2013-2014 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 classes such as Contemporary and Ballet, emphasis is placed on developing 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, structured activities form a framework for investigating the properties of movement in the context of experience and performance. Goals include honing perceptive and communicative skills, exploring movement instincts and appetites, and constructing a viable foundation from which to work creatively. In Dance History, students will explore the history of concert dance in the United States from the early 20th century to the present. First-year Studies in Dance seminar provides students with an additional weekly forum to expand analytical skills, both oral and written, for communication, independent research, and study. We will consider and cultivate critical perspectives on dance as an art form through movement studies, class exercises, discussion, reading, writing, and oral presentation, building skills in each of those areas throughout the year. In sum, these components are designed to encourage individual investigation and development of community centered on dance.
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.
Modern and Post-Modern Practice
In these classes, emphasis will be on the continued development of basic skills, energy use, strength, and control relevant to the particular style of each teacher. 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. Intermediate and advanced students will study more complex movement patterns, investigate somatic use, and concentrate on the demands of performance.
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 with the instructor at least once per semester 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.
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.
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. This course will be taught by Ms. Rudner in the fall, and Ms. Devine in the spring.
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 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.
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 only with permission of the instructor.
Dance and Camera
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—of performer and of 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.
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. This course is for all students beginning the Dance program. It will be taught by Ms. Thom in the fall and Ms. Folkman in the spring.
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 students’ work.
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 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. 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. Devine in the spring.
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 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.
The focus of this class is an ongoing awareness of the dancers’ facility while experiencing and assimilating new ideas and qualities. We will concentrate on efficient, articulate sequences, musicality and phrasing, nuance and gesture, with both set material and improvisatory modalities. We aim to sharpen the viewing eye when looking at movement detail. As the course progresses, we will focus on the creative process of choreography, developing new work along the way and driven by our deepened physical experience. Throughout the semester, we will continue to have a dialogue about dance, dance-making, and the dancing body.
Performance Project: Memories, Present Moments, and Movements Merge
In this course, students will participate in developing the template for the choreography. Each will have the opportunity to share histories, experiences, fables, or current personal, community, and world issues around a selected theme. The instructor as the main choreographer will employ the dancers’ input with stories and movement ideas. The work will include students speaking live or in recordings. Dance vocabulary will focus on abstract enhancement of storytelling; high energy contrasts; extreme clarity in lines, articulation, and momentum; and broad use of space. Dancers will be coached to achieve hig- level performance skills, including expressions of the theatrical within the dance.