2014-2015 Dance Courses
Graduate Seminar I
Writing about dance performance will be the topic for Fall 2014. This will involve reading past and present criticism as well as writing about current performances in New York City. This seminar provides an opportunity for students to develop their research, writing and analytical skills while studying a variety of topics that are of interest to them. Recent subjects have included investigations of the creative process, dance criticism, world dance forms, and the collaborative process. Each project culminates in an oral presentation.
Graduate Seminar I
The Spring semester will focus on critical perspectives in dance, culture and identity. When we look at dancing, what are we seeing, experiencing and understanding? How do current representations of dance perpetuate or disrupt assumptions about personal and social identity? Embedded notions of gender, economic class and race are threaded through our daily lives. Art and popular culture sometimes reinforce dominant cultural ideas, but can they also serve to propose alternatives to those ideas? In this seminar, we will examine a range of dancing on film, web-based media, television programs and commercials. These viewings, along with selected texts from the fields of dance and performance, literary criticism, feminist theory, queer theory and cultural studies, will form the basis of class discussions, exercises, readings, research and writing. The ultimate aim of this course is to cultivate a richly informed conversation among engaged participants, using academic work and life experience to illuminate and advance our appreciation of dance as an elemental art form.
Graduate Seminar II
This seminar is a laboratory for developing and refining projects from the “Dance Making” class. It is designed to encourage students to work collaboratively in solving questions of physical, spatial and temporal issues in their work, to explore connections between dance and other forms , and to make them aware of and conversant with the creative process always at work in the world.
Graduate Seminar III
This seminar emphasizes a dynamic foundation for dancing, offering participants an opportunity to refine their technique and analytical skills. Relevant aspects of functional anatomy are presented and considered throughout this class. Students are encouraged and coached to increase awareness of their current strategies, to broaden their range of movement possibilities, and integrate their creative and technical practices.
Anatomy in Action
How is it possible for humans to move in the multitude of ways that we do? Learn to develop your X-ray vision of the human being in motion in a course that combines movement practice, drawing, lecture and problem solving. In this course, movement is the vehicle for exploration of our profoundly adaptable anatomy. In addition to making drawings as we study the entire musculoskeletal system, we will learn Irene Dowd’s Spirals ™; a comprehensive warm-up/cool-down for dancing that coordinates all joints and muscles through their fullest range of motion. Insights gained in this course can provide tremendous inspiration in the creative process. Students may enter this yearlong course in the second semester only with the permission of the instructor.
Anatomy Seminar - Graduate
This is an opportunity for advanced students who have completed Anatomy I to pursue their study of anatomy in greater depth. Each student will research a topic or topics in which functional anatomy plays a significant part. We will meet weekly to discuss questions and share experiences.
Ballet - Graduate
At all levels, ballet studies will guide students in creative and expressive freedom by enhancing the qualities of ease, grace, musicality, and symmetry that define the form. To this end, we will explore alignment with an emphasis on anatomical principles and enlist the appropriate neuromuscular effort needed to dance with optimal integration of every aspect of the individual body, mind, and spirit. Students may enter this yearlong course in the second semester only with permission of the instructor.
Movement is the birthright of every human being. These components explore movement’s expressive and communicative possibilities by introducing different strategies for making dances. Problem posed run the gamut from conceptually driven dance/theatre to structured movement improvisations. These approaches vary depending on the faculty. Learn to mold kinetic vocabularies of your own choice and incorporate sound, objects, visual elements, and text to contextualize and identify your vision. Students will be asked to create and perform studies, direct one another, and share and discuss ideas and solutions with peers. Students are not required to make finished products but to involve themselves in the joy of creative. This course will be taught by Mr. Hurlin for the year with an additional class added in the Spring, to be taught by Ms. Westwater. Beginning Improvisation is either a prerequisite or should be taken at the same time.
Emphasis will be on the continued development of basic skills, energy use, strength, and control relevant to the particular style of each teacher. Attention will be given to sharpening each student’s awareness of time and energy and to disciplining the body to move rhythmically, precisely, and in accordance with sound anatomical principles. The students in this advance class will study complex movement patterns, investigate somatic use, and concentrate on the demands of performance. The course will be taught by Ms. Welliver in the fall and Mr. Kyle in the spring.
Contact Improvisation - Graduate
This course will examine the underlying principles of an improvisatory form predicated on two or more bodies coming into physical contact. Contact Improvisation, which emerged in the 1960s out of the Judson Experimental Dance Theatre, combines aspects of social and theatrical dance, bodywork, gymnastics, and martial arts. We will explore movement practices that enhance our sensory awareness, with an emphasis on action and physical risk taking. Contemporary partnering skills, such as taking and giving weight and finding a common “center,” will provide a basis for further exploration.
Dance and Camera - Graduate
When technology and the human body become partners, who leads? In this course we will investigate the blending of movement and technology in performance. Why do you look at a huge screen onstage when the live person is standing there beside it? What makes us look at one thing over another? By refining our awareness of how we see, we become more sophisticated choreographers and more articulate performers. Students will be encouraged to develop two perspectives - both of performer and viewer - and to discuss their findings. Technology is such a part of our everyday life; it’s like breathing. We never stop to think about it. But when technology is used on stage as an equal partner with the performer, our habits of seeing are disrupted; breaking those habits often lets us discover something new. This course celebrates the imagination. Students will be encouraged to work with simple materials such as cameras and projectors as tools for performance or to harness technology to make live performance more eloquent. Each week, the class will be making sketches to be performed and viewed. At times, dances from the 1980s by people like Steve Paxton and Ishmael Houston Jones will be conjured up and viewed.
