Academic Courses

DANC 100(F)Foundations in Dance

This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of dance history and techniques focusing on Ballet, Modern dance and African dance and music genres. Regular physical work that provides experience in dance technique, reading, discussion about cultural context and significant innovators, viewing media,live performance and writing about dance are required. This course may not be taken for PE credit. [ more ]

DANC 102In the Room Together: An Introduction to Dance, Theatre, and Live Performance

Last offered Fall 2017

This course offers an introduction to the time-based art of performance, focusing on the embodied and social act of collaboration. Students will explore through a rotating studio and seminar-based format methods for creating and approaching art across a range of time-based media (dance, theatre, performance art, social media, spoken-word poetry), providing a foundation for the expression of ideas through performance. Over the term, students will develop, workshop and perform site-specific pieces, culminating in a final public presentation to the community. Through independent research projects, writing and class discussion, students will study makers whose work unsettles the boundaries of dance, theatre, and performance, such as: Anne Bogart, Bill T. Jones, Pina Bausch, Meredith Monk, Lin Manuel-Miranda, E. Patrick Johnson, Young Jean Lee, and Beyoncé. Evaluation will be based on an assessment of the student's work, participation, commitment, practice, curiosity, creativity, and collaboration with peers. Students will be required to attend '62 Center Series programming as may be required to attend other performance events as well. This course is open to students at all levels of experience and is a gateway and requirement to the major in Theatre. [ more ]

DANC 104(F)Ballet I

In this class, students learn the fundamentals of ballet technique, in a manner both safe and challenging. This is an absolute beginning course: EVERYONE is welcome! In barre work and center/traveling exercises, the class will begin to develop a working understanding of basic positions of the arms and legs; individual steps such as turns and jumps; and simple combinations. Through repetition and logical progression artistry, musicality, strength and coordination will develop and grow. This course may be repeated for credit. [ more ]

DANC 106(F)Modern Dance I

This studio course is designed for students with little or no experience in modern dance technique. Students will develop an understanding of basic principles through progression of floor work, standing work, and traveling movement. Skills that will be acquired include strength, coordination, musicality, body alignment, and spatial awareness needed for movers. [ more ]

DANC 125Music and Social Dance in Latin America

Last offered Fall 2014

This course offers a full-spectrum introduction to the sounds, movements, and social characteristics of a number of Latin American social dance forms, including samba, salsa, tango, and the Afro-Surinamese genre, awasa. Through critical listening and viewing assignments, performance workshops, and readings from disciplines spanning ethnomusicology, anthropology, dance studies, Latin American studies and history, students will combine a technical understanding of the musical and choreographic features of these genres with a consideration of their social impact. Among the questions that will drive class discussions are the following: How do sound and movement interrelate? What aspects of gender, sexuality, class, race and ethnicity arise in the performance and consumption of Latin American genres of social dance? How do high political, economic, and personal stakes emerge through activities more commonly associated with play and leisure? No prior music or dance training is necessary, however this course does require regular engagement in interactive and performance-based assignments and workshops. [ more ]

DANC 201(F)African Dance and Percussion

This course focuses on selected dance and music forms from the African continent for example, Kpanlogo from Ghana, Lamban from Guinea, Senegal and Mali or Bira from Zimbabwe. We will examine their origins (people, history and cultures) and influence beyond geographic perimeter to more fully understand the function of these forms in contemporary times. Students will study movement and percussion and are evaluated on the quality of progress with the selected forms throughout the semester. Forms may not be the same every semester. This course can be taken for academic and/or PE credit [ more ]

DANC 202African Dance and Percussion

Last offered Spring 2018

Course continues the investigation of selected music and dance from the African continent. Advancing dance and music skills, deepening understanding of history and context of the material are focus of readings, discussions and projects throughout the semester. Questions we will address include the impact of religion, colonialism, travel, immigration, media tradition and the continued emergence of new forms. Material may include Gum Boots (Isicathulo) from Southern Africa, Juju in Nigeria or Hip Hop in several nations. This course can be taken for academic and/or PE credit. [ more ]

