Dance Majors pursuing a Performance Emphasis are expected to perform comfortably at the advanced (professional) level of modern technique classes and at least the intermediate level of ballet. They should demonstrate, through their own works and through participation in the choreography of others, an ability to analyze sophisticated movement patterns, understand and communicate, both physically and verbally, the nuances of a choreographic work and clearly explain, when teaching others, elements of structure and theme. They should be able to articulate, both orally and in writing, their own choreographic/performance journey, including theme, process, and execution.
Dance Majors pursuing a Movement Studies Emphasis should have a broad understanding of the important role that the body and human movement play in the study of other disciplines, and specific knowledge of one area, which may or may not involve performance. They should be able to identify and analyze movement patterns in daily life, sport, and the performing arts and should have a working vocabulary to write and speak about the role of the body and human movement relative to their area of interest, whether it be science, religion, anthropology, or the arts. Although Movement Studies concentrators are not expected to perform at the advanced level of dance technique, they should be fluent movers and should be involved in regular practice of dance technique and/or other movement disciplines to enhance their understanding of the body as an instrument.
All Dance Majors should understand major historical trends and experience movement vocabulary which reflects some knowledge of another culture. They should be able to apply to their own work - physical, oral, or written - theoretical concepts that inform observation and critical analysis. Finally, they should actively engage in research on the body and human movement through daily practice, one-on-one consultations with faculty, and participation in conferences and summer programs.
Measuring Student Learning
Regular, informal choreography showings throughout the year give students a chance to perform works-in-progress in a studio setting for faculty and other students. Critical discussion following each presentation gives each choreographer the opportunity to articulate his/her goals and methods and to receive feedback from the observers. Student choreographers and audience members who are able to use movement language (such as the vocabulary established by movement theorist Rudolf Laban) to assess what they intend as well as what they see show sophistication as aspiring artists and critics.
Participation in the yearly conference of the American College Dance Festival allows us to assess how our students perform in comparison to their peers nationwide. Student pieces are adjudicated by three nationally known dance professionals who generally provide constructive feedback in a formal, timed post-concert session. Student works are judged for their originality, craft, and performance quality. Students who have been exposed to a substantial body of work in venues such as ACDF and at the American Dance Festival summer program at Duke University tend to take more artistic risks (often leading to more original choices) and have higher standards with regard to performance quality.
Special teaching projects organized by the Dance Program require majors to plan and lead workshops for public school students. Pre-workshop planning sessions challenge our students to verbally articulate their goals, construct specific lesson plans, and clearly demonstrate, physically and verbally, what will be expected of the participants. This is especially challenging since, in many instances, English is not the first language of the visiting students. Teaching others forces young artists to confront what they do and do not know.
The senior exercise
- Performance majors complete a choreographed piece and supporting document that articulates theme, process, and execution.
- Movement Studies majors write a thesis that is the culmination of research or internship project