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 contemporary technique, choreography, improvisation, Labanotation, dance history, and Southeast Asian dance, all of which are offered for academic credit. In addition, the department sponsors on-campus classes in African dance, ballet, hip-hop, 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 in past years have pursued ad hoc interdisciplinary 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 supports an extensive creative endeavor. Seniors pursuing creative thesis projects have the opportunity to stage a fully produced performance of their work. Please refer to the section on interdisciplinary majors for specific information on major requirements.
Performing opportunities are available to all Reed students through the 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 projects, dance students collaborate with students in the visual arts, music, and theatre.
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, the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble, Anna Halprin, Shen Wei, the Northwest Dance Project, Kidd Pivot, and Pappa Tarahumara have come to campus, and Reed dancers have attended recent performances by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Grupo Corpo, Gallim Dance, Yossi Berg/Oded Graf and Wayne McGregor/Random Dance.
Reed dancers have the opportunity to participate in a dance-intensive domestic exchange program, for either a semester or a year, at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Reed students may also register for dance courses at nearby Lewis and Clark College.
The department successfully prepares students—both majors and nonmajors—for specialized work in dance at the graduate and professional levels. Reed alumni 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 201, 260, 262, 264, 335, 340, 351, and 360 may be used to meet the Group A requirement. Students can simultaneously receive both academic and PE credit for Dance 111, 112, 211, 212, 221, 252, 311, 312, and 411. 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. All dance courses listed below may be used to fulfill the Group X requirement.
Dance 111 - Introduction to Dance: Studio 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 modern and contemporary concert dance. Though primary work will be in the studio, the course includes a discussion of critical perspectives from which to view contemporary dance performance. Students will read about, attend, and review a professional dance performance as well as examine performances on video. Studio.
Dance 112 - Introduction to Dance: Studio II
One-half or full course for one semester. Drawing primarily from the movement vocabularies of modern and contemporary concert dance, this course builds on concepts and practices of dance technique introduced in Dance 111. This course also investigates the intersection of concert dance with other dance forms, and introduces elements of movement composition through the creation of group choreography projects and discussions of professional dance performances. With the instructor's permission, students may enroll in the course for one unit, and will carry out an extended examination of a current issue in contemporary dance. Studio.
Dance 201 - Introduction to Dance: History and Culture
Full course for one semester. Dance is a powerful medium: it has the capacity to express the ineffable; to fuse seemingly disparate notions of space, time, mind, and body; and to articulate or even reconfigure one’s sense of identity or one’s place in the world. This survey course provides an introduction to the discipline of dance studies in a global context, and examines the ways that dance encompasses both cultural and historical ideas about how we exist in the world. We will pair methodology for discussing and writing about dance with historical and cultural context for classical and concert dance forms from the 1600s to the present. There will be a few selected movement experiences to learn the basics of some of these dance forms, and students will attend and review off-campus professional dance performances. No previous dance experience is necessary. Lecture-conference.
Dance 211 - Contemporary Dance I (Intermediate level)
Full course for one semester. Designed for the intermediate dancer, this course builds on knowledge gained in introductory technique courses in the further exploration of contemporary dance technique combined with extensive work in movement composition. Composition work emphasizes movement invention, design and development, and an in-depth consideration of the spatial, temporal, and dynamic possibilities of movement. Work in technique similarly investigates these issues within the vocabulary drawn from classic and contemporary movement techniques. Course work includes attendance at professional dance performances, video viewings, discussions and critiques. Students will perform their work in the end-of-semester concert. Dance 111 and 112 or previous training in dance technique is highly recommended. Studio.
Not offered 2011–12.
Dance 212 - Intermediate Contemporary Dance II (Intermediate level)
Full course for one semester. Students develop strength, flexibility, and versatility in movement through classic and contemporary techniques, building on knowledge gained in Dance 211. Focus on the use of weight, musicality, torso articulation, and athletic physicality in movement phrases allows students to experience relationships between content and structure within both historical and contemporary contexts. Work in technique includes a consideration of the foundational movement principals of twentieth century choreographers including Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, José Limón, Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown, and William Forsythe, and the ways in which contemporary dance builds upon these stylistic underpinnings. Students attend professional dance performances, participate in discussions and critiques of class work, and perform in the end-of-semester concert. This course is designed for intermediate-level dancers; Dance 111 and 112, or previous training in dance technique is highly recommended. 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. 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, a form in which movement scores are developed and refined over time, and which has influenced changing views of the function of performance and the relationships between 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 260 - Dances of Bali, Indonesia
Full course for one semester. This course offers the opportunity for students to combine contextual study of Southeast Asian culture and performance arts with studio activities in dance. The class provides social, cultural, and aesthetic views of the performing arts in Southeast Asia with a special focus on Bali, Indonesia. The course will examine selected ritual, social, and court dances of Bali such as Kechak and Legong in cultural and historical context. Students will be introduced to technical aspects of Balinese dance and its relation to music. Studio sessions will bring these ideas to life as students learn basic dance movements and musical structures. Lectures, readings, films, and slides will cover the diversity of the island, the role of dance and music in Balinese culture, and the challenges of globalization. Conference-studio.
