Movement Practice: (de)composing dance, choreographing breath (DAN4185.02)

mayfield brooks

This course is open to students from all disciplines with an interest in movement and practice as research. The course is an introduction to a way of working that continually asks questions without seeking answers or solutions. This method has been developed through mayfield’s ongoing art/life/movement project, Improvising While Black or IWB.  For this course, the movement practice will focus on aspects of IWB through the following questions and also what comes up in the process: What kind of structure, skill and support does the voice, body, and breath need to stay grounded and strong? How can ecological systems such as compost offer an example of (de)composition that give way to radical creative processes? What are some social habits that can be ruptured to expose injustice? What kinds of rebellion can the body enact by chance encounters or by sustaining a movement, vocal, or quiet practice over a long period of time? What does it mean to surprise oneself while dancing, singing, choreographing? What does it mean to (de)compose expectations for performance? What kinds of choreographies show up in everyday life? What choreographies liberate, what choreographies dominate and how can these binaries be challenged, changed, (de)composed?

To approach some of these questions, we will explore moving from the ground up, utterances and bodily tremors, disorientation, spontaneous dance parties, states of suspension, and taking time to rest and rebel against perfectionism. Reading and writing critical performance texts with an embodied approach will also be a part of the IWB methodological practice-as-research approach presented in this course. Let’s create a playground of movement and vibration, decomposition and imagination. Let’s play.

Class meetings: Saturdays, 2:00PM-6:00PM; Dates: March 18, 25, and April 1


Learning Outcomes:
An introduction to dance methodology as pedagogy (i.e., practiced as research)
Engagement with complex social issues through embodied reading, writing, dance and performance
Learning and reading about pivotal dance lineages that engage in social change
Critical thinking through questioning students' own approach to dance




Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Please email levigonzalez@bennington.edu by Nov 28th to explain your interest in the course and your level of experience with dance and movement. Specifically, mayfield asks that you also write briefly about your own understanding of and experience with practice-as-research.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 1
Sa 2:00PM-6:00PM (2nd module block)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 2nd Module Block , 4000 , All courses , Dance , Fully In-Person , One Credit
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