THEA 212
From Stage to Page: Writing about Dance
Last Offered Fall 2016
Division I Writing Skills
Cross-listed DANC 212
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

We commonly understand the word “choreography” to mean the creation of dance movement. The Greek roots of choreography, however, are choreia (the synthesis of dance, music and singing) and graphein (to write). For centuries, people have attempted to pin dance down on the page, translating an ephemeral, embodied performance art into written form. In this writing-intensive tutorial, students will investigate four major modes of dance writing: dance notation or scoring, dance criticism, dance ethnography, and dance history, with a shorter fifth unit on a new avant-garde form, “performative writing.” Students will study important examples of each form, such as Rudolf Laban’s famed system of dance notation and Katherine Dunham’s ethnographic account of dance in Jamaica, Journey to Accompong. Students will then delve into each form of writing themselves. For example, they will work with Mellon Artist-in-Residence Emily Johnson as “scribes” for her creative process, attend live dance concerts at the ’62 Center and Mass MoCA as the basis for writing pieces of dance criticism, conduct participation-observation research by attending social dance events to write mini-ethnographies of their experiences, and work with librarians to learn about resources at Sawyer for researching dance history.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1217
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: short analytical papers every other week, preparedness for being a respondent and discussant
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first and second year students
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
THEA 212 Division I DANC 212 Division I

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