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Dance

The Smith College Department of Dance gives students a broad view of dance in preparation for professional performance careers, as a training ground for choreographers, or to prepare for study in graduate dance programs. Students who do not intend to pursue dance professionally are also welcome.

In both the undergraduate and graduate programs, the faculty is dedicated to fostering each student’s unique talents as the student explores creative dance experiences. The Smith dance department is a member of the Five College Dance, a nationally recognized model for excellence in dance in higher education.

Department Updates

Upcoming Spring 2024 Performances

Tickets available for performances at smitharts.booktix.com.

Senior Concert

April 11 at 7:30 p.m.; April 12 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.; April 13 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Scott Dance Studio

Spring Grad Event

May 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Scott Dance Studio

Dance at Smith

Smith's dance courses include contemporary modern, ballet, jazz, West African, dance history, dance composition, cultural studies, anatomy-kinesiology and advanced seminars in special topics. Most technique classes are taught with live music. 

There is no mandatory core curriculum at Smith, and interdisciplinary studies are encouraged. Senior dance majors complete a thesis course and a choreographic or research project. Students are encouraged to study and perform at other schools in the Five College Dance Department; a fare-free bus system connects the campuses.

The dance department at Smith works out of four studios, two dedicated theaters and one informal theater. The Josten Library for the Performing Arts maintains an outstanding dance collection. There is a fully staffed costume and scene shop in the performing arts center.

There are four full-time faculty and a staff musician, eight graduate teaching fellows and several professional adjuncts and part-time musicians. The department sponsors regular master classes and special workshops, often led by members of such national touring dance companies as Mark Morris, Trisha Brown and Company and Urban Bush Women. Recent visitors have included guests from Ballet Theatre du Bourdeau, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. Master classes and workshops are often given by artists who are performing at the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A student-run dance company, Celebrations, was founded in 1983.

Five College Dance  combines the programs of Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The faculty operates as a consortium, coordinating curricula, performances and services.

The department, formed for the mutual benefit of all member institutions, supports a variety of philosophical approaches to dance and provides students an opportunity to experience a wide spectrum of performance styles and techniques. The faculty operates as one department, unifying its educational mission to include a well-balanced curriculum emphasizing a broad integration of technical, creative, historical and analytical aspects of dance; a wide variety of philosophical approaches to teaching; diverse course offerings enabling students to experience numerous performance styles, techniques and theoretical perspectives; and shared resources that provide a rich artistic and scholarly environment.

The collaborative structure of the department provides a large and diverse community of colleagues with whom to share pedagogic as well as artistic perspectives. Students may take a dance course on any of the five campuses and receive credit at their home institution, and course offerings are coordinated among the campuses to facilitate registration, interchange and student travel. Five College Dance is a nationally recognized model for excellence in dance in higher education.

Requirements & Courses

Goals for majors in Dance

The major is designed to instill a broad view of dance in preparation for a professional career or further study while promoting liberal arts learning capacities. Students complete courses in dance history; anthropology and aesthetics; composition and creative process; kinesiological and somatic aspects of dance; dance production; and dance technique, movement vocabulary and performance. A dancer’s instrument is her body and it must be trained consistently; technique courses are therefore a core component of the curriculum.

The capacities for the major in dance overlap and are integrated throughout the curriculum. In this section we individuate these capacities into subsets of the discipline.

Dance Technique. By graduation, dance majors have engaged deeply with the physical practice of dance and possess the embodied knowledge and physical training that enables them to perform and generate a variety of technical dance skills. These courses focus on the practice and analysis of movement. They promote the development of physical skills and physical intelligence (the ability to efficiently solve movement and performance-related tasks/problems). Students generate and analyze physical data through courses in technique and improvisation movement. Their understanding of expressive human movement is the bedrock of their studies and interwoven in all creative and theoretical research in dance. 

Composition and Creative Process. Creative research through choreography and dance repertory comprises a large part of the theory requirements for the major. This sequence of courses begins with the most basic study of dance composition—gesture, space, time, energy—and focuses on tools for finding and developing movement. The second- and third-level courses develop the fundamentals of formal choreography and expand work in the manipulation of spatial design, dynamics, phrasing, rhythm, content and music. The movement materials that a student explores are not limited to any specific genre. This sequence also includes 4-credit repertory courses at the intermediate and advanced levels, in which students, as dancers, are participants in the creative process and development of faculty and guest artists’ choreography.

Dance History, Anthropology and Aesthetics. Further study of dance is divided into dance aesthetics, dance anthropology and dance history. Students learn to conceptualize dance through these theoretical lenses and apply methods in dance history, anthropology and aesthetics in their own research. They also acquire an interdisciplinary understanding of dance scholarship through study of dance theory in dialogue with fields such as area studies, gender studies, African American studies and film studies. The theory curriculum promotes dance literacy through a broad perspective that highlights the practice of this art both in the United States and globally, as a concert form and also an expression of popular culture, in variety of social contexts and serving a vast array of artistic and cultural purposes.

Dance Science and Somatics. The science of movement, perception and intention underlie all aspects of dancing. Dance majors acquire skill in these areas through mindful, directed practice, feedback from their instructors, and from learning about anatomy, physiology, motor control and learning and the study of somatics. Although this material is covered specifically in the scientific foundations of dance, it is integrated into our technique courses as well. Emphasis is placed not only on functional alignment, coordination and the development of basic and higher level physical skills, it is also on the cognitive and emotional processes that clarify intention, expression, performance awareness, creative imagination and perceptual attunement both to one’s surroundings and one’s body.

