The purpose of the Dance Department is to educate students in the physical disciplines, cultural traditions, and expressive possibilities of dance. We provide the opportunity to study and experience dance as technique, composition, history, theory, and performance in the context of a liberal arts education. Our four ensembles study and perform throughout the academic year at the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance and at venues on and off campus. Participation in these ensembles is through audition as well as by invitation of the directors.
Our department regularly offers workshops, master classes, artist residencies, internships, performances, field trips, and collaborations that reflect the vital role of dance in our community. Our courses can be taken for academic credit and/or physical education credit. Check out our upcoming guest artists for the Fall & Spring academic year 22-23.
Artists and companies who have been in residence include: New York City Ballet members, Ronald K. Brown and Evidence, H.T. Chen & Dancers, Dianne Walker, Anouk van Dijk, Danis “La Mora” Perez and Francisco Mora Catlett, Compagnie Heddy Maalem, Obo Addy and Okropong, Liz Lerman, ZviDance, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.
The Williams College Dance Department aims to provide the development of the student dancer’s intellectual, physical and artistic potential within the context of a liberal arts education.
The Department is in a unique position as we do not currently offer a major or minor. We aim to serve a wide range of students with courses in technique, creation, history and theory, as well as offering diverse performance experiences. Faculty develop these lines of inquiry for students to pursue in tandem with other major courses of study. Students have the option of designing their own major course of study in dance through the College’s contract major option.
Students engaged in studio courses should have a fundamental understanding of the dance form(s) they are studying, including ballet, modern, and African dance and percussion. They should be able to execute the principles of the technique(s) they have chosen to study, be fluent in the vocabularies of the form(s), and graduate with a deep awareness and appreciation for the embodiment of dance art forms.
Understand dance as part of inquiry in Humanities & Social Sciences
Have a broad view of dance, not just as a cultural text, but also as a visual, intellectual and embodied practice
Know the cultural and socio-political context of the emergence of different dance forms, and how they function as a part of their larger socio and political context
Be able to identify, contextualize and compare styles
Understand the relationship and impact of dance and music in the context of cultures studied
Identify styles and have context for them
Understand the broader context of dance, including stereotypes and hierarchies
Have an understanding of the history and potential of dance as an agent for social change
Ensembles are the site for active engagement and research in the body through ongoing practice, instruction and mentorship by faculty and guest artists. Participation in performances, community engagement, and conferences leads to deep understanding of dance and musical practices in action.
Students should develop fluency in the movement style(s) of their ensemble. Students who choose to pursue choreographic projects learn the craft of staging a work, including the design and implementation all of the production elements. Students should graduate having a basic understanding of the technical aspects of theater, having worked backstage each year as stagehands, light board operators, stage managers, costume shop assistants, etc.
The Costume Shop
The costume shop is centrally located to facilitate movement throughout the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance’s performance and rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms, and storage facilities. The shop is sophisticatedly equipped to aid designers in producing beautiful costumes and to allow students to learn the craft of costume design.