Academic Courses

DANC 100 STU Foundations in Dance

Last offered Fall 2018

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 103 SEM Historical Research in Dance and Performance Studies

Last offered Fall 2020

This course is an introduction to the historical context of dance forms prevalent in the US and analysis of movement-based performances. While readings and viewings will focus on the socio-historical background of dance genres practiced at Williams and beyond, an important element of the course will be the practice of documenting, interpreting, and writing about performances as historical and cultural mediums. The course will enable students interested in dance, theatrical and visual arts (including advertising and marketing) to hone their skills in the practice of analyzing still and moving images, while also offering students of history and art history the opportunity to develop competency in historical research. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course. Learning objectives: to understand the social and political contexts for various performance genres; to explore interdisciplinary and embodied modes of engaging with movement; to develop the ability to document, analyze, and write about dance as a historical and cultural text. [ more ]

DANC 104(F) STU Ballet I Beginning Ballet Technique

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. *NOTE: students can receive either partial academic credit for this course (credit which doesn't count toward the number required for graduation, but which does appear on one's final transcript) or Physical Education credit. For students who wish PE credit, please register through the PE department. [ more ]

DANC 105 BFF! (Ballet Film Festival!) Ballet Technique, History/Evolution

Last offered NA

This course is for ANYONE interested in learning about ballet, through a variety of experiences. First, of course, will be physical practice. For those who have no (or little) prior ballet training, you'll learn the fundamentals of ballet technique in a safe but challenging class (separate classes are available for intermediate/advanced dancers) twice per week. All course participants will gather together once a week for movie/documentary viewings--a wide range of films (primarily) about ballet and ballet dancers from around the world. Readings and other viewings will be assigned so that all students have a grasp of the overarching history of ballet. We'll consider whether, how, and why "traditional" ballets can be relevant as performance art today, and explore ways in which ballet has stumbled, and ways in which it has soared and evolved. While the course assignments will offer historical context, we'll also take a rigorous look at broader topics in the art form, including 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--plot-lines of ballets we'll be looking at--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. Students will submit (informal) 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. EVERYONE is welcome in this class, and students will be assessed on their individual progress. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

DANC 106(F) STU Modern Dance I: Beginning Modern Dance

This studio course is designed for students with little or no experience in modern dance technique. All interested in dance are welcome! Students will be immersed in the physicality, principles, and aesthetics of basic modern dance through progression of floor work, standing work, and traveling movement. Skills that will be acquired include strength, coordination, musicality, correct body alignment, and spatial awareness needed for movers. Live musical accompaniment will enhance students' understanding of the relationship between music and movement. [ more ]

DANC 107(F) SEM Dancing in the Streets (Strange Fruit)

There is a reason why collective activism and impulses toward revolution are called "movements." Movements have bodies, actions, rhythms, voices, and stories. They are embodied, and they create change through this embodiment. During the summer of 1964, the Motown anthem Dancing In the Street (D.I.T.S.) became a joyful expression of the desire to take up space, in tune with the powerful political and social justice movements of the time. D.I.T.S. continues to be sung by contemporary artists as an expression of celebration and as a call to action, highlighting the cyclical nature of time and experience. What brought people into the streets in communities across the globe in 1964, in 2020, and beyond? With this question in mind, we will examine, discuss, and respond to the ways in which artistic expression can document lived experiences, and deploy similar tactics to explore and document our present lives. How have artists documented and driven forward major themes in social justice, both in the past and in our current times? A primary focus of consideration will be the anti-lynching movement across time, which has given rise to the art and aesthetics of the Civil Rights, Black Lives Matter, and Say Her Name Movements. Grounding this work will be a deep exploration of "Strange Fruit," an artistic tour de force that began life as a poem in response to a photographic image and grew to encompass dance, visual art, theatre, media, and music--particularly the enduring and repeating renditions by artists like Billie Holiday, Pearl Primus, and Nina Simone. The course trajectory will also be deeply affected by the students who take part, offering their own stories and experiences in conversation with the work of influential creative practitioners. Inspired by our own origin stories and the roll call of cities heard in D.I.T.S., we will consider the ways in which dance, music, theatre, visual art and other forms of creative expression are made to be shared, causing culture and experiences to bear witness and become meaningful beyond the boundaries of origin. Course meetings will include viewings and discussions of creative expression in various media and formats through an ethnographic performance studies lens, further examining the role of the artist as witness/documentarian, activist, and agent of change. This work will serve as a catalyst in the production of original performance offerings (solo and group-based) that will be shared with a public audience. [ more ]

