Dance

The Sarah Lawrence College dance program presents undergraduate students with an inclusive curriculum that exposes them to vital aspects of dance through physical, creative, and analytical practices. Students are encouraged to study broadly, widen their definitions of dance and performance, and engage in explorations of form and function.

Basic principles of functional anatomy are at the heart of the program, which offers classes in modern and postmodern contemporary styles, classical ballet, yoga, and African dance. Composition, improvisation, contact improvisation, Laban motif, dance history, music for dancers, dance and media, teaching conference, classical Indian dance, lighting design/stagecraft, and performance projects with visiting artists round out the program.

Each student creates an individual program and meets with advisers to discuss overall objectives and progress. A yearlong series of coordinated component courses, including a daily physical practice, constitute a Dance Third. In addition, all students taking a Dance Third participate at least once each semester in movement training sessions to address their individual needs with regard to strength, flexibility, alignment, and coordination, as well as to set short- and long-term training goals.

A variety of performing opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students are available in both informal and formal settings. Although projects with guest choreographers are frequent, it is the students’ own creative work that is the center of their dance experience at the College. In order to support the performance aspect of the program, all students are expected to participate in the technical aspects of producing concerts.

We encourage the interplay of theatre, music, visual arts, and dance. Music Thirds and Theatre Thirds may take dance components with the permission of the appropriate faculty.

In the interest of protecting the well-being of our students, the dance program reserves the right, at our discretion, to require any student to be evaluated by Health Services.

Prospective and admitted students are welcome to observe classes. 

Dance 2022-2023 Courses

First-Year Studies in Performing Arts: A Multidisciplinary Collective/Portal in Practice and Theory

FYS—Year | 10 credits

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. —Arundhati Roy, The Pandemic is a Portal (April 2020)

Acclaimed feminist author, educator, and revolutionary thinker bell hooks wrote, “Art constitutes one of the rare locations where acts of transcendence can take place and have a wide-ranging transformative impact” (Art on My Mind: Visual Politics, 1999). Historian Howard Zinn echoes this, saying, “…the artist transcends the immediate. Transcends the here and now. Transcends the madness of the world. Transcends terrorism and war. The artist thinks, acts, performs music, and writes outside the framework that society has created…” (Artists in Times of War, 2003). The tumultuous period that we are currently experiencing, with unprecedented challenges in social, political, and environmental realms, sets the stage for us as artists to contribute the vital elements of human civilization that are our domain. Collective effort is at the heart of performing arts; thus, our contributions rely upon our abilities to connect and coordinate. Ultimately, the power of any collective relies upon the vibrance of each member. From Broadway, opera, and concert stages to experimental performance venues and political demonstrations, collective actions by artists have played a part in moving society forward. We will study works by visionary artists who have been inspired to venture across disciplines to grapple with the challenges of their times (including Anna Deveare Smith, Tony Kushner, Janelle Monet, Bill T. Jones, Meredith Monk) and will join forces, drawing upon the unique history of each participant to construct an expansive portal for individual and collaborative inquiry. This is a course for students with an established practice and experience in theatre, music, and/or dance who wish to continue advancing skills in their established disciplines. Students will take additional multiple components in dance, music, or theatre to comprise a Third program in one of these performing arts. Students will be guided through a selection of components in their discipline during registration and will attend discipline-specific information sessions as part of the registration process. 

  • Theatre students will take two or three additional theatre components, along with biweekly Theatre Meetings and periodic Think Tank meetings, and will fulfill Tech Credit requirements. Students are welcome to audition for theatre projects each semester.
  • Music students will take three or four additional components, including individual lessons, Music Theory, Music History, Music Technology (optional), and Performance Ensemble (by audition), along with concert attendance and periodic Music Tuesday meetings. Students are welcome to join more than one performance ensemble (recommended for students who have had previous training in music, such as instrumental lessons, beginning theory, etc.).
  • Dance students will take three or four additional components, including movement practice classes and creative practice, along with periodic Dance Meetings, and will fulfill the Dance Tech Production requirements. Students are welcome to audition for dance program performances each semester.