By learning the science and somatic principles of dance, students are able to analyze movement and movement pedagogy, critically assessing how what they are doing can be deepened through the knowledge of the mind/body and how what they are doing might either be expanding their movement potential or potentially causing harm to their body. Dancers learn to critically assess the concept of body image, posture and fitness. They learn that movement intelligence is not about a body type or movement that looks a certain way, but the capacity to engage in the task of solving movement and performance problems or challenges. It is about the development of resilience and the ability to draw upon varied experiences to have an increased potential to adapt to emerging situations.

Music and Dance. The study of music for dance is the topic of a full theoretical course required for the major but also an important discussion in all choreography and repertory courses. Finding and accurately naming music-specific information as related to dance, particularly with respect to rhythm and phrasing, is an expected skill of all majors. Additionally they learn to recognize aspects of basic music theory and the cultural, cognitive and emotional effects of listening. Majors also grow an ethical and respectful approach to live and prerecorded music as the artistic expression and intellectual property of composers, accompanists and performers.

Goals for MFA in Dance

The mission of the MFA program is to foster the study of choreography and performance from a critical perspective that holds dance as a mode of research, means of expression, tool for interpretation of the human experience and practice of engagement with the world.

The program promotes the acquisition of choreographic tools, performance techniques, creative process methods, dance production skills and teaching methods informed by theories about dance, the body, aesthetics, design, creativity and pedagogy. The curriculum positions choreography and performance as forms of critical inquiry.

The program nurtures pluralist aesthetics by supporting students in the exploration of their own artistic interests and the development of an original voice in choreography. It prompts students to articulate their artistic identity as much in their choreographic production as in the analysis and self-assessment of their work in speech and writing.

It offers technique training in modern and postmodern dance, improvisation and contemporary ballet. Moreover, it comprises specialists in choreographic methods, creative process research, design thinking, music/sound for dance, dancefilm and digital technology, theatrical production, kinesiology and somatic science, dance pedagogy, dance history, cultural studies, writing and qualitative research methods.

Composition, Creative Process and Dance Production. With choreography as its focus, students take four courses that foster the acquisition of thorough skills in creative process. Additionally, in their first year students give two public presentations of their choreography (the fall and spring grad events). In their second year, they work from summer to spring in the creation of an ambitious thesis project, leading to the presentation of the choreography in our state-of-the-art Theatre 14, with production support of professional level for lights, multimedia, sound, costumes, publicity and recording.

Performance. Live performance is at the heart of the MFA in dance and all graduate students in dance are expected to present mastery as performance artists. As performers, graduate students are cast in the choreography of faculty from Smith and the Five Colleges, having the opportunity to collaborate with their professors in the development of new work. The production of new choreography is a research-based, collaborative endeavor in which faculty and students work as creative partners.

Dance Pedagogy. Graduate students teach three technique courses per year, while receiving instruction in dance pedagogy in two required courses: Scientific Principles in the Teaching of Dance and The Pedagogy of Dance Technique. This combination of hands-on experience, coursework and mentoring is highly desirable in an master's program, as the MFA is a terminable degree in dance and many students pursue it with the goal of leading careers in academia.

Research and Theory. The program's emphasis is on dance research, theory and writing. Two required courses bolster this element of the curriculum: History and Literature of Dance: Research Methods and Landmarks and New Trends in Contemporary Dance. Additionally, two of the thesis’ components, Second Year Summer Research and Second Year Thesis: Production and Analysis, foreground research and writing through the completion of two in-depth papers that, combined, amount to 60 pages.

Dance Major

Requirements

Forty-eight credits

  1. Five technique courses (10 credits)
    • At least two courses in one dance technique, including at least one at the intermediate level
    • at least one course in a different technique
  2. Nine core courses (30 credits): DAN 151, DAN 171, DAN 241, DAN 252, DAN 272, DAN 287, DAN 200, DAN 201 and DAN 399
  3. Two advanced courses (8 credits) from the following: DAN 305 (taken twice for a total of 4 credits), DAN 309, DAN 339, DAN 377ci, DAN 377sa and DAN 400 (in choreography or theory)
Major Requirement Details
  • One-credit courses do not count toward the technique requirements.
  • Courses on physical conditioning for dancers do not count toward the technique requirements. 
  • A single level of a technique course may be taken for credit up to three semesters.
  • Advanced technique courses require a placement exam.
  • Dance majors are allowed 20 credits of technique courses for credit toward the degree.  After 20 credits, courses appear on the transcript with a grade marked with an asterisk, do not count towards the 128 credits required for the degree, are not averaged into the GPA and are not included in cumulative totals. Dance majors who do not complete the major will forfeit their surplus credits. If a student wishes to receive credit for technique courses beyond the limit, they should speak to a faculty member about designing a special studies course. 
  • The dance department coordinates its course offerings with the other member programs of Five College Dance. In consultation with their advisors, students can plan on taking courses required for the major on those other campuses.
  • Students may substitute no more than one course from another department at Smith to fulfill a dance major requirement. Substitute courses must be approved by the dance department faculty.
  • The S/U grading option is not allowed for courses counting toward the major.

Honors

Please consult the director of honors or the departmental website for specific requirements and application procedures.

Dance Minor

Requirements

Twenty-seven credits

  1. Six required courses (21 credits)
    1. DAN 151
    2. DAN 171
    3. DAN 241
    4. DAN 272
    5. DAN 287
    6. DAN 200
  2. Three technique courses (6 credits)
Minor Requirement Details
  • One-credit courses do not count toward the technique requirements. 
  • Courses on physical conditioning for dancers do not count toward the technique requirements. 
  • Dance minors are allowed 12 credits of technique courses for credit toward the degree.  After 12 credits, courses appear on the transcript with a grade marked with an asterisk, do not count towards the 128 credits required for the degree, are not averaged into the GPA and are not included in cumulative totals. If a student wishes to receive credit for technique courses beyond the limit, they should speak to a faculty member about designing a special studies course.

