Dance and performance studies, Latin America, community dance, contemporary technique. On sabbatical 2022–23.
Contemporary technique, choreography, improvisation.
Dances of the African diaspora, contemporary techniques, choreography, and performance.
Dance history, critical race theory, performance art.
The Reed dance program explores how dance practices both reflect and shape the world. Through work inside and outside of the studio, Reed dancers find fluidity between embodied, written, creative, and scholarly work, and understand dance as a way of approaching salient social, cultural, and political questions. In addition to the dance major, the department also offers interdisciplinary majors in Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies–Dance and Dance–Theatre, as well as a minor in dance. Beyond the standing interdisciplinary majors, the dance program highly values collaboration with other departments in the performing arts and beyond.
Dance students at Reed exercise the critical skills valued throughout liberal arts education: the ability to approach and solve problems of many kinds, the ability to deeply investigate a subject matter, the ability to make informed choices from a range of possibilities, and the ability to contextualize specific ideas and events among the modes of thought and cultural phenomena that shape our understanding of the world. Dance, as a field, is well suited to this endeavor because it develops one’s capacity for a multileveled understanding of a wide variety of phenomena—cultural, artistic, and formal.
All classes are open to majors and nonmajors. The department offers students at all levels of experience opportunities to choreograph, perform, undertake research, participate in residencies with visiting artists and scholars, and interact closely with faculty members. Our wide-ranging curriculum includes courses in contemporary dance, choreography, improvisation, critical dance studies, cultural studies, Latin American dance, Southeast Asian dance, and dances of the African diaspora.
All graded dance courses can be applied towards the Group I requirement. Credit/no credit courses (Dance 100, 101) will not meet this requirement. Some classes may be taken for either academic credit (listed in the course schedule under Dance) or physical education credit (listed in the course schedule under Physical Education). Students may not enroll in the same class for both academic and physical education credit. Students registering for physical education credit must enroll for both quarters (the full semester).
The dance department offers a number of courses open to first-year students: Dance 111, 112, 201, 202, 232, 241, or 270 are appropriate for first-year students with no prior dance experience. Dance 211, 212, and 252/253 are appropriate for incoming students who have a year or more of prior dance training. Dance 311, 312, 313, 321, and other upper-level dance courses may be appropriate for first-year students with significant prior dance training. Dance 101 offers sections in a variety of dance forms at varying levels; students should consult the schedule of classes for specific techniques and levels offered in a given semester. All students should feel free to contact the dance faculty with questions about which course will be most appropriate to their experience and interests.
All Reed dance majors pursue both creative and critical work, but may choose an emphasis in dance studies—history, theory, critical and cultural studies—or dance studio—technique, choreography, improvisation, and performance. Seniors emphasizing dance studies undertake thesis projects that are focused in scholarly research but may also include a creative component. Seniors emphasizing dance studio undertake projects in which research supports an extensive creative endeavor, and have the opportunity to stage a fully produced performance of their work.
Dance Studies Emphasis
- Six units in dance studies (history, theory, and critical and cultural studies) including Dance 201 and a 300-level junior seminar course before senior year. With departmental permission, one unit of this requirement can be fulfilled by a history, theory, or critical or cultural studies course in theatre, music, literature, or art.
- Five units in dance studio (technique, improvisation, choreography, and performance), including Dance 211 or 311, and one unit of choreography or improvisation. Credit for dance technique courses (Dance 101) may be counted towards this requirement.
- Technical proficiency: must achieve 300-level technical proficiency in one dance form and 200-level technical proficiency in a second dance form.
- Production requirement: Completion of Dance 100, Theatre 100, or Theatre 201.
- Junior qualifying examination.
Dance Studio Emphasis
- Four units in dance studies (history, theory, critical and cultural studies) including Dance 201 and a 300-level junior seminar course before senior year.
- Seven units in dance studio (technique, improvisation, choreography and performance), including Dance 211 or 311, and one unit of choreography or improvisation. With departmental permission, one unit of this requirement may be fulfilled by a studio course in art, creative writing, music, or theatre. Credit for dance technique courses (Dance 101) may be counted towards this requirement.
- One unit in theatre design.
- Technical proficiency: must achieve 400-level technical proficiency in one dance form and 200-level technical proficiency in a second dance form.
- Production requirement: Completion of Dance 100, Theatre 100, or Theatre 201.
- Junior qualifying examination.
