If winter weather has you California dreamin’, you may want to consider this new educational dance offering from the San Francisco Bay Area: Saint Mary’s College of California has just announced a shiny new dance MFA program. Designed with the working dance professional in mind, the graduate program offers two degrees: a master of fine arts in dance in creative practice and a master of fine arts in dance for design and production.

While many schools have theater design and production programs, Saint Mary’s will offer the first dance-specific concentration in the country. “Designers and technicians for dance have mainly been self-taught until now,” said Linda Baumgardner, director of the design and production program, in a statement. Students who choose this course of study learn set design, costuming, lighting, stage management and more, all based on setting the scene for choreographed bodies in motion.

The other degree program, for dance in creative practice, offers multidisciplinary studies in choreography, technique, somatics, pedagogy and theory, as well as technical aspects of production and scenic and lighting design. For those pursuing performance (or other) careers, this track offers a low-residency option, where students take the majority of their courses during June and January. CatherineMarie Davalos, who directs the creative practice area of study, says she hopes this program “will be of interest to dance teachers in the Bay Area and to professional dancers across the country.”

The inaugural MFA in dance class will begin studying in June 2014. The early application deadline is January 2. For more information, e-mail mfadance@stmarys-ca.edu, or contact Graduate Programs in Dance coordinator Jennifer Smith at jls12@stmarys-ca.edu or (925) 631-8183.

Photos: Saint Mary's Dance Company in A Movable Feast; Rapt Productions, Saint Mary's College

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