Course Information

Dance technique courses may not be audited; registration is mandatory.

Students may register for the same technique course up to three times for credit. 

Dance majors are allowed 20 credits of technique courses for credit toward the degree. Nonmajors are allowed 12 credits of technique for credit toward the degree. After these credit limits, courses appear on the transcript with a grade marked with an asterisk, do not count towards the 128 credits required for the degree, are not averaged into the GPA and are not included in cumulative totals. Students must continue to register for all technique courses. If a student wishes to receive credit for technique courses beyond the limit, they should speak to a faculty member about designing a special studies course. 

Dance majors who do not complete the major will forfeit their surplus credits. 

For a list of courses offered on the other four campuses of the consortium, visit the website of Five College Dance Department. www.fivecolleges.edu/academics/dance

Courses

DAN 101gm Topics in Dance Studio-The Gyrotonic Method Applied to Dance Technique (1 Credit)

{A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 101sf Topics in Dance Studio-Strength and Flexibility through Movement (1 Credit)

This course provides students with a practical and theoretical understanding of the relationship between the strength, flexibility, and mobility of the body. Through experiential methods students will learn how the connective tissues of the body function both as an interconnected web which facilitates movement, alignment, and coordination, as well as proprioception. Students develop an individualized practice throughout the semester drawing from various movement systems and dance training methods. Students examine the relationship between strength, flexibility, and agility as applied to dancing. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 113bu Topics in Beginning Contemporary Dance: Butoh and Contemporary Hybrid (2 Credits)

This class is an introduction to the core technique and philosophy of butoh and an exploration of how this form can be practiced in dialogue with contemporary dance. By practicing these techniques together, students develop a deeper perception of their impulse to move, sharpen their kinesthetic control and refine their performance presence. These skills can translate to a number of different dance and theater genres. Enrollment limited to 30. (E) {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 113fn Topics in Beginning Contemporary Dance-Fundamentals (2 Credits)

May be repeated up to three times for a maximum of six credits. Enrollment limited to 25. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 113mo Topics in Beginning Contemporary Dance-Introduction to Modern (2 Credits)

{A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 114 Beginning Contemporary Dance 2 (2 Credits)

For students who have taken Beginning Contemporary Dance or the equivalent. Enrollment limited to 25. {A}

Spring

DAN 119 Beginning Contact Improvisation (2 Credits)

A duet form of movement improvisation. The technique focuses on work with gravity, weight support, balance, inner sensation, outer awareness and touch, to develop spontaneous fluidity of movement in relation to a partner. May be repeated once for credit. Enrollment limited to 25. {A}

Fall, Spring

DAN 120 Beginning Ballet 1 (2 Credits)

Beginning study of the basic principle and vocabularies of classical ballet. Class covers both Barre and Center. Emphasis is placed on body alignment, the development of whole-body movement and musicality. The basics of more advanced steps, from turns to jumps, are introduced. Primary concepts such as outward rotation, weight shifts and physical safety are emphasized. Two to three semesters are recommended at the beginning level before advancement to Intermediate levels. May be repeated up to three times. Enrollment limited to 25. {A}

Fall, Spring

DAN 121 Beginning Ballet 2 (2 Credits)

A continuation of DAN 120. Beginning study of the basic principle and vocabularies of classical ballet. The class is composed of two parts: Barre and Center. Emphasis is placed on body alignment, the development of whole-body movement and musicality. The basics of more advanced steps, from turns to jumps, are introduced. Primary concepts such as outward rotation, weight shifts and physical safety are emphasized. Two to three semesters are recommended at the beginning level before advancement to Intermediate levels. Prerequisite: DAN 120 or equivalent. May be repeated up to three times. Enrollment limited to 25. {A}

Fall, Spring

DAN 130 Beginning Jazz Dance (2 Credits)

Enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Fall, Spring, Annually

DAN 133 Dance for Every Body (2 Credits)

This course serves as an accessible dance course for all students interested in dance, regardless of ability and dance experience. Throughout the semester, students are introduced to a variety of dance forms and approaches (contemporary dance, salsa, jazz/funk, improvisation). The course promotes the development of dancing skills, aesthetic appreciation, community connection and cultural literacy. In these studio classes, students learn dance techniques while cultivating physical competencies, artistic creativity and bodily expressivity as a part of a community experience. Assignments, class discussions and movement material are designed to foster critical analysis of contemporary issues related to the interaction of dance and society. Enrollment limited to 25. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 137 Beginning Tap (2 Credits)

Introduction to the basic tap dance steps with general concepts of dance technique. Performance of traditional tap step patterns and short combinations. Enrollment limited to 15. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 138 Dance in Musical Theatre (2 Credits)

This course explores the creation and performance of dance as it relates to musicals and storytelling in theater. Students practice applicable dance techniques and choreographic principles, gaining a hands on understanding of dance in musicals. The course embraces a diversity of styles and definitions of musicals. Instructors build upon their own training to teach material in the lineage of one or more dance forms—e.g., jazz, tap, ballet, modern dance, hip hop—that feature in musicals for the stage and the screen. The course situates its topic in relevant historical and cultural contexts. Open to students at all levels of experience. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 141fl Topics in Dance Forms-Flamenco (2 Credits)

