An introduction to movement as a language and to dance and performance composition. Students will explore and expand their individual movement vocabularies by working improvisationally with weight, posture, gesture, patterns, rhythm, space, and relationship of body parts. We will ask what these vocabularies might communicate about emotion, thought, physical structures, cultural/social traditions, and aesthetic preferences. In addition, we will use observations of movement in our everyday situations and environments, as well as from staged and filmed events, as inspiration for individual and group compositions. Selected readings and viewing of video and films will be included to give students a broad overview of dance and movement practices and tools with which to observe and analyze movement.
Attention will be drawn to issues of race, class, gender and culture in looking at diverse languages of movement. Two two-hour class meetings and additional peer rehearsal meetings as needed.
Limited to 20 students. Six seats reserved for first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Woodson.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
An introduction to methods of visual research and visual creativity for textual, narrative, and performance interpretation. The course is conducted in a format combining discussions, creative play, student presentations, and collaborative critique. Class discussions and readings include the theoretical basis of a range of historical theatrical conventions, from Aristotle through Robert Wilson. Class exercises in perception and analysis build skills culminating in the realization of three-dimensional and story-boarding projects. In addition to two two-hour class meetings per week, students participate in the equivalent of a two-hour per week laboratory experience coordinated with the department’s production season.
Limited to 12 students per section. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Dougan.2021-22: Not offered
A first college-level course in the fundamentals of acting, with an emphasis on the connections between dramatic action and character. Students learn how to analyze dramatic texts and bring them to life through a collaborative process, and by using body, voice and imagination. Classwork includes regular exercises designed to develop acting craft. Homework includes memorization, regular rehearsals and relevant reading, alongside practical research and short writing in various modes. Assignments progress toward realizing performed scenes. Two two-hour class meetings per week.
Limited to 20 students. Eight seats reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Sandy.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
This course will focus on case studies of selected works and artists of contemporary performance over the last century as a means of placing the creation and practice of theater and dance in context. We will closely consider these case studies as reflective of important aesthetic traditions and experiments in contemporary performance. In addition, we will seek connections between the different case study examples and the social, cultural and political environments that fostered them. We will reflect on issues of race, gender, identity, political activism, individual expression and differing collaborative structures in our encounters with these case studies. We will also look to historical precedents and sources that inform our understanding of artistic innovations and processes. Required of Theater and Dance majors.
This foundation course in the history/theory of performance is open to all students. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2020-2021.2021-22: Not offered
This is an introductory course in contemporary dance technique with a primary focus on movement practice. Using the studio as a laboratory, we will investigate the fundamentals of body awareness, alignment, flexibility, coordination, strength, musical phrasing and the expressive potential of movement. Additionally, contemporary dance’s roots and influences will be introduced and applied through movement exploration. These include the borrowing and fusing of movement vocabularies from jazz, modern, hip hop and improvisational dance forms like Contact Improvisation. Occasional writing assignments will allow us to reflect on our movement histories and articulate personal progress within the course. This course meets twice a week. Because the study of dance technique requires ongoing practice, this course may be repeated for credit.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Riegel.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
This is an intermediate-level course in contemporary dance technique with a primary focus on movement practice. Using the studio as a laboratory, we will embody increasingly complex and dynamic movement that investigates clarity, freedom, adaptability, and artistry and challenges stamina. Additionally, contemporary dance’s roots and influences will be acknowledged and applied through movement exploration. These include the borrowing and fusing of movement vocabularies from jazz, modern, hip hop and improvisational dance forms like Contact Improvisation. Occasional writing assignments will allow us to reflect on our movement histories and articulate personal progress within the course. This course meets twice a week. Pre-requisite: two or more college-level courses in dance techniques, or equivalent experience. Because the study of dance technique requires ongoing practice, this course may be repeated for credit.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Riegel.
This online, intermediate-level dance technique course will highlight the influences of Black artists on American contemporary dance forms. Co-taught by Five College Dance faculty, including Molly Christie González (UMass), Aston McCullough (UMass) and Jenna Riegel (Amherst College), this course will give students the opportunity to learn from and engage with faculty from other campuses and assimilate various forms of contemporary dance including Katherine Dunham technique and philosophies, jazz techniques, and the choreographies and techniques of the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Company. Our physical practice will be enhanced with visits from guest artists, readings and viewings. This course is designed for students with previous movement experience.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Riegel.2021-22: Not offered
This course is designed to focus on the movement aspect of hip hop culture. Dance in the tradition of B-Boys and B-girls while learning a wide variety of hip hop movement. From the old school "bronx" style to commercial hip hop, learn a wide range of hip-hop vocabulary in a course emphasizing group choreography, floor work, and partner work. No previous dance experience is necessary. Class will incorporate funk, street, b-boy/b-girl, and house elements to stretch and tone the body. Class will include across the floor and center combinations which will ask the dancers to find their relationship to musicality, athleticism, dynamics, and articulation of the body.
