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Approved by Faculty Senate March 30, 2009

THAD 155 Modern Dance I (8/26-10/9/08)

WSU Course Syllabus Fall 2008 (1 S.H.)

TR 2:00-3:20, Memorial 300

Professor: Gretchen Cohenour E-mail:

Office: PAC 212

Phone: 457-5665 (voice mail) or 5230 (THDA office)

Hours: M 11:30-12:30 and 2:00-3:00

T 11:00-12:30 and 3:30-4:30

W 11:30-12:30 and 2:00-3:00

R 10:00-10:50 and 3:30-4:30

F 11:00-12:00 and 1:00-2:00 and by appointment

CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION: This course is an introduction to the theory, technique, terminology, and history of modern dance as a performing art. The focus of expressive movement training is enhanced through experiences with improvisation and choreography. Grade only. May be repeated once for credit.

University Studies: This course is designed to satisfy the requirements in: Fine and Performing Arts. It includes requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to:

a. explore the language, skills, and materials of an artistic discipline: Through the knowledge and practice of modern dance theory and technique, students will develop movement skills and experience the creative and integrative processes of this performing art. Students will be introduced to basic modern dance phrases and styles from a range of historical periods and viewpoints. They will be introduced to principles of alignment that support solid dance technique, and will deepen awareness of their physical and expressive potential.

b. use methods of an arts practitioner to actively engage in creative process or interpretive performances: Students will participate in movement and dance experiences during each class period. Students will create and perform an original modern dance (1 1/2 - 2 minutes) based on a movement style researched and interpreted by the student. The dance will be performed for the class as a final project.

c. to understand the cultural and gender contexts of artistic expression: Through video, lecture and discussion, and research, students will be exposed to the history and evolution of twentieth century modern dance theory and technique as it has evolved in both America and Europe. Students will explore the changing roles of men and women dance artists throughout the evolution of the form.

d. engage in reflective analysis of their own work or interpretive performance and respond to the work of others: Students will view, discuss, and respond in written form to the work of professional dance artists through video and live performance where possible. Students will also reflect upon and assess, in written form, their own creative process and product and descriptively critique projects performed by their peers.

Course activities and assignments that address these Fine and Performing Arts Requirements will be identified in the syllabus by letter (a), (b), (c), (d)


  1. To strengthen, open and integrate body, mind, and spirit through expressive movement training, improvisation and choreography projects. (a), (b)

  2. To gain a basic understanding of anatomy, body mechanics, efficient energy use and breathing techniques and to apply those principles in a free-flow movement style. (a), (b)

  3. To become familiar with Laban Movement Theory concepts of space, time, weight, flow and eight basic effort actions. (a), (c)

  4. To increase awareness, rhythmic clarity, coordination and qualitative range of movement through training, self-observation and assessment. (a), (d)

  5. To develop an appreciation for modern and post-modern dances from both performer/creator and audience viewpoints within an historical perspective of the form. (b), (c)

Course Outline of Major Topics and Subtopics

I. Alignment principles (a), (b)

a.) Core support to peripheral expression

b.) Anatomy: mapping for support

c.) Movement efficiency

  1. Ideokinesis: using imagery for alignment

  2. Bartenieff Fundamentals

II. Movement Principles (a), (b), (c)

a.) Breath-based phrasing

b.) Balance between flexibility and strength

c.) Laban Movement Analysis (effort,space,time,weight,flow)

d.) Daily technique and skill development/ phrase work: floor, center, and traveling

III. Performance and Choreography Skills (a), (b), (d)

a.) Focus and Projection

b.) Elements of Dance: space, time and energy

c.) Clarity of intent and Inner motivation

d.) Improvisation

e.) Elements of Choreography used in Creative projects

IV. History and Criticism (c), (d)

a.) Overview of the development of 20th century modern dance

b.) Key 20th century modern dance artists research paper

c.) Self and Peer assessment process- oral and written

d.) Dance theory: form, content, technique, and projection

e.) Audience development: Written response/critique of professional work


This is a beginning dance class emphasizing movement expression through technique (skill acquisition), improvisation (creative problem-solving) and composition (making dance studies). Theory and history of modern dance will be integrated into the curriculum. Exposure to diverse world music forms will be included as accompaniment for dance phrases.

