Cusp Curricula

By Cassity, Jessica | Dance Spirit, August 2001 | Go to article overview
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Cusp Curricula

Cassity, Jessica, Dance Spirit

If you've got solid dance training, chances are you would excel in a dancerelated field because of your thorough knowledge of the st- Whether the previous article "Priceless Credit Hours," focused on se ad courses, helped to pique your interest or it has always been your dream to explore dance beyond standard technique classes and performances, the following areas of study are innovative and exciting developments with strong groundIngs in traditional dance. To introduce these fields and point out the characteristics of a good program, we've got instructors, professionals and students telling you what to look for, and where.


Learning the movements, motivations and stories behind dances of foreign lands is a prime element of world dance programs. In addition to reviewing the selection of dance courses offered by such a program, some important considerations are does the school offer: An extensive video collection of dances from around the globe? A program that brings to campus nontraditional guest companies and instructors? Opportunities to travel to native lands that originally inspired the dances? And-just as important-a curriculum that encourages cultural studies, such as religion, anthropology.and music, that can help students understand the people behind the movements?

Specific class offerings, authenticity and cultural relevance fluctuate, depending on the diversity of the school community and local population. "Almost all of our classes are taught by individuals from the cultures they are teaching," says Judy Van Zile, a University Of Hawaii At Manoa professor specializing in Korean dance. "And all have been trained within that culture." The ethnic community of Manoa is rich with Asian and Pacific heritages, along with a strong influence from the Western world. Not only is it a home for scholars in those areas, whole communities for whom these foreign dances are a way of life live there, allowing students to learn outside of the classroom as well.


Advancements in dance shoes, flooring and movements are all forms of dance technology, but the craft typically studied under this name deals with supplementing or recording dance and movement with computerized gadgets. Universities that belong to Adapt, an international association of schools embracing dance and performance technology, offer exploratory programs in this swiftly growing field. The ,ollowing schools discussed are among the many good places to start looking.

Dance grad student

Jamie Jewett chose Adapt member Ohio State University for a number of wellresearched reasons. "The scope of what they had to offer technologically was very strong and showed that the administrators really supported the program," he says. "The location of a film school on campus was important because my interest was primarily in digitally videoing dance, which requires a strong knowledge of cinematography. And although OSU has a traditional dance base, I appreciate that there has ays bee cutting-edge work done here; there has been a video dance class on campus since the '70s."

In such a broad field, the area of emphasis within the program should be of major concern, as should the extent to which a department incorporates technology into its programs. "In some places," says Arizona State University's Dance And Multi-Media Learning Center Director John D. Mitchell, "dance technology has its own track. At ASU we are trying to integrate technology into the whole department. It's a part of the curriculum, not something you do separately."


"Library resources are important," says Northwestern University Associate Professor Susan Manning about the characteristics of a strong dance history program. "Accessible video collections and current scholarship materials can enhance programs. Also, look for a program with more than basic course offerings like special topics and upper-division courses.

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