Dance

Carla Mann

Contemporary technique, choreography, improvisation, cultural studies.

Patricia Wong

Choreography, twentieth century dance history, dance and technology.

The dance program at Reed emphasizes the Western modern dance tradition because it provides a conceptual framework for investigating many forms of dance and allows students to understand current advances in the field. This tradition challenges students to learn and create new movement vocabularies. It also encourages students to find new perspectives by which to see, question, understand, and evaluate the expressive possibilities of the human body moving in space and time. In addition, it offers a valuable adjunct to the Reed student’s knowledge of Western humanities.

Reed dance courses emphasize choreography, but do so from a variety of perspectives—those of the historian, critic, theorist, performer, and anthropologist, as well as that of the choreographer. Our classes combine several activities that are mutually reinforcing. Through technique, choreography, writing, viewing, reading, and discussion, students accrue a variety of tools for understanding how dances are made. Students are encouraged to draw connections between choreography and analogous processes in other disciplines such as writing, music composition, and the creation of visual art and theater. Our goal is to give students a broad base of knowledge to apply to whatever specific area of interest they may eventually pursue.

All classes are open to majors and non-majors. The department offers students at all levels of experience opportunities to choreograph, perform, participate in residencies with visiting artists, and interact closely with faculty members. It is not unusual for students to undertake independent study projects when their particular area of interest is not covered in the regular curriculum. The program allows students to combine pursuits by tailoring interdisciplinary programs of study for each person. Students pursuing the established interdisciplinary dance-theatre major typically work on creative thesis projects. Students may also develop ad hoc interdisciplinary majors; past graduates have pursued majors in dance-Spanish, dance-Russian, dance-psychology, and dance-history. Theses for these students have most often been research oriented.

Course offerings in dance include studio and lecture-conference courses. The studio courses include beginning through advanced technique, composition, improvisation, and performance ensemble (Dance 110, 211, 212, 221, 252, 311, and 312). These classes emphasize active engagement with elements of technique, choreography, and performance, with time spent viewing and discussing dances. Students in these classes create movement compositions and written critiques of live performances. The history, cultural studies, and theory classes (Dance 321, 322, 330, and 350) are lecture-conference courses that examine the development of dance traditions as well as the critical theory that has developed in the dance field since the nineteenth century. In these classes, movement assignments may supplement more traditional reading and writing assignments.

Special Projects in Choreography (Dance 335) and Dance and Technology (Dance 340) often combine lab, lecture, and conference activities in relatively equal proportions. The special projects course focuses on a different topic each semester and allows students to undertake an in-depth investigation of the choreographic process by creating their own work based on a specific, conceptual approach, through the study and reconstruction of works from the classic modern repertory or through collaboration with a visiting artist or regular faculty member. Dance and Technology explores image and movement making using computer animation, video, digital photography, and other technological tools.

In addition to courses that are offered for academic credit, the department regularly sponsors adjunct classes through the physical education program. These presently include ballet, Argentine tango, lindy hop, and Brazilian samba. Students can receive PE credit for successful completion of studio dance classes, if they register for PE as well as dance.

Performance opportunities are available to all Reed students through department-sponsored concerts, Reed Arts Week, and student thesis productions. Whether or not they are enrolled in dance classes, all students are invited to audition for these performances. Both within the format of our regular courses and in extracurricular activities, dance students frequently collaborate with students in the visual arts, music, and theater.

The department believes a Reed liberal arts education fosters a creative and contextual approach to dance. Although a dance major is only available as an interdisciplinary major in combination with other subjects, graduates in such diverse majors as classics, biology, psychology, anthropology, and mathematics have entered graduate programs in dance, many with fellowships and grants, and continue to teach, choreograph or perform professionally. Recent honors given to Reed dance students have included the Watson Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Reed brings well-known performing artists to campus each year, and Reed dance students frequently attend off-campus performances and master classes in conjunction with their course work. In recent years Eiko and Koma, Shelly Senter, Bill Shannon (Crutchmaster), Oslund + Co/Dance, Minh Tran, and Collage Dance Theatre from Los Angeles have come to campus, and Reed dancers have attended recent performances by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Stephen Petronio Company, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Hubbard Street dance Chicago, Groupo Corpo and Oregon Ballet Theatre.

Dance Course Descriptions



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