World Dance Histories: Practices, Problems, Possibilities (DAN2228.01)

Levi Gonzalez

The category of world dance, frequently used in the West to identify dance from various other cultural locations and traditions, begs the question: What kind of dance is not part of this world?

This course introduces students to a selection of global dance practices via text and video that, while not exhaustive, will serve to expand students’ understanding of the roles dance can play in different cultural contexts. We will frame this exploration through a critical analysis of the Western category of “world dance” and the complex ways in which framing and classification intervene in our experience of cultural practices outside of our own. We will challenge the assumption that dance is a “universal language” and focus instead on how it speaks to specific localities, populations, political realities and cultural understandings. We will also critically examine the separation between “traditional” and “contemporary” and how these concepts operate within and beyond dominant Western understandings.

We will begin with an overview of terminologies and methodologies addressing various approaches to the observation and analysis of dances, particularly those that may be unfamiliar to the observer. Throughout the course, we will consider artistic work as well as existing scholarship in dance studies, history, cultural anthropology and ethnography to explore the cultural and aesthetic significance of a variety of global dance practices.

Students are expected to do a significant amount of reading and viewing outside of class, as well as create in-class presentations and written analysis papers.

Delivery Method: Hybrid in-person and remote, with faculty in-person
Prerequisites: None.
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 3:40PM - 5:30PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: All courses , Dance , Updates , Hybrid In-Person and Remote
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