FYS in Performing Arts is a yearlong course comprised of a weekly component class and weekly individual donning conferences. Serving as a home base for students, it will be a core class from which explorations into various disciplines arise. Class meetings will incorporate both practice-based and theoretically-based activities, experimenting with interdisciplinary possibilities through collaborative exercises, reflection, discussion, reading, and writing. Class readings will be selected texts from within theatre, music, and dance, as well as fields beyond the arts. Conferences in the spring semester may be weekly or biweekly, according to students’ needs and progress. Over the course of the year, we will conceptualize and create a collective multidisciplinary performance work to be shown informally at the end of the spring semester, with elements contributed by each member of the class/collective. Independent research inquiries will be pursued throughout the year, supported by individual conferences and periodic working groups in class, culminating in the writing, revising, and presentation of a research paper in the spring semester. The aim of this course is to support the development of skills necessary for expansive artistic collaboration and sustained academic research. Supported by the immersive opportunities of SLC’s theatre, music, and dance programs, with emphasis on live performance, students in this course will acquire new abilities and critical insights through experiential and theoretical studies. FYS in Performing Arts is intended for students who have both a strong interest in theatre, music, and/or dance and a desire to discover more about the interconnectedness of the disciplines.

Faculty

Guest Artist Lab

Component—Year

This course is an experimental laboratory that aims to expose students to a diverse set of current voices and approaches to contemporary dance making. Each guest artist will lead a module of three-to-seven class sessions. These mini-workshops will introduce students to that artist and his/her creative process. Guests will present both emergent and established voices and a wide range of approaches to contemporary artistic practice.

Dance Meeting

Component—Year

Dance Meeting convenes all undergraduate students enrolled in a five-credit Dance Third, a three-credit dance study, or a one-credit dance study, along with all the MFA in Dance graduate students, in meetings that occur roughly once a month. We gather for a variety of activities that enrich and inform the dance curriculum. In addition to sharing department news and information, Dance Meeting features master classes by guest artists from New York City and beyond; workshops with practitioners in dance-related health fields; panels and presentations by distinguished guests, SLC dance faculty, and alumnae; and casting sessions for departmental performances created by the Live Time-Based Art class.

Dance History

Component—Year

This course examines the historical roots of contemporary dance, with an emphasis on global forms that have had expression and become hybridized in the United States. Themes that run throughout the course include dance and spirituality, sexuality, gender, class, and activism. Working thematically rather than chronologically, we will look at what makes dance universal and imperative as a cultural force in general in the context of related sociopolitical and artistic movements. We will seek to understand how dance is both is expressed by and reflects the human condition, embedded in communities as both a social and an artistic form.​

Faculty

Performance Project

Component—Year

Performance Project is a component where a visiting artist or company is invited to create a work with students or to set an existing piece of choreography. The works are performed for the College community at the end of the semester.

Faculty

Live 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 that include live performance 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 on Tuesday evenings and in conferences taking place on Thursday afternoons. 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 in live performance, 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. Students working within any number of live performance traditions are as welcome in this course as those seeking to transgress orthodox conventions. While all of the works will engage in some way with embodied action, student proposals need not fall neatly into a traditional notion of what constitutes dance. The cultivation of open discourse across traditional disciplinary artistic boundaries, both in the process of developing the works and in the context of presentation to the public, is a central goal of the course. The faculty members leading this course have roots in dance practice but also have practiced expansive definitions of dance within their own creative work. This course will culminate in performances of the works toward the end of the semester in a shared program with all enrolled students and within the context of winter and spring time-based art events. Performances of the works will take place in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Theatre or elsewhere on campus in the case of site-specific work.

Faculty

Anatomy

Component—Year

How is it possible for us to move in the countless ways that we do? Learn to develop your X-ray vision of human beings in motion through functional anatomical study that combines movement practice, drawing, lecture, and problem solving. In this course, movement is a powerful vehicle for experiencing, in detail, our profoundly adaptable musculoskeletal anatomy. We will learn Irene Dowd’s Spirals—a comprehensive warm-up/cool-down for dancing that coordinates all joints and muscles through their fullest range of motion, facilitating study of the entire musculoskeletal system. In addition to movement practice, drawings are made as part of each week’s lecture (drawing materials provided); three short assignments will be submitted each semester. Insights and skills developed in this course can provide tremendous inspiration in the process of movement invention and composition.

