Dance scholar, choreographer and administrator Peter Carpenter named chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance


June 22, 2023
Peter Carpenter has been named chair of the UT Department of Theatre and Dance.
Peter Carpenter has been named chair of the UT Department of Theatre and Dance. 

The College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin has named choreographer, scholar and administrator Peter Carpenter as chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, effective July 1. Carpenter joins the department from his most recent role as director of the School of Theatre and Dance at the University of Florida's College of the Arts. He will hold the Z.T. Scott Family Chair in Drama.

“I deeply admire Peter Carpenter’s work, both as an administrator and as an artist scholar,” said Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, dean of the College of Fine Arts. “His work emerges from deep research efforts and substantial community engagement. He’s showcased his dances across a range of platforms—from regional theatre to experimental dance venues and film festivals. His choreography balances intellectual rigor with creative playfulness to achieve truly remarkable works of beauty and insight.”

Carpenter has been active as a choreographer since 1992, and during that time he has honed a distinctive approach to blending complex dance vocabularies with politically charged text and meta-theatrical conventions. His work as a choreographer for theatre include engagements with Steppenwolf Arts Exchange, The Goodman, Strawdog, National Pastime, Roadworks, 29th Street Repertory and Street Signs. He choreographed and co-produced the 2012 short film Fanfare for Marching Band, directed by Danièle Wilmouth and featuring music by the band Mucca Pazza, which enjoyed international screenings. 

“I could not be more excited to join the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin,” Carpenter said. “The combined breadth and depth of faculty expertise, commitment to innovation in pedagogy and research and the prolific generation of new ideas through performance practice and scholarship makes me eager to join as chair of the department. I was grateful to meet such wonderful future colleagues and students during my interview, and I look forward to stepping into the position.”

Carpenter received robust support for new commissions by Lucky Plush Productions (Chicago), The Dance Distribution Project (Memphis, Tennessee), The Ashland Art Museum (Chapel Hill, North Carolina), Robin Lakes/ROUGHDANCE (Chicago), Project|Motion (Memphis) and SPDW Dance Theatre (Chicago). He’s received grants to create new works, including the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, the Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Grant, Chicago Artists Assistance Program Grant and DCASE Individual Artist Grant. He’s also received a Joseph Jefferson Citation, a Ruth Page Award and two nominations for the Alpert Award in Dance. 

He regularly teaches as a guest artist in college dance and theatre programs including DuPaul University, Ferris State University, Georgetown, Illinois Wesleyan College, Northwestern, Ohio State University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Alaska–Anchorage and Fairbanks, University of California–Los Angeles, University of Colorado–Boulder, University of Iowa, University of Memphis, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and University of Southern Mississippi.

As an educator, Carpenter finds opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange across lines of artistry and scholarship. In his most recent leadership role as director of the School of Theatre and Dance at the University of Florida's College of the Arts, he oversaw significant curriculum revisions and developed a number of producing and educational relationships, including partnerships with New York Live Arts, Pinck Productions and Saudade Theatre. He was previously on the Dance faculty of Columbia College Chicago, where he also served as president of the Faculty Senate (2013–2015) chair of Dance (2015–2018) and interim chair of Theatre (2016–2019).

He holds a B.S. in Theatre from Northwestern University and an M.F.A. in Dance and a Ph.D. in Culture and Performance from the University of California Los Angeles.


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