Fall semester. Lecturer Lites.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
A beginning studio course in the development of voice for speaking. Students develop range and tone through regular physical exercises in relaxation, breathing technique, placement, and presence. Individual attention focuses on helping each student develop the physical, mental, and emotional self-awareness needed for expressive vocal production. Practice is oriented toward acting for the stage, but students with a primary interest in public speaking, teaching, or improved interpersonal communication will find this course valuable. A modicum of reading and written reflection is required. Three class meetings per week. A half course.
Limited to 28 students. Six spaces reserved for first-year students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Bashford.2021-22: Not offered
The study and practice of contemporary movement vocabularies, including regional dance forms, contact improvisation and various modern dance techniques. Because the specific genres and techniques will vary from semester to semester, the course may be repeated for credit. Objectives include the intellectual and physical introduction to this discipline as well as increased body awareness, alignment, flexibility, coordination, strength, musical phrasing and the expressive potential of movement. The course material is presented at the beginning/intermediate level.
Spring semester. The Department.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
(Offered as THDA 144H and LLAS 144H) This class introduces students to beginner-level salsa technique. We will explore the New York Mambo style of salsa, the Caracas street style, as well as elements of the Cuban Casino style. Students will master variations of the salsa basic step, turns, connecting steps, and arm work. Although we will mostly focus on solo practice, we will learn some essential concepts of partnering work based on the principles of leading and following. Toward the end of the semester, students will be able to use the acquired salsa vocabulary as the basis for improvising and choreographing combinations.
Through the study of salsa’s history, political dimensions, lyrical content, and matrilineal legacy, students will develop an understanding of this artistic expression not only as a dance form or musical genre, but also as a unifying voice of resistance and liberation for Caribbean and Latino cultures. Students will be able to recognize the voices of some of the most iconic Salsa artists and appreciate the contributions of some of the most important female Cuban and Cuban-American performers. We will investigate the legacy of Celia Cruz, paying close attention to the design and performance elements that defined her as The Queen of Salsa. Class discussions and brief writing assignments will serve as opportunities to reflect upon readings, documentaries and other information that will expand our understanding of the form.
Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as THDA 154 and CLAS 154) How can we look back to classic plays that were written one or two millennia ago and use them as the basis for a new piece of art that will be relevant and inspiring to a contemporary audience?
This course will explore how artists from various media—theater, film, TV, dance, music, painting—have interpreted and re-authored classical texts. We will discuss western classics as well as canonical texts from Japan, India, Africa and Latin America.
Are there any shared fundamental human elements among these very different continents and cultures? What made these texts enter the eternal dramatic canon of our civilization? Why are artists from various disciplines constantly attracted to re-authoring these classics? How can we build upon these works of the past to create something new, personal and relevant to our time?
This course will examine these questions using a variety of audio-visual examples, dramatic and critical texts, and studio exercises. Students will also re-author a classical text as a contemporary piece, in various artistic media.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-2022.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as THDA 155, BLST 144, and SWAG 155) In this introductory course we will look at dance performance as reflective of culture, gender, race and politics. Class sessions will incorporate viewings of recorded performances and in-depth discussions; attendance at live performances will also be part of the course. Selected readings in gender, critical race and queer theories (among others) will be assigned and used to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between bodies and performance, both on and off stage. Selected readings for this course include Judith Butler, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, and Jose Esteban Munoz, among others. Selected choreographers include Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Faye Driscoll, William Forsythe, and Martha Graham.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-2022.2021-22: Not offered
This is a course in intermediate-level contemporary dance as a technique practice and as a topic of cultural study. Using the studio as a laboratory, we will embody increasingly complex and dynamic movement that investigates clarity, freedom, adaptability, and artistry and challenges stamina. Additionally, contemporary dance’s roots and influences will be recognized, explored, and discussed. These include the borrowing and fusing of movement vocabularies from jazz, modern, hip hop, and improvisational dance forms like Contact Improvisation. Weekly readings from such authors as Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Takiyah Nur Amin, and Ann Cooper Albright will serve to deepen our understanding of contemporary dance’s history, evolution, and value as a humanistic endeavor. Regular writing assignments will allow us to reflect on our movement histories and articulate personal goals and progress within the course. This course meets four times per week. Pre-requisite: two or more college-level courses in dance techniques, or equivalent experience. Because the study of dance technique requires ongoing practice, this course may be repeated for credit.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Riegel.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
This course will include studio sessions in contemporary modern/jazz dance technique at the intermediate level and rehearsal sessions to create original choreography; the completed piece(s) will be presented in concert at the end of the semester. The emphasis in the course will be to increase expressive range, technical skills and performance versatility of the dancer through the practice, creation and performance of technique and choreography. In addition, the course will include required readings, the viewing of dance videos and live performances to give an increased understanding of the historical and contemporary context for the work.
Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Assistant Professor Riegel.2021-22: Not offered
The actors bring characters to life, through text, physicality and voice. Using their own bodies, they transform the words from a play’s pages in order to become another live being onstage. This art requires not only technique, but more importantly, an original and personal interpretation of the text, its characters, and their actions.
One of the goals of this course is to nourish each actor’s capacity for personal and original interpretation, or what might be called the elusive “artist’s voice". Another goal is developing independent skills to rehearse a scene. Working toward these goals, we will work in a lab environment, rehearsing scenes and monologues from various playwright’s scripts. We will employ physical and analytical tools, which will enrich the actor's palette of skills, foster their artist’s voice and advance their way of rehearsing a play. The class meets three times per week for two hours.
Requisite: THDA 111, THDA 113, or a prior course in acting at the college level, or by consent of the instructor. Limited to 16 students.Omitted 2021-2022.2021-22: Not offered
This is an intermediate/advanced-level course in contemporary dance technique with a primary focus on movement practice. Using the studio as a laboratory, we will focus on movement complexity and density, the layering of performance tasks, qualitative and dynamic choice making (including musical phrasing) and the cultivation of self-expression in the interpretation of class material. Additionally, contemporary dance’s roots and influences will continue to be recognized and experienced through movement exploration. These include the borrowing and fusing of movement vocabularies from jazz, modern, hip hop and improvisational dance forms like Contact Improvisation. Occasional writing assignments will allow us to reflect on our movement histories and articulate personal progress within the course. This course meets twice a week. Pre-requisite: two or more college-level courses in dance techniques, or equivalent experience. Because the study of dance technique requires ongoing practice, this course may be repeated for credit.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Riegel.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
The study and practice of contemporary movement vocabularies, including regional dance forms, contact improvisation and various modern dance techniques. Objectives include the intellectual and physical introduction to this discipline as well as increased body awareness, alignment, flexibility, coordination, strength, musical phrasing and the expressive potential of movement. The course material is presented at the intermediate/advanced level. A half course. Because the specific genres and techniques will vary from semester to semester, the course may be repeated for credit.
Requisite: Ballet 1/2 or Ballet 2/3. Omitted 2021-2022.2021-22: Not offered
In this course, we will engage in a collaborative, creative process to generate an original choreographic work. We will utilize both embodied and traditional scholarly research to inform and support the emergence of our collective creation and locate our work within a broader historical and cultural context. Students will have the opportunity to increase their expressive range, technical skills, and versatility as performers while also deepening their understanding of shared artistic processes. The course experience will culminate in a presentation of our work either in concert or in digital form at the end of the semester.
The course will likely be conducted in a combination of formats: online, and through in-person interaction whenever possible. Options for remote learning will be integrated into the course for those students unable to participate in person.
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Riegel.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as MUSI 220 and THDA 220) History of Opera traces opera from its beginnings as a late-Renaissance experiment in re-creating Greek drama to its incarnations in works of the present day. Subjects covered will include genres such as opera buffa and opera seria, concepts such as bel canto, Gesamtkunstwerk, and verismo. The primary focus of the class will be on opera from the so-called common-practice period beginning with works by Mozart through those by nineteenth-century composers such as Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Bizet, and Wagner, and ending with Puccini in the early twentieth century. After an historical overview of operatic styles, we will have an in-depth look at a few operatic masterpieces (likely Bizet’s Carmen, Puccini’s La Bohème, and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress). Students will be required to participate in group presentations on operas of their choosing.
Requisite: MUSI 112 or 113 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 45 students. Dropped. Professor Schneider.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
How has the theater text changed to accommodate new performance practices? What can be called a “play” today? In this course, we will explore contemporary theater texts from around the world. By reading plays from authors such as Samuel Beckett, Heiner Muller, Caryl Churchill, Young Jean Lee, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Meng Jinghui, among others, we will learn to adopt a “dramaturgical lens” to approach theater and text for performance. Suitable for aspiring professionals in all roles in theater, as well as theater lovers in general, this course also includes practical creative exercises in dramaturgy. Open to first-year students.