Not offered 2011–12.
Dance 262 - Dance and Gender in Latin America
Full course for one semester. This course focuses on social dance and movement forms of Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, including tango, samba, capoeira, Jarocho, and ballet folclórico in the mid-nineteenth to late twentieth centuries. We will examine gender relations in these dances, and how they became constructs for exported national identity. Other discussions include issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, identity, and nationalism in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. We will compare the social forms of these dances to how they are exported in different performance venues. There will be a few selected studio experiences to learn the basics of some of these forms. No previous dance experience is necessary. Conference.
Not offered 2011–12.
Dance 264 - Embodying History: Twentieth-Century Concert Dance through Labanotation
Full course for one semester. This course highlights major choreographers through their choreographic and movement styles as a vehicle to examine trends in American modern and postmodern dance from the 1960s through the end of the twentieth century. It integrates elementary Labanotation lessons into dance history, so that students will learn and perform some of the dances they read about and discuss. We will critically view, read, and write about concert dance, execute Labanotation exercises, and learn excerpts of some of the works we discuss. Class discussions will bring to light the social politics of the time period, gender relations and identity issues in the dances, and choreographic trends. Labanotation concepts offer cognitive tools with which to embody history, to allow students the opportunity to kinesthetically experience the dances about which they learn, and to provide a means to analyze dance and history. Prerequisite: Dance 112 or one year of dance technique. Conference-studio.
Not offered 2011–12.
Dance 311 - Contemporary Dance III (Intermediate-Advanced Level)
Full course for one semester. Designed for high-intermediate and advanced level dancers, this course will emphasize rigorous technical training with work in choreography. Technical material will be drawn from contemporary movement vocabularies and will focus on moving with energy and precision within complex movement phrases. Focused assignments in choreography will center on the use of thematic and narrative materials from which to generate both detailed movement phrases. Study in choreography will be supported by video viewings, discussions, and critiques, as well as attendance at professional dance performances, and student work will be performed in the end-of-semester concert. With permission of the instructor, the course may be repeated as an advanced practicum. Prerequisite: Dance 211 and 212, or Dance 312 or equivalent experience. Studio.
Dance 312 - Contemporary Dance IV (Intermediate-Advanced Level)
Full course for one semester. Designed for high-intermediate and advanced level dancers, this course combines rigorous technical training with work in choreography. Classic and contemporary techniques will provide both conceptual and stylistic bases from which to approach complex movement vocabularies. In-class work will emphasize clarity and specificity in movement and include floor work, partnering and a detailed consideration of alignment. Choreography projects will investigate the relationships between movement materials and structures and the interaction of sound, visual design and movement. Study in choreography will be supported by attendance at professional dance performances, video viewings, discussions, and critiques, and students will perform in the end-of-semester concert. With permission of the instructor, the course may be repeated as an advanced practicum. Prerequisite: Dance 211 and 212, or Dance 311, or equivalent experience. Studio.
Dance 335 - Special Projects in Choreography: Alternative & Altered States
One-half or full course for one semester. This course will investigate the work of choreographers who create performances for alternative, altered, and virtual sites—sites that allow for new relationships not only between site and movement but also between performers and viewers. We will choose and create sites in which to perform; explore the physical, social, and historical characteristics of these sites; and animate them with movement, sound, video, and interactive technology. Artists in all disciplines are encouraged to join. Prerequisite: one year of dance technique and one year of creative work in dance, music, theatre, writing, or the visual arts. Conference-studio.
Not offered 2011–12.
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, one year of dance technique, or one year of creative work in dance, music, theatre, creative writing, or the visual arts. Studio.
Not offered 2011–12.
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.
Dance 360 - Queer Dances: Gender, Sexuality, and Identity in Modern and Contemporary Concert Dance
Full course for one semester. How does dance reflect and affect our notions of queer identity? How are issues of gender, sexuality and power manifested in drag performances, in club dancing and on the concert dance stage? This course traces the history of gay, lesbian, and transgender concert dance performance and choreography in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in the U.S. and Europe. We will examine gender, sexuality, and power, and how dances reflect choreographers’ identities, from gay and lesbian modern dance icons, to drag performance, to genderqueer expression, to how choreography reflects personal identity, historical politics, and social movements. Conference.
Dance 411 - Advanced Technique and Performance
One-half or full course for one semester. Designed for the advanced dancer, this course offers a rigorous examination of technique, integrating vocabulary from classical ballet and contemporary dance with choreological conceptions of the body in motion. Emphasis will be placed on understanding and embodying the conceptual framework of movement material and the ways in which that understanding is integrated in performance. Focused assignments in choreography will center on the use of technique-based theory for choreographic research and on approaches to the orchestration of movement material. With permission of the instructor, the course may be repeated as an advanced practicum. Prerequisite: Dance 311 or Dance 312 or equivalent experience. Studio.
Not offered 2011–12.
Dance 481 - Independent Study
One-half or full course for one semester. Prerequisite: approval of instructor and division.