DANC 108(S) SEM Dancing in the Streets (The Message)

There is a reason why collective activism and impulses toward revolution are called "movements." Movements have bodies, actions, rhythms, voices, and stories. They are embodied, and they create change through this embodiment. During the summer of 1964, the Motown anthem Dancing In the Street (D.I.T.S.) became a joyful expression of the desire to take up space, in tune with the powerful political and social justice movements of the time. D.I.T.S. continues to be sung by contemporary artists as an expression of celebration and as a call to action, highlighting the cyclical nature of time and experience. What brought people into the streets in communities across the globe in 1964, in 2020, and beyond? With this question in mind, we will examine, discuss, and respond to the ways in which artistic expression can document lived experiences, and deploy similar tactics to explore and document our present lives. How have artists documented and driven forward major themes in social justice, both in the past and in our current times? How do artists and their work document and comment on the past, embody the present, and perform the future into existence? A primary focus of consideration will be the use of storytelling as a vehicle for artistic expression that connects people and ideas across time and space. When Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five drop "The Message" in 1982, the Bronx is burning, and the birth of hip-hop has people returning to the streets. Disco's velvet rope comes down and urban America comes together to celebrate the life they can live, aspire toward a life they want to live, and spread the word about the realities they face along the way. The cypher creates space for verse, hooks, samples, and dance, and the world becomes a canvas as graffiti artists work to claim space and contribute to a new canon. With global urban music like hip-hop, reggae, and Afrobeat as a backdrop, we will examine the impact of vernacular African American dance and music, and its presence in various performance traditions. The course trajectory will also be deeply affected by the students who take part, offering their own stories and experiences in conversation with the work of influential creative practitioners. Inspired by our own origin stories and the roll call of cities heard in D.I.T.S., we will consider the ways in which dance, music, theatre, visual art and other forms of creative expression are made to be shared, causing culture and experiences to bear witness and become meaningful beyond the boundaries of origin. Course meetings will include viewings and discussions of creative expression in various media and formats through an ethnographic performance studies lens, further examining the role of the artist as witness/documentarian, activist, and agent of change. This work will serve as a catalyst in the production of original performance offerings (solo and group-based) that will be shared with a public audience. We will examine how dancers/choreographers Rosie Perez, Fatima Robinson, Charles O. Anderson, Nora Chipaumire and Rennie Herris use dance and media to tell personal stories and document public events. Musicians/performers Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Beyonce, Public Enemy, Kendrick Lamar and visual artists Carrie Mae Weems, Titus Kaphar, Hank Willis Thomas, and Adrian Piper are creators whose work will be referenced. What questions are artists posing? What statements are they making? What can be made that responds to this work and that reflects your own stories? Course meetings will include: 1. Weekly movement and music sessions to learn selected dance and music material 2. Weekly discussion of readings, media and other course materials 3. Making a solo and a collaborative project during the semester to be shared as a final project 4. A short research paper on an artist, movement or form that your work informs your work [ more ]

DANC 125 SEM Music 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) STU African Dance and Percussion

We will examine two forms that embody continuity of tradition or the impact of societal, political or economic change. Lamban was created by the Djeli, popularly called Griots served many roles in the kingdoms of Ghana and Old Mali from the 12th century to current times. This dance and music form continues as folklore in modern day Guinea, Senegal, Mali and The Gambia where it is practiced by the Mandinka people. Bira is an ancient and contemporary spiritual practice of Zimbabwe's Shona people. While these forms are enduring cultural practices, Kpanlogo from the modern West African state of Ghana represents the post-colonial identity of this nation's youth and their aspirations for independence at the end of the 1950s. We will also consider the introduction of these forms outside of their origin. This course can be taken for academic and/or PE credit [ more ]