Omitted 2021-2022.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as THDA 223, BLST 113, and ENGL 371) What is meant by “the African-American experience” within the context of the U.S. American theater? What do the crafting and thematic concerns of plays penned by significant African-descendent writers in the United States tell us about the history of African-American theatrical performance and the larger issues of Black personhood, community, culture, and citizenship it reflects? This course is a thematic and critical survey of pivotal African-American plays from the mid-nineteenth century to the late twentieth century. Through practical dramaturgy and textual analysis we will study these playwrights’ deployment of their creative voice within social conditions that have evolved over the aforementioned period, from state-sanctioned exclusion to conditioned acceptance within U.S. American socio-cultural discourses. We will also examine how the civic work of these plays (and their writers) meet, intersect and coexist with that of other identity-based advocacy movements. Themes explored include slavery, segregation, nationality, class, religion, gender, sexual identity, among others. Playwrights studied may include Ira Aldridge, Angelina Grimke, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Charles Fuller, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Adrienne Kennedy, George C. Wolfe, August Wilson, Ntzoke Shange, and others.
Visiting Assistant Professor Jude Sandy. Fall semester.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
In this second course in the craft of speaking, students learn to shape and speak text to powerful effect. Students build on prior work to extend vocal range and capacity while learning component principles of spoken expression. Articulation, inflection, methods of contrast and interpretation, tone, verbal imaging and aural structures of poetry and rhetoric are practiced in a studio setting. Emphasis is placed on personal engagement and presence to others while speaking. Assignments in text scoring and memorization support class work. The course culminates in presentations of prepared texts. Two class meetings per week.
Requisite: THDA 125H. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Bashford.2021-22: Not offered
When we experience a performance, we synthesize a rich array of sensations and information at once, and through time. Yet, artists employ a variety of different means to create their work, building it bit by bit. This course explores various elements that practioners use in the making of theater and dance, with an emphasis on the role perception plays in audience experience of meaning and feeling. Elements of performance will include basic “building blocks” of audience perception (temporal, spatial, visual, aural), leading to consideration of more complex tools and conventions, such as ritual, language, movement, music, design, and performing techniques. This class will study larger formal conventions used in the structure of whole performances as they reflect artists' possible intentions.
Students will develop analytical skills in the interpretation of multi-layered performance works, and in doing so, extend their own artistic possibilities and appreciation as audience members. In particular, we will investigate how artists build performances to challenge audiences and their society. Activities include reading and viewing, discussion, targeted writing assignments, and creative exercises to develop experiential understanding.
We will encounter influential theorists and artists (performers, playwrights, directors, choreographers, designers, etc.), including women, queer artists, and artists of color. Authors and artists under consideration for this course include Aristotle, Stanislavsky, Grotowski, Beckett, Pinter, Churchill, Brook, Kushner, Bausch, Cunningham, Ailey, Bogart, Bill T. Jones, Lehman, Jawole Zollar, and Anna Deavere Smith, among others. Guest Theater and Dance faculty will join class discussions as related to their areas of expertise. Two class meetings per week, with additional collaborative time outside of class required for some creative exercises.
Open to first-year students. Professor Bashford. Omitted 2021-22.2021-22: Not offered
Theater making is a collaborative process, in which all participants contribute to the creation of the theatrical event. A good collaboration in theater brings together the personal voice of each and every collaborator and requires participants to listen and give room to all other voices during the creative process. This course encourages diversity of interests among the students: writing, researching, acting, designing and directing. It will offer various tools and approaches towards collaboration in theater, as being practiced by contemporary groups like The Wooster Group, Tectonic Theater Project, Kneehigh Theater and Anne Bogart.
The course will have a few “steps” in collaboration: we will start with simple and short pieces, in pairs or small groups. Halfway through the semester we will start devising a theater piece that everyone will work on. We will begin to see written drafts and rough drawings and models, and work our way through rehearsals towards a realized production. We will present the piece in front of an audience at the end of the semester.
Class will meet twice a week for two hours. In addition, 4-6 hours per week of rehearsals and/or reading and research are expected outside of class times. Previous experience in theater is welcomed but is not required. First-year students are encouraged to enroll, as well as students with past experience.
