Programme overview

The Contemporary Dance major is the most established, full-time contemporary dance programme in New Zealand, and continues to develop a community of dance artists who contribute innovative choreography and performance excellence to the industry. Unitec's dance graduates are seen in all major productions throughout New Zealand.

With a comprehensive programme covering technique, choreography, dance studies and digital dance, you'll gain the knowledge, tools and abilities to pursue the range of opportunities available to you as a contemporary dance artist.

Highlights

  • A rewarding and challenging experience that introduces you to an exciting and varied professional career in dance. Whether you create your own live work or dance on stage or screen, you'll be joining an artistic community that includes many of our graduates.
  • A focus on live performance, including opportunities to both dance and choreograph. Daily studio practice under the guidance of experienced national and international industry practitioners.
  • A close relationship with the dance industry and community.
  • A chance to collaborate with other performing arts students; you'll share classes with actors, directors, writers, production design management and film and television students.

Technique and choreography for stage and screen

With the emphasis on practicality, you'll spend up to six hours a day in the studio, developing your craft in a range of dance techniques including contemporary, ballet, muscle and bone, pilates, yoga, choreography, partnering work and improvisation. You'll also develop skills in dance and multimedia through creating and performing in dance for film.

Performance

Live performance will be an integral part of your studies where you'll get to explore your technique and choreographic craft as an emerging practitioner. Taught by leading contemporary dance artists and choreographers, you'll develop numerous dance projects of your own. You'll choreograph and perform in dance works for theatre, events, festivals and film as well as gaining a hands-on understanding of funding and promotion activities. Technology plays a key role in our learning environment. You'll gain practical experience in sound and music design, video editing, costume, lighting, props and scenery.

Dance studies and critical practices

Throughout your studies, you'll develop an understanding of dance histories and associated theories in our unique culture of critical studies. Alongside your future industry peers, you'll explore in-depth theoretical and critical thought, integrating theory and professional practice in an exciting cross-discipline environment.

Auditions

Around 100 people apply each year for the 30 places offered in Year One. All auditions will be held over Labour Weekend. You'll be given clear information at the time of your application about how to prepare. From this workshop, the final selection of trainee dancers is made for the following year. 

For more information visit see Auditions and interviews.

Please note: If you're not sure that you're ready to audition for this highly competitive programme yet please look at the Certificate in Communication and Media Arts.

Admission requirements

To be eligible for admission, applicants must meet the general, or the discretionary, or the special admission requirements and they must also meet any programme-specific admission requirements. Applicants must also meet the English language requirements and may be interviewed.

Generic Admission Requirements

General Admission

Applicants must have:

  1. A minimum of 42 credits at NCEA Level 3 or higher on the National Qualifications Framework, with 14 credits at Level 3 or higher in each of two subjects from an approved subject list, with a further 14 credits at Level 3 or higher taken from no more than two additional domains on the National Qualifications Framework or approved subjects plus a minimum of 14 credits at Level 1 or higher in Mathematics or Pangarau on the National Qualifications Framework, plus a minimum of 8 credits at Level 2 or higher in English or Te Reo Maori; a minimum of 4 credits must be in Reading and a minimum of 4 credits must be in Writing; OR
  2. At least 3 ‘C’ passes in the New Zealand University Bursaries Examinations; OR
  3. Successful completion of the Unitec Certificate in Foundation Studies: Whitinga Level 3 with a relevant pathway, where appropriate;OR
  4. Certificate of University Preparation (Level 4); OR
  5. Certificate in Foundation Studies (Level 4); OR
  6. Equivalent

Special Admission

Applicants must have: 

  1. Attained the age of 20 years on or before the first day of the semester in which study for the degree is to commence; AND 
  2. Have provided sufficient evidence of aptitude or appropriate work or other life experience that would indicate a potential successful outcome in the qualification. 

Discretionary Admission

In exceptional cases an applicant who does not meet the general admission requirements and who has not reached the age of 20 on or before the first day of the semester in which study for the degree is to commence may apply for discretionary admission.

In assessing whether to grant discretionary admission in exceptional cases, the primary focus will be on the applicant’s level of preparedness for study at the required level.

English Language Admission Requirements

General English Language Requirements
Applicants must have achieved a minimum standard of English as demonstrated by a minimum of 8 credits at NCEA Level 2 in English (4 in Reading, 4 in Writing).

International Students for whom English is not their First Language
Applicants must have achieved one of the following:

  1. Completion of NZ Certificate in English Language (NZCEL), Academic, Level 4;
  2. An overall IELTS band score (Academic Format) of 6 with no band score lower than 5.5;
  3. An overall TOEFL pBT (Paper-based Test) score of 550 (plus essay TWE of 5) OR  an overall TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test ) score of 60 (plus writing score of 20);
  4. Level B2 under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR);
  5. First Certificate in English (FCE) with a pass at grade B OR Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) with a score of 52 or higher under the Cambridge International standard tests of English as a foreign language;
  6. Pearson Test of English (PToE) (Academic) with a score of 50;
  7. City & Guilds Internal English for Speakers of Other Languages (IESOL) B2 Communicator with a score of 66.

Existing English Language Proficiency
Applicants may also provide evidence of satisfying one of the criteria for existing English proficiency as specified by the NZQA. For more information please visit the NZQA website.

Programme Specific Admission Requirements

To be admitted to this programme, applicants must also meet the requirements set out in this schedule.

  1. Interviews, submissions and/or auditions will be required for all applicants. The interview/audition stage shall consist of a combination of demonstrations and exercises requiring the applicant to demonstrate his or her ability to carry out specific tasks individually and as part of a group. The exact nature of the tasks involved will be related to the major of the degree into which the student is seeking entry, and will be notified to applicants at least 14 working days prior to the interview/audition.
  2. A completed medical declaration must be submitted for all applicants. A student cannot be admitted to the Degree if they have a medical condition that will impact on their ability to participate in the physical and practical aspects of the selected major.

