Reed College Catalog

  The Reed dance program emphasizes dance as an art that both responds to and influences the shifting artistic and cultural landscape of contemporary society. The program fosters a creative and contextual approach to dance, one that integrates theory with practice and values not only reading, writing, and speaking but seeing, making, and moving as modes of investigation.  Working both in and out of the studio, Reed dancers learn and create new movement vocabularies and find new perspectives by which to see, question, understand, and evaluate the expressive possibilities of the human body moving in space and time.


  All classes are open to majors and nonmajors. 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. Our wide-ranging curriculum includes courses in technique, choreography, dance history, dance and technology, improvisation, dance traditions of Southeast Asia, cultural studies, and a variety of special topics, all of which are offered for academic credit.  In addition, the department sponsors on-campus classes in ballet, hip-hop, jazz, and Argentine tango, which students may take for PE credit. It is not unusual for students to undertake independent study projects when their particular area of interest is not covered in the regular curriculum.

  Reed dancers may pursue either the established dance–theatre major or an ad hoc interdisciplinary major.  Students have pursued majors in dance–Spanish, dance–Russian, dance–psychology, and dance–history. In consultation with their advisers, seniors may undertake thesis projects that are entirely research-based or projects in which research enhances an extensive creative endeavor.  Seniors pursuing creative thesis projects have the opportunity to stage a fully produced performance of their own work.  Please see the chapter on interdisciplinary majors for  information on major requirements.

Performing Opportunities
  Performing opportunities are available to all Reed students through department-sponsored Reed Dance Concert, the Performance Ensemble, the student-run Reed Dance Troupe, Reed Arts Week, senior thesis productions, and independent projects. Whether or not they are enrolled in dance classes, all students are invited to audition for these opportunities. In regular courses and in extracurricular activities, dance students collaborate with students in the visual arts, music, and theatre.

Visiting Artists
  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 coursework. In recent years Kidd Pivot, Anouk Van Dijk, BalletLab, Pappa Tarahumara and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar have come to campus, and Reed dancers have attended recent performances by the Stephen Petronio Company, Urban Bush Women, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Marie Chouinard, and Chunky Move.

  The department successfully prepares students—both majors and nonmajors—for specialized work in dance at the graduate and professional levels. Reed alums pursue graduate degrees in dance, teach, choreograph, perform, write about dance professionally, and work in dance outreach and arts administration. Recent honors given to Reed dance students have included the Watson Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Note: Dance 322, 330, 335, 340, and 351 may be used to meet the Group A requirement. Students can receive both academic and PE credit for Dance 111, 112, 211, 212, 221, 252, 311, and 312. In order to do so, students must register for these courses under both the dance and PE department listings. Students interested in taking one of these courses for PE credit only should first consult the instructor.

Dance 111 - Basic Technique I

One-half course for one semester. Designed for students with no previous dance training, this course provides a foundation for the further study of a variety of dance forms. Principles of alignment, body mechanics, and locomotion will be explored through the practice of movement vocabularies drawn primarily from American modern dance. The course includes an introduction to improvisation and movement composition and a discussion of critical perspectives from which to view contemporary dance performance. Studio.

Dance 112 - Basic Technique II

One-half or full course for one semester. This course builds on concepts and practices introduced in Dance 111. Drawing primarily from the techniques of American modern dance, students will study the essentials of both classic modern and contemporary movement vocabularies and explore elements of choreography. Elementary instruction in rhythm is also provided. With the instructor's permission, students may enroll in the course for one unit, and will carry out an extended examination of contemporary dance performance. Studio.

Dance 211 - Intermediate Contemporary Dance I

Full course for one semester. Technical study builds on knowledge gained in basic technique courses in the further exploration of  contemporary technique. Students investigate the elements of dance through improvisation and composition, creating movement vocabulary, and building dance phrases. Dances choreographed in class are presented in the end-of-semester concert. Studio.

Dance 212 - Intermediate Contemporary Dance II

Full course for one semester. Classic modern and contemporary forms will be the bases from which students develop strength, flexibility, and versatility in movement. Composition will focus on orchestration of traditional structures as a vehicle for solo and group dance works. Students participate in discussion and critique of class work and perform in the end-of-semester concert. Studio.

