Bard College Catalogue

The Bard College Catalogue contains detailed descriptions of the College's undergraduate programs and courses, curriculum, admission and financial aid procedures, student activities and services, history, campus facilities, affiliated institutions including graduate programs, and faculty and administration.

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Bard College Catalogue 2013-14

Bard College Catalogue 2013-14



Maria Q. Simpson (director), Jean Churchill, Leah Cox, Peggy Florin, Marjorie Folkman, Bill T. Jones, Peter Kyle, Amii LeGendre, Janet Wong
In residence: New York Live Arts (Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company)


The Bard Dance Program sees the pursuit of artistry and intellect as a single endeavor and the study of the body as a cognitive act, demanding both physical practice and exploration of the broader academic contexts in which the art form exists. The program fosters the discovery of a dance vocabulary that is meaningful to the dancer/choreographer and essential to his or her creative ambitions. This discovery leads students to cultivate original choices that are informed by a full exploration of their surroundings and to find expression in new and dynamic ways. Through intensive technique and composition courses, onstage performance, and production experience, dance students are prepared to understand and practice the art of choreography and performance.

In 2009, the Dance Program began a partnership with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. In 2011, the Company merged with Dance Theater Workshop to become New York Live Arts. Bill T. Jones leads the organization as its executive artistic director and the Company continues as New York Live Arts’ company in residence. Artists from the Company and from New York Live Arts’ presenting season lead course work and events. 

Areas of Study

The Dance Program offers technique courses in ballet, modern dance, and world dance–flamenco, as well as courses in composition, dance history, dance science, performance and production, and dance repertory.


Prior to Moderation, students must take a minimum of four credits in technique and three credits in dance composition. All moderating students must submit choreography for consideration in one of the year’s two Moderation dance concerts. Each moderating student must present performance work for acceptance into the major. Once accepted, ­students may choose to concentrate in creative work, performance, or both.

Once a student moderates, requirements for the major include two courses in technique per semester (including three ballet and one world dance and culture course); three levels of dance composition (if concentrating in performance, two levels); Dance 250, Anatomy for the Dancer; Dance 360, Archaeology of Dance; a music course; two courses in practicing arts disciplines outside of dance; an additional history course outside of the Dance Program; and a writing and/or criticism course (e.g., Philosophy and the Arts). Additionally, attendance at Dance Workshop is required of all majors. Held each semester, the workshop helps students prepare for any one of four annual productions. For the Senior Project, students prepare choreography, performance, or other material of appropri­ate scope for public presentation. All Senior Projects include a 20- to 30-page paper that syn­thesizes interests in areas outside of dance where appropriate and relates these processes to the development of the specific work presented..

Recent Senior Projects in Dance:

  • “Hold Me Tight // I Never Got the Message,” a creative approach to ritual and the process of collaboration
  • “Merce Cunningham and José Limón: A Study in Repertory”
  • “Movement and Story: An Exploration of Character through the Discourse of Dance”


The Dance Program is located in The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, where facilities include two studios and a fully equipped, 200-seat theater.


The Dance Program offers 100-level studio classes for first-year students and other beginning dancers; 200-level classes, which are open to all students at the intermediate level of technique; and 300-level classes, open to all students with the experience appropriate for an advanced-level course. All dance studio classes have live musical accompaniment. Tutorials arise out of a student’s interest in delving deeply into a subject that is not generally covered in the curriculum. Topics have included dance pedagogy, partnering technique, pointe work, and specific elements of dance history and dance science. 

Intensive technique studies are essential to a serious dance student’s training. Dance majors and students intending to moderate into dance must register for two credits of dance technique each semester.

Introduction to Dance

Dance 103-104
An introduction to four very important aspects of dance: how to dance without becoming injured; how to develop an awareness of the body in space; how to move that body through space; and how to create dance with attention to rhythm, momentum, and balance.

Advanced Beginner Dance
Dance 105-106
Courses in modern dance and ballet for students with some experience. Fundamental issues of anatomical alignment are emphasized through the development of basic vocabulary.

