The transition of performing artists into academia has become an increasingly popular yet fraught migration, as higher learning inÂ artistic disciplines increasingly requires teachers with an applied practical knowledge, a capacity to undertake research, and toÂ articulate the value of performing arts knowledge within scholarlyÂ discourse (Elkins, 2009). Transitioning dancers can be expected toÂ sort through their embodied knowledge and transferable skill-sets in order to maintain a sense of identity and autonomy within the new academic terrain (Molloy, 2013). At the same time they are required to adopt new dispositions of enquiry and approaches to knowledge production in order to thrive within the new environment of the tertiary education sector. So how might postgraduate coursework be designed to support experienced practitioners across such an academic borderland, and into the formal research culture of higher education? When we consider how enriched higher education might become through the successfulÂ immigration of experienced professional practitioners, such postgraduate course design becomes a salient educational issue.
Our own journeys across this borderland have subsequentlyÂ informed our co-design and implementation of Dance 724, aÂ postgraduate course in qualitative research methods and academic writing that prepares students for independent research projectsÂ within honours, masters and doctoral degrees in dance studies. InÂ this article we write reflectively on how Threshold Concept TheoryÂ (TCT) has guided our curricula design and pedagogic practices inÂ this lynchpin paper. We also discuss six key thresholds that canÂ restrain dance practitioners as they enter academia. While theÂ Â focus here is on dance practitioners entering postgraduate danceÂ studies, we suggest that the transition across an academicÂ borderland for professional practitioners from diverse disciplinesÂ may be supported by a threshold concepts approach toÂ postgraduate curricula design.
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