Special Topics in Dance History, Criticism, and Aesthetics: Moving Modernisms

How did concert dancers and choreographers create and respond to modernity’s fascination with mobility between 1900 and 1950? We answer this question by probing ways gender, race, and sexuality shaped ideas of the modern in the dances of Isadora Duncan, Vaslav Nijinsky, Martha Graham, Katherine Dunham, Zora Neale Hurston, and others. Emphasis on dancers in the U.S., including transnational choreographies of African American artists, with comparative case studies from Europe. Special attention to the ways fieldwork informed choreography. Includes trip to NYPL Robbins Dance Division. No dance experience required.

Sample reading list:
Anetha Kraut, Choreographing the Folk: The Dance Stagings of Zora Hurston
Susan Manning, Modern Dance, Negro Dance
Mark Franko, Martha Graham in Love and War
Mark Franko, The Work of Dance
Veve Clark, Kaiso!:Writings by and about Katherine Dunham
Anne Daly, Done Into Dance

Reading/Writing assignments:
This course requires two short papers, one performance-based assignment, one seminar paper, and class participation. Short papers investigate the relationship between modern dance between 1900 and 1950 and the archive and the ethics of ethnographic performance. Performance assignment asks students to translate their vision of the modern into a creative experience. Final paper investigates a figure from the period not discussed in class using primary and secondary sources.




Thursdays, 1:30 - 4:20 p.m.


Judith Hamera