DANC 203(S)Intermediate Ballet: Technique, Ensemble Work and History

Designed for dancers who have achieved a beginning/intermediate level, in this course students will explore different eras of ballet through the lens of famous ballets from the specific periods being studied each semester. In addition to technique classes, corps de ballet (ensemble) sections and/or variations from the chosen ballets will be taught and coached to students. Learning sequences from these ballets is an excellent training tool, as these short dances are technically, musically, dramatically and spatially challenging. Therefore, this is primarily a studio course, although, through readings and viewings, we will also consider whether, how, and why these ballets can be relevant as performance art today. While the course assignments will offer historical context, we¿ll also take a rigorous look at some of the ways in which ballet hasn't always lived up to its potential as a dance form for all people regardless of class, race, and gender. We'll consider basic information --- the plot-lines of the ballets we'll be working on --- as well as more subtle ideas --- famous dancers' takes on these roles, the socio-political aspects of the works themselves and the times they were created in. Viewings will also be assigned to allow students to fully explore and grasp the ballets. Students will submit written responses to the assignments. The class may go on one or two field trips to attend performances and will write response papers when applicable. ANY student with adequate prior knowledge is welcome to this class! Students will be assessed on their individual progress. This course MAY BE REPEATED for credit. [ more ]

DANC 204(S)Ballet II

This course is for students who have reached a beginning/intermediate level of ballet and are serious about continued progression in their technique and artistry. Classes will follow the traditional ballet class format of barre work proceeding into center work; vocabulary, ability and stamina will be built in a safe but challenging atmosphere. Students will learn to work safely and correctly with their individual abilities. ANY student with adequate prior knowledge is welcome to this class! [ more ]

DANC 206(S)Modern Dance II

This course aims to build upon students' technical skill, such as increased endurance, expanded vocabulary of movement and more complex use of space, with a focus on musical awareness and longer phrases of movement. [ more ]

DANC 208Dance and Diaspora

Last offered Fall 2016

Both dance and migration involve human bodies in motion, making dance a powerful lens through which to view the experience of diaspora. In this course, we will analyze both continuity and creative reinvention in dance traditions of multiple diasporas, focusing in particular on the African and South Asian diasporas. We will analyze dance as a form of resistance to slavery, colonialism, and oppression; as an integral component of community formation; as a practice that shapes racial, gendered, religious, and national identity; and as a commodity in the global capitalist marketplace. We will explore these topics through readings, film viewings, discussion, attendance at live performances, and in-class movement workshops, which will happen approximately once every two or three weeks in lieu of discussion. Evaluation is based on participation in discussion, reading responses, two short papers, and a final project, which can be either a research paper or a creative project. Your dancing abilities are not evaluated; no previous dance experience is required. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

DANC 210 TLET'S MAKE A DANCE: Dance Making and Re-Making

Last offered Spring 2018

This course is designed for first-time dance makers as well as more experienced dance students who seek the opportunity to practice dance making in a structured, intimate setting. Any genre or style of dance may be explored. Projects are designed primarily to empower the creator to clarify the intent and vision for their work. Central to this is the practice of giving and receiving feedback, using Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process (CRP). Projects may include solo and group work, site-specific dance making, and creating in collaboration. Students are expected to rigorously build upon and revise their work(s) in three possible roles: artist, responder, and facilitator. Studying the work and philosophies of dance makers in a variety of genres, such as Akram Khan, Pina Bausch, Camille A. Brown, and William Forsythe will give further context to our work. Weekly presentation of assignments, active participation in CRP sessions, reading assignments, identifying to the group one's intended goal(s) for the week, written reflection on sessions, and final showing will be required. Three seminar sessions will be included in the class. [ more ]