Faculty

Movement Studio Practice

Component—Year

In these classes, emphasis will be on the steady development of movement skills, energy use, strength, and articulation relevant to the technical and aesthetic orientations of each teacher. At all levels, attention will be given to sharpening each student’s awareness of time and energy and to training rhythmically, precisely, and in accordance with sound anatomical principles. Degrees of complexity in movement patterns will vary within the leveled class structure. All students will investigate sensory experience and the various demands of performance.

Faculty

Dance Movement Fundamentals

Component—Year

Movement and dancing are definitive signs of life! In every environment and at every level of existence, from single-cell organisms to entire populations, dancing is innate to living beings. The objective here is to awaken/reawaken students’ connection to movement as an elemental mode of human experience and learning. Students are introduced to some basic principles of dancing, as well as to strategies for preparing for dancing. Building fundamental skills for a wide range of movement studies, the focus is centered on learning movement and refining individual, partnered, and group performance in a variety of patterns and styles. Basic anatomical information is used to facilitate an understanding of dynamic alignment and movement potentials. Challenges in coordination, rhythm, range, and dynamic quality are systematically engaged, allowing students to gain strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, musicality, and awareness in the dance setting. While the primary emphasis is placed on learning structured material, improvisation and composition are incorporated to support students’ growing engagement with dance as an art form. No prior experience in dance is required.

Faculty

Improvisation

Component—Year

Improvisation is a potentially limitless resource. Whether arising from movement itself or from conceptual/imaginative sources, improvisation can yield raw materials for making dances and other performance works. Improvisation can form the basis for community-building activities. It can also support the advancement of our technical skills in all dance forms, from conceptual and choreographic to performative, by giving us greater access to our personal connections to movement. In this course, we will engage in a variety of approaches to improvisation. We will investigate the properties of movement in the context of experience and performance, using activities that range from highly structured to virtually unstructured. The aim of our work is to delve deeply into the creative process in a variety of environmental settings, from the dance studio to outdoor sites around the campus. Throughout the year, goals will include building capabilities for sustained exploration of movement instincts and appetites, honing perceptive and communicative skills, and learning to use improvisation to advance movement technique. All of these goals will support the development of a durable foundation from which to work creatively.

Faculty

Anatomy Research Seminar

Component—Year

This is an opportunity for students who have completed a full year of anatomy study in the SLC dance program to pursue functional anatomy studies in greater depth. In open consultation with the instructor during class meetings, each student engages in independent research, developing one or more lines of inquiry that utilize functional anatomy perspectives and texts as an organizing framework. Research topics in recent years have included investigation of micropolitics in established dance training techniques, examining connections between movement and emotion, exploring implications of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, motor and experiential learning, development of a unique warm-up sequence to address specific individual technical issues, inquiry into kinetic experience and its linguistic expression, detailed study of knee-joint anatomy, and study of kinematics and rehabilitation in knee injury. The class meets biweekly to discuss progress, questions, and methods for reporting, writing, and presenting research—alternating with weekly studio/practice sessions for individual and/or group research consultations.

Faculty

Choreographing Light for the Stage

Component—Year

This course will examine the fundamentals of design, and how to both think compositionally and work collaboratively as an artist. The medium of light will be used to explore the relationship between art, technology, and movement. Discussion and experimentation will reveal how light defines and shapes an environment. Students will learn a vocabulary to speak about light and how to express their artistic ideas. Through hands-on experience students will practice installing, programing and operating lighting fixtures and consoles. The artistic and technical skills they build will then be demonstrated together by creating original lighting designs for the works developed in the Time Based Art course.