The succession of events in class will vary from day to day according to a rotation of exercises and student level. These consist of floor work, center work (stationary and traveling), structured improvisations and Ideokinesis (guided imagery). Both classmates and the instructor will offer individual and group feedback on performance. Questions are encouraged and practice outside of class is expected. Videotape of professional modern dance companies will be viewed and discussed during the semester. Creative work will be videotaped for assessment and archival purposes.

Course Requirements and Assessment

75% Class attendance, participation with an open, present, and respectful attitude, and quality of progress. No more than two (2) absences are permitted per term. *See attached attendance policy. (a), (b), (c), (d)

10% Collaborative Research paper (2-3 pp., typed) and group presentation (2-4 student researchers) exploring the work of a 20th century modern dance artist. The paper focuses on the artist’s personal movement vocabulary and aesthetic choices in choreography. The presentation focuses on 3 movement ideas informed by your artist’s work and formed into an 8-16 ct. movement phrase that your group will perform the class. Presentation time limit is 3-5 min. per group, so plan and rehearse your presentation accordingly. Bibliography must include at least 3 sources- 1 of which is a video clip of the artist’s work, from which you describe the dance using movement vocabulary (check availability in the library video collection or on-line). See topic list below. Topic choice Due: T. 9/2, 2:00 p.m. Paper/Presentations Due: T. 9/9, 2:00 p.m. (a), (c),(d) ( See Studio use guidelines below for scheduling rehearsals)

10% Choreography Project: Create an original dance piece (no more than 2 minutes in length) which is informed by the research papers and class work, and structured and performed by student dancers (solo or group). Proposals are due R. 9/11. Projects performed in class: R 10/2 and T 10/7, 2:00 p.m. (a), (b) ( See Studio use guidelines below for scheduling rehearsals)

5% Self-assessment (1-2 pp., typed) including observations about how your dancing and thinking has developed through the term. Did you start the course with assumptions or ideas about yourself or dance that have now changed in any way? Self-Assessments Due: R. 10/9, 2:00 p.m. (d)

*Extra Credit opportunities and absence make-ups: See Calendar

Modern I Fall 2008 Calendar

Thursday 8/28 Read your syllabus carefully and add all of the dates below into your planner. (Please notify Gretchen of any pre-existing conflicts with required dates by Tuesday 9/2, and bring to class any questions that you may have about this course.)

*Wednesdays 3:00 PM WSU Dance Society Meetings - All Welcome! Green Room, PAC

*Wednesdays 4:00 PM Wenonah Players Meetings- All Welcome! Green Room, PAC

WR 8/27-28, 6:00 PM THAD AUDITIONS: “Thirteen Clocks” and “Five Women wearing the same dress” EVERYONE WELCOME! PAC

TW 9/2-3 6:00-9:30 PM AUDITIONS: “DANCESCAPE 2009” Mem 300 Dance Studio, Everyone Welcome- Come ready to MOVE!!!!! Audition Forms available in THAD office, PAC 215.

R. 9/4, 5:30 pm Tau Center. WSU International Music Series Presents

Winona International Dancers: Folk Music and Dance from Around the World (Free- Extra Credit available with typed response submitted on 9/9)

T. 9/2 DUE: Dance artist Topic Choice Due in class 2:00 p.m.

T.9/9 DUE: 2-3 pp collaborative dance artist research paper and presentation 2:00 p.m.

R. 9/11 DUE: Choreography Project Proposal with group members, brief description, and project goals listed.

TR 9/16 and 9/18 Class welcomes Guest Teacher Megan Thompson (Gretchen will be training in Berkeley, CA that week)

R 9/25 7:30 -9:00 pm, Memorial 300, ARTS Improv Jam All Welcome (Free- Extra Credit available with typed response submitted on 9/9)

R 10/2 Choreography Projects performed and videotaped in class

T. 10/7 Choreography Projects performed and videotaped in class

R. 10/9 Last Class- Due: 1-2 pp Typed self-assessment based on course objectives and personal goals

W. Oct 8 Additional EXTRA CREDIT OPTION or Absence make up: Compañia Flamenco José Porcel 7:30pm show, 6;30 pm pre-show talk; St. Mary’s University. For tickets contact: Typed 2 pp. response due M. 10/13 at Gretchen’s office –PAC 212 OR you may attend another modern dance class with instructors permission, and write and submit a brief report on the class.

S-F Oct. 19-24 Guest Artist Residency with “In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre” sponsored by the Water Project. Get Involved! All Welcome! See Residency Schedule for details.