DANC 212 TFrom Stage to Page: Writing about Dance

Last offered Fall 2016

We commonly understand the word "choreography" to mean the creation of dance movement. The Greek roots of choreography, however, are choreia (the synthesis of dance, music and singing) and graphein (to write). For centuries, people have attempted to pin dance down on the page, translating an ephemeral, embodied performance art into written form. In this writing-intensive tutorial, students will investigate four major modes of dance writing: dance notation or scoring, dance criticism, dance ethnography, and dance history, with a shorter fifth unit on a new avant-garde form, "performative writing." Students will study important examples of each form, such as Rudolf Laban's famed system of dance notation and Katherine Dunham's ethnographic account of dance in Jamaica, Journey to Accompong. Students will then delve into each form of writing themselves. For example, they will work with Mellon Artist-in-Residence Emily Johnson as "scribes" for her creative process, attend live dance concerts at the '62 Center and Mass MoCA as the basis for writing pieces of dance criticism, conduct participation-observation research by attending social dance events to write mini-ethnographies of their experiences, and work with librarians to learn about resources at Sawyer for researching dance history. [ more ]

DANC 214(S)Asian-American Identities in Motion: Global Approaches to Dance

The course aims to explore dance and movement-based performances as mediums through which identities in Asian-American (including South Asian) diasporas are cultivated, expressed, and contested. We will examine theories related to nationalism, post-colonialism and diasporic identity-formation, and learn about the socio-historical contexts in which performances are used to maintain cultural continuity. We will explore how diasporic artists use performances to enforce or resist traditional practices and ideologies. Throughout the course, we will investigate issues of race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, tradition/innovation, agency/resistance, and borrowing/appropriation among other topics. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course but will also include attendance at live performances in the area, film screenings, and discussion and workshops with guest artists. No previous dance experience required. [ more ]

DANC 214(F)Performance Ethnography: Global Approaches to Dance

The course aims to explore the theory, practice, and ethics of ethnographic research with a focus on dance, movement and performance ethnography. Traditionally considered to be a method of research in anthropology, ethnography is the descriptive and analytical study of a particular community through fieldwork, where the researcher immerses herself in the culture of the people that she researches. In this course students will be introduced to (i) critical theory that grounds ethnography as a research methodology, (ii) will read ethnographic studies of dance and performance practices from different parts of the world, and (iii) will do field research in the local community for their own ethnographic projects. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course and will include fieldwork, attendance at live performances, film screenings, workshop with guest artists etc. No previous dance experience required. [ more ]

DANC 215Ways of Knowing: Music, Movement, Memory

Last offered Fall 2017

This interdisciplinary seminar proceeds from the premise that the body knows. Ongoing colonial modernity is rooted in a racialized hierarchy: the "civilized" life of the mind vs. the "primitive" instincts of the flesh. According to this binary, the body is marked as irrational, sinful, outside of the archive. The body cannot know because the happenings of the body are ephemeral: unlike documents, they don't last. In this course, we will subject this logic to close scrutiny. As performance scholar Diana Taylor asks, "Whose memories, traditions, and claims to history disappear if performance practices lack the staying power to transmit vital knowledge?" In this course, we look to music, movement, and other repertoires as ways of knowing, remembering, and world-making. How does embodied knowledge travel across time and space? How have performance practices served as modes of what Ashinaabe cultural theorist Gerald Vizenor calls "survivance" (survival + resistance) for indigenous, nomadic, queer, and colored communities. Case studies include: the Middle Passage and the syncretic birth of the Blues in the Americas; nomadism, the nation-state, and the migration of Romani music; and the evolution of queer ball culture. Students will engage with a variety of texts (verbal, sonic, visual, kinesthetic) and respond to them critically not only through writing and discussion, but also through their own performance practices. [ more ]

DANC 226(S)Gender and the Dancing Body

This course posits that the dancing body is a particularly rich site for examining the history of gender and sexuality in America and beyond. The aim of the course is to explore ideas related to gender and sexuality as prescribed by dominant cultural, social, and religious institutions, and how dance has been used to challenge those normative values. We will examine a wide range of dance genres, from stage performance to popular forms to dance on television, with particular attention to the intersections of race and class with gender. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course but will also include attendance at live performances, film screenings, and discussions with guest artists. No previous dance experience required. [ more ]