Limited to 20 students. Five seats reserved for first-year students. Omitted 2021-2022.2021-22: Not offered
How do actors offer vigorous contributions towards ensemble storytelling, while refining their own interpretive capacities? How do we shape and deploy the full energy and specificity of our individual, relational, and collective performance possibilities? How do we work together in manipulating myriad dynamics to hold and shape space, direct focus, orchestrate sound and rhythm, build and release tension, all towards distinctive group playmaking? This intermediate studio course builds on foundations of THDA 113: Action and Character as it continues to hone skills in voice, textual interpretation and embodiment of character towards more fully realized creative partnerships. A progression of study employs elements of Linklater Voice Training, Alexander Technique, Viewpoints, theater games and other practices to deepen each actor’s connective capabilities, while introducing approaches for collaboration towards more deeply shared interpretations of ensemble scene-work. Students will be guided through frameworks for experimenting, crafting, and directing themselves and their peers through increasingly challenging performance propositions, while taking on heightened texts and embodying epic theatrical roles that demand individual and collective commitment, facility, dynamism, and power. Limited to 20 students.
Visiting Assistant Professor Jude Sandy. Spring semester. 2021-2022.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Athletes taking a knee, bodies marching in the street, dance movements that go viral… How can Dance Studies and Performance Studies help us understand the urgency of movement in our current moment? At the same time, how does dance challenge normative conceptualizations of history and politics? Exploring embodied politics in global perspective, this course works from the framework of “Critical Moves” proposed by late dance theorist Randy Martin: “Critical moves. Steps we must take. Movement that informs critical consciousness.” The interrelationship between theory and practice are emphasized through reading, writing, movement exercises and creative workshops. Students will be expected to regularly read, write, create and move; view and discuss performances; pursue a final research project through embodied, visual, and text-based methods; and work on a collective performance intervention that will take place on campus toward the end of the semester. No dance or performance experience necessary; students should bring an openness to engage with embodied practice and a bodily perspective.
Omitted 2021-2022.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as THDA 236 and SWAG 234) This dance history course locates the intersections between dance, music, film, and identity politics by analyzing the cultural phenomenon of the American “music video” from the early 1980s to now. By considering American dance history from 1900 to the present, alongside film analysis work, students will gain an introductory understanding of how the moving body on screen intersects with identity politics related to race, class, sex, sexuality, and gender. Students will explore the course topic through readings on dance, music, film, and critical theory; in-class film viewings of music videos, dance for camera, and other visual media; in-class discussions dissecting critical theory for analysis purposes; and written analysis of film and video.
Omitted 2021-22.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as THDA 240 and SWAG 249) Using a seminar format, this course will ask students to choose a topic and explore the relationship between culture and clothing in historical context, addressing issues of race, class, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality and their connection to the aesthetics of self-expression. In addition, students will develop their own contemporary fashion ideas and participate in labs, conducted by Emily Hoem, professional cutter draper for the Theater and Dance Department, who will teach the necessary technical skills needed to fabricate a garment.
This course will be conducted in a hybrid format, with both in-person and on-line components as needed, supported by appropriate technology. Options for online-only participation will be available for those students unable to participate in person.
Limited to 10 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Dougan.2021-22: Not offered
In this course, students conduct rehearsal investigations into the work of a particular playwright, and explore ways in which coordinated action renders dramatic writing in theatrical form. In addition to examining selected plays and background material, students will develop ensemble techniques of play, improvisation, and staging. Emphasis is placed on the communicative means required to develop a shared vision, and to particular acting and directing techniques relevant to the work of the selected playwright. This course is open to students interested in any aspect of play production, but all students should expect to act, co-direct, conduct research, and explore basic visual design implications together. The course will culminate in a workshop-style performance; group rehearsals outside of class meeting times are required. The playwright for fall 2020 is Molière.
Requisite: A prior college-level course in theater or permission of the instructor. Open to first-year students with permission. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Bashford.2021-22: Not offered
How do artists invent, reinvent, reinforce, or challenge racial identities through performance? Can race and racism be thought of as performance? What can citizen-performers do to construct a broader and more equitable social narrative? In this course, we will explore key concepts in performance and race studies, and consider them alongside intersecting identities, such as gender, sexuality, class, and disability. We will examine the work of modern and contemporary theater and dance artists of color, such as Suzan-Lori Parks, Larissa Fasthorse, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bill T. Jones, Eiko & Koma, Ananya Chatterjea, Miguel Gutierrez, and Ni’ja Whitson, through a lens of racially-defined
In an atmosphere of curiosity, warmth and constructive risk-taking, this course investigates the dynamic possibilities of the moving relationships of our dancing bodies. We practice and develop deep kinesthetic sensitivity and listening as we explore both an intellectual and embodied understanding of contemporary partnering basics such as weight sharing, momentum, counterbalance, force, fulcrums, tone and resistance. Directing our attention to cause and effect, our experimentation with different choices guides our learning. Skills to build trust and open communication, pillars of healthy partnering practices, are folded into our classes. We discuss and embrace the intersections and influences of our personal identities, cultural backgrounds, compositional habits, and aesthetic sensibilities on our movement making. The creation of unique duet or ensemble dances through inventive and improvisational processes culminate in a public showing. Selected readings and viewings of partnering practices utilized across different cultures and performance groups and the ensuing discussions supplement our physical practice.
