Special studies designed to address contemporary and historical concerns in the field of dance.
This course will offer students the opportunity to explore the concept of community and the potential of dance to create a heightened communal experience. Through a historical and cross-cultural examination of the relationship between community and dance, students will investigate the ways dance and movement are used to build a sense of community among individuals and the ways that communities employ dance as part of their rituals and spiritual pursuits, for social and political change, to empower marginalized groups, and bridge disparate groups. Students will also learn the ways that current artists are engaging with communities and will develop ideas for how they too can engage with their communities through art.
Although the course’s main focus will be dance, all explorations will be interdisciplinary. The topics addressed will include, but are not limited to: Victor Turner’s theory of communitas, William McNeill’s theory of muscular bonding, McMillan and Chavis’ theory of sense of community, and Robert Putnam’s theory of social capital; early community dance pioneer Rudolf Laban’s movement choirs and the artist colony Monte Verità where he began to develop his philosophy; the community-oriented institution of higher education, Black Mountain College; historical collaborative, community based organizations: New Dance Group, The Judson Dance Theater, The Grand Union; community dance projects; community-based choreographers: Liz Lerman, Tamar Rogoff, Jawolle Willa Jo Zollar, Anna Halprin; Pat Graney’s prison project, Sardono Kusomo’s work with communities in Indonesia, Trey McIntyre Project’s community engagement practices, Wagogo music and dance of Tanzania, Native American Pow-Wow, Haitian Vodou, trance and dance in Bali, raves, Burning Man, flash mobs, contact improvisation, and hip-hop.
Through theory, practice, and case studies, we will explore the meaning of community; theories related to community; the nature of collaborations, innovations, and sharing of ideas within communities; the experiences of artists who seek to involve communities in and with their work; and the integration of art within certain ethnic and religious communities.
We will engage with these topics through lectures, readings, reading questions, videos, discussions, and practice-based activities. We will perform ethnographic fieldwork on local arts communities and present our research to the class. We will divide into groups and participate in collaborative, creative final projects focused on engaging communities through dance.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
No background in dance is required, all majors are welcome.
Class assignments and grading
Assessment: Class Participation, Reading and Viewing Questions, Ethnographic Research of a Seattle-based community, Personal Reflection Paper (2 pages), Case Study Chart, Final Project