Faculty

Ballet

Component—Year

Ballet students at all levels will be guided toward creative and expressive freedom in their dancing, enhancing the qualities of ease, grace, musicality, and symmetry that define this form. We will explore alignment, with an emphasis on anatomical principles; we will cultivate awareness of how to enlist the appropriate neuromuscular effort for efficient movement; and we will coordinate all aspects of body, mind, and spirit, integrating them harmoniously.

Faculty

Gaga

Component—Fall

Gaga is a new way of gaining knowledge and self-awareness through your body. Gaga provides a framework for discovering and strengthening your body and adding flexibility, stamina, and agility while lightening the senses and imagination. Gaga raises awareness of physical weaknesses, awakens numb areas, exposes physical fixations, and offers ways for their elimination. The work improves instinctive movement and connects conscious and unconscious movement; it also allows for an experience of freedom and pleasure in a simple way, in a pleasant space, in comfortable clothes, accompanied by music, each person with himself/herself and others.

Faculty

Feldenkrais: Awareness Through Movement®

Component—Fall

Life may appear to us to be so simple that we often fail to notice and appreciate its beauty. The integration of the nervous system cultivates the capacity for spontaneous, effortless movement and powerful action in life—aimed to articulate new processes, facilitate connections, minimize limitations, and solve emerging problems. These classes will offer tools and lessons based on somatic practices and awareness of The Feldenkrais Method as a way of learning and refined choreography of behavioral coordination. Classes will be verbally guided through precisely structured movement explorations to enhance the learning, help release habitual patterns, and offer new options. Participants may be on the floor—sitting or standing—as we explore the different dimensions of the space. This workshop is part of my ongoing research about emerging practices based on The Feldenkrais Method. All bodies are welcome to these lessons.

Faculty

Moving Bodies in Frame

Component—Spring

In 2007, the boundaries of my work blurred when chameckilerner (my artistic duo with collaborator Rosane Chamecki) displaced its choreographic work from the stage to the screen. Confronting the work in a new medium generated a new cycle of investigations as part of my exploration of choreography, movement, and the body as a map of oneself. As an interdisciplinary artist, my work moves between choreography and performance art, experimental and doc-hybrid films. Moving Bodies in Frame is a result of this journey and focuses on “why and how” to convey a choreographic idea into a filmic practice—how the encounter between moving images and moving bodies can expand the development of a choreographic language beyond live performance. The course dwells into fundamental questions: How are we positioning our work in relation to these two fields—historically, aesthetically, conceptually? Is there a broad and thorough blending of concepts, philosophy, process, and tools? Moving Bodies in Frame is a mix of analytical and production classes, introducing students to the history of video/experimental film/choreocinema; moving to contemporary videos and installations;, and, finally, addressing the opportunities offered by the new platforms available at this moment in time. Students will have a series of hands-on exercises and assignments suggested every week, individually and/or in groups. These exercises explore concepts of framing, camera movement, planes, deconstruction of space and time, the relationship of audio X visual, special effects, postproduction, installation, etc. Students will be encouraged to create a final assignment, a project where they define a concept, shoot the video, and address postproduction decisions like sound and editing. Finally, we will discuss how the project should be presented and experienced. Is it an intimate or communal experience? Does it ask for projection or monitor, small or big screen, one or multiple screens, mobility of the viewer, interactiveness, etc? The course welcomes choreographers, performers, filmmakers, photographers, cinematographers, media artists, or anyone interested in this process. A camera will not be necessary; all assignments can be done with the participant's phone.​

Faculty

Yoga

Component—

This yoga class is designed with the interests of dancers and theatre students in mind. Various categories of postures will be practiced, with attention to alignment, breath awareness, strength, and flexibility. The physical practice includes seated and standing poses, twists, forward bends and backbends, traditional yogic breathing practices, and short meditations. Emphasis is placed on mindfulness and presence. This approach allows the student to gain tools for reducing stress and addressing unsupportive habits to carry into other aspects of their lives. Attention will be given to the chakra system as a means and metaphor for postural, movement, and character choices. The instructor has a background in dance and object theatre, in addition to various somatically-based practices that she draws upon for designing the classes to meet the individual needs of the class members.

