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 102(F)In the Room Together: An Introduction to Dance, Theatre, and Live Performance

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 Beyonce. 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 125Music and Social Dance in Latin America

Not offered this year

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 202(S)African Dance and Percussion

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

This course is designed for dancers who have achieved a intermediate level of Ballet, and are serious about continuing to build their strength, artistry and understanding of classical ballet. Students will have ballet technique class twice a week.. All students will learn and rehearse excerpts from major ballets specific to that semester's focus. Assigned readings and /or viewings will introduce students to various phases of ballet history; students will submit written responses to these assignments. When applicable the class will go on one or two field trips to attend performances by professional ballet companies and will write response papers about the experience. This course may be taken for academic and/or physical education credit and MAY BE REPEATED for academic credit. PE-only participants must attend the ballet technique portion of the class two times per week for credit. [ more ]

DANC 205Modern Masterworks

Not offered this year

In this course students will examine select masterworks and philosophies of key artists in the development of modern dance while simultaneously studying modern dance technique. Students will develop a critical framework for understanding dance by examining works both loved and misunderstood in their respective times. This semester will focus on Martha Graham and a reconstruction of her dance "Celebration." By what criteria does a culture define a masterwork? What does the work reflect about its time, its creator, and the place of dance in society? We will examine topics suggested by the works, such as how the body is constructed/deconstructed in, and by, the work, religion and spiritual practice in relation to dance-making, the social identity of the creator and the performers, the uses of music/sound in relation to movement expression, and how we "read" dances as individuals. Weekly viewings, critical and historic readings and discussion will be required along with studio practice. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

DANC 208Dance and Diaspora

Not offered this year

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 T(S)LET'S MAKE A DANCE: Dance Making and Re-Making

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

Not offered this year

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(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 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 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 215(F)Ways of Knowing: Music, Movement, Memory

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(S)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 (spectacular and quotidian) while reading theoretical texts to grapple with concepts including ritual, restored behavior, performativity, mimicry, liveness, the body, objecthood, archive, and movement. [ more ]

DANC 285(S)Scenic and Lighting Design for Performance

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(F)Advanced Ballet: Technique, Variations and History

This course is designed for dancers who have achieved an advanced level of ballet technique. Students will have technique classes , followed by, when applicable, men's work, partnering, and pointe work (students who are not on pointe will be able to do the work in regular ballet slippers). Students will also be taught and coached in variations and/or ensemble (corps de ballet) work from existing ballets.. Assignments will include readings, viewing of media and performance; 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 taken for academic and or PE credit and MAY BE REPEATED for academic credit. PE-only participants must attend the ballet technique portion of the class two times per week for credit. [ more ]

DANC 301Creative Process in Dance

Not offered this year

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 305Choreographies

Not offered this year

By unpacking the idea of choreography, this course will be a laboratory for deepening a student's thinking, writing and practice of performance. Choreography will be our flexible methodology for personalizing an approach to movement, text and objects as well as our lens for discussing cultural phenomena such as protests, public ceremonies and performance. Gleaning cues from these public spectacles, morning class exercises will focus on a skill or aspect of performance such as physicality, image, affect, duration, obstructions, objects, speech, timing and place. Afternoon sessions will be composition accompanied by a writing practice as each student navigates matters such as identity, representation and social space. How does choreography operate in society at large? What is the line between representing and doing something with one's body? How might performance question or transgress notions of identity? How can writing further performance as an expanded field of thought and action? The semester will culminate in a series of choreographies installed on campus, in locations chosen by the students. We will consider the work of established and emerging artists including : Vito Acconci, Marina Abramovic, Banksy, luciana achugar, William Pope.L, David Hammons, Trisha Brown, Jen Rosenblit, Guerilla Girls, Stuart Sherman, Jerome Bel and Visual AIDS. We will also read texts by Andre Lepecki, Michel Foucault, Douglas Crimp, Jennifer Doyle, Jose Mu?oz, Marten Spanberg, Fred Moten, Jenn Joy, Judith Butler, Adrienne Edwards and Gilles Deleuze. Evaluation will be based on class participation, 2 short response papers, a longer paper and a final choreography. [ more ]

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

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 330Modern Folklore: Postcolonial Dance and Music in Africa

Not offered this year

"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 ]