DANC 202(S) STU African Dance and Percussion

Before the 20th century, the African continent was the source of dance and music that influenced new forms rooted on and off the continent. These forms are shaped by the impact of religion, colonialism, national political movements, travel, immigration, and the continuing emergence of technology. In South Africa, the labor conditions of miners instigated the creation of Isicathulo, Gum boots, and in Brazil the history of colonialism is a factor that anchors Samba as a sustaining cultural and socioeconomic force. The birth of Hip Hop in the 20th century finds populations across the globe using its music, dance, lyrics, and swagger as a vehicle for individual and group voice. Hip Hop thrives as a cultural presence in most countries of the African continent and in the Americas. We will examine the factors that moved this form from the Bronx, New York, to Johannesburg, South Africa, and Rio, Brazil. We will examine at least two of these forms learning dance and music technique and composition material that will inform their practice. Each of these genres generated new physical practices, new and enduring communities while continuing to embody specific histories that have moved beyond their place of origin. What is their status in this century? [ more ]

DANC 203 STU Intermediate Ballet: Technique, Repertoire, History and Now

Last offered Spring 2020

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, dancers, choreographers and other key figures. 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 broader topics in the art form, including 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 (informal) 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) STU Ballet II Intermediate Technique

This course is for students who have reached an intermediate level of ballet and are serious about continued progression in their technique and artistry and interested in working with spirit, perseverance, and joy. ANY student with adequate prior knowledge is welcome to this class! Proper alignment and rigorous but safe application of technique are stressed. 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 be guided to work safely and correctly with their individual abilities. The classes have live piano accompaniment. In Fall 2020, classes will be offered each week in the following formats: in-studio for on-campus students; live-streaming for off-campus students in a similar time zone; pre-recorded films for off-campus students unable to realistically engage in the "live" session blocks. If the number of on-campus students exceeds the studio space limit for this year, we will follow an alternating studio/livestream schedule. Classes will be designed with the knowledge that many spaces will be restrictive. Elements such as floor barre will be given as training supplements for students working in very small spaces. *In Fall 2020, traveling exercises such as traditional grand allegro will be greatly reduced/deconstructed. [ more ]

DANC 205(F) SEM Modern Rebels: Movement Revolt and Revelation

"I dance not to entertain but to help people better understand each other." --Pearl Primus This course offers students the opportunity to learn both the embodied practices and historic context of modern dance. Twice a week, students study modern dance technique at the level appropriate for them, as an immersion into the physicality, principles, and aesthetics of the form. Once a week, students attend a seminar together in which we examine a range of artists' voices, such as Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Martha Graham, Pearl Primus, Jose' Limon, Talley Beatty, Jane Dudley and Alvin Ailey, innovative artists whose works arose from both stylistic and thematic concerns in the struggle for artistic freedom and social justice. Modern dance choreographers responded directly to their individual identities, including gender, race, age, etc., and laid the foundation for contemporary dance today. Through readings, viewings, discussion and writing, we will consider these topics and why some artists, and not others, had greater opportunities to advance their art form as a tool for expression, social critique and resistance. [ more ]

DANC 206(F) STU Modern Dance II: Intermediate Modern Dance

This course is designed for students with some experience with dance technique who wish to develop their skills specific to modern dance. Students will learn the physicality, aesthetics, and philosophy of the art form. We will build increased endurance, expanded vocabulary of movement, and will explore more complex use of space, with a focus on musical awareness and longer phrases of movement. Proper body alignment and use of breath, space, and music are emphasized. Live musical accompaniment will give students the opportunity to approach movement with varied and nuanced sound. Approaches to technique created by various founding figures in modern dance will be introduced where appropriate, in order to recognize the depth of styles and shared concepts at the root of the art form. [ more ]

DANC 207(F) SEM ReReading/Righting Ballet's History: Celebrating BIPOC Figures in Ballet (w/ Ballet Technique)

