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 2020-2021

Dance

Hip-Hop: Dancing Diaspora from the Local to the Global

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) or as a two-credit stand-alone course.

This course focuses on hip-hop as a dance form, from its origins in the South Bronx to its current status as a global phenomenon. We will explore hip-hop culture in the broader framework of the African diaspora—as a way to envision worldwide connections among people and cultures of African descent and to understand hip-hop’s lineage in a context of black social dance. We will also consider extensions of hip-hop into other dance forms, such as house and voguing, foregrounding issues of gender and sexuality. Themes of the course include dance in hip-hop as a mode of resistance and critique, a site of struggle over ownership in capitalism, and a means for imagining black liberation. Key theorists such as Naomi Bragin, Imani Kai Johnson, and Thomas DeFrantz will be discussed. 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 approaches to writing about their significance in order to develop critical perspectives as thinkers and dancers.

Faculty

Decolonizing Dance History

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) or as a two-credit, stand-alone course.

This course offers an investigation of the history of concert dance by examining its relationship to colonization and its decolonizing moves and potentials. The study of dance—as a performing art, everyday practice, and humanities discipline—engages the significance of embodiment in human experience. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of race, gender, sexuality, and bodies in motion through the lenses of dance studies, postcolonial theory, and critical race theory. By examining the impact of African American, Native American, Asian, Caribbean, and European dance practices on theatrical dance, we explore multiple critical approaches to understanding the impact of global histories of colonization on dancing bodies and the agency afforded by dance in struggles of decolonization. Each session is designed around a historical, theoretical, and aesthetic paradigm through which to explore a range of critical issues. Through lecture, seminar, video analysis, student presentation, group discussion, and written assignments, students will learn methods of observation, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation. 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 approaches to choreography and writing history.

Faculty

Graduate Courses

MFA 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

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