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    Tues + Thurs 10:30-11:45 The Site

    Instructor: Sarah Skaggs

    Department of Theatre and Dance


    Office Hours: Tues 1:30-2:30, Wed 1:30-2:30, Thurs 5-6

Course Description

    This course will focus on contemporary dance history using theoretical frameworks that interrogate how race, class and gender resist, assimilate, and converge to create the construction of American modern concert dance. A key issue we will explore will be how the politics of the dancing female body on the concert stage produced a radicalized agenda for contemporary dance. We will address key themes and questions throughout the semester, questions such as: “What makes a body “modern?” How

    does the feminist agenda on the concert stage aid in the construction of a “modern” body? What was the role of appropriating from exotic cultures in the making of contemporary concert dance? What is the role of technology in the creation of modern dance? What are the effects of war and politics on the dancing body? Orientalism, the Africanist presence in Western concert dance, and the restaging of Native American dances by American choreographers will be addressed as part of the overall construction of American modern dance. Through response papers, in-class presentations, and an in-depth research paper, students will engage with significant issues contributing to the development of modern concert dance.

     Course Goals - Student Learning Outcomes

    - Students will learn to identify and locate historically the work of 20th and 21st contemporary concert


    ? Students will learn to analyze, compare, research, and discuss the works of contemporary

     choreographers in intertextual and interdisciplinary ways.

    - Students will be able to discuss the political, cultural and social contexts in which major dance trends responded to and developed in, focusing on how issues of diversity help define the contours of contemporary dance.

     - Students will enhance their understanding of position, power and privilege within the genre of

     contemporary dance by focusing on the stakeholders of the art form.

    - Students will produce a substantial research paper at the end of the semester that extends their

     understanding of the complex and diverse dynamics that shape contemporary dance.

    This is a WR (writing intensive) course which means you will be required to produce 4000 words or 15 pages of polished academic writing.

Required Texts

Copeland, Roger. Merce Cunningham: The Modernizing of Modern Dance. New York and

    London. Routledge. 2004.

Banes, Sally. Dancing Women: Female Bodies on Stage. London. Routledge. 1998.

    Banes, Sally. Terpsichore in Sneakers. Middletown, Connecticut. Wesleyan University Press 1987.

    Daly, Ann. Done Into Dance: Isadora Duncan in America. Middletown, Connecticut. Wesleyan

    University Press. 1995.

Articles on Moodle

Desmond, Jane. Dancing Out Difference: Cultural Imperialism and Ruth St.Denis’s Radha of 1906.”

     Moving Histories, Dancing Cultures. Ed. Ann Dils and Ann Cooper Albright. Middletown

    Connecticut. Wesleyan University Press. 2001.

    Gottschild, Brenda Dixon. Stripping the Emperor African American Presence in American

    Concert Dance.Moving Histories, Dancing Cultures. Ed. Ann Dils and Ann Cooper Albright.

    Middletown, Connecticut. Wesleyan University Press. 2001.

     Rainer, Yvonne. No Manifesto.” The Twentieth Century Performance Reader. Routledge, 1996.

    Reynolds, Nancy. No Fixed Points Dancing in the Twentieth Century. New Haven, Connecticut, Yale

    University Press. 2003.

Recommended Texts

DeFrantz, Thomas F. Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture.

    New York, New York. Oxford University Press. 2004.

Garelick, Rhonda. Electric Salome: Loie Fuller’s Performance of Modernism. Princeton, New

    Jersey.Princeton University Press. 2007.

    Gottschild, Brenda Dixon. Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance:Dance and

    Other Contexts. Westport and London. Praeger. 1996.

    Manning, Susan A. Ecstasy and the Demon: Feminism and Nationalism in the Dances of Mary

    Wigman. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California. University of California Press. 1993.

    Murphy, Jacqueline Shea. The People Have Never Stopped Dancing: Native American Modern Dance

    Histories. Minneapolis, Minnesota. University of Minnesota Press. 2007.

    Tomko, Linda. Dancing Class: Gender, Ethnicity, and Social Divides in American Dance, 1890-1920.

    Bloomington, Indiana. Indiana University Press. 1999.

