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Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts (Contemporary Dance)

Learn to choreograph and perform at a professional level by becoming part of the largest full-time dance programme specialising in contemporary dance in New Zealand. You will participate in  diverse performances including solo and group work, and work commissioned works by guest choreographers.

360 (3.0 EFTS)
Mt Albert
Start dates
Full-time for three years

Programme overview

Unitec dance is still accepting applicants for full time study in 2023; contact us directly to arrange an online or live audition or

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 teaching pedagogies, you'll gain the knowledge, tools and abilities to pursue the range of opportunities available to you as a contemporary dance artist.


  • 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 industry practitioners with local, national, and international experience.
  • A close relationship with the New Zealand 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.


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 learn to develop dance projects of your own. You'll choreograph and perform for theatre, events, festivals and film as well as gaining a hands-on understanding of funding and promotion activities. Technology also plays a key role in our learning environment. You'll gain practical experience in lighting, sound, and music design, video editing, costume, props and scenery.

Dance studies, contextual 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.


Around 100 people apply each year for up to 30 places offered in Year One. All auditions will be held over dates in mid to late October 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.

Find out more about upcoming auditions and interviews

Admission requirements

For this programme, you will need the following:

1. 42 credits at NCEA Level 3 or higher including:

  • 14 credits in two different approved subjects; and
  • 14 credits from up to two subjects (approved or non-approved)

2. 8 credits at NCEA Level 2 or higher in English or Te Reo Maori (4 in reading, 4 in writing)
3. 14 credits in NCEA Level 1 or higher in Mathematics or Pangarau
4. Interviews, submissions and/or auditions will be required - we'll notify you of what is required
5. Complete a medical declaration form

6. Candidates who have English as a second language are required to have one or more of the following:

  • Have achieved NCEA Level 3 and New Zealand University entrance
  • Be able to provide evidence you satisfy our criteria for existing English proficiency
  • Have achieved at least one English proficiency outcome in the last two years

Don't have NCEA? We also accept:

  • A relevant qualification at Level 3 on the NZQF or above or an equivalent qualification; or
  • Provide sufficient evidence to be eligible for special or discretionary admission.

For more information download the programme regulations:

Programme Regulations

Courses and timetables

For more details on the courses including timetables, please click on the course names below.

Courses Credits Aim
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.
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.
Contextual Studies 1 (PASA5903) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) Students will develop a broad understanding of the history, contexts, language and relevant theoretical frameworks of performing arts and screen arts. Students will acquire skills in critical and analytical literacy through engaging in research and project work focused on performing and screen arts practices in Aotearoa and beyond.
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.
Courses Credits Aim
Professional Development 2 (PASA6902) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to utilise a range of concepts and skills, including business and professional practices, that will enhance their ability to operate independently in the creative industries.
Contextual Studies 2 (PASA6903) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) Students examine the relationship between authors and audiences in Aotearoa and beyond within the context of performing and screen arts history and culture. Students will investigate different modes of practice and conventions of representation and interpretation commonly associated with performing and screen arts.
Courses Credits Aim
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.
Courses Credits Aim
Skills in Screen Directing 2A (PASA6253) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To introduce students to specialised theories, concepts and techniques for directing. This course focuses on enabling students to practically engage with skills in directing for screen media.
Skills in Screen Directing 2B (PASA6254) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to extend specific skills, knowledge and practices for screen directing needed to achieve standards that enhance creative decisions.
Negotiated Creative Project 1 (PASA6605) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to engage practically in a theatre and/or screen production project in a negotiated role using a variety of individual and collaborative approaches. This course provides a practical environment for students to engage in collaborative creative projects from their own specialist perspective.
Courses Credits Aim
Writing the Short Film (PASA7257) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To acquire the theoretical, creative and technical skills required to develop short scripts for the screen (or associated medium).

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