The Dance Department offers students ways to investigate embodied knowledge and to develop multiple perspectives by studying individuals and communities. Our courses support close study of physical practices, histories, cultural context and musical understanding and interpretation. Through techniques, research, and creative inquiry, students deepen capacity for interdisciplinary discovery.
The department curriculum offers complementary study in the disciplines of Theater, Visual Art, Africana Studies, American Studies, Asian-American Studies, Global Studies, Gender Studies, Music, and Performance Studies. Dance technique courses include ballet, modern, and African Dance.
Currently students seeking to anchor their academic and creative study in dance may pursue the Contract Major option. Designated courses are offered for full academic and/or PE credit; you must register for PE courses through the Physical Education department.
All students are welcome to audition for membership in the Department’s performing companies which include: CoDa, whose members train in and perform works created in the vocabularies of modern dance and ballet; Kusika, an African Dance and percussion ensemble which accepts members as dancers, musicians, and storytellers; Sankofa, the college’s step team, whose members present this percussive dance form with both respect to tradition and an energetic exploration of new ideas; and the Zambezi Marimba Band, which performs music from Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as from around the world. Membership is also possible through invitation by the company directors. Company members study with faculty, guest artists and peers. Student choreographers are also supported.
Dance Department and Gotham Professional Arts Academy course collaboration: DANCING IN THE STREETS
Gotham Professional Arts Academy is an institution committed to introducing students of New York City to the splendor and questions presented by the arts in our nation and world. Their students major in visual arts, theatre arts, and art criticism, and they graduate by way of thesis defense. Gotham students are scholars, artists, and activists ready to make change.
The summers of 2020 and 1964 are linked as critical years in the struggle for social justice and the 1964 classic Motown hit Dancing in the Streets was heard on radios and record players urging people to celebrate, come together and move forward. Dancing in the Streets reflected the energy and aspirations of the civil rights movement and endures as one of the songs that capture the times. It documents a particular summer shared now as embodied history.
What work will endure as Strange Fruit does as a poem, a song and a dance created in response to lynching in the United States?
The Williams and Gotham student and faculty collaborators will look at the past and present uses of dance, music, visual art, theatre, media, and written and spoken text to create our own visual and performative documentation of what will be history in the future.
A suite of dances from Anna Sokolow’s Rooms (1955), performed by the Williams College Contemporary Dance Ensemble (CoDa), fall 2020.
The Williams College Contemporary Dance Ensemble (CoDa), co-directed by Erica Dankmeyer and Janine Parker, collaborated with the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble (NYC), to learn a suite of dances from Anna Sokolow’s Rooms (1955). Assistant Professor of Art Sarah Rara made the film, and Lyell B. Clay Artist-in-Residence in Music, Kris Allen, directed musicians in Kenyon Hopkins’ original score.