Recommended Journals

Dance Research Journal. Congress on Research on Dance CORD

    The Drama Review TDR

    Movement Research Journal

Recommended Websites

Art Forum


    Infinite Body

    Bomb Magazine


    Movement Research

    New York Times

Required Projects/Assignments

1. Pre + Post free write on your understanding of US Diversity in the context of Contemporary Dance thDue. Jan 26

    2. On-going daily Class Discussion Notes

     thth thnd) (To be scheduled early) 3. Two in-class student Presentations (Feb 7 + Feb 9 Mar 20 + Mar 22

    4. Two short essay tests TBA

    th5. Two 3 paragraph response posts to K Pinero Senior project (due April 17) + DTG concert (due rd May 3)

6. Research topic and annotated bibliography due February 28th (schedule your conference with

     me early in the semester!)

     th 7. Research paper drafts due March 27

    8. Final Research paper due May 3rd

Required Extra-Outside classroom Activities

    1. Attendance required at Noche Flamenca ----- Jan 24th 8pm Mathers rd2. E. Patrick Stewart "Sweet Tea" ----- Feb 23 8pm Weiss Center Rubendall Hall

    3. Off Campus Field trip TBA

    4. Senior Projects K.Pinero ---- April 14th The Cube

    5. DTG Spring Concert ---- April 27th, 28th, 29th 8pm Mathers

Class Policies

    1. Attendance: You are allowed 1 absence without penalty. Each absence after that will significantly

     lower your grade by one-half a letter grade: i.e., A- to B+.

    2. Time: Be on time. If you are more than 10 minutes late, I may mark you as absent. If you need to leave early, please see me at the start of class. Do not leave class without telling me where you are going.

    3. Illness: If you are seriously ill for an extended period of time, please email me to discuss other


    4. No late papers or projects will be accepted.

    5. Texting in class will result in an automatic lowering of your grade by one half letter grade. 6. Talking out of turn or disrupting the class discussion will result in an automatic lowering of your

     grade by one half letter grade.


1. Participation: 30 % (15% oral + 15% class discussion notes)

    2. Short writing assignments, quizzes, response papers, drafts 20%

    3. Presentations and student led discussions 15%

    4. Research paper: 35%

Grading Rubrics

I will hand out specific grading rubrics for each project. Standby!

Notes on Conduct:

    Academic: Violation of the Academic Code of Conduct will not be tolerated. Please refer to the section on Academic Conduct in your bulletin. If you have a question about a source or a citation question, please come directly to me to discuss and clarify the matter. Also, email submissions of your mid-term and final research paper will not be accepted

    No late work will be accepted.

    Disabilities and Special Needs: In compliance with the Dickinson College policy and equal access

    laws, I am available to discuss requests made by students with disabilities for academic accommodations. Such requests must be verified in advance by the Coordinator of Disability Services who will provide a signed copy of an accommodation letter, which must be presented to me prior to any accommodations being offered. Requests for academic accommodations should be made during the first three weeks of the semester (except for unusual circumstances) so that timely and appropriate arrangements can be made. 

Students requesting accommodations are required to register with

    Disability Services, located in Academic Advising, first floor of Biddle House. Please contact Marni Jones, Coordinator of Disability Services (at ext. 1080 or ) to verify their

    eligibility for reasonable and appropriate

    Religious Holidays: Please notify me two weeks in advance if you will a class due to a religious holiday.

    Modernism, Postmodernism and the Dancing Body

     Schedule (subject to change) Dance History Seminar Spring 2012


    24 Introduction, overview of course and major themes of class, race and gender. Discuss issues of

    US diversity as it relates to our course content. Draft our questions. Discuss research papers -

    ROWS conference at Dickinson, and the state of contemporary dance today American Realness

    Required Attendance: Attend Nocha Flamenco Mathers 8pm

    26 New Dance, Feminism and Female Dancing Body Read: Reynolds “New Dance” on Moodle

    1-32. Read: Banes Early Modern Dance 66-93 Due: Class Discussion Notes Due: Pre-Class

    writing on US Diversity


    31 New Dance, Orientalism and Female Dancing Body Read: Jane Desmond’s “Dancing Out

    Difference: Cultural Imperialism and Ruth St. Denis” Due: Class Discussion Notes

    2 New Dance and Female Dancing Body - viewings

7 New Dance and the “Natural Body" Read: Daly. Chapters 1-4 Due: Class Discussion notes

    Due: Student led discussion/presentation

    9 The Natural Body Daly Read: Daly Chapters 5-Epilogue Due: Class Discussion Notes +

    Due: Student led discussion/presentation

14 Ballet Russes - Experimentalism in Ballet: Diaghilev Fokine Nijinsky, Massine Nijinska,

    Balanchine and the Russian Legacy. Read: Reynolds “Experimentalism in Ballet: 33-76 on