Requisite: A previous movement course or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Riegel.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as THDA 252, FAMS 342 and ARHA 252) This course is designed for students in dance, theater, film/video, art, music and creative writing who want to explore the challenges and potentials in creating performances and events outside of traditional "frames" or venues (e.g., the theater, the gallery, the concert halls, the lecture hall, the page). In the first part of the semester we will experiment with different techniques for working together and for developing responses to different spaces. We will conduct a series of informal performance actions in numerous sites that are available to us, working with different media according to student interest and experience. A special emphasis will be placed on considering issues of access when we make choices about where and how to perform and create work. How can we encourage inclusive events that foster interaction and response with communities both near and far? What are possible relationships between art and community? How can we integrate important social and cultural issues into our art making? How might we collaborate with and make work for sites we are distanced from? What are crucial limitations to consider in creating site specific events, and how do we allow these limitations to inspire? The semester will culminate in a series of public final projects developed throughout the semester for online and live viewing.
Recommended requisite: Previous experience in improvisation and/or composition in dance, theater, performance, film/video, music/sound, installation, creative writing, and/or design is required. Limited to 8 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Woodson.2021-22: Not offered
This studio course in intermediate composition will provide structures and approaches for creating original choreography, performance pieces and events. An emphasis will be placed on interdisciplinary and experimental approaches to composition, choreography, and performance making. We will investigate multiple interactions between different media and see how they can inform each other. For example, we will see how text can create movement and vice versa, how sound can be created as a response to or impetus for text and movement and how visual design and environments can serve as inspiration for or be incorporated into performance. Students will create and perform dance, theater, or performance art pieces for both traditional theater spaces and for found (indoor and outdoor) spaces.
This course is open to dancers, actors, musicians and visual art students as well as interested students from other disciplines. Two two-hour class meetings per week and weekly lab/rehearsal sessions. Consent of the instructor is required for students with no experience in improvisation or composition.
Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Woodson.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
(Offered as THDA 255, ENGL 223, and MUSI 255) This studio course is designed as an interactive laboratory for dancers, composers, actors, writers/poets, vocalists, and sound artists to work together to create meaningful interactions between sound, movement, and text. Working individually and in collaborative groups, students will create original material in the various media and experiment with multiple ways to craft interesting exchanges and dialogues between word, sound, and movement or to create hybrid forms. The emphasis in the course will be to work with exercises and structures that engender deep listening, looking, and imagining. Some of the questions that inform the course include: How do music, voices, electronic, digital, and natural sounds create a sonic world for live performance and vice versa? How can movement inform the writing of text and vice-versa? How can we successfully communicate and collaborate across and between the different languages of sounds, words, and movement? We will have a series of informal studio performances, events, and installations throughout the semester with a culminating final showing/listening at the end of the semester.
Requisite: Previous experience in composition in one or more of the central media, or consent of the instructors. Limited to 16 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Woodson.2021-22: Not offered
An introduction to the analytical methods and skills necessary for the creation of costumes for theater and dance with emphasis on the integration of costume with other visual elements. This course will study western costume history and will include lab work in costume construction.
Requisite: THDA 112 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Omitted. Professor Dougan.
2021-22: Not offered
An introduction to the theory and techniques of lighting for performance, with emphasis on the aesthetic, historical, cultural, and practical aspects of the art form. Students' practice of the techniques will be grounded in the deepening of understanding the way light acts upon the body and, thus, shapes our perceptions, our meaning-making, and our lived experiences.
Requisite: THDA 112 or consent of the instructor. Lab work in lighting technology. Fall semester. Resident Lighting Designer Couch.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
The materials, techniques and concepts which underlie the design and creation of the theatrical environment.
In Fall 2020, students will collaborate with THDA 261: Lighting Design to explore the interactions between the two forms.
This course will be conducted in a hybrid format, with both in-person and on-line components as needed, supported by appropriate technology. Options for online-only participation will be available for those students unable to participate in person.
Requisite: THDA 112 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students, with priority given to majors. Non-majors need consent from instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Dougan.