Faculty

Hip-Hop

Component—

In this open-level course, teaching and facilitating the practice of hip-hop/urban dance technique and performance, the class will examine the theory, technique, and vocabulary of hip-hop dance. The course will facilitate the student’s development and ability to execute and perform hip-hop/urban dance steps.

Faculty

Composition

Component—

Movement and creativity are the birthrights of every human being. This component will explore expressive and communicative movement possibilities by introducing different strategies for making dances. Problems posed run the gamut from conceptually-driven dance/theatre to structured- movement improvisations. Students will learn to access and mold kinetic vocabulaires, collaboratively or individually, and incorporate music, sound, gesture, text, and objects in pursuit of a vision. Students will be asked to create and perform studies, direct one another, and share and discuss ideas and solutions with peers. Students are not required to make finished products but, rather, to involve themselves in the challenges and joys of rigorous play.

Faculty

West African Dance

Component—

This yearlong course will use physical embodiment as a mode of learning about and understanding African diasporic cultures. In addition to physical practice, master classes led by artists and teachers regarded as masters in the field of African diasporic dance and music, along with supplementary study materials, will be used to explore the breadth, diversity, history, and technique of dances derivative of the Africa diaspora. Afro Haitian, West African, Orisha dances (Lucumi, Afro Cuban), and social dance are some genres that will be explored. Participation in year-end showings will provide students with the opportunity to apply studies in a performative context.

Faculty

Conditioning

Component—

This conditioning uses embodied anatomy, Pilates-based strengthening, body-weight exercises, information about cardiovascular fitness, and artistic reflection to build a healthy groundwork from which to build a sustained physical dance practice. Each week, we will address a different area in the body with an anatomical lecture, definition and palpation of bony landmarks and activation of specific support structures, and targeted exercises to help build deeper understanding and support. This more intellectual investigation will be applied directly to movement to help develop technical training, as well as to encourage injury prevention and rehabilitation. Students will be expected to show critical-thinking skills around the concepts presented in class. Students are expected to be present, attempt exercises and develop personal modifications when necessary, and show some physical progress throughout the semester. Discussion in class is encouraged, as that is a time to display internal process. It is suggested, though not required, for students to maintain a journal throughout the semester.

Faculty

Movement Observation I

Advanced, Seminar—Fall

This course is an introduction to Bartenieff Fundamentals and Laban Movement Analysis (LMA), with a primary focus on dance/movement therapy. The relationship of Bartenieff Fundamentals, development, and Effort-Space-Shape will be introduced. Concepts of anatomy and kinesiology will support these frameworks. The class is the first in a series of three on movement observation and assessment skills and is designed to familiarize the student with the Laban concepts and principles for the observation and description of movement, integrating other relevant perspectives for understanding human movement. Students will learn to embody and observe foundational components of physical action by exploring concepts in the categories of body, effort, space, and shape. Students also will discover how to vary movement dynamics and investigate the ways in which the body can organize parts into a whole and project into space. LMA provides insight into one’s personal movement preferences and increases awareness of what and how movement communicates and expresses. Rigorous inquiry and exploration of contextual, and historical factors related to Rudolf von Laban’s era will be examined—both conceptually and in embodied ways.

Faculty

Metaphysical Poetry

Open, Seminar—Fall

The best lyric poets of 17th-century England have been loosely characterized as “metaphysical poets” because of their “wit”; their intellectual range, rigor, and inventiveness; the versatility and trickery of their poetic strategies; and their remarkable fusion of thought and passion. Masters of paradox, these poets stage and analyze their expressive intensities with technical precision. They eroticize religious devotion and sanctify bodily desire with fearless and searching bravado. They stretch their linguistic tightropes across a historical arena of tremendous political and religious turmoil, in response to which they forge what some critics consider to be early evidences of the ironic self-consciousness of modernity, poetic dramatizations of the Cartesian ego. We will test these claims, as well as the sufficiency of the category “metaphysical,” against the evidence of the poems themselves. We will closely read significant poems of Donne, Jonson, Herbert, Phillips, Herrick, Vaughan, Crashaw, Milton, Marvell, and Behn. We will attend primarily to how they work as poems, looking at argument, structure, diction, syntax, tone, image, and figure. We will also consider their religious, cultural, and psychological implications. Students will prepare three papers based on class readings. Conference work is recommended in correlative topics: the English Bible, Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Shakespearean and Jacobean drama, or influences on and comparisons to Romantic or Modern English poetry.