Discretionary Admission

Applicants may be granted Discretionary Admission if for they have, for example:

  • a history of experience and/or employment in a field related to performing or screen arts; OR
  • evidence of ability in a related programme of study.

Interview/audition

The interview/audition stage will consist of a combination of demonstrations and exercises requiring the applicant to demonstrate their ability to carry out specific tasks individually and as part of a group. The exact nature of the tasks involved will be related to the major of the degree into which the applicant is seeking entry, and will be notified to applicants at least 14 working days prior to the interview/audition.

Courses and timetables

The following courses are valid for 2015. The courses may be offered as part of the programme. Click on the course links below to see the course details and timetables.

CoursesCredits Restrictions
Dance Practice 1A (PASA5221) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable the student to understand the relationship between fundamental theoretical concerns and choreographic and performance practice. This course focuses on collaboration and establishing the fundamental habits and methodologies appropriate for contemporary dance choreography and performance.
Dance Practice 1B (PASA5224) 30 credits (0.25 EFTS)To enable the student to understand complex and multilayered aspects of the choreographic process and performance environment. This course focuses on establishing fundamental habits and methodologies appropriate to contemporary dance choreography and performance.
Contemporary Dance Techniques 1A (PASA5225) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To introduce students to the fundamental theories, concepts and techniques of contemporary dance practice. The course focuses on building capability for dancers in a range of dance techniques and to build habits and attitudes required for the profession.
Contemporary Dance Techniques 1B (PASA5228) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to apply the fundamental theories, concepts and techniques of contemporary dance practice. The course focuses on continuing to build capability for dancers in a range of dance techniques and to build habits and attitudes required for the profession.
Storytelling, Myth & Ritual (PASA5901) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to develop a broad understanding of the major concepts of storytelling in terms of mythic constructs, rituals and symbols in an interactive multi-disciplinary learning environment. This course provides a foundation for the development of specialist Performing and Screen Arts literacies such as reading media texts and interpreting creative ideas among students from all disciplines of the programme. There is also a focus on the whakapapa of storytelling in Aotearoa placed within a noho marae learning environment.
Professional Development 1 (PASA5902) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To introduce students to the basic professional practices associated with the performing and screen arts industries and their own professional development. This course focuses on building capability for students in self-management, communication and presentation, as well as academic literacies such as text analysis and academic writing.
History of Dance (PASA5921) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to examine, reflect and discuss the historical development of dance languages and theories in order to situate themselves in a wider dance context. This course focuses on placing selected movements and developments of production and performance in the context of the student’s specialist discipline. There is a focus on experiencing professional art making in the community through field trips and site visits.
CoursesCredits Restrictions
Dance Practice 2A (PASA6221) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to gain a specific understanding and the confidence to experiment within the various strands of the choreographic/performance spectrum. This course focuses on enabling the student to gain an understanding of the whakapapa of New Zealand contemporary dance.
Dance Practice 2B (PASA6222) 30 credits (0.25 EFTS)To enable the student to integrate complex and multilayered aspects of the choreographic process and performance environment. This course focuses on consolidating fundamental habits and methodologies appropriate to contemporary dance choreography and performance. Students will also continue to gain an understanding of the whakapapa of New Zealand contemporary dance.
Contemporary Dance Techniques 2A (PASA6225) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to integrate somatic practice and intermediate theories, concepts and techniques as foundation of contemporary dance practice. The course focuses on the further development of specialist skills and the evolution of a personal methodology that will give expression to individual creative development and practice.
Contemporary Dance Techniques 2B (PASA6226) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to integrate intermediate somatic practice and dance techniques as foundation of contemporary dance practice. The course focuses on the further development of specialist skills and the application of individual creative development and practice.
Audience, Context & Interpretation (PASA6901) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to examine the ways in which the creator/performer communicates with their audience in an interactive multi-disciplinary learning environment which includes an artist hui at Te Noho Kotahitanga marae. This course focuses on understanding through the analysis of the modes of address and conventions of representation and interpretation commonly associated with performing and screen arts culture.
Professional Development 2 (PASA6902) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to utilise a range of tools that will enhance their ability to operate independently as professionals in their own area of specialisation. The course focuses on establish a personal approach for each student to the ethics of work and associated discipline specific professional practices.
CoursesCredits Restrictions
Dance Practice 3A (PASA7223) 30 credits (0.25 EFTS)To enable students to confidently and critically participate in a variety of creative processes, choreographic collaborations and teaching scenarios; while developing the students’ ability to apply critical judgement to creative decisions. This course employs a noho marae to allow students to evaluate and develop responses to cultural/political perspectives as an emergent creative arts practitioner.
Dance Practice 3B (PASA7224) 45 credits (0.375 EFTS)To enable students to gain the confidence to create, critically examine and realise a personal practice, specific choreographic projects and dance performance. This course focuses on enabling students to demonstrate how these concepts contribute to their personal voice as a creative artist/practitioner.
Contemporary Dance Techniques 3 (PASA7225) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to articulate a personal methodology for technique and training while consolidating a body of advanced theories, concepts and techniques relating to contemporary dance practice.
Professional Development 3 (PASA7902) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to transition into the industry by acquiring advanced professional development skills. This course focuses on setting personal and professional goals for academic and professional achievement as well as the business and management practices associated with the performing and screen arts profession.
CoursesCredits Restrictions
Documentary Research and History (PASA7391) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To critically examine creative preparation research techniques and the history of documentary filmmaking. This course focuses on the development of material for a future documentary project.