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2012-2013 Dance Courses
The following are courses that, in various combinations, constitute a Dance program. Individual programs are arranged in consultation with the faculty during registration week.
First-Year Studies in Dance
The Dance program encourages first-year students to study aspects of dance in an integrated and vital curriculum of technical movement practices, improvisation, and dance history. In technical practice, attention will be given to developing the student’s awareness of space and time, use of energy, articulation of form through sensation, and building strength and control with an understanding of functional anatomy. In improvisation classes, we will explore somatic intelligence and imagination through Feldenkrais’ Awareness Through Movement® lessons, developing the natural movement abilities of each student while expanding their vocabulary and awareness through group and individual problem solving. In dance history, students will explore the history of concert dance in the United States from the early 20th century to the present. In First-Year Studies in Dance, students will have an additional weekly forum to develop analytical skills, both oral and written, for communication, independent research, and study. All of these components are designed to encourage individual investigation and community as students deepen their understanding of embodied learning.
This class is an introduction to the basic principles of contemporary and ballet practices. The fundamentals class will develop skills basic to all movement studies, such as dynamic alignment through coordination and integration of the neuro/skeletal/muscular system, strength, balance, and basic spatial and rhythmic awareness. Students may enter this yearlong course in the second semester only with permission of the instructor.
Modern and Post-Modern Practice
In these classes, emphasis will be on the continued development of basic skills, energy use, strength, and control. Intermediate and advanced students will study more complex movement patterns, investigate somatic use, and concentrate on the demands of performance. At all levels, 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.
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.
Dance Training Conference
Students will meet at least once per semester with the instructor to address individual dance training issues. We will examine these issues by discussing progress, specific challenges, and short-term and long-term goals. In addition, we will develop practical strategies to achieve those goals by means of supplemental strength, flexibility, kinesthetic awareness, and coordination exercises. This course is required for all students taking a Dance Third. It is designed to support the work being done in movement practice classes, concerts, and performance projects.
Merge your mind and body in the moment through dance improvisation. This invaluable creative mode will help you recognize, embody, and develop sensations and ideas in motion. Internal and external perceptions will be honed while looking at movement from many points of view—as an individual or in partnership with others. Beginning Improvisation is required for all students new to the Dance program. This class is an entry into the creative trajectory that later leads to composition and dance making. Other improvisation classes are recommended for students who have already taken Beginning Improvisation and want to explore this form further.
Beginning Improvisation: Embodied Awareness
In Feldenkrais’ Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) lessons, we learn how to sense subtle differences and expand our choices by letting go of habits of inhibition, tension, and expectation. We will translate the particular quality of ATM into broader movement possibilities and develop a more flexible self-image by exploring our facility for mindful spontaneity. This process of examining our patterns of moving, thinking, sensing, and feeling will allow the creation of innovative movement designs, spatial configurations, and dynamics, ultimately inviting more creative and effective action in life.
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 collaboratively 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 the instructors is required.
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. Students may enter this yearlong course in the second semester only with permission of the instructor.
Improvisation: Inside Out
In this class, we will investigate the relationship between our inner landscapes and our physical actions in the external world through movement improvisation. Each session will begin with a brief review of an internal system (organs, fluids, nervous system, etc.) as described through Western anatomy, Chinese medicine, and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen’s Body-Mind Centering®. Usually, the class will progress from individual investigations, through partnering and small groups, to larger group scores. No specific physical training is required; in fact, our object is to find actions that are spontaneous rather than learned, to learn from our movement rather than to do what we know. Students from Ellen Neskar’s course in Asian Studies, Readings in Daoism: The Zhuangzi will take this component as part of their seminar.
Movement is the birthright of every human being. These components explore movement’s expressive and communicative possibilities by introducing different strategies for making dances. Problems 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 creation. Beginning Improvisation is either a prerequisite or should be taken at the same time.
Individual choreographic projects will be designed and directed by 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 class is designed to support the creative and technical practices, as well as the practical concerns, of students in their senior year. It will also serve as a forum for discussions of art practices in other media and the nature of the creative process. Choreographic projects will be presented and discussed in seminar and in conference.
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.
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. Students may enter this yearlong course in the second semester only with the permission of the instructor.