"What does dance give you?" asked the great African American dancer, teacher, and director Arthur Mitchell: "The freedom to be who you are and do what you want to do." In the ballet world, however, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have struggled to achieve that "freedom" their white counterparts have enjoyed. In this course students continue their technical/artistic training in ballet while also exploring different topics in past and current ballet history; in Fall 2021, our main focus will be on some of the notable BIPOC figures in the world of ballet, with the history of ballet providing both a timeline and a sociopolitical backdrop against which we can trace and discover the intersectionality that has helped shape the aesthetics of ballet as well as other genres we know today. Though this is primarily a studio course (with twice-weekly ballet technique classes) readings and viewings relevant to our coursework will be assigned; a third weekly meeting will be held for group discussions on those assignments. Alongside broader ballet history texts, the essays and articles by authors such as Brenda Dixon Gottschild and Theresa Ruth Howard will offer keen insights into some of the more specific issues and topics regarding race and diversity in the field of ballet. In addition to informal, written responses to the readings and viewings, Howard's website "Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet" will be an important anchor/springboard for course projects. Howard will be a guest collaborator in this course for Fall '21; in addition to joining us (remotely) for discussions, she will guide us in those projects. [ more ]

DANC 208 SEM Dance 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 ]

DANC 210 TUT LET'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 211(S) SEM Afro-Modern Dance: Theory & Practice (Dunham Technique)

Modern African diasporic dance creates a conversation between the past and the present; it brings forth memories of the African "homeland" and of the dispersal of African bodies around the world, while simultaneously engaging the current joys, pains, challenges, and cultural growth of Black people. Through movement and rhythm, dancers experience the embodied knowledge of previous generations, while connecting to contemporary cultural, political, and economic realities. Katherine Dunham devoted her life to exploring and exposing the multiple layers and complexities of the African diasporic experience through her ethnographic dance choreographies, her dance technique, her schools, her music, and her writing. Dunham's work as a dance anthropologist, artist, educator, and humanitarian is manifested in Dunham Technique; the technique is a fusion of African diasporic dance, ballet and modern dancer, and functions as an embodied medium for cultural communication. The technique is considered "a way of life" as it uses theory and philosophy to engage participants in a holistic experience that is not only physical, but also intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. Through this combination of physicality, history, theory, and philosophy, Dunham Technique is a tool to understand one's inner self and place oneself within a historical and cultural framework. In this course, students will explore the history, theory, and philosophies of Dunham Technique and Katherine Dunham, while actively participating with the technique's movement concepts and vocabulary. Students will engage in the fundamentals of a Dunham Technique movement class through center floor work, barre exercises, progressions, and choreography. The course will combine the studio experience of the physical technique with lectures and discussions. Students will learn about the three theories of Dunham Technique (Form and Function, Intercultural Communication, and Socialization through the Arts) and its three philosophies (Self-Examination, Detachment, and Discrimination) while also learning the history and historical context of the technique and its creator. Students are expected to have experience in modern dance or other dance techniques. [ more ]

Taught by: Saroya Corbett

Catalog details

DANC 214 SEM Performance Ethnography

Last offered Fall 2019

The course aims to explore the theory, practice, and ethics of ethnographic research with a focus on dance, movement, and performance. 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) readings in ethnographic studies of dance and performance practices from different parts of the world, and (iii) field research in the local community for their own ethnographic projects. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course and may include fieldwork, attendance at live performances, film screenings, workshop with guest artists etc. No previous dance or performance experience is assumed or required. [ more ]

DANC 216 SEM Asian/American Identities in Motion

Last offered Spring 2021

The course aims to explore dance and movement-based performances as mediums through which identities in Asian and Asian-American (including South-Asian) communities are cultivated, expressed, and contested. It will orient students towards "reading" and analyzing live and mediated performances within historical, social, and political frameworks. Students will explore how socio-historical contexts influence the processes through which dance performances are invested with particular sets of meanings, and how artists use performance to reinforce or resist stereotypical representations. Core readings will be drawn from Dance, Performance, Asian, and Asian American Studies, and will engage with issues such as nation formation, race and ethnicity, appropriation, tradition and innovation among other topics. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course, and might also include film screenings, discussion with guest artists and scholars, and opportunities for creative projects. No previous dance experience is required. [ more ]