    Moodle Read: Banes Early Modern Ballet Due: Class Discussion Notes

16 Modernism Revealed, German Expressionism, Modernism and Fascism. Read Reynolds:

    “Modernism Revealed” 77-105. On Moodle Read: Banes Modern dance Due: Class Discussion


21 The "Heroic" Age of Modern Dance: Graham, Humphrey, Weidman, Holm Read: Reynolds

    “Heroic Age” 141-177 Read: Banes “Modern Dance” Due: Class Discussion Notes

23 Discussion continues with viewings

28 "Second Generation" -- Sokolow, Limon, Horton, Dunham, Ailey, Primus, McKayle. Read

    Reynolds “Second Generation” 319-353 Moodle Read: Banes Modern Dance Due: Class

    Discussion Notes + Research Paper Proposal Draft + Annotated Bibliography


    1 Discussion continues Read: Gottschild “Stripping the Emperor: The Africanist Presence in

    American Concert Dance” on Moodle Due: Class Discussion Notes

    6 Abstraction, the male body, and the redefining of "modern" dance: Cunningham, Nikolais,

    Hawkins, Taylor, Waring. Read Reynolds “Schism and Abstraction” 354-392. Due: Class

    Discussion Notes

8 Discussion continues with viewings. Read: Copeland Introduction Due: Class Discussion Notes

    13/15 Spring Break: Roll Call Grades Due. 20 Abstraction, the male body, and the redefining of "modern" dance (cont’d.) Due: Presentations

    on Copeland book. Student led discussion on Copeland

    22 Student led discussions on Copeland

27 Postmodern dance + Judson Church: Robert Dunn, Halprin, Rainer, Brown, Douglas Dunn,

    Paxton, Monk, Childs. Read: Reynolds “Postmodernism: 393-423. Due: Research Paper

    Drafts due Due: Class Discussion Notes

29 Terpsichore in Sneakers Read: Banes -Terspichore 1-132 Due: Class Discussion Notes


3 NO manifesto Rainer Read: Banes Envoi Read: Banes Terspichore 133-234 Read: Rainer’s

    NO Manifesto on Moodle Due: Class Discussion Notes

5 Discussion continues with viewings Making Dances

10 Postmodernism, Pluralism, Identity and hybrid dance forms: Wilson, Bausch, Pilobolus, Bill T.

    Jones/Arnie Zane, Mark Morris, Molissa Fenley, Donald Byrd, Forysthe. Read Reynolds “Late

    Modernism Pluralism”605-673. Due: Class Discussion Notes

12 Discussion continues with viewings Retracing Steps.

17 Discussion Read: online articles Faye Driscoll, Miguel Gutierrez, Ann Liv Young, Sarah

    Michelson, Beth Gill, American Realness.

19 Discussion continues with viewings States of Performance


26 TBA

     April 27-30 DTG concert Attendance required


    1 Presentations of research papers.

3 Research Paper Due (2 copies 1 hard + 1 electronic) Presentations of research papers continues

     and final reflections. What kinds of issues is dance facing in the US? How does diversity figure

    into the issues and problems dance must deal with in the US? What ideas would you propose as

    possible methods to address some of those problems.

Guiding Questions

    What roles does gender play in the construction of the body in modern dance? What is the shifting role of the female dancing body (from Fuller to Streb)? How does this compare with the staging of masculinity (from Nijinski to Cunningham)?

    What is the role of exotic cultures in the making of modern dance? How is “Orientalism” used in

    constructing dance aesthetics in Europe and America? 

    What role does race play in the rhetorical strategies used by the early modern dance makers?

What is the role of technology in the construction of modern dance?

    How do gender and technology intersect in constructing the modern dancing body? What strategies are used to create the idea of "American" modern dance?

    What is the role of the dancing body and spectacle in a post 9/11 world?

Rubric for Class Discussion Notes

What Questions do you begin with?

What is the main point the author is making?

What are the supporting points?

Select one or two pieces and describe how the work is shaped by or responding to issues of race, class

    or gender.

    How are those dynamics rendered in the body, time, space and content?

    Describe the concept of US diversity within the context of a particular dance aesthetic.

What is the piece in conversation with?

What are your questions for further research?

     List key people, terms, and ideas.

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