M 12/1, 6:00 Choreographers Audition Concert for Dancescape- PAC

TFS 2/12-14, 2009 W.S.U. Dancescape 7:30 p.m. and 2:00 pm on 2/14

Possible Research Topic Choices- 20th Century Modern Dance Artists

Isadora Duncan Loie Fuller

Ruth St. Denis Ted Shawn

Martha Graham Doris Humphrey

Charles Weidman Rudolf Laban

Mary Wigman Hanya Holm

Anna Sokolow

Agnes de Mille Alwin Nikolais

Paul Taylor Erick Hawkins

Merce Cunningham Daniel Nagrin

Pearl Primus Katherine Dunham

Lester Horton Alvin Ailey

Jose Limon Twyla Tharp

Mark Morris Trisha Brown

Liz Lerman Bill T. Jones

Meredith Monk Doug Verone OR

Your Choice (with instructor approval)


Bare feet, Dance pants, Active wear, or tights and leotards. Hair secured off face and neck, please. No gum. Sweats allowed for warmth as needed.

Text – RECOMMENDED supplement. Not required. (in library)

Penrod, James and Plastino, Janice. The Dancer Prepares: Modern Dance For Beginners, Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishers, 1998.


Olsen, Andrea. Body Stories: A Guide to Experiential Anatomy. Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1991

Rolland, John. Inside Motion. Northhampton, MA: Contact Editions,1997.

Brown, Jean Morrison (ed.). The Vision of Modern Dance.

Princeton, NJ: Princeton Book Company, 1979.

Cohen, Bonnie Bainbridge. Sensing, Feeling, and Action. Northhampton, MA: Contact Editions, 2008

Cohen, Selma Jeanne, ed. The Modern Dance: Seven Statements of

Belief. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1965.

Laban, Rudolf. Modern Educational Dance. Boston: Plays, Inc., 1975.


ATTENDANCE and class participation is required, of course. No absences, please. Students are responsible to let the instructor know why you were absent, and catch up on class material, consulting with classmates as needed. **Illness is not an excused absence, even with a doctor’s note.

*You are allowed 2 absences without affecting your grade and no need to provide documentation.

Excessive absences will affect your grade in two ways:

1. It will affect the percentages of your grade designated for Attendance and Class Participation, dropping one letter for each class missed beyond 3. For example 4 absences=B, 5=C etc.

2. More than 2 absences will also drop your total class grade ONE LETTER for each class missed. For example, with 4 absences the highest total class grade you can achieve is a B.

*Exceptions will be made for university-sponsored events with appropriate documentation.

Tardiness: Being late to class 2x is equivalent to 1 absence, if the lateness is less than 10 minutes. If you are more than 10 minutes late to a dance class without having notified the instructor in advance you may not participate in the class and that class will be counted as 1 absence.

*Be sure to speak with the instructor after class if you come in late so your presence can be recorded, the student is responsible to be marked for attendance once names have been called or the sign in clipboard has been passed around class.

*If you forget to sign in during class you will be marked as absent for that class period.

*If you need to leave class early, it will count as a ½ absence if more than 10 minutes and please alert instructor ahead of time.

Active Observation Without Participation: You are responsible for assessing your own state of health in consultation with your doctor. If you are unable to dance, you may actively observe up to 2 classes without participating. This active observation will include describing and commenting on class content and movement components. Handwritten documentation on movement observations and class content will be handed in to the instructor at the end of the class period.

Makeup Classes: DUE: 1 WEEK AFTER MAKEUP, up until the last week of classes for the semester

*Students are allowed 2 makeup classes maximum.

Makeup class approval must be requested from your instructor ahead of time to ensure it is an appropriate substitute. Request permission via email from makeup class instructor and introduce yourself when you arrive for class. Obtain a signature from the makeup class instructor with the date of attendance, and hand that in, along with a 1 paragraph typed written summary of movement aspects you experienced in class and your response.

Appropriate makeup classes: See Mem 300 studio door for days and times of current THAD dance classes and THAD website for faculty email contact info.

Students are encouraged to notify the instructor in advance if class is to be missed and are responsible to contact a classmate for missed notes and material.

Injury Policy: Credit for all classes is contingent upon participation. If a student has or incurs an injury in the course of study resulting in more than a 1 week layoff (2 classes) from active participation, it is the student's responsibility to consult with the teacher as to creative options for the learning process or withdrawal from the class.

