus intensives at Wesleyan University: a 17-day residency in July, as well as two 4-day weekend intensives in the Fall and Spring. Students are expected to continue working on the different course readings, assignments, and practicums between the intensives.

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 proposal 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 proposal for the project, engaging in historical and theoretical research in order to position the project 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 proposals, 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 public presentation to the ICPP and Wesleyan community.

Entrepreneurial Strategies 
This course introduces students to a variety of creative strategies, practices, and resources that curators can draw on to successfully build artistic projects from the idea phase through implementation, assessment, and next steps. To do this work, students study a host of materials related to arts policy, entrepreneurship, curatorial practice while also meeting with key artists and professionals. Students learn to strategically build programming that leverage resources, while addressing the needs of partners, audiences, and other key stakeholders.

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 art and performance from the late 19th century to the present. Performance in a variety of forms is examined in relation to social and cultural histories 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 development of performance and interdisciplinary artistic practices in a global context from the 1950s to the present. The instructors emphasize their particular areas of expertise (be it music, poetry, or visual arts), while adopting a transdisciplinary and transnational approach to the material. Past readings for SCCI&II include works by Roger Shattuck, Rose Lee Goldberg, Dada, Futurist, and Surrealist Manifestos, Peggy Phelan, Jaques Lacan, Victor Turner, Julia Kristeva, Theodor Adorno, Louis Althusser, Gutai, The Situationist International, Allan Kaprow, George Maciunas, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Adrian Piper, Lucy Lippard, Trinh T. Minh-Ha, and Jane Blocker.

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 
With supervision, students engage in one residency during each year of the program with an outside arts organization or individual artist. These residency sessions provide students with opportunities to apply critical and creative knowledge to practical curatorial situations. Field Practicums reinforce students’ understanding of the material taught at Wesleyan and increase their professional exposure in the field. Students explore and develop their own research and professional interests as the Practicum allows working initiatives across a range of areas and types of organizations, which may draw on students’ previous experiences or open new possibilities.

Thesis Tutorial I & II
The thesis is the culmination of work toward the Master's degree and consists of a scholarly inquiry into a specific artistic practice or cultural phenomena. With supervision, each student explores and develops their own research and professional concerns in dialogue with existing examples of critical and creative practices in the performance and curatorial fields. The written document provides an in-depth analysis of a research question through a clear methodological and theoretical lens. For the thesis, students work with individual advisors carefully selected across the field according to their academic expertise and professional experience. The Thesis Tutorial course is designed to offer a range of resources and assignments throughout the second year of the program, so that students can be successful in the conception and realization of the thesis.

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. 


Sample MA1 and MA2 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, international students will select a site for each Field Study. This study is a module of the Field Practicum 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.


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.

Image above: Kaneza Schaal in Entrepreneurial Strategies, 2017