For either emphasis, at least one unit of the above requirements must be met through a course or courses focusing outside the Euro-American dance tradition. A number of courses may fulfill either the dance studies or the dance studio requirement, but not both simultaneously.
Interested students may also pursue the established dance–theatre major, a comparative race and ethnicity studies (CRES) major that emphasizes dance, or an ad hoc interdisciplinary major that includes dance, such as dance–art, dance–music, dance–Spanish, dance–psychology, dance–sociology, dance–literature, or dance–history. Please refer to the catalog section on interdisciplinary majors for information on specific requirements for the established dance–theatre and CRES majors.
A Minor in Dance
The goal of the dance minor is to develop proficiency in one or more areas of dance practice and to gain a substantive understanding of dance within critical and cultural contexts.
Five units in dance:
- At least one unit must be at or above the 300 level;
- At least three units must be at or above the 200 level;
- Only one unit may be at the 100 level.
Of the five units required for the minor:
- One unit must be fulfilled with a dance studio course, and
- One unit must be fulfilled with a dance studies course.
- Courses that may be applied toward either designation may be used toward one of these requirements, but not both.
- One unit must include a course that focuses on dance outside the Euro-American tradition.
Performing opportunities are available to all Reed students through the department-sponsored Reed Dance Concert, the Performance Ensemble, the student-led 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.
Reed brings well-known performing artists and scholars to campus each year, and Reed dance students frequently attend off-campus performances, talks, and master classes in conjunction with their coursework. Visiting artists, companies, and scholars have included Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance, Yoshito Sakuraba/Abarukas, Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre, Urban Bush Women, Grupo Krapp, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, Sean Dorsey Dance, L-E-V, Lucy Guerin, Gideon Obarzanek, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Gamelan Çudamani, Ann Cooper Albright, and Kareem Khubchandani. Reed dancers have attended recent off-campus performances and talks by Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Philadanco, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Dancenorth Australia, Sasha Waltz & Guests, Jessica Lang Dance, and Camille A. Brown & Dancers.
Reed dancers have the opportunity to participate in established dance-intensive exchange programs in New York, Paris, Jerusalem, and Havana. 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 in graduate school and in the profession. Reed alumni pursue graduate degrees in dance, teach, choreograph, perform, write about dance professionally, work in dance outreach and arts administration, and establish their own dance companies and schools. Honors given to Reed dance students have included the Watson Fellowship, grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and awards from the Dance Studies Association.
Dance 100 - Dance Production
Variable (zero or one-half)-unit semester course. Students, faculty, and staff work together to create departmental dance productions. In this class, students learn the different parts of onstage and backstage work that are required to make a dance production. Students also learn the practices of collaborating and producing. Roles available include performer in thesis concerts or work as a dramaturg, designer, stage manager, or assistant choreographer in thesis and/or biannual departmental concerts. This course is available to majors and nonmajors, and students are admitted to the course by audition or departmental approval. All students, regardless of experience, are welcome to take this class, and if a student is interested in this class, the faculty will work with the student to help them find a role. Credit/no credit only. Studio. May be repeated for credit.
Dance 101 - Dance Technique
One-half-unit semester course. Through this course, students may take technique classes in ballet, Argentine tango, hip-hop, or other dance forms; students should consult the schedule of classes for specific techniques and levels offered in a given semester. Technique classes will be accompanied by readings and discussions that place movement practices in their historical and contemporary contexts. To qualify for one-half credit, students must have taken or be currently enrolled in a graded (rather than a credit/no credit) dance department course; each graded dance department course taken allows a student to earn credit for two semesters (one unit) in Dance 101. Students may repeat Dance 101 and/or enroll in more than one section for credit. A maximum of four units (eight semesters) in Dance 101 may be accrued overall. This course may be applied toward the dance studio requirements for majors and minors. Credit/no credit only. Studio. May be repeated for credit.
Dance 111 - Introduction to Contemporary Dance: Mind in Motion
Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. 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 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, and viewing of dance performances both live and on video. Students enrolled in the course for one unit will undertake additional reading, viewing, and writing assignments. This course may be applied toward the dance studio requirements. Studio.
