Bard College Catalogue 2016-17
Maria Q. Simpson (director), Jean Churchill, Leah Cox, Peggy Florin, Peter Kyle, Amii LeGendre
In residence: Trisha Brown Dance Company (TBDC), including Carolyn Lucas, Diane Madden, and teaching artists from TBDC.
OverviewThe 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 fall 2015, the Dance Program began a multiyear partnership with the Trisha Brown Dance Company (TBDC). Under the leadership of TBDC artistic codirectors Carolyn Lucas and Diane Madden and director of education Nico Brown, the partnership brings Trisha Brown’s artistic philosophies and practices to Bard through undergraduate courses, interdisciplinary collaborations, campus-wide events, and public performances. The full company will be in residence one to three weeks each year.
Areas of StudyThe Dance Program offers technique courses in ballet and modern dance as well as courses in composition, dance history, dance science, performance and production, and dance repertory.
RequirementsPrior to Moderation, students must take a minimum of four credits in technique and six 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 courses; three levels of dance composition (if concentrating in performance, two levels); Dance 250, Anatomy for the Dancer; Dance 360, Dance History: Modernity and Postmodernity; a music course; two courses in practicing arts disciplines outside of dance; an additional history course outside of the Dance Program; a writing and/or criticism course (e.g., Philosophy and the Arts); a full year of technique under the Dance Program professional partnership (TBDC); and Junior/Senior Seminar. 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:
- “Artistic Evolution in Argentine Tango: Tensions between Tradicional and Nuevo”
- “Improvisation: Memory and Body Pathways”
- “The Little Trickle / Understanding Dance as a Method of Resistance”
- “Video and Performance in an Age of Screen Images; Choreography: ‘The View From,’ ‘For, Day,’ and ‘Emma’s Belvedere’”
FacilitiesThe 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.
CoursesThe 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.
The descriptions below represent a sampling of courses from the past four years.
Introduction to Dance: The Articulate Body
The course offers an intense experience of dance in the broadest and most contemporary sense. Students move vigorously in each class in order to develop their skills as articulate movers, cultivating athleticism, kinesthetic sophistication, and range. Equal emphasis is placed on developing skills in improvisation and composition.
Introduction to Modern Dance
Intended for the beginner; no experience is necessary.
Advanced Beginner Dance
Courses in modern dance and ballet for students with some experience. Fundamental issues of anatomical alignment are emphasized through the development of basic vocabulary.
Dance Composition I, II, III
Dance 117-118; 217-218; 317-318
Three levels of composition courses 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
Contact improvisation is a duet dance form based on immediate response to sensation, weight, touch, and communication. This course explores states of presence, perception, awareness, and responsiveness to one’s self and environment. The class cultivates these states as a broader context for a study of physical strategies related to gravity, momentum, flight, falling, and rolling.
Experiential Studies in Dance History
For students who are curious about the principles and practices that underlie contemporary experimental dance. Through investigations of movement improvisation and experiential anatomy, students explore the body dancing and its structure, movement potential, and wide range of physical expression. Concurrently, through readings and video screenings, the class considers the history of modern dance.
The Body on Stage: Movement for the Performer
Dance 130 / Theater 130
This course is intended for the performing artist who has not studied dance. Students learn a basic warm-up, including exercises to stretch and strengthen muscles; rudimentary anatomy; injury-prevention techniques; postural awareness; and improvisational and creative techniques that performers can use to deepen character. Each student’s performing skills and interests are explored, with the goal of helping each performer become more physically inventive and versatile.
Dabkeh: Introduction to Palestinian “Stomp”
Dabkeh, a popular dance form that emerged in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey, comes from the Arabic for “stomping the ground.” It has historically been, and continues to be, danced at community celebrations, but in the past several decades it has also become more stylized for performances on stage and in dance competitions. Students learn traditional versions of dabkeh, danced in a line or a circle, as well as more contemporary choreographies.
An introduction to the principles and applications of the Alexander Technique (AT), a method of psychophysical re-education developed byF. Matthias Alexander in the early 20th century. AT pays close attention to functional anatomical organization and to how thought, on the sensory and neuromuscular level, plays a crucial role in an individual’s “use” of his/herself. Sought out by musicians, performing artists, and others who seek clarity and efficiency in motion and expression, AT promotes ease in any physical practice.
Dance 211-212, 311-312
Designed for students wishing to experience an intense, three-dimensional study of modern dance. Technique class is structured as a laboratory where physical possibilities are explored with a mixture of rigor and freedom, specificity and abandon. It is also a place of critical thinking; the material studied challenges the class to rearticulate/reimagine the dancer’s relationships to codified movement systems.
Intermediate/Advanced Modern Dance
Readings, written assignments, and attendance at performances outside of regular class hours are essential aspects of the course, which is taught by Bard and Trisha Brown Dance Company faculty. Prerequisite: sophomore status with the intention to moderate; two semesters of intermediate-level modern course.
Contact Improvisation II
Students in the class draw from a working knowledge of the fundamentals of contact improvisation in order to deepen their practice and explore challenging lifts and more nuanced dancing.
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
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 how to prevent injury and develop a full range of expression with safety and pleasure.
Students learn a piece from the repertory of the Trisha Brown Dance Company, to be performed at the spring faculty dance concert. Students must be available for all rehearsals, including evening rehearsals the week before the performance weekend. Enrollment is by audition.
Junior/Senior Seminar in Dance
This course provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to begin a professional practice. Students prepare a portfolio of their work, delve into development, explore the range of jobs that allow for a continuing creative practice, and learn how to interact with professionals in all aspects of the performing arts. Rotating guest teachers address issues relevant to artists entering the field and discuss their own roles within the professional dance/theater world.
Dance History: History: Modernity and Postmodernity
What is postmodern dance, how does it relate to modern dance, and how does it extend to current dance practices? The course first looks at the group of artists who took Robert Dunn’s composition class in 1962 in New York City and were considered the first generation of postmodern dance artists. The scope of inquiry expands to modernism and postmodernism’s philosophical developments, modern and postmodern characteristics of other art forms, and significant political and cultural developments influencing the modern/postmodern distinction.