Freshman Seminar: Stillness

In a universe filled with movement, how and why and where might we find relative stillness? What are the aesthetic, political, and daily life possibilities within stillness? In this studio course open to all, we’ll dance, sit, question, and create substantial final projects. We’ll play with movement within stillness, stillness within movement, stillness in performance and in performers’ minds. We’ll look at stillness as protest and power. We’ll wonder when stillness might be an abdication of responsibility. We’ll read widely within religions, philosophy, performance, disability studies, social justice, visual art, sound (and silence).

I developed Stillness after years of teaching interdisciplinary courses within the Program in Dance at Princeton. As I worked closely with Princeton students, I realized that, for many, their growing edge is in exploring a gentler, deeper, and more still approach to learning and physicality rather than continuing to push faster and further. In this class we pause and reflect, develop tools to practice—and even value—a quieter approach to learning and work. 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. Students’ homework includes readings, viewings, and creative projects. They write reflective journal assignments twice a week to integrate the material.

Many of the upperclassmen I’ve worked with in this course have said they wished they’d had it at the beginning of their time at Princeton. They found tools that helped them dig deeper into their studies while also caring for themselves, ultimately helping them feel connected to their work, and lives, in a way that is sustainable. I love working with first year students! One of my goals for the course is to develop a warm and generous community of students who can support one another for the rest of their time at school. Students develop personal stillness practices, and often friendships, that last long past the end of the course. My hope is that the class gives students a warm welcome to Princeton and sends them off into the rest of their years with a set of tools to engage with Princeton in a full and centered way.




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


Aynsley Vandenbroucke