Dance History - Graduate
This is a course in the history of performance in the United States from the early 20th century to the present, as exemplified by the dancers, choreographers, and teachers who brought about notable changes in the art. The relationship of dance to the larger cultural environment will be discussed, with emphasis placed on the dance of our time. The spring term will also include studio practice. This course is designed to help the student relate his or her own work to the development of the art and to encourage creative critical perception. Dance History will be taught by Ms. Thom in the fall and Ms. Folkman in the spring. For all students beginning the Dance program. Open to any interested student.
Individual choreographic projects will be designed and directed by seniors and graduate students with special interest and experience in dance composition. Students and faculty will meet weekly to view works-in-progress and to discuss relevant artistic and practical problems. Whenever possible, the music for these projects, whether new or extant, will be performed live in concert. Dance Making students are encouraged to enroll in Lighting Design and Stagecraft for Dance. Prerequisites: Dance Composition, Music for Dancers, and permission of the instructor.
This is a regular gathering of all Dance Thirds in which we share ongoing student interests and invite guests to teach, perform, and inform. Topics have included dance injuries, dance therapy, kinesthetic awareness, nutrition, world dance forms, and presentations by New York City choreographers.
Experimental Improvisation Ensemble
This class explores a variety of musical and dance styles and techniques, including free improvisation, chance-based methods, conducting, and scoring. We will collaborately innovate practices and build scores that extend our understanding of how the mediums of dance and music relate to and with one another. How the body makes sound and how sound moves will serve as entry points for our individual and group experimentation. Scores will be explored with an eye toward their performing potential. The ensemble is open to composer-performers, dancers, performance artists, and actors. Music students must be able to demonstrate proficiency in their chosen instrument. All instruments (acoustic and electric), voice, electronic synthesizers, and laptop computers are welcome. Permission of instructors is required. Permission of the instructors is required.
Feldenkrais: Awareness Through Movement®
Moshe Feldenkrais believed that "rigidity, mental or physical, is contrary to the laws of life." His system of somatic education develops awareness, flexibility, and coordination as students are verbally guided through precisely structured movement explorations. The lessons are done lying on the floor, sitting, or standing and gradually increase in range and complexity. Students are required to bring their full attention to their experience in order to develop their capacity for spontaneous, effortless action. Self-generated learning will release habitual patterns, offer new options, and enhance the integrated activity of the entire nervous system.
This more advanced class continues the creative trajectory that leads to composition and dance making. Merge your imagination and movement potential through dance improvisation. This invaluable creative mode offers students the opportunity to recognize and develop sensations, ideas and visions of dancing possibilities. Internal and external perceptions will be honed while looking at movement from many points of view—as an individual as well as in partnership with others.
Lighting Design and Stagecraft for Dance
The art of illuminating dance is the subject of this component. We will examine the theoretical and practical aspects of designing lights for dance. Students will create original lighting designs for Dance program concerts.
Music for Dancers
The objective of this course is to provide dance students with the tools to understand relationships between music and dance. Students will expand their knowledge of musical elements, terminology and procedures, and learn the basics of rhythmic notation. Students will also learn how to scan musical scores with various degrees of complexity and explore the diverse rhythmic styles that have developed in response to different geographical, social and philosophical conditions. This course will provide students with the opportunity to play percussion instruments.
Performance Project - Graduate
Explore the genius of Alvin Ailey through the eyes of those who knew him in a lecture, technique, and repertory residency. Sylvia Waters, former principal dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and founding Artistic Director of Ailey II will guide students through a definitive look into the history of the legacy created by Alvin Ailey—a celebration of the African-American heritage and the Modern Dance tradition. Ms. Waters will present lecture/discussion sessions and teach sections of iconic Ailey repertory, including excerpts of Blues Suite, Streams, and Mr. Ailey's signature masterpiece, Revelations. Master Horton technique instructors Elizabeth Roxas or Ana Marie Forsythe will lead Horton classes that focus on developing range of movement in an anatomically-corrective manner. Working closely in tandem, the instructors will enable students to create an interactive discourse about history, theory and applied practice. Students will showcase their work with an end of semester performance.
Performance Project - Graduate
Investigating the aesthetic ideals of another era can evoke questions about our own assumptions of what is beautiful and what is considered “art” today. In this course, we will explore early European ideals of beauty and harmony through the pre-classical dance forms and choreographies of the 17th and 18th centuries. Using as our material original texts of dance (treatises and notation systems), music, painting, and letters, we will delve into the juxtaposition of art and life in 17th and 18th centuries. Special attention will be paid to developing a physical sensitivity to musical phrasing, spatial awareness, and how one embodied “character” on the stages and in the ballrooms of Louis XIV and Louis XV. Discussion will be encouraged as we make connections to our current performance and training practices. We will create a new work based on our investigations and live music, spoken text, and historically inspired costuming will be used in the final creation. Students will showcase their work with an end of semester performance.
This course is an inquiry into the ways in which dance might be taught in various settings to different populations. The detailed study of kinesthetic, verbal, and creative actors in teaching will be presented and analyzed in terms of teaching objectives. Students will be placed as practice teachers, under supervision, in dance classes on campus and in community schools. Students may enter this yearlong course in the second semester only with permission of the instructor. The course will be taught by Ms. Thom in the fall and Ms. Gould in the spring.
Yoga - Graduate
This asana yoga class is designed with dancers and theater students’ interests in mind. Various categories of postures will be practiced with attention to alignment, breathe awareness, strength and flexibility. Emphasis is placed on mindfulness and presence. This approach allows the student to gain tools for reducing stress and addressing other unsupportive habits to carry into other aspects of their lives. Instructor has a background in dance and theater in addition to various somatically based practices which she draws upon for designing the classes to meet the needs of the class members. Her class draws upon an alignment oriented practice as opposed to a vinyasa style of yoga. Additionally this class introduces various awareness building practices borrowed from other body oriented approaches.