DANC 217(S) SEM Moving While Black

Opening your apartment door, driving down the highway, taking a knee, raising a fist, sitting at the lunch counter then or sitting in a café now, these movements have historically and presently prompted fear at a minimum and in the most grave cases death for black people. Whether in the U.S. or globally, moving in the world as a black person often means being perceived as different, foreign and threatening. Crawling, dancing, running and boxing, these movements have countered fear and articulated the beauty, pride, creativity and political resistance of black people. In both cases, black movement matters and means much. While many consider movement to be just organized dance moves, this course expands students' definitions of black movement and teaches them to analyze multiple perceptions, uses, and reactions to it. "Moving while Black" offers examples of physical movement in improvised and practiced performance, quotidian movement, geographical movement across national borders and symbolic, politicized gestures. Students will investigate black movement via interdisciplinary sources that reflect various time periods and locations. Students may analyze such texts as Jacob Lawrence's visual art in The Migration Series, the movement of the rumba dance form between Cuba and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's "Revelations," William Pope.L's choreographed crawls, the 1995 World Rugby Cup in South Africa, and the 2018 case of a Kansas resident arrested while moving into his own home. Additionally, this course features an important practice element, in which students experiment with in-class movement exercises and workshops, engage with dance archives at Jacob's Pillow, interview participants of Kusika, and create and perform their own choreographies. While no previous experience in performance is required, curiosity and openness to learning through one's own body movement is expected. [ more ]

DANC 226 SEM Gender and the Dancing Body

Last offered Spring 2021

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 ideologies. We will examine a wide range of dance genres, from stage performances 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 and will also include film screenings, discussions with guest artists, and opportunities for creative projects. No previous dance experience required. [ more ]

DANC 267 SEM Performance Studies: An Introduction

Last offered Spring 2020

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 TUT Dancing the Score/Scoring the Dance

Last offered Spring 2019

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 285 STU Scenic and Lighting Design for Performance

Last offered Fall 2019

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 ]

Taught by: Jason Simms

Catalog details

DANC 300 STU Advanced Ballet--Technique, Repertoire, & Revolution: Women at the Barre, on Stage, at the Helm

Last offered Fall 2019

To loosely paraphrase the feminist Emma Goldman, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." Designed for intermediate/advanced ballet dancers, in this course students will explore different topics in past and current ballet history through the lens of famous ballets, dancers, choreographers, etc. In Fall 2019, we will focus on some of the notable female figures in the world of ballet: while ballet is often perceived as a primarily "female" art form-and indeed, there are many more females vying for positions in ballet companies than males-historically, women have held far fewer leadership positions than men, and have had fewer choreographic opportunities. In addition to technique classes, variations and/or ensemble sections from selected ballets will be taught and coached to students. This is primarily a studio course, although readings relevant to our coursework will be assigned. These assignments will offer historical context, as well as provide rigorous looks 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-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 and to provide additional contextualization. Students will submit (informal) 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 general academic credit (but not for additional WGGS major credit). ANY student with adequate prior training 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 301 STU Creative Process in Dance

Last offered Spring 2021

This course gives the experienced mover the opportunity to develop a personal creative voice by examining and practicing methods used to make dances. Creating and collaborating in virtual platforms will allow us to study dance making as it is being practiced in the current moment. We will 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. We will practice giving and receiving feedback designed to support artistic growth by using Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process (CRP). Projects may include solo and group work, site-specific dance making, and creating in collaboration. The class will view works by innovative professional choreographers in various dance genres, both contemporary and historic, such as Ephrat Asherie, Michelle Dorrance, Heddy Malem, Shen Wei, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Pina Bausch, Akram Khan, George Balanchine, Eiko and Koma, Rennie Harris, Martha Graham, Camille A. Brown, and Trisha Brown. We will have the opportunity to engage directly with guest artists in order to examine contemporary choreographic processes and repertoire. To more fully understand the context in which works were created, we will read work by dance scholars such as John O. Perpener, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Liz Lerman, Deborah Jowitt, Sally Banes, and Susan Leigh Foster. One or two virtual field trips to Jacob's Pillow, MassMoCA, or other locations in the Berkshires will be included. [ more ]