PARTICIPATION GUIDELINES: All students are expected to come to class prepared and focused, with an open and respectful attitude towards the instructor, their peers and themselves. Students are also expected to contribute to a safe and trusting environment, including a nonjudgmental approach towards learning, a willingness to take risks, make mistakes, ask questions, and support one another.

Students are also responsible for tracking their own attendance, and all content covered in class, including retention of material from week to week.

When you arrive for class, please prepare by spending time warming up, reviewing class material or focusing yourself. Once class begins, maintain a focused attentive concentration on class material and participate fully in every aspect of class including creative exercises, assignments, research, projects and discussions.

*Quality of class participation includes: good energy level each class, attentiveness to lectures and videos, contributions to class discussions and group work, completion of in class writings or exercises, full participation in movement aspects of class including both physical and creative components. Please note Grading Explanations below for evaluation standards for grading.

EXTRA CREDIT: DUE: 1 WEEK AFTER EVENT /up until the last week of class for the semester Students may earn extra credit by attending an additional event, and handing in a typewritten summary response, 1 full page minimum, discussing dance/movement related aspects and proof of attendance.

*Each student may do 2 EC assignments worth 1 point each, for a max. of 2 points added to your final class grade.

See “Area Dance Performance Calendar 2008-2009” on D2L, WSU Update, class announcements or consult instructor if find alternative event.

*WSU Arts & Lectures Portal at has a full calendar of arts events on campus including: Lyceum Series, CLASP Series, Athenaeum and much more!

WRITING CENTER INFO: Call 457-5505 or email for appointments and information and visit the Writing Center website for writing resources and the “Online Tutor” service.

DISABILITY ACCOMMODATION: If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations, please contact the instructor as soon as possible.

ACADEMIC HONESTY: All work produced by a student must represent that student’s personal effort, unless the instructor specifically permits or requires that it be done by a group. Papers and other work which a student prepares for class will contain only the student’s own words or, if the material originated with someone else, will enclose the quoted words in quotation marks and supply the complete bibliographical information in a footnote or endnote. Summaries or paraphrases of the words and ideas of other people must also be documented in this fashion. Work that does not exhibit these characteristics is a form of academic dishonesty known as plagiarism. This will result in strict sanctions including an automatic F for the course.

Commitment to Inclusive Excellence: WSU recognizes that our individual differences can deepen our understanding of one another and the world around us, rather than divide us. In this class, people of all ethnicities, genders, religions, ages, sexual orientations, disabilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, regions, and nationalities are strongly encouraged to share their rich array of perspectives and experiences. If you feel your differences may in some way isolate you from WSU’s community or if you have a need of any specific accommodations, please speak with the instructor early in the semester about your concerns and what we can do together to help you become an active and engaged member of our class and community.


A=work of outstanding nature that exceeds course standards and depicts a deep and thorough understanding of subject matter

B=work that is above average in quality and thoroughness and depicts a mastery of the subject matter

C=Work of a satisfactory nature in quality and thoroughness and depicts a basic understanding of subject matter

D=Work that is substandard in nature and depicts a limited understanding of subject matter

Memorial 300 and PAC 127 STUDIO USE GUIDELINES

As a member of this class, your name will be sent to WSU security for studio clearance on evenings and weekends to practice and rehearse projects. Reserve space by signing up directly on the studio doors ( Mem 300 and PAC 127). Call 457-5555 15 MINUTES BEFORE your time slot to unlock your doors. When you call, give your name, this class information, and your scheduled rehearsal time.

WSU THAD Studio Space


  1. Please – absolutely no street shoes on our dance floor! Remove shoes upon entering.

  2. Please keep the volume on the stereo LOW and doors shut while the space is in use. Do not exceed the volume level marked on the volume control, and do a sound check to assure that your source is kept at a low playing volume. Respect the need for quiet in nearby classrooms.

  3. Please keep the space cleaner than you found it. Use waste receptacles and floor mops and brooms provided as needed. Only water please, no food or other drinks.

  4. Please turn the stereo, lights and fans off and close windows before you leave.

5. Please LOCK THE DOORS to keep our equipment safe. Ask WSU

Security to lock up when you are done unless there is someone next.

They can also lock the door knob so the space will be locked when you

shut the door.

When you sign up and reserve studio space, you are responsible for abiding by this User Agreement.

Thank you and enjoy the space!


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