This course offers students the opportunity to study the ancient art of yoga. Classes emphasize the union of spirit, mind, and body through practices that include breathing techniques, vocalizations, and postures (asanas). By offering clear principles of biomechanical alignment and balance, the practice develops integrated strength and flexibility and helps dancers interweave technique and artistry.
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.
In this class, students will explore the fundamental aesthetic of African dance. There will be an emphasis on work to internalize the intricacies of African polyrhythm. Students will spend time exploring the cultural meaning and importance of grounding, strength, and stability, which are essential to the form. Learning African dance exposes students to the meaning of dance in African culture. This class also builds personal awareness, as it transcends cultural boundaries. Classes will be accompanied by live drumming. Students may enter this yearlong course in the second semester with permission of the instructor.
Media in Performance
The class will focus on the intersection of dance with technologies that extend, frame, and augment human presence and interaction as a video/film and/or in performance. We will create a network of knowledge by watching and discussing the work of videographers and filmmakers, as well as our own work, in order to create an inclusive and rigorous environment in which students’ art-making practices and interests help shape the course. Students with all technological and artistic backgrounds and skill sets (even “none”) are encouraged to enroll to learn new skills and share existing ones. In this course, we will focus on the necessary skills of videography and video editing that are specific to dance performance by hands-on work with video cameras and in the programs Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, and Photoshop, with an overview of After Effects, CueLab, and Isadora in our computer-based work. The course will culminate in a shared performance of work developed during the course. This can be a performance, either solo or as a collaborative effort with other participants, or a showing of a video project.
Gypsies and Goya’s aristocrats, the swirl of a cape and the flash of a gold-toothed smile, the clatter of castanets and a wailing song, wild and indomitable ferocity and seductive, almond-eyed beauties...these are just a few of the images associated with flamenco, the popular dance and music of Spain. This course provides an in-depth introduction to the pulsing rhythms, languid arm movements, and powerful footwork of flamenco dance. The course is designed to provide the basis for understanding, appreciating, and participating in flamenco as an expression of individuality and of culture. Movement, rhythm, power of expression, and communication will be cultivated through studio experiences with flamenco dance techniques, as well as through films and selected readings.
This class offers students different ways to access their inner rhythm machine and to explore the most immediate and natural physical outlets for the music in their mind. Improvisation will be part of this process. Although some tap technique will be covered and incorporated, the class focuses on body percussion/rhythmic coordination and a general understanding of the earth-shattering power of Afro-Cuban culture, music, and dance.
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. 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. For all students beginning the Dance program. Open to any interested student.
Music for Dancers
The objective of this course is to provide dance students with the tools to better 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. Students may enter this yearlong course in the second semester only with permission of the instructor.
This course will cover elementary and intermediate levels of Laban’s system of movement notation. Students will concentrate on correct observation and analysis of movement, writing facility, and the ability to read and perform authentic historical dance forms. Reconstruction and performance of a notated work from the modern dance or ballet repertoire will be the culmination of the second semester’s work.
An inquiry into the ways in which dance might be taught in various settings and under various conditions, the detailed study of kinesthetic, verbal, and creative factors 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. For advanced and graduate students. Students may enter this yearlong course in the second semester only with permission of the instructor.
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. Preference will be given to seniors and graduate students.
This is a monthly 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.
Performance Project: Martha Graham’s ‘Primitive Mysteries’
Primitive Mysteries is considered by many to be Martha Graham’s greatest dance. The work was inspired by Graham’s exposure to the myths and rituals of the Indians of the American Southwest in 1931 and celebrates the coming of age of a young girl. Each of the work’s three sections, “Hymn to the Virgin,” “Crucifixus,” and “Hosanna,” are linked by a processional, a favorite Graham choreographic device. The dance cultivates an air of the timelessness associated with ritual. The Virgin, originally danced by Graham herself, interacts with her acolytes in a series of “living tableaus,” reminiscent of archaic icons and stylized primitivist art. The dancers serve as instruments of the “divine message” they are acting out. Seventy years after it was written, the work’s compelling originality and energy remain fresh.
Performance Project: Cross Reference, The Body and Gesture
In this course, students will explore reorientation of the body map through techniques of improvisation. We will develop idiosyncratic qualities to create a collective and formalized movement experience. We will ask: What is a gesture? What is the role of meaning in movement? And what is collaboration? The course will meet twice weekly with the possibility of a final performance.