WACD was born from the 1995 merger of UCLA's interdepartmental program in World Arts and Cultures and the Dance Department, with the addition in 2001 of resources, faculty, and staff from the interdepartmental program in Folklore.

Now, the faculty of UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance (WACD) is comprised of scholars and artists dedicated to developing interdisciplinary, cross-cultural modes of investigation to address complex social, political, cultural and artistic questions inherent in the contemporary world. By engaging deeply in multiple artistic and scholarly disciplines, methods, genres and areas of expertise, our faculty forges curricula out of thematic connections that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries.

The B.A. degree in WAC encompasses research on culture and representation as key perspectives for understanding creativity in local and global arenas, engagement in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary study through commitment to a range of practices including ethnography, activisms, visual and related expressive arts, documentary and short films, museum and curatorial studies, performance, and other creative perspectives and methods.

The B.A. degree in Dance focuses on research in dance, offering opportunities to engage in multiple dance practices, civic engagement and choreographic inquiry. The emphasis is on classes that develop a daily dance practice that includes mastery of more than one dance form, a strong composition series that allows students to explore dance-making as they develop their own voices as art makers, and critical dance studies enlivening the place of dancing and dance making within global and local, as well as political contexts.

While operating with considerable independence, our degree streams are unified by our common concern for aesthetic production, corporeality and performance, the dynamics of "tradition," and "culture-building" in contemporary societies. We forge connections between critical theory and artistic practice, and we attend to the changing social roles and responsibilities of artists and scholars of the arts in the United States and worldwide. Undergraduates and graduates have excelled in fields including technology and the arts, videography, documentary, public service, education, theatrical/event production, performing arts, urban planning, law, environmental activism, public health and medicine. They have made careers as independent artists, in community non-profits and activist groups, government arts agencies, museums, K-12 schools, and arts foundations. Potential careers for Culture and Performance M.A./Ph.D. and Choreographic Inquiry M.F.A. graduates also include positions in research universities and colleges, and M.F.A. graduates are active as choreographers/performers in their own companies and/or with other professional organizations.

Working within this acutely interdisciplinary environment, the department's vision is to blend explorations in the library, the field, and the studio, to find unity through a shared engagement with problems of cultural and aesthetic diversity. All areas of our department promote interdisciplinary exploration and students are encouraged to combine rigorous scholarship, creative practice, and experiential learning.


  • 1962

    UCLA's Department of Dance is founded under the leadership of Alma Hawkins. It is the first time Dance is recognized as an academic discipline housed within a College of the Arts (now School of the Arts and Architecture). (Others are located in Physical Education departments.) Over its 33-year history, the department plays a pioneering role in establishing dance as a field of study in the university setting, and develops a uniquely interdisciplinary approach to dance studies, including offerings in Modern Dance Choreography/Performance, Dance Education, Dance Ethnology, Dance History and Dance/Movement Therapy with dance degrees at the B.A., M.A., M.F.A., and M.A. in Dance/Movement Therapy levels.

  • 1965

    The Interdepartmental Program in Folklore and Mythology originates as an interdepartmental graduate program in UCLA's College of Letters and Science, providing an M.A. in Folklore and Mythology.

  • 1972

    Professor Hawkins and faculty from six disciplines convene to establish the World Arts and Cultures Interdepartmental Program (WAC; originally named Ethnic Arts). WAC develops an interdisciplinary B.A. with faculty members from Anthropology, Art History, Dance, Folklore and Mythology, Music, and Theater. Flourishing for over two decades, WAC emphasizes the development of interdisciplinary, intercultural perspectives on the arts, grounded in independent research and field study.

  • 1978

    The Folklore and Mythology Interdepartmental Program offers a new Ph.D. degree in Folklore and Mythology.

  • 1993

    The faculties of World Arts and Cultures and the Dance Department start discussions to organize a new department around a unique configuration of creative, conceptual, and educational goals. The faculty of both units (Dance and WAC) recognize the deepening crisis that the arts face in this country. They propose to develop a stronger, more viable academic unit that would produce a new generation of artists, arts scholars, and cultural leaders.

  • 1995

    The Department of World Arts and Cultures is created from the merger of Dance and WAC. Our unique interdisciplinary character stems from this dual institutional heritage. The B.A. degree in World Arts and Cultures settles into a "dance concentration" and a "world arts and cultures concentration," and also offered an M.F.A. degree in Dance/Choreography.

  • 2000

    After four years of planning, the Ph.D. and M.A. programs in Culture and Performance (CAP) are approved by the University of California Office of the President. The department has since discontinued its M.A. in Dance and M.A. in Dance/Movement Therapy degree programs.

  • 2001

    The faculty, staff, and other resources of the Interdepartmental Program in Folklore and Mythology are transferred to WAC, becoming a significant component of the department. Folklore remains a touchstone in our current undergraduate and graduate programs.

  • 2010

    After three years of deliberation that included input from faculty and students, the faculty propose and receive approval of changing its department's name to Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance. This name change becomes effective Fall of 2011, establishing a stronger and clearer representation of the scope and strengths of our two subunits – the study of arts and cultures, and the study of dance.

  • 2011

    The faculty proposes and receives approval of the return of a B.A. in Dance, along with a revised B.A. in World Arts and Cultures. Both better reflect the evolution of the two programs at the undergraduate level. These undergraduate programs become effective Fall 2012.

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