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DANCE 250 A: Cross-Cultural Dance Studies

Meeting Time: 
Juliet McMains
Juliet McMains

Syllabus Description:

download full course syllabus: syllabus250_18.docx

Course Description: Have you ever shared a dance with someone with whom you did not speak a common verbal language? Art has both the ability to tap into universal human experiences and the power to convey culturally specific messages. As interaction among the world’s diverse populations accelerates, the ability to speak across cultural difference becomes increasingly important. In this course, we will use dance as a window into a variety of different cultural values and experiences. Each art form we study will allow us to explore the specific historical, political, religious, and social circumstances that led to its emergence, development and diffusion. We will also strive to compare dance forms from different parts of the world, noting ways in which divergent cultures have points of convergence. Major themes throughout the course include: commercialization, tensions between innovation and preservation of tradition, concerns about cultural appropriation, and cultural hybridization due to migration and globalization.

In addition to readings, lectures, discussions, viewings, and writing assignments, we will be learning about many dance practices through physical experience. In most cases, 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. No dance experience is required for this course, but an interest in experiencing new dances is essential.


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 - 9:16pm