A New Chapter - MFA

I'M GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!
Hollins University, Masters of Fine Arts in Dance
Expected Graduation: Summer 2019

Embarking on this path towards a terminal degree has been a long, carefully considered decision several years in the making. After twelve years in the dance field forging my path in the arts, I have reached a moment in which I both want and need this degree for professional advancement as well as to feed my personal creative practice.

Throughout my research of many different types of graduate schools, signs kept pointing me toward Hollins University's Low-Residency Program. This means I will spend the next two summers at school (part in VA and part in Germany), spend a week retreat in NYC next January, and be working remotely with an advisor during the fall and spring semesters. The structure of this program allows me to continue my professional work in Austin with ARCOS and the University of Texas at Austin while earning my masters.

I recently went through a lengthy selection and interview process for one of three full-time positions at UT Austin, making it to the top 7 candidates out of 140 applicants. Being among the incredibly talented and accomplished professionals also up for the position was humbling and affirming that education is a deep calling of mine. I am thrilled to say that I am being offered a full-time position starting this fall! This is the first time my artistic goals and financial stability have had so much overlap, and I am lucky that my work in the department speaks louder than my credentials at this point, allowing to make it so far in the search. Earning this M.F.A. grants me so much more leverage in the negotiating of this position, and will be absolutely necessary should I look to move upward or explore other universities. 

Creatively, I am beyond eager to invigorate my skills and examine the rich work I already do, in addition to evolving as an artist. Inherently, so much of what I create and how I engage others as an artist and educator carries significant cultural and socio-political impact because of who I am, how I engage with the world, and what I am interested in as a human. What I lack at this point are the words to be able to adequately quantify and qualify that impact in order to fully represent my work to others (particularly, to those who can give me greater access to resources such as the higher education system, grant panels, and presenters.) I am excited by the challenge of a rigorous research, reading, and writing practice that will equip me to identify and articulate the deeper levels of what I create and how it affects the communities in which it is received. 

The reality remains ..... low-residency programs are expensive! The luxury of time and space flexibility comes at the cost of the traditional TA-ships or fully-funded graduate positions attached to a standard graduate school. After so, so much consideration, Eliot and I decided the cost of this program is still less expensive then relocating and suspending everything we've been building here in Austin!

I know so many of you have proven your endless support in so many ways over the years, and I am acutely aware that I would not be considering this huge step without your influence. I am profoundly grateful for the ways you have invested in me - personally and professionally - and am ready to invest in my future with this degree. 

Below is a breakdown of what I can expect over the next year. Based on the considerable support I received from Hollins I feel it is within reach -- but I need your help. Any amount will alleviate the financial pressure so I can focus on getting as much out the program as I possibly can. Consider this a crowd-funding campaign for my biggest, bravest artistic endeavor yet -- MYSELF!

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In addition to taking out a manageable student loan, I have been awarded the following support from Hollins University:

Professional Life Credit Tuition Waiver
Artistic Fellowship
Alumni Referral Award
Travel Voucher (for European Flights)

Remaining Tuition out of pocket: approx. $12,000

Travel Expenses ($4,770)
To/From Roanoke, VA x2 (approx. $550 x 2 = $1100)
Housing in Roanoke, VA x 2 (approx. $1000 x 2 = $2000)
European Travel Package via Hollins (a GREAT deal!) x2
($1,085 - $450 voucher = $635 x 2 =  $1270)
To/From NYC x 1 and housing (approx. $300  + friend's couches!) 

Other Expenses ($1,495)
Advising Fee
Technology Fee
Health Services
Parking
CISI Insurance (for European Travel)
Portfolio Fee  
Dance Thesis Fee
Graduation Fee

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Here are the courses I'll be diving into over the next year!

SUMMER I — JUNE-AUGUST, 2018
LOCATION: HOLLINS/FRANKFURT
Hollins University Session One
Mentored Studio Practice 
History, Theory, and Criticism 
Graduate Seminar 
Contemporary Body Practices 
Digital Media Tutorials 
Contemporary Art Practices I,  [Dance Writing]
Special Topics: Intermedia Arts 
Contemporary Body Practices 

Frankfurt Session Two (three weeks)
Mentored Studio Practice 
History, Theory, and Criticism 
Graduate Seminar 
Contemporary Body Practices 

FALL — SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER, 2018
Portfolio Development 
Off-site directed study/review

JANUARY TERM, 2019
One-week retreat in NYC
Contemporary Body Practices II w/Irene Dowd 

SPRING — FEBRUARY-MAY, 2019
Portfolio Development 
Off-site directed study/review

SUMMER II — JUNE-AUGUST, 2019
LOCATION: HOLLINS/FRANKFURT
Hollins University Session One (five weeks)
Individualized Studio Practice 
History, Theory, and Criticism 
Graduate Seminar 
Graduate Performance Workshop and Critique 
Thesis Forms I 
Thesis Forms II 
Portfolio
Contemporary Art Practices I, [Poetry]
Contemporary Art Practices II, [Narrative Writing]

Frankfurt Session Two (three weeks)
Individualized Studio Practice 
History, Theory, and Criticism
Graduate Performance Workshop and Critique 
Graduate Seminar

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Organizer

Erica Gionfriddo 
Organizer
Austin, TX
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