Princeton Dance Festival Reimagined: Five Performance Projects

How can we create new methods of dance and choreography for the online environment that reimagine frontiers of physical practice and the choreographic space? Each section of this course will be a unique venture into dance and choreographic creation culminating in a live, virtual Performance Festival. Students will explore the intersections of dance and multimedia performance, digital animation, filmmaking, site-specific theater and art, or music. Movement practice and creative work will be supplemented by selected readings and viewings to expose students to broad historical precedents and provide cultural, social, and political context. All students will participate in a Performance Festival.

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
Enrollment by application; please scroll down on this page to complete the application. Interested students should apply by July 31; applications will continue to be considered on a rolling basis until Friday, September 4. Questions, email Rebecca Lazier,

Other Information:
There are five sections of this course. Scroll down on the page to read more details on each.

  • Live and Surreal with Dean Moss (taught remotely)
  • Dance in the Site-Specific Space with Rebecca Lazier (taught remotely)
  • Emergence and Discovery: Digital Dance Portraits with Francesca Harper (taught remotely)
  • Merce Cunningham – Runs The Gamut with Silas Riener (taught remotely)
  • Movement Percussion with Olivier Tarpaga (taught remotely)




Section U01: Live and Surreal taught by Dean Moss

Live and Surreal is a multidisciplinary dance composition course where students develop multimedia performances within the frame and features of the zoom platform. As a point of entry the course draws parallels between the current cultural moment, and changes in national identity, labor, and art, in the 1920’s: when surrealism, modern dance, and social activism passionately reflected the zeitgeist of the Americas.

Students will develop multimedia performances that are a mix of live and recorded material. They will present their multidisciplinary progress weekly and discuss, critique, and evaluate works shown in class. Together the students will develop these weekly projects into socially reflective performances combining simply crafted theatrical sets with green screen video effects. (green screens will be provided by the university.) How elaborate the student becomes with the sets and the video editing is open to a broad range of abilities and ambition. Selected historical readings and video essays will expose students to a broader historical discourse on media and cultural critique.

Sample Readings:
Lindsay Ellis – Pocahontas was a Mistake: and Here’s Why!
Julia Lawrence Foulkes – Dancing America: Modern dance and cultural nationalism, 1925-1950
Jonathan Judd – Between Myth and Movement: The Depression-Era Iconography of the American Social Surrealists
Dean Moss/Gametophyte Inc.

Section U02: Dance in the Site Specific Space taught by Rebecca Lazier

Where can dance happen? What can it do? And who can do it? This course will examine the differing conventions of site-based art, site-responsive performance practices, and site-specific dance to generate student-led choreography projects within their communities. We will look at urban space interventions, itinerant performances, environmental constructions, and immersive site-responsive dance pieces to question how they can negotiate the performer and audience relationship, reveal hidden histories, and become agents of activism and protest. Movement practice will begin with walking scores and audio-led improvisations to navigate the body and space and become layered choreographic scores that develop responsive physical vocabularies from the landmarks, parks, and streets discovered. Students will research the communities they are living in to discover spaces and sites as locations for site-situated and site-responsive choreographic practices. Simple audio and video recording techniques will be used to log, share, and build responsive dance works that will culminate in live and recorded performance.

Sample Readings and Viewings:
Kloetzel, Melanie, and Carolyn Pavlik — Site Dance: Choreographers and the Lure of Alternative Spaces (University Press of Florida, 2009)
Pakes, Anna — Choreography Invisible: the Disappearing Work of Dance (Oxford University Press, 2020)
Kwon, Miwon — One Place After Another: Site-specific Art and Locational Identity (MIT Press, 2002)
Ferdman, Bertie — Off Sites: Contemporary Performance Beyond Site-specific (Southern Illinois University Press, 2018)
Candelario, Rosemary — Flowers Cracking Concrete: Eiko & Koma’s Asian/american Choreographies (Wesleyan University Press, 2016)

Section U03: Emergence and Discovery: Digital Dance Portraits taught by Francesca Harper

As we emerge from isolation and reshape our lives, how do we preserve the moment? This existential question will be translated into art. Through collaborative construction, Harper will facilitate the development of personal films allowing movement, filmmaking, images, text, music, and discovery in natural and industrial habitat to be accessible and serve as inspiration. The daily practice will include a rigorous warm up followed by group convening in which the collective will determine the independence or interdependence of their project. Adobe software and an editor will be available to mentor projects. Drawing inspiration from artists such as Frida Khalo, Carrie Mae Weems, Pina Bausch, Jean Michel Basquiat, Claude Monet, Kehinde Wiley, and Maya Daren, Harper will encourage students to take risks and create a dance film that will forever document a unique moment in their story. The final sharing will consist of both live and recorded performances.

Section U04: Merce Cunningham – Runs The Gamut taught by Silas Riener

Merce Cunningham – Runs the Gamut is a creative studio course, we will make hybrid dance experiments by blurring natural, virtual, and augmented environments. Rooted in Merce Cunningham Technique, students will study, practice, and perform excerpts from Cunningham dances spanning over 50 years of choreography for stage and camera. To create new work in tandem we will adapt, misuse, and recreate Cunningham’s methods: chance procedures, indeterminacy, fixed and mobile camera perspectives, layers of structural complexity, animation, as well as new custom-built Instagram filters and augmented reality software to shape choreography and movement for a new and evolving digital platform.

During this course we will examine the modernist ideas and ideologies which formed Cunningham’s work from a critical perspective. Through readings, viewings, and discussion we will shine light on how dances were shaped through a context of appropriation of non-western ideas and the negligent exclusion, bias, and blindness of white-centered aesthetics. Accessing these works through physical practice within a critical framework of contemporary dialogue will resituate our view of formalism and abstraction in dance.

Sample Readings and Viewings:
Merce Cunningham — The Impermanent Art, 1952
Joan Acocella — Can Modern Dance Be Preserved?
Miguel Gutierrez — Does Abstraction Belong to White People?
Fractions — A Charles Atlas Film
Assemblage — A Richard Moore Film

Section U05: Movement Percussion taught by Olivier Tarpaga

Movement percussion is a high intensity hybrid movement transformation practice class rooted in structured improvisation and rhythms. Students will receive rhythmic scores every week to challenge their movement vocabulary and approaches to rhythm. The final project of the course will be partly performed as a dance for camera and partly live on Zoom during the Princeton Dance Festival. The choreography created will be a collaboration between the students and the professor.


The application is now closed.


U01 - Dean Moss

Tuesdays + Thursdays, 4:30 - 6:20 PM

U02 - Rebecca Lazier

Tuesdays + Thursdays, 4:30 - 6:20 PM

U03 - Francesca Harper

Tuesdays + Thursdays, 4:30 - 6:20 PM

U04 - Silas Riener

Tuesdays + Thursdays, 4:30 - 6:20 PM

U05 - Olivier Tarpaga

Mondays + Wednesdays, 2:30 - 4:20 PM