John Jasperse

Undergraduate Discipline

Dance

Graduate Program

MFA Dance Program

Director, Dance Program

BA, Sarah Lawrence College. Founded John Jasperse Company, later renamed John Jasperse Projects, in 1989 and has since created 17 evening-length works through this nonprofit structure, as well as numerous commissions for other companies, including Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, Batsheva Dance Company, and Lyon Opera Ballet. John Jasperse Projects have been presented in 24 US cities and 29 countries by presenters that include the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Joyce Theater, New York Live Arts, Dance Theater Workshop, The Kitchen, Walker Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, American Dance Festival, La Biennale di Venezia, Dance Umbrella London, Montpellier Danse, and Tanz im August Berlin. Recipient of a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award, two Bessie awards (2014, 2001), and multiple fellowships from US Artists, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Tides/Lambent Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, and National Endowment for the Arts, in addition to numerous grants and awards for John Jasperse Projects. On the faculty and taught at many distinguished institutions nationally and internationally, including Hollins University MFA, University of California–Davis, Movement Research, PARTS (Brussels, Belgium), SEAD (Salzburg, Austria), Centre National de la Danse (Lyon, France), and Danscentrum (Stockholm, Sweden). Co-founder of CPR (Center for Performance Research) in Brooklyn, NY. SLC, 2016–

Undergraduate Courses 2020-2021

Dance

How Art Works

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course is open to students with a broad range of interests and can function either as a component of a performing arts Third (in dance, music or theatre), as a two-credit stand-alone course, or as a 5-credit seminar with an accompanying conference project in the form of a research paper or an artistic project.

What is art? Since human beings have been engaging in creative endeavors in various ways for millennia, it shouldn’t be difficult to say what art is or, for that matter, how it functions. Yet the difficulty of agreeing on any one definition of art becomes quickly evident. The historically siloed nature of the disciplines of poetry, prose, painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, performance, music, dance, theatre, film, etc.— each with its own particular attributes—might present certain obstacles to answering the question in a unified fashion. But perhaps the problem lies elsewhere. Perhaps creative endeavors have functioned in many different ways and served many different purposes, in different cultures, and at different times. This course is, admittedly, an incomplete but, nevertheless, broad survey of some of the ways in which art has been conceived of, how it has been made, how it has functioned, and how people have thought about its changing nature and purpose. Assigned readings will include texts from various fields, including the philosophy of art and aesthetics, literary theory, performance studies, gender studies, cultural theory, anthropology, and psychology, as well as texts from artists themselves. Our readings will range from accessible to challenging. Throughout, I will be teaching from the perspective of a dance artist. These readings will be accompanied by our own experience and discussion of artworks in various media.

Faculty

Choreographic Thinking: Sensing, Rupture, and Change

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course is open to students with a broad range of interests and can function either as a component of a performing arts third (in dance, music or theatre), as a two-credit stand-alone course, or as a 5-credit seminar with an accompanying conference project in the form of a research paper or an artistic project.

A broad definition of choreography might be the organization of beings (animate and inanimate) in time and space. But what exactly is choreographic thinking? With what aptitudes does it engage? Choreographer Susan Rethorst has described the mind of a choreographer as having “a kind of spatial emotional map of a situation, the emotional psychological reading of place and of people in relation to that place and each other…in which sensitivity to phenomena leads to an engagement with the affect of movement, shape, relation, and space.” So choreographic thinking is a practice of heightened perception that, in turn, informs a practice of organization. Nevertheless, all perceptual senses are not commonly deemed of equal importance. While vision and hearing are typically held in high regard, proprioception (the sense of where one is in space) and kinesthesia (the sense of motion) are often misunderstood or disregarded altogether. At the same time, everyday metaphors across a range of fields evoke the choreographic. We speak of political movements, economic precarity, climate change, population migrations and displacements, crop rotations, life journeys, cultural exchanges, etc., etc. Through a selection of readings by theorists and artists, both in and outside of dance, we will examine the concept of choreographic thinking, how the sensorial and affective self is engaged in this embodied practice, and how we might apply these types of aptitudes to a myriad of endeavors and areas of study.