Faculty

First-Year Studies in Performing Arts: A Multidisciplinary Collective/Portal in Practice and Theory

FYS—Year

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. —Arundhati Roy, The Pandemic is a Portal (April 2020)

Acclaimed feminist author, educator, and revolutionary thinker, bell hooks wrote, “Art constitutes one of the rare locations where acts of transcendence can take place and have a wide-ranging transformative impact” (from Art on My Mind: Visual Politics, 1999). Historian Howard Zinn echoes this, saying, “…the artist transcends the immediate. Transcends the here and now. Transcends the madness of the world. Transcends terrorism and war. The artist thinks, acts, performs music, and writes outside the framework that society has created…” (from Artists in Times of War, 2003). The tumultuous period that we are currently experiencing—with unprecedented challenges in social, political, and environmental realms—sets the stage for us as artists to contribute the vital elements of human civilization that are our domain. Collective effort is at the heart of performing arts; thus, our contributions rely upon our abilities to connect and coordinate. Ultimately, the power of any collective relies upon the vibrance of each member. From Broadway, opera, and concert stages to experimental performance venues and political demonstrations, collective actions by artists have played a part in moving society forward. We will study works by visionary artists who have been inspired to venture across disciplines to grapple with the challenges of their times (including Anna Deveare Smith, Tony Kushner, Janelle Monet, Bill T. Jones, Meredith Monk) and will join forces, drawing upon the unique history of each participant to construct an expansive portal for individual and collaborative inquiry. This is a course for students with an established practice and experience in theatre, music, and/or dance who wish to continue advancing skills in their established disciplines. Students will take additional multiple components in dance, music, or theatre to comprise a Third program in one of these performing arts. Students will be guided through a selection of components in their discipline during registration and will attend discipline-specific information sessions as part of the registration process.

  • Theatre students will take two or three additional theatre components, along with biweekly Theatre Meetings and periodic Think Tank meetings, and will fulfill Tech Credit requirements. Students are welcome to audition for theatre projects each semester.
  • Music students will take three or four additional components, including individual lessons, Music Theory, Music History, Music Technology (optional), and Performance Ensemble (by audition), along with concert attendance and periodic Music Tuesday meetings. Students are welcome to join more than one performance ensemble (recommended for students who have had previous training in music, such as instrumental lessons, beginning theory).
  • Dance students will take three or four additional components, including movement practice classes and creative practice, along with periodic Dance Meetings, and will fulfill the Dance Tech Production requirements. Students are welcome to audition for dance program performances each semester;

FYS in Performing Arts is a yearlong course comprised of a weekly component class and weekly individual donning conferences. Serving as a home base for students, it will be a core class from which explorations into various disciplines arise. Class meetings will incorporate both practice-based and theoretically-based activities, experimenting with interdisciplinary possibilities through collaborative exercises, reflection, discussion, reading, and writing. Class readings will be selected texts from within theatre, music, and dance, as well as fields beyond the arts. Conferences in the spring semester may be weekly or biweekly, according to students’ needs and progress. Over the course of the year, we will conceptualize and create a collective multidisciplinary performance work to be shown informally at the end of the spring semester, with elements contributed by each member of the class/collective. Independent research inquiries will be pursued throughout the year, supported by individual conferences and periodic working groups in class, culminating in the writing, revising, and presentation of a research paper in the spring semester. The aim of this course is to support the development of skills necessary for expansive artistic collaboration and sustained academic research. Supported by the immersive opportunities of SLC’s theatre, music, and dance programs, with emphasis on live performance, students in this course will acquire new abilities and critical insights through experiential and theoretical studies. FYS in Performing Arts is intended for students who have both a strong interest in theatre, music, and/or dance, as well as a desire to discover more about the interconnectedness of the disciplines.