Dance 112 - Introduction to Contemporary Dance: Cross-Cultural Contexts
Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. This course emphasizes the study of modern and contemporary dance technique and introduces elements of movement composition through the creation of collaborative choreography projects. Active work in the studio, along with readings and discussions, is designed to locate contemporary dance within cross-cultural contexts. Students enrolled in the course for one unit will carry out additional projects in choreography and additional written work. Dance 111 strongly recommended but not required. This course may be applied toward the dance studio requirements. Studio.
Dance 201 - Introduction to Dance Studies: History and Culture
One-unit semester course. This course is an introduction to dance studies as an interdisciplinary field within the humanities and social sciences. Broadly defined, dance studies engages in critical analyses of dance practices from historical and cultural perspectives. Throughout the course of the semester, students explore and affirm dance as a vital cultural practice by considering a broad range of concert and social dance practices across time and geographic place. Course material pays particular attention to how dance articulates complex questions around race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, and nation. Written and embodied assignments introduce and explore key methodologies in the field, including movement description and analysis, critical assessment of embodied practice, archival research, and interviews. No previous dance experience is necessary. This course may be applied toward the dance studies requirements. Conference.
Dance 202 - Ballet for All of Us
Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. Ballet classes serve a wide demographic of student, professional, and recreational dancers of diverse backgrounds. However, ballet continues to be among the least racially diverse of the performing arts, one that can reinforce gender stereotypes and unhealthy body images. How might we reenvision the practice of ballet to include our own bodies, histories, and perspectives and to serve our goals as individuals? How might ballet be for all of us? In this course, we will disrupt the hierarchy of ballet as “high art,” instead approaching it as “an art” that we can use towards our own agendas. Our primary work will be movement based; we will investigate how ballet class can enhance our own dance practices. We will also draw on our individual embodied histories and movement practices, putting these into dialogue with ballet to deepen our understanding of dance practice more broadly. For those taking the course for full credit, readings on race, gender, and body image in ballet will contextualize our studio work. Previous experience in choreographed movement (any form of dance, martial arts, etc.) is recommended but not required. This course may be applied toward dance studio requirements for majors and minors. Studio. May be repeated for credit.
Dance 211 - Contemporary Dance I: Invention and Design
One-unit semester course. Designed for the intermediate dancer, this course combines an exploration of modern and contemporary dance techniques with an extensive introduction to movement composition. Work in both areas emphasizes movement invention, design, and development. Course work includes attendance at professional dance performances, video viewings, discussions, and critiques. Students will perform their work in the end-of-semester concert. This course is appropriate for students with previous training in dance technique. This course may be applied toward the dance studio requirements. Studio.
Dance 212 - Contemporary Dance II: Analysis in Motion
One-unit semester course. This course is designed to deepen students’ technical and compositional development in contemporary dance with an emphasis on movement analysis. Broadly defined, movement analysis refers to methods for describing, visualizing, interpreting, and documenting human movement. In terms of technique, students develop strength, flexibility, and versatility in movement through immersion in classic and contemporary vocabularies, focusing on the use of weight, musicality, articulation, and alignment in dance. This technical work complements compositional work, viewings, readings, and writing assignments that approach movement analysis from a variety of perspectives, including aesthetic and quotidian movement. This course may be applied toward the dance studio requirements. Studio.
Not offered 2022–23.
Dance 232 - Community Dance and Collective Creation
One-unit semester course. Community Dance at Reed (2016–present, www.reed.edu/dance/community-dance) aims to bring together members of the Reed College and broader Portland communities through community dance as a form of social intervention and collective creation. Community Dance at Reed welcomes all bodies, with a critical awareness of how race, class, ability, gender, age, and sexuality impact the ways we relate to ourselves and one another. As a community project, the program offers creative movement sessions that are free and open to the public. Practice sessions employ improvisation-based techniques that strive to connect movement with salient social and political questions. Across the semester, we collaboratively create a dance work based on social, cultural, and identity-based themes of shared importance to group members. Enrolled students read and discuss the literature on community dance and performance, consider ethical and practice-based questions, and critically engage with case studies of community performance projects. Students develop and lead community movement sessions, and codirect the creation of the dance work with community members. No previous dance experience is necessary. This course may be applied toward either the dance studio or studies requirements. Studio-conference.
Not offered 2022–23.
