Dance

Kristin Horrigan

The dance program at Marlboro is committed to engaging students physically, creatively and analytically in the study of dance and movement. While the program is centered in modern dance, students are invited to apply physical skills, creative processes and critical frameworks acquired in their dance classes to any style of dance.

Dance courses are designed to help students develop an appreciation for experiential learning, gather tools for creative expression through movement and hone their abilities to think and write critically about movement and performance. In technique classes, students work in the studio to develop physical skills and a more nuanced understanding of the body as an instrument. Choreography and improvisation classes help students learn tools for creating movement and shaping it over time and space, develop their skills for navigating the creative process and explore the range of their artistic voices. History and theory classes familiarize students with the work of other artists and with scholarly practices in the field of dance. In all courses, an effort is made to contextualize each dance form studied in relation to the time(s) and place(s) in which it was created, examining the cultural and aesthetic values that shape the movement.

Student Plans in dance may focus on creative work (choreography and improvisation) or on dance scholarship (history and theory), or they may combine the two. With appropriate collaboration across disciplines, students may also pursue Plan work in dance therapy, dance and culture, experiential anatomy and other movement practices related to dance (yoga, martial arts, etc.). Students are encouraged to bring in their studies in other fields as source material for creative work and to explore the meaning of dance through the lens of other disciplines.

Areas of Interest for Plan-Level Work:

  • Community-based art
  • Dance as social action      
  • Postmodern choreography
  • Improvisation as practice and performance
  • Dance writing
  • Dance cultures around the world
  • The intersection of dance and gender
  • History, theory and practice of tap dance

Starting Points (Basic and Introductory Courses)

BEGINNING MODERN DANCE TECHNIQUE (ART23)
This course introduces students to modern dance technique. Each class will consist of a warm-up, exercises across the floor and longer combinations of movement. Through studio practice, students will build physical coordination, strength, flexibility, balance, body awareness and an understanding of principles of modern dance. Some readings and video viewings will be used to help students contextualize their studio practice. The course will also include some creative work. May be repeated once for credit. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 2

CONTACT IMPROVISATION (ART537)
Contact improvisation is a duet form in which two people communicate through the language of touch, momentum and weight. We will explore simple solo and duet skills such as rolling, falling, balancing, being upside down, following a physical point of contact and supporting and giving weight to a partner. Skill work will be combined with more open dancing in a supportive and focused environment. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 2

ANATOMY OF MOVEMENT (CDS564) Co-Taught with Jaime Tanner (Biology)
In this course we will study human movement from an anatomical and biomechanical perspective. Concepts will be explored through a combination of scientific study, experiential anatomy and dance movement. Prerequisite: None      Introductory | Credits: 3

YOGA (ART614)
Inspired by the Ashtanga and Anusara yoga traditions, this class will focus on the practice of yogic postures, with attention to the flow of breath and movement, the focus of the mind and the alignment of the body. The practice of yoga stretches and strengthens the body, calms and clears the mind and promotes self-awareness. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 1

ARGENTINE TANGO (ART592) Taught by Jim Mahoney
Learn a vocabulary of expressive movement, how to follow, lead and improvise in a close partnership, all to a variety of great music. Argentine Tango is an evolving social dance, popular throughout the world—even here in Brattleboro. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 1

DANCE PEER PERFORMANCE WORKSHOP (ART)
Participation in a senior Plan dance performance. Prerequisite: None     Multi-Level | Credits: 1

At least once per year, an additional introductory level dance technique course is offered by a guest instructor.  Recent examples include ADVANCED BEGINNER BALLET and INTRODUCTION TO WEST AFRICAN DANCE.

Pursuing Interests (Intermediate and Thematic Courses)

INTERMEDIATE AND ADVANCED MODERN DANCE TECHNIQUE (ART2262)*
This course will focus on developing expansive, articulate and powerful dancing through a study of the principles of contemporary release technique. Core concepts will include weight, momentum, alignment, breath, focus and muscular efficiency. We will work on finding center, playing off balance, moving in and out of the floor, going upside down and finding ease and clarity in our bodies. Through our practice, we will develop strength, range of motion, balance, flexibility, stamina, self-awareness and coordination. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor     Multi-Level | Credits: 2

*In some semesters, this course includes a secondary focus such as improvisation, partnering, movement analysis or performance. Every other semester this course is taught by guest faculty who offer variety in the style of modern dance taught.