This course is a comprehensive introduction to flamenco, a product of Spain's blended Andalusian culture. Principles of flamenco musicality and structure are combined with the foundations of flamenco dance technique. Students will study colocación (placement), estilización (stylization), posturas (postures), brazeo (armwork), floreo (handwork), vueltas (turns), taconeo (footwork), compás (phrasing), palmas (rhythmic clapping), jaleo (words of encouragement), and letras (verses). These skills will be applied to choreographic studies and improvisation in a juerga (social) setting. Throughout the semester, students will use their knowledge to build a patada (a short dance) in one of two styles - bulerías or tangos. Sturdy, heeled shoes are required. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 141kr Topics in Dance Forms: Korean Dance (2 Credits)

This is an introductory technique course to Traditional Korean Dance. No previous dance experience required. Korean identity, culture and aesthetics will be explored through dance. The class will focus on traditional dance vocabulary (didgi, gulshin, euleugi, gamgi, yeonpungdae), music and types of rhythms (gutgeori, jajinmori, heemori, shibbak), and breathing technique (hoheub). Students will learn excerpts of traditional repertory, such as palace dances, as well as modern reinventions of Korean traditional dance. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 141sw Topics in Dance Forms-Swing (2 Credits)

American swing dance is a collection of social dances that began with Lindy Hop in the late 1920’s in Harlem, New York City and still evolves today. This beginner level course is an introduction to the fundamentals of swing dance, including basic open, closed and semi-open partnering positions, and an introduction to the myriad of footwork patterns common to the dances of the “swing family”. All students learn to both lead and follow as they are introduced to the basics of the Lindy Hop and vernacular jazz as both solo and partnering dances, emphasizing rhythm and musicality through set and improvised movements. Enrollment limited to 30. (E) {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 142wa Topics: Dance Forms of the African Diaspora: West African Dance (2 Credits)

This course introduces West African dance, music and song as a traditional mode of expression in various West African countries. It emphasizes appreciation and respect for African culture and its profound influence on American culture and art. Enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 143ka Topics in Indian Dance-Kathak (2 Credits)

Highly expressive and technically precise, Kathak is a renown genre of Indian dance performed across the world—at once a symbol of North Indian culture and a transnational practice of the Indian diaspora. With roots in Indian temples and influenced by Middle Eastern culture, Kathak blends dance, drama and music to tell mythological stories. This course introduces elements of Kathak technique, including its signature percussive footwork and symbolic hand gestures (mudras). It fosters knowledge of Kathak’s history and cultural context, teaching the technique in dialogue with Indian music, philosophy and mythology. No previous experience necessary. Enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

DAN 144 Tango I (2 Credits)

Argentine Tango is the sensual and elegant social dance of the city of Buenos Aires, which is experiencing a worldwide revival. Class includes the movements, the steps, the history and anecdotes about the culture of Tango. The class covers traditional and modern forms. All dancers learn lead and follow, so you do not need a partner. May be taken twice for a total of four credits. Enrollment limited to 40. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 146 Beginner Hip Hop Dance (2 Credits)

Hip hop is a popular form of Afro-diasporic cultural production and, for many, a lifestyle. In this studio course for beginner dancers, students learn movements from the poppin', lockin', house and breakin’ dance techniques. This study of movement vocabulary is contextualized in analyses of hip hop’s history, culture and current trends. May be taken three times for a total of six credits. Enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Fall, Spring

DAN 149 Salsa Dance I (2 Credits)

This course introduces the students to the New York mambo style of salsa (beginner-level). It also covers elements of the Cuban style of salsa, representative of an Afro-Caribbean dance aesthetic. Students master different variations of the salsa basic step, as well as turns, connecting steps and arm work. They learn how to dance in couples and also in larger groups known as ruedas (wheels). Toward the end of the semester, students are able to use their salsa vocabulary as basis for improvising and choreographing salsa combinations. We approach salsa as a social dance form expressive of Caribbean culture and Latino culture in the United States. Most of the work takes place in the studio but, in addition to learning the dance, students read selected articles and watch documentaries about the dance genre. Class discussions and brief writing assignments serve as an opportunity to reflect on salsa’s history and culture. Enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 151 Elementary Dance Composition (4 Credits)

Introductory study of dance composition, including movement research, spatial design, rhythmic phrasing, musical forms and performance. Enrollment limited to 12. {A}

Spring

DAN 171 Dance History: Political Bodies From the Stage to the Page (4 Credits)

This course excavates the artistic, social and cultural trends that have driven the histories of ballet, jazz dance, modern dance and postmodern dance throughout the 20th & 21st centuries. The course looks critically at artists such as Isadora Duncan, Rudolf Laban, George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Katherine Dunham, Alvin Ailey, Anna Halprin, Pina Bausch and Bill T. Jones. Through readings, discussions, dance viewings, movement activities and sessions in the Museum of Art, Josten Library and Sophia Smith Collection, students examine how notions of race, nationality, gender, sexuality and political ideology inform dance. Students conduct historical research on a topic of their choice. Enrollment limited to 20. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring

DAN 200 Dance Production (1 Credit)

A laboratory course based on the preparation and performance of department productions. Students may elect to fulfill course requirements from a wide array of production related responsibilities, including stage crew. It may not be used for performance or choreography. May be taken four times for credit, with a maximum of two credits per semester. {A}

Fall, Spring

DAN 201 Dance Production (1 Credit)

A laboratory course based on the preparation and performance of department productions. Students may elect to fulfill course requirements from a wide array of production related responsibilities, including stage crew. It may not be used for performance or choreography. May be taken four times for credit, with maximum of two credits per semester. Can be taken with DAN 200. {A}