DANC 302 SEM Moving Words, Wording Dance

Last offered Fall 2020

How can we capture the "liveness" of dance and performance through writing? How can the spoken and written word promote a deeper understanding of felt emotions expressed through embodied practice? In this course, we will explore different modes of writing about performance such as fiction, ethnography, and performative writing. The course material will primarily focus on books by artist-scholars of color with the aim of engaging with both the politics of identity in performance and also the politics of texts and archives. Each of the texts we encounter will be paired with visual materials and/or virtual conversation with artist-scholars to encourage a multilayered experience with writing about performance. Besides engaging deeply with the selected monographs, we will practice skills related to writing creatively and analytically about movement-based performance. This class will be held remotely and will include a combination of tutorial-like small group meetings, periodic synchronous sessions, and asynchronous work such as Glow posts or recorded lectures. The course is reading and writing intensive, and oriented towards juniors, seniors, and those with deep interest in analytical and creative writing. Students will (i) read several monographs during the semester, (ii) participate in discussions about course materials, (iii) produce creative and critical writing (at least 5-6 pages every two weeks and a final cumulative assignment), and (iv) engage in the revision process of their own work and that of their peers based on feedback from the professor and from writing partners. [ more ]

DANC 304(F, S) STU Ballet III Technique for Intermediate/Advanced Dancers

Designed for dancers who have achieved intermediate/advanced level of ballet technique, and who are interested in working with spirit, perseverance, and joy. Everyone at the appropriate level is welcome! 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, as is an openness to continuing to develop artistic expression. (Additional pointe work available if applicable and requested.) Students are encouraged to work safely and correctly within their individual abilities so that artistry, musicality and the dynamics in ballet are explored. The classes have live piano accompaniment. [ more ]

DANC 305(S) STU Advanced Ballet Technique and Performance

Designed for intermediate/advanced ballet dancers, this is primarily a studio course. Twice a week dancers will have a 75 minute ballet technique class composed of barre and center work (adage, pirouettes, petit allegro, grand allegro); pointe work and/or partnering will follow for a 1/2 hour, as applicable. The 3rd weekly class meeting will consist of a warm-up followed by rehearsal of a new ballet that will be created for the class. This new ballet will be performed in a formal setting later in the semester, to be determined based on covid protocols at the time. In Spring 2021, classes will be offered each week in the following formats: in-studio for on-campus students; live-streaming for off-campus students in a similar time zone; recorded classes pre-recorded films for off-campus students unable to realistically engage in the "live" session blocks. If the number of on-campus students exceeds the studio space limit for this year, we will follow an alternating studio/livestream schedule. It is understood that some students may be taking class in restrictive spaces and, as necessary, students should seek advice from instructor regarding adaptation tools.This course MAY BE REPEATED for general academic credit. ANY student with adequate prior training 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 317 SEM Black 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 323 SEM Arts Organizing in Africa and the Diaspora

Last offered Spring 2021

At the heart of this class is the question, how do artists and organizations use the performing arts to effect social change in their communities? Drawing from a number of case studies from throughout Africa and the African Diaspora, we will first endeavor to understand and contextualize issues related to education, social uplift, the environment, and the economy as they relate to specific communities. We will then examine how a series of organizations (from grassroots campaigns to multinational initiatives) utilize the performing arts in response to those issues. Among the issues we will discuss at length are: -How do performers and organizations navigate the interplay between showcasing the performance talents of individuals and groups and foregrounding an issue or cause? More broadly, what dilemmas emerge as social and aesthetic imperatives intermingle? -What are the dynamics between people acting on a local level within their communities and their various international partnerships and audiences? -How can government or NGO sponsorship help and/or hinder systemic change? By the end of the semester, students will be equipped with conceptual frameworks and critical vocabularies that can help them ascertain the functions of performance within larger organizations and in service to complex societal issues. Throughout the course, we will watch and listen to a variety of performances from traditional genres to hip-hop, however this class is less about learning to perform or analyze any particular genre than it is about thinking through how performance is used as a vehicle for social change. Case studies will include youth outreach and uplift in Tanzania through the United African Alliance, campaigns to promote girls' education in Benin and Zimbabwe, community-wide decolonizing initiatives through the Yole!Africa Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the cultural reclamation of a mining town in Suriname through the arts organization, Stichting Kibii. [ more ]

DANC 330 STU Modern Folklore: Postcolonial Dance and Music in Africa

Last offered Spring 2019

"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) IND 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) IND 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 ]