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Dance Studies

fizzee dance students

Where the Dance Arts Meet Science

Dance studies is a branch of the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences and affiliated with Professional Studies major. We also have strong ties to the Bachelor of Performing Arts degree. The program provides exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary dance studies that involve other disciples such as: theatre, music, environment, anthropology, sociology, health, neuroscience, Māori/ Indigenous Studies, politics, theatre, technology and film. Students get a chance to engage in performance, interact with community, attend national dance festivals and conferences; there are also teaching internships and study abroad opportunities, and more.

The Dance Studies team strive for a seamless integration of dance practice, theory, and performance in course offerings. Their research expertise includes the ongoing New Zealand and Pacific Island dance histories in addition to global dance settings such as India, United States, Greece to West Africa.

Home to the prestigious Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance and a host for international dance conferences, the program provides opportunities for student research, and professional development in movement science, dance teaching, and performance.


The School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences currently employ two full-time lecturers and a number of tutors in the area of Dance Studies. Our lecturers cover a wide range of teaching and research interests and are experienced dance practitioners and/or choreographers. All our lecturers have extensive international experience in dance.


The University of Otago is the only academic institution in New Zealand at which students can study dance as a major focus within both Arts and Science degrees, and which offers a specialised Master of Dance Studies (MDanceSt).

Undergraduate Study

No new enrolments will be accepted in the Dance Studies minor from 2018.

Dance Studies can be studied in depth as a component of a Bachelor of Physical Education (BPhEd) or a number of other degrees. While there is currently no Dance Studies Major, students may graduate with a Minor in Dance Studies. Naturally, we enjoy close links with the Performing Arts department, and Dance Studies is a core component of the Bachelor of Performing Arts Studies Major. Our courses are also frequented by students from a range of other disciplines, such as Gender Studies, Education, Maori Studies, Anthropology and Sciences.

Postgraduate Study

For more in-depth research after a first degree, we offer a Master of Dance Studies degree. The MDanceSt involves a full one-year course which encompasses both coursework and individual research. The core of the degree is the Masters research report, a supervised thesis. The degree can be taken full-time or part-time.

It is also possible to write a doctoral thesis (PhD) on a topic within the field of Dance Studies. It normally takes around 3 years of full-time study to complete a thesis, or a maximum of 8 years for a part-time student.

Community Dance Classes

The Dance Studies Programme offers a range of dance classes Taught by our Dance Lecturers, qualified associated teachers and Dance Lab. Our classes, based at the University of Otago campus in Dunedin, are open to adults aged 16 and over. There is no maximum age limit, subject to adequate levels of fitness. Walk-ins are welcome. All our classes take place in our dance studio on 665 Cumberland Street (opposite Smithell’s Gymnasium, near Otago Museum); ground floor.

Prices are per class. Cash only.
Dance Studies Open/Community classes 2015
Cost from $5-$10 Students with ID
Location: 665 Cumberland School of Physical Education, Main dance studio
Casual attendance or Drop-ins are welcomed

Click through to class schedule

Caroline Plummer Fellowship

Each year the University awards a Caroline Plummer fellowship in dance.
It is offered to promote, encourage and enable community dance practice through research, teaching and community service.

Previous recipients

2016 Val Smith (NZ) Mapping queer experiences of public spaces
2015 Uzoamaka Nwankpa (Nigeria/USA) Addressing Prenatal and Post-partum mood disorders with Dance
2014 Louise Potiki Bryant (Kai Tahu) Revitalising Maori Performing Arts
See all

Further information