Faculty

First-Year Studies in Performing Arts: A Multidisciplinary Collective/Portal in Practice and Theory

FYS—Year

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. —Arundhati Roy, The Pandemic is a Portal (April 2020)

Acclaimed feminist author, educator, and revolutionary thinker, bell hooks wrote, “Art constitutes one of the rare locations where acts of transcendence can take place and have a wide-ranging transformative impact” (from Art on My Mind: Visual Politics, 1999). Historian Howard Zinn echoes this, saying, “…the artist transcends the immediate. Transcends the here and now. Transcends the madness of the world. Transcends terrorism and war. The artist thinks, acts, performs music, and writes outside the framework that society has created…” (from Artists in Times of War, 2003). The tumultuous period that we are currently experiencing, with unprecedented challenges in social, political, and environmental realms, sets the stage for us as artists to contribute the vital elements of human civilization that are our domain. Collective effort is at the heart of performing arts; thus, our contributions rely upon our abilities to connect and coordinate. Ultimately, the power of any collective relies upon the vibrance of each member. From Broadway, opera, and concert stages to experimental performance venues and political demonstrations, collective actions by artists have played a part in moving society forward. We will study works by visionary artists who have been inspired to venture across disciplines to grapple with the challenges of their times (including Anna Deveare Smith, Tony Kushner, Janelle Monet, Bill T. Jones, Meredith Monk) and will join forces, drawing upon the unique history of each participant to construct an expansive portal for individual and collaborative inquiry. This is a course for students with an established practice and experience in theatre, music, and/or dance who wish to continue advancing skills in their established disciplines. Students will take additional multiple components in dance, music, or theatre to comprise a Third program in one of these performing arts. Students will be guided through a selection of components in their discipline during registration and will attend discipline-specific information sessions as part of the registration process.

  • Theatre students will take two or three additional theatre components, along with biweekly Theatre Meetings and periodic Think Tank meetings, and will fulfill Tech Credit requirements. Students are welcome to audition for theatre projects each semester.
  • Music students will take three or four additional components, including individual lessons, Music Theory, Music History, Music Technology (optional), and Performance Ensemble (by audition), along with concert attendance and periodic Music Tuesday meetings. Students are welcome to join more than one performance ensemble (recommended for students who have had previous training in music, such as instrumental lessons, beginning theory, etc.).
  • Dance students will take three or four additional components, including movement practice classes and creative practice, along with periodic Dance Meetings, and will fulfill the Dance Tech Production requirements. Students are welcome to audition for dance program performances each semester.

FYS in Performing Arts is a yearlong course comprised of a weekly component class and weekly individual donning conferences. Serving as a home base for students, it will be a core class from which explorations into various disciplines arise. Class meetings will incorporate both practice-based and theoretically-based activities, experimenting with interdisciplinary possibilities through collaborative exercises, reflection, discussion, reading, and writing. Class readings will be selected texts from within theatre, music, and dance, as well as fields beyond the arts. Conferences in the spring semester may be weekly or biweekly, according to students’ needs and progress. Over the course of the year, we will conceptualize and create a collective multidisciplinary performance work to be shown informally at the end of the spring semester, with elements contributed by each member of the class/collective. Independent research inquiries will be pursued throughout the year, supported by individual conferences and periodic working groups in class, culminating in the writing, revising, and presentation of a research paper in the spring semester. The aim of this course is to support the development of skills necessary for expansive artistic collaboration and sustained academic research. Supported by the immersive opportunities of SLC’s theatre, music, and dance programs, with emphasis on live performance, students in this course will acquire new abilities and critical insights through experiential and theoretical studies. FYS in Performing Arts is intended for students who have both a strong interest in theatre, music, and/or dance and a desire to discover more about the interconnectedness of the disciplines.