Fall, Spring

DAN 202 Strength and Flexibility through Movement Intermediate (2 Credits)

This course provides students with a practical and theoretical understanding of the relationship between strength, flexibility and mobility of the body. Through experiential methods students learn how the connective tissues of the body function as an interconnected web which facilitates movement, alignment, coordination and proprioception. Students develop an individualized practice throughout the semester drawing from various movement systems and dance training methods. The course examines the relationship between strength, flexibility and agility as applied to dancing. This course supports students training in dance and other movement forms. Students learn anatomical connections within the musculo-skeletal system and apply them to movement practice. Enrollment limited to 25. (E) {A}

Spring

DAN 207 Intermediate Repertory (2 Credits)

This course offers an in-depth exploration of aesthetic and interpretive issues in dance performance. Through experiments with improvisation, musical phrasing, partnering, personal imagery and other modes of developing and embodying movement material, dancers explore ways in which a choreographer’s vision is formed, altered, adapted and finally presented in performance. May be taken three times for credit. Audition and instructor permission required. {A}

Fall

DAN 210 Hybrid Technique: The Modern Dance to Ballet Continuum (2 Credits)

This technique course emphasizes that dance genres are not isolated in themselves. Each style has a variety of influences. The course will physically explore and embody both the similarities and differences between two forms of dance and the variety of movement aesthetics and possibilities created when ideas and tools from both forms are present in the body simultaneously. The course will also teach how these two genres can support each other and enrich a dancer's unique movement qualities and sequences. Prerequisite: Modern and/or Contemporary Technique at the Advanced Beginner level. Enrollment limited to 35. {A}

Fall, Spring, Annually

DAN 215 Intermediate Contemporary Dance 1 (2 Credits)

Prerequisite: Any topic of DAN 113 or previous dance experience. Enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Fall

DAN 216 Intermediate Contemporary Dance 2 (2 Credits)

May be taken three times for a total of six credits. Prerequisite: DAN 215 or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Spring

DAN 219 Intermediate Contact Improvisation (2 Credits)

A duet form of movement improvisation. The technique focuses on work with gravity, weight support, balance, inner sensation, outer awareness, and touch, to develop spontaneous fluidity of movement in relation to a partner. Prerequisite: at least one previous dance technique course or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 25. Instructor permission required. {A}

Fall, Spring, Annually

DAN 222 Intermediate Ballet 1 (2 Credits)

Intermediate study of the principle and vocabularies of classical ballet. Class covers both Barre and Center. The primary concepts from the beginning study are developed: body alignment, development of whole-body movement, musicality and embodiment of performance style. All types of turns and various jumps are developed, both petit and grand allegro. Two to three semesters at the intermediate level are recommended before auditioning for Advanced levels. Prerequisite: DAN 121 or equivalent. May be repeated up to three times. Enrollment limited to 25. {A}

Fall

DAN 223 Intermediate Ballet 2 (2 Credits)

A continuation of DAN 222. Intermediate study of the principle and vocabularies of classical ballet. Class covers both Barre and Center. The primary concepts from the beginning study are developed: body alignment, development of whole-body movement, musicality and embodiment of performance style. All types of turns and various jumps are developed, both petit and grand allegro. Two to three semesters at the intermediate level are recommended before auditioning for Advanced levels. Prerequisite: Previous dance experience. May be taken up to three times. Enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Spring

DAN 227 Intermediate Pointe Technique (1 Credit)

This course is an intermediate study of contemporary pointe technique. All students are assumed to have an appropriate level of ballet technique (as covered in the FCDD's ballet courses or the equivalent). The FCD Advanced Placement status is not required however, all students must be concurrently registered for a related two credit technique class and are required to be at the intermediate level in that technique. May be taken up to three times. Meets with DAN 327. Combined enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Fall, Spring, Annually

DAN 237 Intermediate Tap (2 Credits)

Refinement of performance of tap dance steps with increasing complexity and length of dance sequences learned. Emphasis is on clarity of rhythm and body coordination while working on style and expression. Prerequisite: Beginning Tap or permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 15. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 241 Scientific Foundations of Dance (4 Credits)

An introduction to selected scientific aspects of dance, including anatomical identification and terminology, physiological principles, and conditioning/strengthening methodology. These concepts are discussed and explored experientially in relationship to the movement vocabularies of various dance styles. Enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

DAN 242 Dance Forms of the African Diaspora Intermediate (2 Credits)

This studio course offers intermediate level technique training in any of the dance forms from Africa and the African Diaspora. The physical study of the form is contextualized socially, culturally and historically, favoring an interdisciplinary perspective. Through the course, students approach the study of dance as a catalyst for cultural empowerment and social change. Enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Spring

DAN 246 Intermediate Hip Hop (2 Credits)

This course journeys through time and allows students to experience in their own bodies the evolution of Hip hop from its social dance roots to the contemporary phenomenon of commercial choreography that Hip hop has become. Using film and text in addition to studio work, this class creates a framework from which to understand and participate in the global culture of Hip hop dance. May be taken twice for a total of four credits. Enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Spring

DAN 252 Intermediate Dance Composition (4 Credits)

Course work emphasizes dance making, improvisation, and performance through generating and designing movement based studies and one fully realized performance project. Various devices and approaches are employed including motif and development, text and spoken language, collage and structured improvisation. Enrollment limited to 10. {A}

Fall

DAN 267 Dance in the Community (4 Credits)