Dance 241 - Dancing Latinx America
One-unit semester course. This course is an introduction to Latinx American dance studies. This course takes a hemispheric perspective and considers a wide range of social, concert, and popular dance practices from the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. From a disciplinary perspective, this course explores the intersection of three fields: dance studies, Latin American studies, and Latinx studies. At this intersection, it engages the methods used by scholars working from historical, ethnographic, queer, feminist, and ethnic studies standpoints to ask: What is the relationship between dance and Latinx American identity (national, personal, and/or transnational)? How do dance practices reinforce and/or deconstruct racialized, gendered, and classed stereotypes? How do movement forms and performance styles mobilize, remember, or reimagine Latinx identities and histories? No previous dance experience is necessary. This course may be applied toward the dance studies requirements. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 261.
Not offered 2022–23.
Dance 252 - Improvisation
Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. 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. Our primary mode of investigation will be moving—delving into a wide variety of improvisational practices that may include solo dance practices intended to extend or deepen our ranges (artistic, technical, thematic) as dance artists; choreographic improvisation, a constellation of improvisational practices 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; and 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. Our practice-based research will be contextualized by readings and viewings. Students enrolled in the course for one unit will undertake additional readings and an extended research project. One year of dance technique or one year of creative work in visual art, music, theatre, or creative writing is highly recommended. This course may be applied toward either the dance studio or studies requirements. Studio-conference. May be repeated for credit.
Not offered 2022–23.
Dance 253 - Improvisation: Solo Forms and Shared Practices
Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. This course will investigate a variety of solo improvisational practices that enhance holistic experiences of dancing; expand solo movement repertoires artistically, physically, and conceptually; and attend to personal movement aesthetics, philosophies, and intentions. Drawing on a variety of influential dance practices including authentic movement, site dance, improvisational technologies, and others, we will focus on the potential of these practices to expand and deepen our improvisational knowledge as soloists while sharing our solo practices within a community of artists/movers/peers. Students enrolled in the course for one unit will undertake additional reading, viewing, and studio-based work. This course may apply toward the dance studio or studies requirement for majors and minors. Studio-conference. May be repeated for credit.
Dance 260 - Dances of Bali, Indonesia
One-unit semester course. 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 images will cover the diversity of the island, the role of dance and music in Balinese culture, and the challenges of globalization. No previous dance experience is necessary. This course may be applied toward either the dance studio or studies requirements. Conference-studio.
Not offered 2022–23.
Dance 270 - Dance, Race, and Gender
One-unit semester course. How do global dance practices perform and/or contest racial and gender identities? What is the relationship between quotidian and danced identities? This course introduces and explores the intersections between dance studies and constructions of race and gender with special attention to how these fields intersect with questions of labor, class, ability, and sexuality. It considers a wide range of historical and contemporary practices ranging across social dance, concert dance, site-specific performance, dance as visual art, and popular forms. Work inside and outside the classroom focuses on readings, viewings, class discussion, and written assignments; however, students also engage in movement workshops and dance practice–based classes throughout the course of the semester. Dance 201 is recommended but not required. This course may be applied toward the dance studies requirements. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 260.
Dance 311 - Contemporary Dance III: Action and Interaction
Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. Designed for high-intermediate- and advanced-level dancers, this course will combine rigorous technical training with work in choreography. Work in contemporary dance technique will include detailed work in alignment and focus on moving with energy and precision. Choreographic work will address compositional elements of dance—including action, space, time, gesture, structure, image, and interaction—as inherently meaningful catalysts for thinking choreographically. Studio work will be supported by video viewings, discussions, and critiques, as well as attendance at professional dance performances. Student work will be performed in the end-of-semester concert. Prerequisite: Dance 211, 212, 312, or 313, or equivalent experience. This course may be applied toward the dance studio requirements. Studio. May be repeated for credit.
Not offered 2022–23.
Dance 312 - Contemporary Dance IV: Embodied Research
Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. Designed for high-intermediate- and advanced-level dancers, this course combines rigorous technical training with work in choreography. Work in contemporary dance technique will emphasize clarity and specificity within complex movement phrases and include floor work and partnering. Choreographic work will focus on embodied research through projects that consider conceptual, thematic, and processual frameworks for generating performance works. Studio work will be supported by attendance at professional dance performances, video viewings, discussions, and critiques, and students will perform in the end-of-semester concert. Prerequisite: Dance 211, 212, 311, or 313, or equivalent experience. This course may be applied toward the dance studio requirements. Studio. May be repeated for credit.
Not offered 2022–23.
