Charmian Wells

Undergraduate Discipline

Dance

Graduate Program

MFA Dance Program

BFA, MA, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. PhD, Temple University. Wells received her PhD in dance studies from Temple University as a Presidential Fellow and a recipient of the Doctoral Dissertation Completion Grant and the Edrie Ferdun Scholarly Achievement Award. Her work examines articulations of queerness and diaspora in Black Arts Movement concert dance in New York City (1965-1975). That research stems from her performance career as a principal dancer with Forces of Nature Dance Theatre since 2005. An excerpt of that research will be published in a forthcoming anthology edited by Thomas DeFrantz. Her writing has been published in Critical Correspondence and The Brooklyn Rail. Wells has taught in the dance departments of Lehman College, Temple University and Marymount Manhattan College. She was the co-founder and artistic director of Refractions Dance Collective from 2002 to 2011. SLC 2017–

Undergraduate Courses 2019-2020

Dance

Introduction to Dance History

Component—Year

This course is for all students beginning the dance program.

This course explores the history of Western theatrical dance from the courts of Louis XIV to the present. The course offers an overview of key artistic movements and traces the development of major forms and genres, considering them within their social, cultural, racial, and gendered contexts. Through class screenings, attendance at live performances, and written assignments, students will learn methods of observation, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation informed by a broad understanding of dance’s past and present and how it relates to their own research and practice.

Faculty

Advanced Dance History and Theory

Component—Year

Undergraduate students may take this course with permission of the instructor.

This writing-focused graduate seminar examines 20th-century dance history from a variety of critical perspectives, such as collaboration and intermedial aesthetics; transdisciplinary and experimental performance practices; gender, race, and sexuality; site-specific work; and technology and screendance. Students will have the opportunity to deepen their expertise of the subject and exercise their own critical and scholarly voices by unsettling and questioning the Western theatrical dance canon from a robustly informed historical, social, technological, and aesthetic point of view.

Faculty

Graduate Courses

Dance 2019-2020

Graduate Seminar I: Decolonizing Dance History

Graduate Seminar—Fall

Focusing on the concert stage (and its conditions of possibility), this class introduces students, through lenses of postcolonial and critical race theory, to major concepts, approaches, and issues in the study of dance as a cultural, historical, and artistic practice. By examining key texts in dance studies in relation to major developments in Western theatrical dance and the impact of Asian, African American, Native American, Caribbean, and European dance on North American stage practices, we explore multiple critical approaches to understanding the impact that histories of global (de)colonization have on dancing bodies. Each session is designed around a historical, theoretical, and aesthetic paradigm through which to explore a range of critical issues in the dance field. Through lecture, seminar, video analysis, student presentation, group discussion, and written assignments, students will learn methods of observation, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation informed by a broad understanding of dance’s past and present and how that relates to their own research and practice. The goal of this course is two-fold: (1) to understand how dance practices are bodily enactments of specific historical, cultural, and political developments; and (2) to investigate different historical approaches to choreography and writing history.

Faculty

Advanced Dance History and Theory

Component—Year

This writing-focused graduate seminar examines 20th-century dance history from a variety of critical perspectives, such as: collaboration and intermedial aesthetics; transdisciplinary and experimental performance practices; gender, race, and sexuality; site-specific work; and technology and screendance. Students will have the opportunity to deepen their expertise of the subject and exercise their own critical and scholarly voices by unsettling and questioning the Western theatrical dance canon from a robustly informed historical, social, technological, and aesthetic point of view.

Faculty

Introduction to Dance History

Component—Year

This course is for all students beginning the dance program.

This course explores the history of Western theatrical dance from the courts of Catherine de' Medici to the early 20th Century. The goal of the class is first to become familiar with and then to question the dance historical canon in relation to the broader social and historical movements within which it is embedded—and how that differs from our perspective today. The class offers an overview of key artistic movements and traces the development of major forms and genres, considering them within their social, cultural, racial, and gendered contexts. Through class screenings, attendance of live performances, and written assignments, students will learn methods of observation, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation informed by a broad understanding of dance’s past and present and how that relates to their own research and practice.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Graduate Seminar I: African Diaspora Dance: Theory, History and Practices

Graduate Seminar—Spring

This graduate course introduces major concepts, approaches, and issues in the study of African diaspora dance studies by exploring its conceptual underpinnings, including: philosophies of blackness and identity; the role of embodiment in historical black liberation struggles; intersections of gender and sexuality with race and dancing bodies; the global transmission and transformation of dance practices; articulations of social and concert dance; and broad questions about the relationship between agency and movement. Key theorists such as Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Stuart Hall, Brent Hayes Edwards, and Thomas DeFrantz will be discussed. Students will gain familiarity with connections between practice and theoretical discourse through written exercises, oral presentations, lecture, video analysis, movement studies, and group discussion. The goal of this course is two-fold: (1) to understand how these dance practices are bodily enactments of specific historical, cultural and political developments and (2) to investigate different approaches to writing about their significance in order to develop critical perspectives as thinkers and dance makers.

Faculty