This course, designed for non-dance majors, will invite students to examine dance as an integral part of ritual as well as a performance art. Essays from the textbook will be enhanced by lecture-demonstrations and field excursions, often in conjunction with Introduction to Theatre students. Many of our examples will be from “dance on screen,” but we will also draw on expertise among students and faculty on board, and interport guest lecturers.
Understanding Dance involves a broad examination of dance to discuss historical frameworks, and fundamental questions such as: What is the nature of dance as a complex form of social, cultural, and creative means of expression? The class will include lecture/discussion, film viewings, field experiences, and simple dance movement experiences.
The central concern will be: how to research, and write about, dance traditions. Using chapters in our textbook, we will study issues related to dance: gender, disability, and the roles of technology. We will also contemplate the (assumed) differences between everyday movement and dance, and between improvised dance and choreographed movements. In addition to dances that originated in the West like ballet, modern dance, and ballroom dance, we will study such specific international dance forms as: Noh, kabuki, and butoh (Japan); several Chinese Opera forms (Shanghai, Hong Kong), various forms of puppetry and dance (Vietnam, Mynmar/Burma), Bharat Natyam (India), dance and ritual (Africa), and Sufi mystical dance and popular belly dance (Morocco). In this way we will give equal time to important dance forms from the cultures we will visit on the Spring 2017 voyage.
A short group choreographic exercise will focus on how dance gestures convey culturally specific meanings. A paper on the choreography project will be judged by the excellence of design and presentation, not by the students’ skill as dancers.
No previous dance experience is required.
Field WorkCountry: Ghana
Date: April 1, 2017
A lecture-demonstration of various forms of Ghanaian drumming and dance, with opportunities for hands-on practice. A visit to a drum-making village.
1. Explore the history and range of drum and dance styles in Ghana
2. Explore the roles dance and music have played in shaping cultural identity in Ghana
3. Embodied knowledge—a chance to learn rhythm and steps