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DANCE 250 A: Cross-Cultural Dance Studies

Meeting Time: 
Juliet McMains
Juliet McMains

Syllabus Description:

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COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course will introduce students to a wide range of dance forms from around the world. We will engage in cross-cultural analysis on two levels. First, our efforts to make sense of dances’ meanings will often require stretching beyond our own cultural frames of reference. Secondly, we will also strive to compare dance forms from different parts of the world to each other, noting ways in which divergent cultures have points of convergence. Given such a vast range of possible dance styles, we will be limited to only a small selection of dance practices, although our scope will be broad, spanning several continents. I have chosen to exclude ballet and modern dance from our subjects of study because other courses offered in this department focus on the history of those traditions. My choices were based on availability of resources as well as an attempt to balance a variety of forms from differing geographic regions, serving varying social, religious, and political functions. The dance forms we will examine and experience are not necessarily the most popular or most important dance forms of the world, but I hope they will introduce you to the diversity of rich and varied movement practices around the globe. We will look at each dance phenomenon we study through three analytical lenses: close movement analysis, historical analysis, and cultural/social analysis.

In addition to readings, lectures, discussions, and viewings about dance forms, we will be learning about many dance practices through physical experience. Whenever possible, we will have a dance practicum (movement class) in the form we are studying. The point of these classes will not be to master the movement forms introduced but to have some physical experience of the movement, even if only at the very beginning level. Please come to class with appropriate dance attire for each Friday dance practicum.

Learning Objectives:

Students who successfully engage with course material should:

  • Learn about a range of dance traditions from around the world, including the social, historical, and political contexts in which they are practiced
  • Develop awareness of and sensitivity to cross-cultural differences
  • Improve reading, writing, and speaking skills
  • Develop observational, descriptive, and analytical skills in relation to dance
  • Become familiar with dance resources in the Seattle community and build connections that may extend into the future



Catalog Description: 
Offers a cross-cultural examination of theatrical, social, and sacred dance forms from different Afro-diasporic, Latin, Asian, American, and European cultures. Students compare how racial, ethnic, national, and gender identity are expressed and contested through specific dance practices. Offered: AW.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:05pm