DANC 267(F)Performance Studies: An Introduction

Since the 1980s, performance studies has emerged as an interdisciplinary field of inquiry, with origin tales in theater and anthropology, in communications and philosophy. What might theorizing "performance" as mode, analytic, and object of study have to offer scholarship in the interdisciplinary humanities? In this seminar, we will read texts formative of performance studies, paired with multimedia performance examples, where performance speaks to staged theatrics as well as the presentation of everyday life. We will ask, how are race, gender, sexuality, and nation produced as the effects of legal, political, historical, social, and cultural scripts? And--an important partner question--how do discourses and practices of race, gender, sexuality, and nation in fact produce legal, political, historical, social, and cultural effects? This seminar is an introduction to performance studies, an interdisciplinary field in conversation with theater studies, gender studies, anthropology, philosophy, literary theory, visual studies, dance studies, ethnic studies, queer theory, and postcolonial studies. Students will study and experiment with performance while reading theoretical texts to grapple with concepts including ritual, restored behavior, performativity, mimicry, liveness, the body, objecthood, archive, movement, matter, and affect. [ more ]

DANC 280 T(S)Dancing the Score/Scoring the Dance

This course is designed for students interested in intensive collaborative composition work in dance and music. Students in dance will be paired with students in music; both students will be supported in creating in collaboration by practicing composition in their respective disciplines while working closely with each other in a structured, intimate setting. Any genre or style of music or dance may be explored. Projects will allow students to practice methodologies of collaboration and creation. Groups will evolve, and document procedures unique to their group. Students are expected to rigorously build upon and revise their work(s) by making active use of feedback sessions. Studying historic and contemporary dance and music collaborations in a variety of genres will give further context to our work. Weekly presentation of assignments, active participation in feedback sessions, identifying to the group what the next steps are, written reflection on sessions, and final showing will be required. Creating in collaboration trains students to articulate vision and intention while enabling the instructors to differentiate their aesthetic values from those of the students. It also trains students to collaborate with other disciplines during the creative process. The format allows class members to receive undivided focus on their processes, while also challenging them to assess their own abilities, create their own next steps, and discover how movement can inspire music as well as music inspiring dance. This tutorial provides a crucial central aspect of the creative arts: a space for ongoing feedback driven by the questions arising for the students, rather than specific aesthetic preferences or working practices. Investment in the work of one's group is central, sharing responsibility for the development of others' as well as one's own work. [ more ]

DANC 285Scenic and Lighting Design for Performance

Last offered Spring 2018

The artistic, intellectual, and practical roles of a designer vary widely, from the spectacle of Broadway to the do-it-yourself ingenuity of downtown theater to the conceptual frame of the art gallery space. This course explores the art and techniques of lighting and scenic design for performance. While grounded in a conceptual methodology for development of a design based in textual analysis and research, this course is equally concerned with providing instruction in the techniques and craft necessary for bringing a design to fruition, including: sketching, technical drafting, and model-making; basic physics and theories of color in both surfaces and light; the use of volume, movement, color, intensity, and texture as compositional and storytelling tools; the variety of stage lighting instruments and theatrical soft goods available, and their uses; writing cues; and the translation of concept into light plots, channel hookups, plans and elevations. We will use a variety of performance texts (plays, musicals, opera, and dance) to discover and explore the creative process from the perspective of scenic and lighting designers. The class format will be a combination of lectures, discussions and studio work. [ more ]

DANC 300(F)Advanced Ballet: Technique, Variations and History

Designed for dancers who have achieved an intermediate/advanced level of ballet technique, in this course students will explore different eras of ballet through the lens of famous ballets from the specific period being studied each semester. In addition to technique classes, variations and/or ensemble sections from the chosen ballets will be taught and coached to students. As well, when applicable, pointe work and partnering will be offered. Therefore, this is primarily a studio course, although through assigned readings and viewings we will also consider whether, how, and why these ballets can be relevant as performance art today. While the course assignments will offer historical context, we¿ll also take a rigorous look at some of the ways in which ballet hasn't always lived up to its potential as a dance form for all people regardless of class, race, and gender. We¿ll consider basic information --- the plotlines of the ballets we¿ll be working on --- as well as more subtle ideas --- famous dancers' takes on these roles, the socio-political aspects of the works themselves and the times they were created in. Viewings will also be assigned to allow students to fully explore and grasp the ballets. Students will submit written responses to the assignments. The class may go on one or two field trips to attend performances and will write response papers when applicable. This course MAY BE REPEATED for credit. ANY student with adequate prior knowledge is welcome to this class! Material will be introduced at an intermediate/advanced level, and individuals will be assessed on their own personal progress. [ more ]