2021-22: Not offered
This advanced studio course is designed for students who want to develop their skills as dance/theater artists by participating in the creation of a student dance company that is viable and sustainable in a liberal arts environment. Students enrolled in this course will be part of an ensemble and perform regularly in different sites in the Five College Community. In addition to the ongoing practice of technique, class times will focus on learning and creating different repertory with the instructor of the course, guest artists and the students who are enrolled in the course.
In addition, we will examine different professional dance company models as inspiration in the formation of the ensemble as well as research diverse examples for community engagement and the arts. Questions that will inform the work include: What does it mean to be part of a performing ensemble in a liberal arts setting? How do performance art making and community intersect? What are potential structures for organizing an ensemble performance company to ensure flexibility as well as sustainability? What are some of the challenges in keeping a collaborative body together and viable Three two-hour meetings per week plus lab TBA.
Requisite: Previous performance experience in dance/theater. Limited to 10 students. Admission with consent of the instructor after audition. Omitted 2021-2022.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as THDA 270 and ENGL 222) This course explores key aspects of writing for the theater in a workshop style, from a transcultural perspective. Through writing exercises, analysis of scenes, feedback sessions, and the rewriting of materials produced, participants will experience the creative process and start developing their own voice as playwrights.
Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Visiting Artist Carneiro.
2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
(Offered as THDA 272 and ENGL 323) This course is an exploration of writing for performance using interdisciplinary and experimental approaches. By exposing students to contemporary manifestations of performance across cultures – including those by Rodrigo Garcia, Rimini Protokoll, Romeo Castelluci, Robert Lepage, Carolina Vivas, and Gebing Tian – this course will lead to a new understanding of the art and practice of writing for the theater. In dialogue with other artforms such as literature, music, dance, and cinema, as well as performance theory, we will creatively explore dynamics involving words, bodies, spaces, objects, and media. Through imagining, devising, writing, and performing exercises, participants will develop their own original pieces that will be showcased as works-in-progress at the end of the semester.
Limited to 18 students. Spring Semester. Visiting Artist Carneiro.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
(Offered as THDA 275, ENGL 325 and SWAG 275) Western text-based theatre has historically hushed the voices of women and those from marginalized communities. This course will focus on examples of such voices, paying special attention to artists, writers, and thinkers who challenge and deconstruct aesthetics that privilege the male gaze. In dialogue with feminist theories of gender and identity, we will read plays and study works by women and gender non-conforming artists, such as Hildegard von Bingen, Juana Ines de la Cruz, Susan Glaspell, Adrienne Kennedy, Marina Abramovich, and Taylor Mac. Finally, we will also inquire into new forms of gender-inspired “artivism,” such as The Kilroy’s, the Guerilla girls, Pussy Riot, and the #MeToo movement in theatres around the world. During this course, students are expected to pursue an individual writing or performance project that will further explore the concepts discussed. For this purpose, we will study the Theater of the Oppressed methodology as applied by contemporary Latinx feminist theater-makers.
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Visiting Artist Carneiro.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as MUSI 420, EUST 320 and THDA 320) This course examines the two genres of lyric theater (opera and musical) with special attention to composers’ musical characterizations of the women and men who populate them. The first part of the class will focus on case studies of works by Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Rogers & Hammerstein, and Sondheim. Analyzing these works will help us develop an understanding of how composers work with conventions of vocal type and musical gesture to define character. The second part of the class will be devoted to developing independent research projects. Health conditions permitting, some of the works studied will be chosen in coordination with performances we can attend in New York or Boston.
Spring semester. Professor Schneider.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
(Offered as ENGL 435 and THDA 335) We don’t just think, speak, or write our ideas; we perform them, too. Think TED Talks. Think political movements. Think 400-level seminars in English. In this course, you will read plays that are fueled by an argument and arguments that look an awful lot like plays. Readings will range from ancient philosophical dialogues to modern “plays of ideas”–from essays on pedagogy to works of social theory. As the semester wears on, you will begin to research your own angle on our central theme: Ideas performed. Your final project will be a mock prospectus, in which you imagine this “angle” turning into a thesis project–creative, critical, or a mixture of the two.
Previous experience with drama or performance theory might help, but is hardly required for enrollment. As a matter of fact, this course works best when students from a wide range of majors enroll. The reading load isn’t heavy, but expectations are high that you will turn up to class prepared to engage in an active discussion. I mean, would you show up to a performance not knowing your lines, or fail to speak when you heard your cue? I didn’t think so. See you there.