During the first part of the semester, students in the Dancing in the Community course collaborate to create an interactive lecture demonstration of dances based on their interests and backgrounds. The program will be adapted for audiences of all ages and abilities. The second half of the semester, students will travel to various venues in the Pioneer Valley to perform. Performances will be held during the Tuesday/Thursday class period. A strong background in dance is not required but students must be interested in movement and willing to perform.Enrollment limited to 12. {A}

Spring

DAN 272 Dance Anthropology: Performed Identities and Embodied Cultures (4 Credits)

What are social functions of dance? How does the body signify culture? How does movement articulate identities? What forms of knowledge do dance anthropologists produce, and how? Through theories of performance and embodiment, this course illuminates the relationships between self, body, culture, and society. It discusses the nature of fieldwork and ethnographic research in dance, critically examining how contemporary ethnographers negotiate the historical relationship between anthropology and coloniality. The course highlights ethnographies of dance forms from the Americas, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Students conduct a fieldwork project of their choice, engaging in participant observation and fieldnote writing. Enrollment limited to 20. {A}{S}

Spring

DAN 287 Analysis of Music from a Dancer's Perspective (4 Credits)

A primary goal is development of the ability to focus on subtle details in music while dancing, teaching, choreographing, or performing. Dancers cultivate an open-mind and skills for imagining many relationships between dance and music. Students improvise music, make up songs, translate choreography into music, and dance with music from various cultures and historical periods. The course emphasizes rhythm, terminology, and categories, meaning in music, and strategies for finding music. Students listen to varied musical styles and paradigms, formulate statements about music, study ethical questions about music and musicians, and distinguish between recorded and live music. Enrollment limited to 12.

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

DAN 300ct Topics in Dance Technique and Performance-Contemporary Trends (1 Credit)

This studio dance course offers a series of contemporary dance technique master classes with Smith MFA teaching fellows and other dance artists. It is designed to augment students' on-going dance training. Through this course students engage in a wide range of approaches and material in the contemporary dance realm. Each week will be a “deep-dive” into a different aesthetic and artistic philosophy. It aims to introduce students to a variety of perspectives on dance and its place in our culture.

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 305 Advanced Repertory (2 Credits)

This course offers an in-depth exploration of aesthetic and interpretive issues in dance performance. Through experiments with improvisation, musical phrasing, partnering, personal imagery and other modes of developing and embodying movement material, dancers explore ways in which a choreographer’s vision is formed, altered, adapted, and finally presented in performance. May be taken twice for credit. Instructor permission and audition required. {A}

Fall

DAN 309 Advanced Repertory (4 Credits)

This course offers an in-depth exploration of aesthetic and interpretive issues in dance performance. Through experiments with improvisation, musical phrasing, partnering, personal imagery and other modes of developing and embodying movement material, dancers explore ways in which a choreographer’s vision is formed, altered, adapted and finally presented in performance. In its four-credit version, this course also requires additional readings and research into broader issues of historical context, genre and technical style. Course work may be developed through existing repertory or through the creation of new work(s). May be taken twice for credit. Audition and instructor permission required. {A}

Fall

DAN 317 Advanced Contemporary Dance 1 (2 Credits)

By audition/permission only. Prerequisite: DAN 216. Enrollment limited to 25. {A}

Fall

DAN 318 Advanced Contemporary Dance 2 (2 Credits)

May be taken twice for a total of four credits. Prerequisite: DAN 317. Enrollment limited to 25. Audition and instructor permission required. {A}

Spring

DAN 324 Advanced Ballet 1 (2 Credits)

Advanced study of the principle and vocabularies of classical and contemporary ballet. Registration is allowed after passing a placement exam at the start of the academic year. Classes move at a rapid pace. A demonstrated understanding of body alignment and turnout, are expected, along with directions of the body, the use of port de bras, and advanced “bravado” steps. Emphasis is placed on musicality and an embodiment of performance style. Pointe work is optional in class, at barre and/or center, with the instructor’s permission. May be repeated up to three times. Enrollment limited to 25. Audition and instructor permission required. {A}

Fall

DAN 325 Advanced Ballet 2 (2 Credits)

A continuation of DAN 324. Advanced study of the principle and vocabularies of classical and contemporary ballet. Registration is allowed after passing a placement exam at the start of the academic year. Classes move at a rapid pace. A demonstrated understanding of body alignment and turnout are expected, along with directions of the body, the use of port de bras and advanced “bravado” steps. Emphasis is placed on musicality and an embodiment of performance style. Pointe work is optional in class, at barre and/or center, with the instructor’s permission. May be taken up to three times. Enrollment limited to 30. Audition and instructor permission required. {A}

Spring

DAN 327 Advanced Pointe Technique (1 Credit)

This course is an advanced study of contemporary pointe technique. All students are assumed to have an appropriate level of ballet technique (as covered in the FCDD's ballet courses or the equivalent). The FCD Advanced Placement status is not required however, all students must be concurrently registered for a related two credit technique class and are required to be at the advanced level in that technique. May be taken up to three times. Meets with DAN 227. Combined enrollment limited to 30. {A}

Fall, Spring, Annually

DAN 339 Movement, Ecology and Performance in the Smith Landscape (4 Credits)

This course offers an opportunity to explore how place and landscape offer inspiration and opportunities for dance, performance and embodied experience. Place can include natural landscapes, buildings, parks, pathways, stairways, living rooms, and the place of our bodies. The goal of this course is to create bridges between the ecological and the poetic realms of human experience. Students will explore how creativity is being in relationship to things, beings, environments, and the historical and cultural contexts. This course includes a series of public performances and is open to students interested in engaging in creative collaborative process. Enrollment limited to 18. {A}