Faculty

First-Year Studies: Rigorous Action/Happy Accidents—A Laboratory for Theatre Artists

FYS—Year

This course is a hands-on testing ground for students who might have a wide range of interests in the theatre. Centered on collaborative methods for creation and performance, Rigorous Action/Happy Moments is geared toward enabling students to find their own artistic voice, creating their own solo and collaborative theatre works, while exploring various artists, influences, and approaches ranging from the New York avant-garde of the 1970s to artists working now. We will cover a wide array of multidisciplinary artists who create performance, investigating both their philosophies and their methodology. Class work will be a combination of readings/discussions and creative exercises where students try their ideas together in space. Additionally, an emphasis on the choreographic perspective will explore various methods, including: assembly, repetition, observation, deconstruction, and care of the moment-to-moment experience. Curiosity, bravery, and a willingness to make mistakes are all encouraged, as these are crucial attributes to any creative process. The course will culminate in a short solo theatre work conceived, created, and performed by each student. Rigorous Action/Happy Accidents meets once a week for two hours and will alternate individual conferences with small-group meetings/conferences to include screenings, field trips, and performances. Students will also enroll in two other theatre components of their choice to complete their Theatre Third. Students are required to attend scheduled Theatre Meetings and Think Tanks and complete a set amount of technical support hours with student productions in the theatre program.

Faculty

Experiments in Sculptural Drawing

Open, Concept—Spring

This course is an open-ended exploration of the links between drawing and sculpture. Students will explore drawing as a means of communicating, brainstorming, questioning, and building. Assignments will promote experimentation and expand the ways that we use and talk about drawing by interrogating an inclusive list of materials. The course will consider unusual forms of mark making, such as lipstick left on a glass and a tire track on pavement. Each student will cultivate a unique index of marks, maintaining his/her own sketchbook throughout the course. The class will provide contemporary and historical examples of alternate means of mark making, such as John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Ana Mendieta, Robert Smithson, Fred Sandback, Gordon Matta-Clark, David Hammons, and Janine Antoni, among others.

Faculty

Senior Studio

Advanced, Seminar—Year

This course is intended for seniors interested in pursuing their own artmaking practice, both more deeply and for a prolonged period of time. Students will maintain their own studio spaces and will be expected to work independently and creatively and to challenge themselves and their peers to explore new ways of thinking and making. The course will incorporate prompts that encourage students to make art across disciplines; it will culminate in a solo gallery exhibition during the spring semester, accompanied by a printed book that documents the exhibition. We will have regular critiques with visiting artists and our faculty, discuss readings and myriad artists, take trips to galleries and artist’s studios, and will participate in the Visual Arts Lecture Series. Your artmaking practice will be supplemented with other aspects of presenting your work—writing an artist statement, interviewing artists, and documenting your art, along with a range of professional-practices workshops. This is an immersive studio course meant for disciplined art students interested in making work in an interdisciplinary environment.

Faculty

Visual and Studio Arts Fundamentals: Materials and Play

Open, Seminar—Fall and Spring

This course serves as an introduction to the fundamental elements, processes, and techniques of the visual arts. It will center on prompts based in foundational areas across the visual arts: drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, sound art, collage, and related mixed-media processes. We’ll discuss these mediums through image presentations, videos, and gallery/museum visits. Students will then make art in those areas, experimenting with new materials, processes, and ideas. Materials will be provided, and you’ll be encouraged to discover through play. Emphasis will focus on developing your creative imagination and building visual literacy. This class culminates in an end-of-semester exhibition.

Faculty

Painting Pop

Open, Concept—Fall

In this experimental studio class, we will explore how to digest, appropriate, reconfigure, and rewrite popular media, using mostly, but not limited to, painting, drawing, and collage and open to video, animation, sculpture, and performance. We will examine how artists operate as consumers,  catalysts, motors, and destroyers of TV, film, music, social media, and advertisement. Slideshows, readings, and presentations will exemplify the tight relationship between art and popular media throughout history and contemporary art and will serve as inspiration for students to create their own works. Students will be encouraged to deconstruct their own spectacles of adoration and critique and celebrate images that are impactful to them. We will promote generative group conversations, studio time, experimentation, collaboration, creativity, and improvisation.

Faculty