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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Juliet Mcmains
DANCE 250
Seattle Campus

Cross-Cultural Dance Studies

Gateway course for dance major. Examines dance as a universal activity and expression of cultural identity. Offers a cross-cultural and historical view of a variety of theatrical, vernacular, and sacred dance forms, and investigates the myriad ways that dance functions across societies. Offered: A.

Class description

This course will introduce you to a wide range of dance forms from around the world. Our focus will be on cross-cultural analysis on two levels. Our efforts to make sense of dances' meanings will often require stretching beyond our cultural frames of reference. We will also strive to compare dance forms from different parts of the world to each other, noting ways in which divergent cultures have points of convergence. Given such a vast range of possible dance styles, we will obviously be limited to only a small selection of dance practices, although our scope will be broad, spanning several continents. I have chosen to exclude ballet and modern dance from our subjects of study because other courses offered in this department focus on the history of those traditions. My choices were based on availability of resources as well as an attempt to balance a variety of forms from differing geographic regions, serving varying social, religious, and political functions. The dance forms we will examine and experience are not necessarily the most popular or most important dance forms of the world, but I hope they will introduce you to the diversity of rich and varied movement practices around the globe. We will spend our time looking at dance, describing what we see (in both verbal and written formats) and making connections between what we have observed and possible meanings. We will look at each dance phenomenon we study through three analytical lenses: close movement analysis, historical analysis, and cultural/social analysis.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

In addition to readings, lectures, discussions, and viewings about dance forms, we will be learning about many dance practices through physical experience. Whenever possible, we will have a dance practicum (movement class) in the form we are studying. The point of these classes will not be to master the movement forms introduced but to have some physical experience of the movement, even if only at the very beginning level.

Recommended preparation

Good reading, writing, and analytical skills required. No previous dance experience required, but interest in dance is a must.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments will include reading about, writing about, viewing, and participating in dance.

Grading will be based on writing assignments, class participation, group projects, and exams. Although participation in dance classes is required, no grades will be based on performance in movement classes.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Course Website
Last Update by Juliet Mcmains
Date: 09/23/2008