Dance 221 - Contemporary Performance Ensemble

One-half course for one semester. This course focuses on performance through the development, rehearsal, and production of a contemporary dance work. Students will address the technical, stylistic, and interpretive challenges of the choreographic material presented as well as developing and manipulating choreographic material of their own. Work in and out of class leading to performance will be supported through written responses, small group sessions, and critiques. Prerequisite: instructor’s permission or by audition, held during the first week of classes. Offered on a credit/no credit basis only. May be repeated for credit, with departmental approval. Studio.

Dance 252 - Improvisation

One-half or full course for one semester. Since the early 1960s, improvisation has played an increasingly sophisticated role in contemporary dance. This course will investigate contemporary improvisational practices that are at once creative, performative, and philosophic. The first half of the course will focus on contact improvisation, a partnering form that explores the exchange of physical support, the practice of which has challenged notions of gender roles, ability and disability, and community structure. The second half of the course will focus on choreographic improvisation, an ensemble form in which movement scores are developed and refined over time, and which has influenced changing views of the function of performance and the relationship of makers, performers, and viewers of dance. One year of dance technique or one year of intermediate-level creative work in visual art, music, theatre, or creative writing recommended. Studio.

Dance 311 - Advanced Technique and Composition

Full course for one semester. This class will emphasize rigorous technical training and advanced work in choreography. Technical material will be drawn from classic modern as well as contemporary movement vocabularies and will include detailed work in alignment and introductory partnering. Choreography assignments will focus on using a variety of source materials and conceptual bases from which to generate both detailed movement phrases and formal structures. With permission of the instructor, the course may be repeated as an advanced practicum. Prerequisite: Dance 211 and 212 or equivalent experience. Studio.

Dance 312 - Advanced Technique and Composition

Full course for one semester. This course provides advanced technical training in classic modern and contemporary movement vocabularies. Focused assignments in choreography will center on nonmusical sources for movement invention and various approaches to orchestration of movement material. With permission of the instructor, the course may be repeated as an advanced practicum. Prerequisite: Dance 211 and 212 or equivalent experience. Studio.

Dance 322 - 20th-Century American Dance

Full course for one semester. Beginning with the Diaghilev ballet and early pioneers of modern dance, this course traces the development of both modern dance and ballet in the United States. Covers the work of major 20th-century choreographers including Balanchine, Graham, Humphrey, Weidman, Nikolais, Cunningham, and the postmodernists. Lecture-conference. Not offered 2009–10.

Dance 330 - Dance Theory and Criticism

Full course for one semester. A survey of the choreographic theories and criticism of major choreographers of the 20th century. Particular attention is given to Fokine, Balanchine, Graham, Humphrey, Cunningham, Nikolais, and the postmodern movement. Conference. Not offered 2009–10.

Dance 335 - Special Projects in Choreography: Analogous Forms

One-half or full course for one semester. This course will explore concepts, creative processes, and formal concerns derived from literature, music, theatre, and the visual arts, as ways to expand and inform the dance-making process and as bases for interdisciplinary work. Prerequisite:  Dance 211 or 212, or one year of dance technique and one year of intermediate-level creative process work in movement, music, theatre, writing, or the visual arts. Conference-studio.

Dance 340 - Dance and Technology

One-half or full course for one semester. This course will explore image-making using computer animation, video, and digital photography. Emphasis will be on creating dance videos, with a look at important historical and living artists in the field. Students will create performance works exploring the combination of technologically created images and live performance. Prerequisite: Dance 211 and 212 (or Dance 210), one year of dance technique, or one year of intermediate-level creative work in dance, music, theatre, creative writing, or the visual arts. Studio. Not offered 2009–10.

Dance 351 - Dance Traditions of Southeast Asian Civilization

Full course for one semester. This course is an in-depth study of cultural concepts for understanding the historical and artistic significance of choreographic works from Southeast Asia in the context of religion, and social and political development.  We will explore classical dance forms including the Peking Opera of China, court dances of Cambodia, ceremonial and ritual dances of Burma and Indonesia, performing arts of Vietnam, and contemporary Asian dance works.  Students will learn small, simple excerpts of traditional dances as a base from which to explore creative processes through cultural and anthropological perspectives of performing arts in Southeast Asia. Lecture-conference-studio. Not offered 2009–10.

Dance 481 - Independent Study

One-half or full course for one semester. Prerequisite: approval of instructor and division.