Freshman Seminar: Stillness

In this studio course students use somatic practices, meditation, improvisation, performance, and creative and intellectual practices to delve into questions and experiences of stillness. Over the term, we will read widely within religious, philosophy, performance, and disability studies, and will examine concepts in social justice, visual art, and sound (and silence). We will explore movement within stillness, stillness within movement, stillness in performance and in performers’ minds. We will look at stillness as protest and power. We will wonder when stillness might be an abdication of responsibility.

Aynsley Vandenbroucke developed Stillness after many years of teaching interdisciplinary courses within the Program in Dance. As Vandenbroucke worked closely with Princeton students, it became clear that, for many, their growing edge is actually in exploring a gentler, deeper, and more still approach to learning and physicality rather than practicing pushing faster and further. Vandenbroucke found that Princeton students are hungry to have time to digest all they are learning and that they find value in developing tools to practice quieter approaches to work and their own lives. In the course we integrate an intellectual approach to the study of stillness with an embodied one, moving back and forth between learning about stillness across fields and then practicing it. We delve into fields across the arts, from dance and theater performance to visual art and music. We explore stillness across religions, philosophy, sciences, and social justice movements.

Students’ homework includes readings, viewings, and creative projects. They write reflective journal assignments twice a week, helping integrate the material. Along the way, they develop personal practices that last long past the end of the course. Previous students have remarked upon the value of the course in providing tools that help them dig deeper into their studies while also pausing and caring for themselves, and in ultimately helping them feel connected to their work, and lives, in a way that is sustainable.


Application required. The application process for fall-term Freshman Seminars opens Wednesday, July 7 at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) and closes on Monday, July 19 at 12:00 noon (EDT). Apply for a Freshman Seminar




Tuesdays + Thursdays,
1:30-2:50 PM


Aynsley Vandenbroucke