First-Year Dance Studio
Dance 110
A one-credit course intended for first-year students (of all levels of experience) interested in becoming dance majors. Through investigations into dance improvisation and experiential anatomy, the class considers the structure of the moving body, its movement potential, and its wide range of physical expression. The history of modern dance is addressed, as is the current status of the art, both at Bard and in the larger dance world.

Dance Composition I, II, III
Dance 117-118; 217-218; 317-318
Three levels of Dance Composition are required of all dance majors. The 100-level classes introduce the fundamentals of movement, including timing, energy, space, balance, and phrasing. Viewing other students’ work and learning to articulate constructive criticism serve to hone the dancer’s aesthetic eye. Classes at the 200 level address questions of phrase development, form, and relationship to sound/music. At the 300 level, composition classes address production elements in dance performance, including lighting, costumes, and sound.

Introduction to Contact Improvisation
Dance 120
This class teaches basic concepts of contact improvisation, including spiral, C curve, counterbalance, and rolling point of contact. Time is dedicated for open “jamming” and watching others dance; students develop articulate watching as a strategy for stronger dancing. More advanced skills, such as extreme momentum use and jumping and catching, are also introduced.

Intermediate/Advanced Studios
Dance 211-212, 311-312
These courses in modern technique are among the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company courses offered within the Dance Program. Course work focuses on proper alignment, development of effective movement pathways, and mobilization with specificity and clarity of intent. Students also develop their ability to alternate between the modes of moving freely, performing learned material, and engaging in improvisational structures.

Contact Improvisation II
Dance 222
This course continues to explore the underlying principles of contact improvisation—gathering information with the senses and observing how the body composes a unique response. Its focus is on how dancers track, develop, and translate impulse into movement. More challenging lifts and riskier use of momentum are introduced.

Dance 243-244, 343-344, 443-444
Technique classes in flamenco, a dance and music that has been influenced by many different cultures, including Indian, Judaic, Cuban, Argentinean, and African.

Anatomy for the Dancer
Dance 250
A study of the primary bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles relevant to dancing; the physiology of breathing; and the body as a complex physical system. Students learn ways to prevent injury and how to develop a full range of expression with safety and pleasure.

Choreographic Methods
Dance 310
cross-listed: human rights
An in-depth look at the themes, choreographic techniques, and artistic processes used by the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Selected works and their generation are studied as a springboard for class-based exercises and projects. Course work focuses on developing capable choreographers and dancers who are adept participants in a collaborative process.

Dance Repertory
Dance 315-316
Taught by two choreographers, one in the fall and one in the spring, this studio offers students an opportunity to experience choreography that is made or re-created for them, thus providing insight into the compositional process. Open to junior and senior dance majors (and others by invitation from the instructor).

The Art of Performing
Dance 330
This course uses both the solo and duet forms in dance to investigate performative intent and meaning. Students examine the importance of inner dialogue and off-stage preparation; their tools include theater improvisational games and historic film footage of choreographers such as José Limón and Kurt Jooss.

Junior and Senior Seminar in Dance
Dance 350
Utilizing both the technical and administrative personnel of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, this course provides students with the resources they need to begin a professional practice. Students explore a range of jobs that allow for a continuing creative practice and learn how to interact with professionals in all aspects of the performing arts.

Archaeology of Dance: Ten Masterworks of Modernity
Dance 360
This course uses 10 masterworks of the 20th century as windows onto the history of dance. The works include Nijinsky’s Rite of Spring, Katherine Dunham’s Shango, Balanchine’s Agon, and the swing dance movement of the Harlem Renaissance. Inspired in part by Foucault’s notion of archaeology as historical method, the class treats each masterwork as a site in which history may be traced by delving into the cracks and fissures the work instigates in the historical archive and balancing that with the contextual historiography.

Interdisciplinary Composition
Dance 418
This is a project-based class in which students from different arts programs cross back and forth between their “home” discipline into new art genres, in order to deepen and enhance the exploration of style, content, and craftsmanship. Prerequisite: experience in composition courses in the student’s major course of study.