Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

Prof. Michael Posnick Pens an Article on Manhattanville College’s Senior Thesis Project

Dance & Theatre Senior ThesisPhoto Courtesy of Laura Dicker '14.

As a final farewell to Manhattanville College, Prof. Michael Posnick will have an essay he wrote published in the summer issue of the Council on Undergraduate Research Magazine, outlining the significance of the Dance and Theatre Department’s thesis project.

The article gives an inside look of what makes the thesis project functional, discussing its challenges, learning objectives, and methods of assessment. Posnick co-designed the project in the mid-1990s after he was first hired to lead the department.

“It occurred to me that this senior thesis project is the most important thing these students will do, and should be structured to culminate all four years,” he said.

With this in mind he and other faculty members began, to redefine the entire department around the idea of culmination, ensemble, peer editing and feedback.

The project begins during the first year as the students collectively work on their Freshman Project, an ensemble performance aimed to showcase an array of dance and theatre techniques taught in the Creative Process class. Then they reconfigure as juniors and begin working on smaller projects that will resemble their senior theses, after branching off into different academic directions during their sophomore year.

In the fall of their senior year students write a 25-page research paper on their thesis topic, coupled with a class every Wednesday morning with Posnick where they discuss their progress and ideas.

After being designed, developed, written (if the student is an acting major), or choreographed (if the student is a dance major), the student’s final 20-minute presentation is performed in the spring for the entire College. The cast is typically made up of undergraduate theatre and dance majors, creating what Posnick calls an “ensemble mix.”

“It’s great,” Posnick laughed, “it’s the best thing I could imagine for this kind of school. It’s a liberal arts event, with the creation coming out of the research, and the focus on process."

When asked if the retirement from Manhattanville will result in some much needed rest Posnick declines, “No, no I’m not good at relaxing. I’ll be doing work in (New York City)"

As his final semester at the College draws to a close Posnick remains positive and thanks the entire staff for the contributions to the making the thesis project possible “It’s been a tremendous success” he says, “and we’ve done it all together.”