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Bard College Catalogue 2022-23
Tara Lorenzen (director), Souleymane Badolo, Lindsay Walker Clark, Yebel Gallegos, Maria Q. Simpson
In residence: Select faculty from Gibney Company, a Manhattan-based dance and social justice organization
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 2020, the Dance Program began a multiyear partnership with the Gibney Company. The partnership brings cutting-edge and diverse dance artists to Bard through undergraduate courses, artist residencies, interdisciplinary collaborations, campus-wide events, and public performances.
Areas of StudyThe Dance Program offers technique courses in ballet, modern dance, and West African 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 4 credits in technique and 6 credits in 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 movement practices per semester, including three ballet courses; at least two courses in a dance form or practice of the African diaspora; Dance 317, Dance Composition III (unless concentrating in performance); Dance 355, Materials of Movement; Dance 360, Dance History; one course in a practicing arts discipline outside of dance; a writing and/or criticism course (e.g., Philosophy and the Arts); a full year of technique under the Dance Program professional partnership; and the 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, a 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:
- “Every BODY Can Dance. . . . Or Can They? Explorations in Body Images in the Dance World throughout the Early 20th Century to the Presen”
- “Field Guide: Mapping Body, Performing Ritual”
- “The Museum Form: Artists’ Reflections on a Life in Dance”
- “With an Ear against the Ground: Explorations of Rhizosphere Biota as a Movement Study in Two Parts: (probiosis and wormhole)”
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 beginning dancers with no experience; 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
Modern dance, ballet, hip hop, and contemporary African dance classes for the beginner; no previous dance 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.
An exploration and study of elements in movement design using the body as an instrument for playful action, bringing the dancer to a deeper understanding of physical presence. At least one semester of dance at the 100 level or equivalent dance experience is recommended.
Movement as Deep Listening
Students explore movement improvisation as a practice for deeply listening to and engaging individual and collective perception, imagination, expression, and presence. The 2-credit course challenges the premise that improvisation requires individuals to invent movement and instead fosters the ability to skillfully use the movement that is already happening in and through our bodies as a valuable source of creative expression. Various improvisational practices are explored that enable the class to improvise alone as well as in duet and ensemble configurations.
CROSS-LISTED: THEATER AND PERFORMANCE
This 1-credit course introduces the principles and applications of the Alexander Technique, a method of psychophysical education developed by F. M. Alexander in the early 20th century. Practiced by performing artists and others who seek to move with clarity and efficiency, the Alexander Technique aims to identify habitual misuses and promote ease in any physical practice. Students identify habits of personal use and alignment through observation, study of the skeleton, drawing, movement, and touch.
Designed for students who have mastered the fundamental vocabulary of ballet technique and are interested in cultivating their potential for meaning making with greater movement complexity. The stylistically neutral approach emphasizes the form as a scientifically supported system, enabling the dancer to pursue greater expressivity without preconceived artifice and move easily into other dance forms or physical systems with ease. Classes feature live music, requiring students to develop keen listening skills and accurate time keeping.
Intermediate Modern Dance
The course draws inspiration from two 20th-century masters of modern dance, Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown. Students study and question the value of a technical foundation through a codified technique before exploring the wild terrain of improvisation as they prepare for rigorous movement. Performance footage, sound, and visual art help deepen students’ understanding of the two dancers’ legacies. Previous dance experience a must.
For students who have a strong foundation in ballet and are seeking to expand their technical knowledge as well as more seasoned dancers interested in refining their craft. The course prioritizes movement efficiency, supported by the understanding that our bodies have an innate capacity for balance. Learning to not interfere with our natural organization is a large part of the work.
While the course primarily focuses on the practice of dance, it also introduces the historical figures and cultural movements that shaped contemporary jazz dance styles. Additionally, the class explores movement in the musical theater idiom, with an emphasis on Fosse style. Prerequisite: two semesters of dance technique or the equivalent.
Entrepreneurial Artistry as Activism
An increasing number of dance and theater artists want to use their artistic work as a tool for activism and to make a social impact. Modeled after the Gibney Company’s Moving toward Justice Fellowship Program, the course is for students who want to develop their writing in support of their personal passions and entrepreneurial goals. It provides a framework to support project planning from start to finish—including the drafting of mission statements, timelines, budgets, and business plans.
Africa, Artists, and Activism
CROSS-LISTED: AFRICANA STUDIES, HUMAN RIGHTS
As world politics seems driven toward more authoritarian structures, it is worth considering the role of the artist as a change agent. Since colonialism, African artists such as Karim Sama, Fela Kuti, Johnny Clegg, and Awadi have used their artforms to combat totalitarian and oppression. This 2-credit course explores the ways in which artists in multiple disciplines have embedded activism into their work, and considers how students might cultivate their own artistic activist voice. Select readings, videos, and film screenings enhance discussions.
Contemporary African Dance
CROSS-LISTED: AFRICANA STUDIES
Students are guided through a series of isolations, progressions, and concepts that are found in African dance styles. Emphasis is placed on the principal of polyrhythm, the positions of the head, torso, and legs and arms, as well as articulation. Cultural, philosophical, and aesthetic concepts help the dancers to embody the technique. Open to intermediate and advanced dancers, or with permission of the instructor.
Dance 315-316Dance Repertory is designed to expose students to the real-life demands of a professional dancer. Class time is spent in the development and rehearsal of a dance in preparation for a public performance at semester’s end.
Problems in Dance and Performance History:
The Postmodern Shift
CROSS-LISTED: THEATER AND PERFORMANCE
What is postmodern performance, how does it relate to modern dance, and how does it extend to current performance practices? The 1960s saw a marked shift in creative practices that opened up who could perform and create performance. In this course, the artists and trends that helped usher in that new level of cross-disciplinary collaboration are explored. Also discussed: 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.
Materials of Movement
The course addresses musculoskeletal anatomy in detail and considers its relationship to movement generally, and dance specifically. Emphasis is placed on the systematic relationships within our moving bodies as we shift between the local and global perspectives. The goal is to present a scientific basis for the human body that enhances the technical and aesthetic growth of dance performance. Prerequisite: For moderated students (in any discipline) with an active dance practice.
Dance History: Right to Dance
Dance is perhaps the most basic form of art, needing only the body for its creation. The course traces dance history, looking at Western court dances, folk dances across different continents, Native American cultural celebrations, and theatrical and social dance, while acknowledging that historical documentation goes only so far. Students are encouraged to write their own dance history—drawing connections across time and space through essays and creative projects.
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
Migration has been a constant force in shaping history and, in many ways, human movement has created opportunities for culture to evolve and thrive. This course considers how dance has adapted to, and been transformed by, migration and cross-cultural exchange. Moving away from the Euro/U.S.–centric approach to dance history, the class explores ritual and concert dance from a Mexican perspective. Readings (from Diana Taylor, Gloria Anzaldúa, Elizabeth Schwall, and David Delgado Shorter), movement explorations, and visits from guest speakers deepen students’ understanding of dance as a global art form.
Dance Writing Lab
Led by a member of the dance faculty, students meet weekly to explore research questions and engage in writing practices required as part of the Senior Project in dance.
This 1-credit weekly workshop allows undergraduates to present work in progress for critical feedback from faculty and peers. It is a nonhierarchical gathering at which everyone participates in constructive conversation about dance and dance making. All students enrolled in dance composition are required to attend.