Faculty

Time-Based Art

Component—Year

In this class, graduates and upper-class undergraduates with a special interest and experience in the creation of time-based artworks across various disciplines will design and direct individual projects. Students and faculty will meet weekly to view works-in-progress and discuss relevant artistic and practical problems, both in class and in conferences taking place the following afternoon. Attributes of the work across multiple disciplines of artistic endeavor will be discussed as integral and interdependent elements in the work. Participation in mentored critical response feedback sessions with your peers is a key aspect of the course. The engagement with the medium of time, the constraints of presentation of the works both in works-in-progress and in a shared program of events, and the need to respect the classroom and presentation space of the dance studio will be the constraints imposed on the students’ artistic proposals. While, typically, many of these works might include embodied action that could fall under the discipline of dance, this course is open to any student who is interested in cultivating discourse across traditional disciplinary artistic boundaries, both in the process of developing the works and in the context of presentation to the public. As such, the inclusion of live performers is not a requirement. Toward the end of the semester, within the context of Winter and Spring Time-Based Art Events, this course will culminate in exhibitions, screenings, and performances of the works in a shared program with all enrolled students. The performances, screenings, and exhibitions will take place in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Theatre or elsewhere on campus in the case of site-specific work.

Faculty

Performance Project Rosas danst Rosas

Component—Fall

Fumiyo Ikeda, assisted by John Jasperse

In 1983, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker had her international breakthrough with Rosas danst Rosas, a performance that has since become a benchmark in the history of postmodern dance. Rosas danst Rosas builds on the minimalism initiated in Fase (1982): Abstract movements constitute the basis of a layered choreographic structure in which repetition plays the lead role. The fierceness of these movements is countered by small, everyday gestures. Rosas danst Rosas is unequivocally feminine: Four female dancers dance themselves, again and again. The exhaustion and perseverance that come with it create an emotional tension that contrasts sharply with the rigorous structure of the choreography. The repetitive, “maximalistic” music by Thierry De Mey and Peter Vermeersch was created concurrently with the choreography. This restaging of Rosas danst Rosas will focus primarily on the 2nd movement. The Fall 2020 Dance Program Performance Project, Rosas danst Rosas (1983) by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, is made possible with the generous support of the Barbara Bray Ketchum Artist-in-Residence Fund.

Faculty

Lighting in Life and Art

Component—Year

Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation that allows us to see. Light’s qualities and its interaction with space have profound effects on the affect of an experience. We all know that the feel of a midsummer afternoon is not the same as that of a cloudy, gray afternoon or a subway car or a sunset or a night with a full moon. What qualities of light generate these disparate feelings? The art and practice of crafting light is the subject of this component. We will examine the theoretical and practical aspects of light in multiple settings. This will begin with a practice of noticing what we might typically ignore. From there, we begin with a practice of noticing what we might typically ignore. And from there, we will approach learning how to craft the conditions of light primarily, though not exclusively, within a theatrical environment. Understanding the historical conventions of theatre, in particular those of theatrical dance in the United States, will provide a point of departure to begin to think beyond those historical conventions. Emphasis will be on learning basic lighting skills, including those of stagecraft. Students will collaborate with—and create original lighting designs for—the Time-Based Art works when such needs are appropriate to the artistic proposal.

Faculty

Graduate Seminar II: Choreographic Lab

Component—Year

This course is designed as an imaginative laboratory in choreographic practice. It is time and space for rigorous play, where we engage critically with our own respective creative processes. All class sessions are devoted to choreographic practice in a mentored laboratory setting. Students are charged with bringing in choreographic proposals or ideas to work on with their peers during these sessions. Throughout the course, specific compositional and/or artistic concerns will be highlighted that will frame our investigations. Those concerns will be used to focus our critical analysis on an aspect of our choice making rather than as a score that is defining the choreographic proposal itself. Much of our work will focus on refining the process of choreographic practice in order to better understand how the processes with which we engage to make work shapes what we make.

