This course is a laboratory for students interested in exploring the works of master choreographers, exposing them to an in-depth study of choreography by focusing on the steps, rhythm, structure, style and historical/conceptual contexts of iconic choreographic works ranging from 19th-century romantic ballet to contemporary work. This exploration will be accomplished physically: students will learn dance excerpts with attention to the physical details of steps, style and phrasing, allowing them to acclimate their own bodies to the universe of specific choreographies.
Students will be able to execute these choreographic works while developing a deeper understanding for the choreographers’ creative process and artistic decisions, inviting them to physically experience major artistic shifts in19th- and 20th-century dance aesthetics as they immerse themselves in the process of choreographic reconstruction. From classical ballet’s ideals of beauty, to the uses of narrative and the social/political/religious function of classicism, and finally through to the deconstruction of dance tradition in postmodern performances, this course exposes students to dance’s living archive while encouraging them to develop a critical perspective on the art of dance, its historical impact and future directions. Each session will be devoted to the recreation of seminal works from a variety of styles—Cambodian dance, Ballet, modern dance, postmodern dance, etc.
Beginning with a twenty-minute warm-up based on a physical technique tailored to each specific style (whether a simple ballet warm-up, basic Horton technique, Pilate’s based exercises, etc.), physical technique will be complemented with readings, viewings and discussion that focus on each historical work. All readings and viewings will be uploaded to create easy access for students. For midterm, students will perform one of the works already covered. For the final project, students will choose a favorite work covered over the semester and develop—in dialogue with the instructor—a solo, duet or a small group piece based on this work. For two weeks preceding these projects, students will build a compositional method based on the creative process of their chosen work. Details and guidelines about the final project will be discussed individually with the instructor. In addition, students will write a three-page paper on their chosen work due on the penultimate week, with guidelines distributed at the beginning of the semester.