DANC 301Creative Process in Dance

Last offered Spring 2016

This course examines the methods used to make dances. It is intended for the experienced mover who is ready to focus on theory, methods and the history of composing dance in various traditions. Students will be asked to identify their own methods and engage in research and regular presentations of their compositions for critical feedback. The class will also study innovative professional choreographers such as Pina Bausch, Ping Chong, George Balanchine, Eiko and Koma, Rennie Harris, Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham, Ronald K. Brown, Lucinda Childs and Merce Cunningham. To more fully understand the context in which these works were created, the class will read essays by dance scholars such as Louis Horst, Liz Lerman, Deborah Jowitt, Sally Banes, and Susan Leigh Foster. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

DANC 304(F, S)Ballet III

Designed for dancers who have achieved intermediate/advanced level of ballet technique. Class includes barre work, center and traveling exercises that incorporate adage, pirouettes,petit and grand allegro. Proper alignment and rigorous but safe application of technique are expected. Students are encouraged to work safely and correctly within their individual abilities so that artistry, musicality and the dynamics in ballet are explored. [ more ]

DANC 317Black Migrations: African American Performance at Home and Abroad

Last offered Fall 2017

In this course, students will investigate, critique and define the concepts migration and diaspora with primary attention to the experiences of African Americans in the United States and Europe. Drawing on a broad definition of performance, students will explore everything from writing and painting to sports and dance to inquire how performance reflects, critiques and negotiates migratory experiences in the African diaspora. For example, how did musician Sidney Bechet's migration from New Orleans to Chicago to London influence the early jazz era? How did Katherine Dunham's dance performances in Germany help her shape a new black dance aesthetic? Why did writer James Baldwin go all the way to Switzerland to write his first novel on black, religious culture in Harlem? What drew actor/singer Paul Robeson to Russia, and why did the U.S. revoke his passport in response to his speeches abroad? These questions will lead students to investigate multiple migrations in the African diasporic experience and aid our exploration of the reasons for migration throughout history and geography. In addition to critical discussions and written analysis, students will explore these topics through their own individual and group performances in class. No prior performance experience is necessary. [ more ]

DANC 330(S)Modern Folklore: Postcolonial Dance and Music in Africa

"Folklore is a mixture of traditions, poems, songs, dances and legends of the people, it can be no other than the reflection of the life of the country and if that country develops, there is no reason why the folklore which is the living expression, should not develop as well. Modern folklore in present Africa is as authentic as the Africa of old." --Keita Fodeba, founding Artistic Director of Les Ballet Africain, Guinea, West Africa. This course will involve intensive dance and musical practice that is rooted in traditional and contemporary/forms from the African continent and the Diaspora. We will examine the international impact of countries who achieved independence from Europe in the late 1950's-1990s such as Les Ballets Africain, National Dance Company of Senegal, Bembeya Jazz, Ghana Dance Ensemble, and the national dance and music companies of Zimbabwe, Jamaica, and Cuba. Our study will include the impact of artists such as James Brown, Miriam Makeba, Michael Jackson, and Youssou N'Dour, as well as Hip Hop culture and the emergence of new forms of music and dance or modern folklore. [ more ]

DANC 397(F)Independent Study: Dance

This course is intended for students who are juniors or seniors with continued study in department courses and or participation in Dance Department companies (CoDa, Kusika, Sankofa or Zambezi). Students must propose a project that deepens their learning and creativity. The intention is to support research in a historical period that can include cultural, political and economic impact of dance and other modes of performance. Students must meet with faculty to discuss project prior to submitting the proposal. [ more ]

DANC 398(S)Independent Study: Dance

This course is intended for students who are juniors or seniors with continued study in department courses and or participation in Dance Department companies (CoDa, Kusika, Sankofa, Zambezi). Students must propose a project that deepens their learning and creativity. The intention is to support research in a historical period that can include cultural, political and economic impact of dance and other modes of performance. Students must meet with faculty to discuss their project prior to submitting the proposal. [ more ]