Dance 313 - Contemporary Dance V: Biography/Autobiography
Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. Designed for high-intermediate- and advanced-level dancers, this course combines rigorous technical training with work in choreography. Contemporary dance vocabularies will provide a platform from which to hone technical facilities and approach nuanced movement material. Work in choreography will investigate biographical and autobiographical sources as source materials for performance. A critical review of significant choreographic works employing biography or autobiography will inform our on-going investigation of ways to approach and develop these source materials. Through the use of movement, text, vocalizations, journal writing, memory games and storytelling, students will create performances based on biographical narratives and real-life experiences. Work in this course will include attendance at professional dance performances, video viewings, discussions, and critiques, and students will perform in the end-of-semester concert. Prerequisite: Dance 211, 212, 311, or 312, or equivalent experience. This course may be applied toward the dance studio requirements. Studio. May be repeated for credit.
Not offered 2022–23.
Dance 321 - Contemporary Performance Ensemble
Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. This course focuses on performance through the development, rehearsal, and production of contemporary dance works. Students will address the technical, stylistic, and interpretive challenges of choreographic material presented as well as develop and manipulate choreographic material of their own. Work in and out of class leading to performance will be supported through small group sessions and movement-based projects, as well as readings, viewings, written responses, and critiques. Requires rehearsal outside of class times. Prerequisite: instructor’s permission or by audition. This course may be applied toward the dance studio requirements. Studio. May be repeated for credit.
Not offered 2022–23.
Dance 335 - Special Projects in Choreography: Political Bodies
Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. This special-topics course will explore moments in history when dance and politics intersect and how these moments can inform our creative processes. The power dynamics of where, when, how, and by whom dances are performed will be investigated alongside perspectives and value systems. Prerequisite: one year of dance technique and one year of creative work in dance, music, theatre, writing, or the visual arts. This course may be applied toward either the dance studio or studies requirements. Studio-conference. May be repeated for credit.
Dance 351 - Dance Traditions of Southeast Asia
One-unit semester course. This course provides an in-depth investigation of the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of choreographic works from Southeast Asia in the context of religious, 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 Myanmar and Indonesia, and the performing arts of Vietnam, along with contemporary Southeast Asian dance works. Students will learn excerpts of traditional dances as a base from which to explore cultural and anthropological perspectives of performing arts in Southeast Asia, and how these perspectives influence creative processes of contemporary Southeast Asian dance artists. This course may be applied toward either the dance studio or studies requirements. Lecture-conference-studio.
Not offered 2022–23.
Dance 362 - Dance Ethnography
One-unit semester course. This research seminar examines methods and theories that engage in and emerge from cultural analysis of dance practices. It explores the relationship between dance and ethnography through readings, performance, discussion, and independent research. Students read foundational texts in the field as well as recent ethnographies to address the politics of representing and engaging others, situating positionality, accounting for the transnational circulation of performance practices, and serving as advocate and/or witness. Assigned ethnographies emphasize the relationships between dance and race, nation, class, sexuality, and gender. Dance 201 recommended but not required. This course may be applied toward the dance studies requirements and as a junior seminar. Conference.
Not offered 2022–23.
Dance 365 - Contemporary Global Dance
One-unit semester course. This course asks what it means to dance “locally” in a global world. It considers how contemporary global dance practices in historical context challenge neat distinctions between Western and non-Western traditions and serve as active sites that construct and/or critique these classifications. To explore dance as a complex site of cultural negotiation, contestation, and exchange, the course traces transnational dance diasporas across the global north/south axis and across the Atlantic Ocean. Students examine how global dance flows animate the formation of national, racial, ethnic, and gendered (post)colonial identities, chart global migration patterns, mobilize transnational political economies, and complicate facile understandings of cultural authenticity. Prerequisite: Dance 201 or consent of the instructor. This course may be applied toward the dance studies requirements and as a junior seminar. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 365.
Dance 411 - Advanced Technique: Performance Practices
Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. Designed for the advanced dancer, this course offers a rigorous examination of technique, integrating vocabulary from classical 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 will center on how varying approaches to dance performance relate to genre and conceptions of the performative. With permission of the instructor, the course may be repeated as an advanced practicum. Prerequisite: Dance 311, 312, or 313 or equivalent experience. This course may be applied toward the dance studio requirements. Studio. May be repeated for credit.
Dance 470 - Thesis (Dance)
Two-unit yearlong course; one unit per semester.
Dance 481 - Independent Study
Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. Prerequisite: approval of instructor and division.