Undergraduate Overview

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's (SAIC) Performance department is one of the only undergraduate contemporary performance departments in the country. The Performance department at SAIC is known nationally and internationally as a center for engagement, research, and experimentation of body-focused performance art practice in an art-and-design school context.

Undergraduate Application Deadline: February 1

Learn more about how to apply or start your application

We put a strong emphasis on contemporary with practices and theories including:

  • Live actions
  • Interactive digital technologies
  • Movement research
  • Tactical and site performance
  • Performance installation
  • Abandoned practices
  • Re-enactment/Reperformance
  • Archiving the document
  • Performance writing

The Performance program's distinguished and professionally active faculty represent a broad range of experimental performance approaches ranging from solo performance and material actions to activist participatory theatre, gender performance, experimental movement performance, performance lectures, re-enactment, networked virtual performance/mixed reality, and curating.

Possible Performance Paths

As contemporary practice moves fluidly across materials and methods, many courses at SAIC address the intersection between sculptural, performative, interactive, immersive, screen/camera/code, and material disciplines and explore their shared methods, materials, and critical/theoretical discourse.

Undergraduate students are encouraged to consider their art-making process as a interdisciplinary practice that can range across various departments including, but not limited to, Fiber and Material Studies; Sculpture; Performance; Fashion Design; Art and Technology Studies; Film, Video, New Media, and Animation; and Ceramics. Students are encouraged to confer with faculty to map a course of interdisciplinary study that reflects the latest developments in contemporary practices in these fields.

Below are some pathway suggestions to consider:

  • Body/Performance: Intro to Performance; The Performing Body; Performing Next Feminisms; Movement Research/Improvisation; Bodies in Motion; Durations: Long, Medium, Short; and Movement/Presence: Body as Site
  • Object Performance: Material Actions, Puppetry, and Performance and Event Production
  • Media Performance: Performance Media; Mixed Reality Performance; Performance and Video; Live Presence/Virtual Spaces; Performing for the Camera; and Fusions: Film, Video, Performance
  • Installation/Site-specific Performance: Site Practice; Tactical Performance; Event Production; and Performance Installation
  • Collaborative Performance: Systems, structures: Methods of creation; Make it Strange; Collaboration/Directing for Performance; Group Work; and Between Theatre and Performance.
  • Critical/Activist Social and Political Performance: Extreme bodies in Performance; Border Crossing; Performing Next Feminisms; and Tactical Performance
  • Performance Writing: Body/Text: Performative Writing; Scripting/Acting for Performance; and Narrative in Performance
  • Re-enactment/Reperformance: Parastic Practices; Performing the Document; Performing Fictions; and Performance Documentation