CHOREOGRAPHY (ART850)
In this class, students will explore both the art and the craft of making dances. Responding to specific assignments, students will create a number of dances throughout the semester, bringing a new draft to class each week. Class sessions will focus on viewing and discussing students’ work, and, when appropriate, on exploring tools for the creative process and ideas about composition. Attention will be given to learning how to give and receive choreographic feedback, and to editing and developing existing choreography. In addition, students will study the choreographic methods of other artists independently and commit a substantial amount of time outside of class to the completion of choreographic studies. Students will present their final projects in an end of the semester show.     Intermediate | Credits: 3

REPERTORY (ART851)
Students will participate in the creation of a new choreographic work directed by a faculty member. The choreography will be performed at the end of the fall semester. Additional rehearsal times may be scheduled as needed. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor     Intermediate | Credits: 2

DANCE AS SOCIAL ACTION (ART911)
This course examines the intersection of dance and social/political activism, focusing primarily on American modern dance performance, but taking detours into the dances of other times, places and cultures. How can dance participate in addressing social issues? How has it done so in the past? Can dance actually spark social change? We will examine dances that bring social and political themes to the concert stage, dances that protest in the street, dance companies that challenge the politics of who gets to dance and more. Class work will be based in discussion of readings and dance films, but the course will also include guest speakers, creative projects, fieldtrips/service learning and a research paper. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor     Introductory | Credits: 4

DANCE IN WORLD CULTURES (ART2217)
In this course, we will explore what dance means in a variety of cultures around the world, while considering the challenges inherent in viewing and analyzing dance that comes from outside one’s own cultural traditions. Class work will be based in discussion of readings and dance films, but the course will also include a number of studio master classes with guest artists. While this course is open to all students, it aims in particular to provide students intending to pursue Plan work in dance a foundation for tutorial level work in dance history, theory and writing.     Multi-Level | Credits: 4

DANCE & GENDER (ART2260)
This course will examine the many ways in which gender is represented, constructed and questioned through the dancing body. American stage performance and the training of stage performers will be our primary locus of study. However, the course will also engage in some investigation of social dancing, exotic dance and dances of other cultures. Drawing from gender theory, feminist theory, queer theory, we will build a conceptual framework to help us analyze the embedded gender narratives in the dances we see and do. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor     Introductory | Credits: 4

CHOREOGRAPHING FOR GROUPS (ART2239)
Students in this course will learn strategies for creating group choreographies and will direct groups of their peers in weekly projects. Course material will include both rehearsal strategies and compositional techniques for working with groups. The companion course, Dance Peer Performance Workshop, will provide student performers for the projects required by this class. Prerequisite: one semester of choreography class or permission of the instructor     Advanced | Credits: 3

Good Foundation for Plan

Students who wish to pursue a Plan of Concentration in dance generally begin with physical movement practices and then move into a study of composition (choreography and improvisation) and dance history and theory, though other pathways are possible. Dance Plan students must take at least one semester of Choreography (preferably two), at least one dance history/theory course (such as Dance in World Cultures, Dance as Social Action, etc.), and be engaged regularly in physical study of movement techniques; in addition, Anatomy of Movement is recommended for all dance Plan students. It is preferable that students going on Plan in dance begin taking choreography and history/theory courses during the sophomore year, as this helps generate ideas for Plan work and it allows students to pursue more advanced preparatory work during the junior year. At a minimum, students requesting to go on Plan in dance should advance beyond a beginning level in one or more dance techniques by the end of sophomore year and have a plan for taking the other required courses during the junior year.

In addition, to prepare for Plan work in dance, students are encouraged to study broadly across the curriculum to discover inspiration for their choreography and research and to gain exposure to various modes of thinking. The discipline of dance draws heavily on theories from anthropology, sociology, psychology, music, theater, visual arts and film. Recent students have also found connections between dance and religion, chemistry, biology, literature, education, history and political theory. Students wishing to go on Plan in dance are strongly encouraged to take at least one course in each of the four broad areas of the curriculum.

Sample Tutorial Topics

  • Yoga & Experiential Anatomy
  • Choreography in Film
  • Design Portfolio
  • Lighting Design in Alternative Performance Spaces
  • Reading Dance, Writing Dance
  • Reading and Writing in Modern Dance History (1930s)
  • Body-Mind Centering Theory and Practice