DANC 211
Afro-Modern Dance: Theory & Practice (Dunham Technique) Spring 2022
Division I

Class Details

Modern African diasporic dance creates a conversation between the past and the present; it brings forth memories of the African “homeland” and of the dispersal of African bodies around the world, while simultaneously engaging the current joys, pains, challenges, and cultural growth of Black people. Through movement and rhythm, dancers experience the embodied knowledge of previous generations, while connecting to contemporary cultural, political, and economic realities. Katherine Dunham devoted her life to exploring and exposing the multiple layers and complexities of the African diasporic experience through her ethnographic dance choreographies, her dance technique, her schools, her music, and her writing. Dunham’s work as a dance anthropologist, artist, educator, and humanitarian is manifested in Dunham Technique; the technique is a fusion of African diasporic dance, ballet and modern dancer, and functions as an embodied medium for cultural communication. The technique is considered “a way of life” as it uses theory and philosophy to engage participants in a holistic experience that is not only physical, but also intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. Through this combination of physicality, history, theory, and philosophy, Dunham Technique is a tool to understand one’s inner self and place oneself within a historical and cultural framework. In this course, students will explore the history, theory, and philosophies of Dunham Technique and Katherine Dunham, while actively participating with the technique’s movement concepts and vocabulary. Students will engage in the fundamentals of a Dunham Technique movement class through center floor work, barre exercises, progressions, and choreography. The course will combine the studio experience of the physical technique with lectures and discussions. Students will learn about the three theories of Dunham Technique (Form and Function, Intercultural Communication, and Socialization through the Arts) and its three philosophies (Self-Examination, Detachment, and Discrimination) while also learning the history and historical context of the technique and its creator. Students are expected to have experience in modern dance or other dance techniques.
The Class: Format: seminar; The course meets in person, twice per week for the full semester. The course includes two main integrated components: physical dance training and lecture/discussion. Students will experience guest artists certified in Dunham Technique.
Limit: 25
Expected: 15-20
Class#: 3880
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on the completion of (4) journals, the quality of the final movement assignment, the completion of weekly reading assignments, and their participation during class activities/discussions.
Prerequisites: Students who have taken Modern I/DANC 106 or other department dance courses with technique components, or have previous study in Dunham technique.
Enrollment Preferences: Students with 1-2 years of formal dance training and interested in expanding their knowledge of African diasporic dance and Dunham Technique.
Distributions: Division I

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