Faculty

Graduate Courses

MFA Dance 2019-2020

Graduate Seminar II: Choreographic Lab

Graduate Seminar—Year

This course is designed as an imaginative laboratory in choreographic practice. It is time and space for rigorous play, where we engage critically with our own respective creative processes. All class sessions are devoted to choreographic practice in a mentored laboratory setting. Students are charged with bringing in choreographic proposals or ideas to work on with their peers during these sessions. Throughout the course, specific compositional and/or artistic concerns will be highlighted that will frame our investigations. Those concerns will be used to focus our critical analysis on an aspect of our choice making rather than as a score that is defining the choreographic proposal itself. Much of our work will focus on refining the process of choreographic practice in order to better understand how the processes with which we engage to make work shapes what we make.

Faculty

Dance Making

Component—Year

Prerequisites: Composition, Lighting Design and Stagecraft for Dance, and permission of the instructor.

In this class, graduates and upperclass undergraduates with a special interest and experience in dance composition will design and direct individual choreographic projects. Students and faculty will meet weekly to view works-in-progress and, in conferences taking place the following afternoon, discuss relevant artistic and practical problems. Music, costumes, lighting, and other elements will be discussed as integral and interdependent elements in the choreographic work. This will culminate in performances of the works toward the end of the semester in the Winter Performance and Spring Performance programs. Performances will take place in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Theatre or elsewhere on campus in the case of site-specific work.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Modern and Postmodern Practice

Component—Year

In these classes, emphasis will be on the continued development of basic skills, energy use, strength, and control relevant to the particular style of each teacher. At all levels, attention will be given to sharpening each student’s awareness of time and energy and to disciplining the body to move rhythmically, precisely, and in accordance with sound anatomical principles. Intermediate and advanced students will study more complex movement patterns, investigate somatic use, and concentrate on the demands of performance.

Faculty

First-Year Studies in Dance: The Practice of Embodied Creative Action

Open , FYS—Year

A common myth about art and artists is that they have visions and then set out to realize those visions. Anyone who has made creative work knows that the reality of the creative process is quite different. Making art, in general, and dance, in particular, often starts with curiosity and nagging questions rather than visions that await realization. Art, like scholarly research, doesn’t come with prewritten, how-to instructions. Rather, it is akin to a puzzle to be solved. Solving that puzzle in dance requires bringing everything you’ve got to the table—your thoughts, action, emotions, and concentration, along with rigorous analysis, courage, conviction, and some sweat. Like all students of dance at Sarah Lawrence, First-Year Studies in Dance students will enroll in multiple component classes in movement practice, creative practice, and analytic studies in dance that together will make up their program. A specially designed seminar for first-year dance students serves only as the core component of the First-Year Studies in Dance. Additionally, First-Year Studies in Dance students typically also enroll in Dance History, Beginning Improvisation, and a selection of movement practice classes. (Please refer to the online course catalogue for the component class descriptions.) Students will be dancing in the studio on a daily basis. The First-Year Studies in Dance Seminar provides students with an additional weekly forum to unite these studies in an introduction to the creative practice of a dance artist. We will expand analytical skills in both oral and written communication, explore an introduction to dance-making that will culminate in creating and performing our own short performance works, and explore how academic research is both a complement to and an integral part of creative practice. We will consider and cultivate critical perspectives on dance as an art form through class exercises, discussion, reading, writing, and oral presentations. We will build skills in each of those areas throughout the year. In sum, these components are designed to encourage individual investigation and the development of a practice of creative investigation in dance. This First-Year Studies course is open to anyone who is interested in exploring dance in all its facets, from students new to dance to students with significant prior experience in dance.

Faculty