Spring, Alternate Years

DAN 377ci Advanced Studies in History and Aesthetics-Contact Improvisation Practice and History (4 Credits)

In this course students will engage throughout the semester both in the practice of contact improvisation (CI) and the study of its history from 1972 till the present. We will study how CI has become a world-wide phenomenon, how it has evolved on different continents and regions, and how its participants have navigated issues of power, sexuality, race, identity, and culture. We will consider the ecosystems of CI classes, jams, and performances; CI in academia; and CI in relationship to professional dance training, aesthetics, and performance. All levels. Enrollment limited to 20. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 377sa Topics in Advanced Studies in History and Aesthetics-Salsa in Theory and Practice (4 Credits)

This course is an in-depth exploration of salsa from theoretical and practical perspectives. Dance lessons familiarize the students with beginner to intermediate level salsa steps, targeting skills in bodily coordination, musicality, expressivity and improvisation, as well as in memorization of choreography and communication between partners. The learning of the dance is framed within and analysis of literature on salsa cutting across dance history, anthropology, musicology and cultural studies. Readings, documentaries, class discussions and research assignments situate salsa as an expression of Latino and Latin American cultures, but also as a global product through which dancers and musicians from Cuba to Japan perform notions of gender, ethnicity and nationality. No previous dance experience required. Enrollment limited to 20. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 399 Senior Seminar (4 Credits)

Senior seminar is a capstone course that integrates dance studies through an individual research or creative project and to articulate critical analysis and feedback for peers. Required for senior dance majors. Enrollment limited to 12. Senior Dance majors only. Open by permission to other seniors with a serious interest in dance. Instructor permission required. {A}

Spring

DAN 400 Special Studies (1-4 Credits)

For qualified juniors and seniors. Admission by permission of the instructor and the chair of the department. Departmental permission forms required. May be substituted for DAN 399 with permission of the department. May be taken twice for credit.

Fall, Spring

DAN 430D Honors Project (4 Credits)

Fall, Spring, Annually

DAN 431 Honors Project (8 Credits)

Fall, Spring, Annually

DAN 500ct Graduate Seminar: Topics in Dance Theory-Contemporary Trends in Dance (4 Credits)

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 500dp Graduate Seminar: Topics in Dance Theory-Dance Pedagogy (4 Credits)

Enrollment limited to 12. Dance MFA students only. Instructor permission required.

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 500ms Graduate Seminar: Topics in Dance Theory-Music and Sound (4 Credits)

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 500pc Graduate Seminar: Topics in Dance Theory-Philosophies of Contemporary Dance (4 Credits)

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 500pi Graduate Seminar: Topics in Dance Theory-Performance Improvisation (4 Credits)

Enrollment limited to 12. Dance MFA students only. Instructor permission required.

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 500pt Graduate Seminar: Topics in Dance Theory-The Pedagogy of Dance Technique (4 Credits)

The goal of this course is to grow pedagogical techniques for teaching dance technique that can be used on a college or high school level. These strategies should include a thoughtful understanding of each teacher’s creative aesthetic, artistic philosophy, current passions in the field of dance and dance making, and a personal sense of the value of dance and its place in our culture. Enrollment limited to 12. Dance MFA Program students only. Instructor permission required.

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 500vc Graduate Seminar: Topics in Dance Theory-Video and the Camera (4 Credits)

Fall, Spring, Variable

DAN 505 First Year Performance (2 Credits)

First-year MFA students enroll in this course to fulfill the graduate performance requirement. Enrollment in DAN 505 takes place in the same semester as the performance. The requirement is met by participating in the choreography of a Five College Dance Department faculty member (including guest artists) or an MFA thesis. Students must attend the respective auditions.

Fall, Spring

DAN 507 Production and Management (2 Credits)

First-year MFA students enroll in this course to fulfill the graduate dance production requirement (usually stage managing a dance concert). Enrollment in DAN 507 takes place in the semester when the student completes the dance production assignment, as scheduled by the faculty.

Fall, Spring

DAN 515 Creative Process and Choreography I (3 Credits)

First-year MFA students enroll in this course to accrue independent study credit for their grad event choreography, but only in the semester when their grad event piece is not created within a choreography course (DAN 521 or DAN 553).

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

DAN 521 Choreography & Creative Process (5 Credits)

Advanced work in choreographic design and related production design. Study of the creative process and how it is manifested in choreography. Prerequisite: two semesters of choreography.

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

DAN 540 History and Literature of Dance (4 Credits)

This course seeks to expand the students’ knowledge of the literature in dance history and theory. It prompts discussions of historiography, writing, research methods, and cultural theory in dance studies. The readings trace the development of critical dance studies since the 1990s by surveying the field’s foundational texts as well as recent scholarship. These texts illuminate a variety of dance genres, time periods, and artists, while theorizing the body, movement, choreography, and performance from cultural, social, and ideological perspectives. Additionally, this course cultivates skills in dance research and writing. Students work on individual research projects throughout the semester.

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

DAN 553 Choreography and Design (5 Credits)

This class examines and engages the choreographic process through a study of the interaction of expressive movement with concrete and abstract design ideas. Choreographic ideas developed in this class are based on the premise that design elements can be used as source materials for choreographic intent. In addition to studies and projects, weekly writings are assigned.

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

DAN 560 Scientific Principles in the Teaching of Dance (4 Credits)

This course is designed to assist graduate students as they teach dance technique. The principles of anatomy, injury prevention and rehabilitation, and nutrition are examined in relation to fundamentals of dance pedagogy; expressive dance aesthetics are examined formally within a context of current body science. Through analysis of body alignment, safe and efficient movement patterns, and proper nutritional needs, students learn methods that increase efficiency, clarity, strength and coordination and that ultimately achieve desired aesthetic goals. Class work includes lectures, experiential application, and computer analyses to reinforce a rigorous understanding of the scientific principles and body mechanics that are observed within dance performance as well as in excellent teaching of dance. Prerequisite: DAN 241 or the equivalent.

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

DAN 570 SECOND YEAR SUMMER RESEARCH (2 Credits)

MFA students enroll in this course to conduct independent research for the thesis in the summer between their first year and second year in the program. Summer research indications are detailed in the MFA Handbook.

Fall, Spring, Summer, Variable

DAN 580 Special Studies (1-4 Credits)

Fall, Spring

DAN 590 Second-Year Thesis: Process and Design (4 Credits)

MFA students enroll in this course to obtain credit for the creative process of the thesis in the Fall semester of their second year in the program. Directions for the thesis are detailed in the MFA Handbook.

Fall

DAN 591 Second-Year Thesis: Production and Analysis (4 Credits)

Second-year MFA students enroll in this course in the Spring semester to obtain credit for the public presentation of the thesis choreography, the ensuing paper and the oral examination. Directions for the thesis are detailed in the MFA Handbook.

Spring

Dance Master of Fine Arts

Requirements

Sixty-seven credits

  1. DAN 505
  2. DAN 507
  3. DAN 515
  4. Four topics of DAN 500 seminar: DAN 500msDAN 500pc,  DAN 500pt and DAN 500vc
  5. DAN 521
  6. DAN 553
  7. DAN 540
  8. DAN 560
  9. DAN 570
  10. DAN 590
  11. DAN 591
  • Two intermediate or advanced technique courses each semester
  • Up to one technique course per semester may be taken with a fellow MFA student/teaching fellow.
  • At least one technique course per year must be taken with a Smith dance faculty member
  • Students are required to travel at least once to another Five College Dance campus for a technique class during their first year.
  • The S/U grading option is not allowed for courses counting toward the degree.

Additional Programmatic Information

First Year

  • Dance History: Political Bodies from the Stage to the Page
  • Elementary Dance Composition
  • DAN 200
  • Three technique courses for the year

Second Year

  • Scientific Foundations of Dance
  • Intermediate Dance Composition
  • Dance Anthropology: Performed Identities and Embodied Cultures or 
    Analysis of Music from a Dancer's Perspective (both are required)
  • DAN 200
  • Three technique courses for the year

Third Year

  • Dance Anthropology: Performed Identities and Embodied Cultures or 
    Analysis of Music from a Dancer's Perspective (both are required)
  • DAN 377/Advanced Theory (including Advanced Repertory)
  • Two three-technique courses for the year

Fourth Year

  • DAN 377/Advanced Theory (including Advanced Repertory)
  • Senior Seminar in Dance (or Honors Thesis)
  • Two three-technique courses for the year

This plan is a suggested course of study. Many classes may be taken in any year based on students’ schedules, class availability and prerequisite requirements.

It is extremely common for students to major in dance while pursing a second major in another field. Students who wish to consider this option should meet with a faculty member in dance in their first year.

Dance majors who are considering study abroad in their third year should realize that academic dance theory classes do not exist in some countries and plan their major carefully during their time at Smith—with the assistance of a faculty adviser.

It is possible to double major and study abroad, but students must plan carefully to do so. Students who wish to consider this option should begin to complete theory requirements for the dance major in their first year with the guidance of a dance faculty member.

Dance in Performance

Opportunities are plentiful for students—whether majors, non-majors or graduate students—to perform or present their own choreography, either through concerts at Smith or performance opportunities at the other four colleges.

PERFORMANCE CALENDAR

Faculty

Chris Aiken

Dance

Professor of Dance & Chair of the Department of Dance

Chris Aiken

Angie Hauser

Dance

Professor of Dance & Director of the MFA Program in Dance

Angie Hauser

Emeriti

Susan Kay Waltner
Professor Emerita of Dance (2011)

Yvonne Daniel
Professor Emerita of Dance and Afro-American Studies (2004)

Lecturers &
Guest Artists

Ellie Goudie-Averill
Laura Grandi
Danny Guzman
Duane Lee Holland Jr
Alpha Bisco Kaba
Sarah Konner

 

Teaching Fellows

Francesca Baron
Caitlin Canty
Gabriella Charmichael
Laura David
Niki Farahani
Yun Lee
Gabrielle Revlock
Madelyn Sher

Additional Department
Members

Balinda Craig-Quijada
Research Associate

Dance Administrative Staff

Martha Potyrala
Administrative Assistant

Smith College Dance Production

Shelley Latham
Publicity Manager

Nikki Beck
Publicity and Production Assistant

Emily Justice Dunn
Dance Costume Designer

Tilly Adams
Assistant Costume Shop Director

Amy Putnam
Technical Director

Cel Humphries
Assistant Technical Director

David Wiggall
Lighting and Sound Supervisor

Five College Dance Production

Matthew Adelson
Five College Dance Production Manager

Carlie Nieman
Five College Dance Assistant Production Manager

Hayden Gadd
Five College Dance Technical Director

Facilities for Dance

Master of Fine Arts in Dance

The Master of Fine Arts in Dance is designed for students who prefer to work in an intimate environment with a small group of peers in order to maximize the growth and development of their interests and potential.

THE MFA IN DANCE

Dance Performance

Contact Department of Dance

47 Belmont Avenue

Smith College

Northampton, MA 01063