As a small, advanced seminar, this course will proceed mainly through synchronous small-group discussions of shared texts, videos, and images. Students will also take part in synchronous workshops (during regular course meeting times) on research skills, oral presentations, and the craft of proposing a thesis. Those not proposing a thesis–or who are already writing one–will have the choice to work instead on collaborative final projects in lieu of submitting a mock prospectus.
Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Grobe.2021-22: Not offered
This is a studio course in collaboration leading to completed theatrical creations. Students produce a portfolio of short projects, using published text or through rehearsal devising. Readings, writing, and class discussion are devoted to the shared practices of acting and directing, and to individual problems and approaches. Topics include the articulation of artistic vision, advanced textual analysis, and the use of space, sound and light. Studio exercises are employed to support relevant techniques. In addition, applicable organizational and research methods will be employed. When possible, students may collaborate with others enrolled in a related course in design. Two class meetings per week. Students should expect to schedule a significant amount of rehearsal time outside of class meetings for the successful completion of projects.
In Spring 2021, remote instruction will be combined with in-person interactions and the use of video, streaming, and other technology as appropriate to the needs of physical distancing and artistic goals.
Requisite: One 100-level THDA course, and an appropriate intermediate, 200-level course in THDA, or equivalent college-level experience with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Bashford.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as THDA 353 and FAMS 345) This is an advanced course in making performance in dance, theater, video and/or hybrid forms. Each student will create, rehearse and produce an original performance piece in his/her/their preferred medium. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, these pieces will be shared on digital platforms as ongoing works in progress (with students in the class) and as final projects with a wider audience at the end of the semester. Different strategies, tools and philosophies will be given and explored with an emphasis on taking creative advantage of found spaces and available resources. Improvisational and interactive structures and approaches among and within media will be investigated.
Two ninety-minute class sessions per week and rehearsal/production sessions as required.
Requisite: An intermediate departmental course in performance-making and consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Spring semester. Professor Woodson.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
(Offered as THDA 354, FAMS 354 and MUSI 354) Building on the concepts learned in THDA 254/MUSI 254, this studio course further develops the student’s work in sound design through an intensive focus on hands-on practice. Students will participate as sound designers in the Amherst Theater & Dance production program, the Five-College production program, and in other collaborative sound design and compositional opportunities with filmmakers, visual artists, installation artists, game designers, and podcasters. Throughout the term, students will expand and deepen their relationship to the toolkit introduced in Sound Design I, while we examine strategies for developing an efficient, real-world approach to the creative and technical rehearsal processes in various modes of live performance and art making. Limited to twelve students.
Requisite: THDA 254/MUSI 254 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022.
In this studio course, we will explore different skills and approaches towards creating solo performance. We will examine examples of historical and contemporary solo performances in theater, dance, video, music, radio plays, street, stand up and in political/social arenas to inform and ask what makes these effective (or not). We will use what we learn from these examples to inspire our own solo material. We will also develop additional techniques (through improvisational trial and error) that enliven and engage our different voices, stories, imaginations and emotions. An emphasis will be placed on exploring and crafting dynamic relationships within and between different media and modes of expression in order to create confident and compelling solo presentations for live and virtual arenas. We will consider the solo as both a personal vehicle of expression and as a means of giving voice to experiences of others. In the process of making compositional choices, we will consider the personal and social implications of these choices. The semester will culminate in public performances of final solos.
Requisite: Previous experience in performance and/or video--whether in the arts or public presentations in other disciplines/contexts. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 10 students. Spring semester. Professor Woodson.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
An advanced course in the arts of theatrical design. Primary focus is on the communication of design ideas and concepts with other theater artists. Also considered is the process by which developing theatrical ideas and images are realized. Students will undertake specific projects in scenic, costume and/or lighting design and execute them in the context of the Department’s production program or in other approved circumstances. Examples of possible assignments include designing workshop productions, and assisting faculty and staff designers with major responsibilities in full-scale production. In all cases, detailed analysis of the text and responsible collaboration will provide the basis of the working method.
Requisite: THDA 260, 261, 263 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Dougan.2021-22: Not offered
This course is a continuation of THDA 360, an advanced course in the arts of theatrical design. Primary focus is on the communication of design ideas and concepts with other theater artists. Also considered is the process by which developing theatrical ideas and images are realized. Students will undertake specific projects in scenic, costume and/or lighting design and execute them in the context of the department’s production program or in other approved circumstances. Students in this course will design for a full-scale production. In all cases, detailed analysis of the text and responsible collaboration will provide the basis of the working method.
Requisite: THDA 360 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Dougan.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as THDA 370 and ENGL 322) A workshop for writers who want to complete a full-length play or series of shorter plays. Emphasis will be on bringing a script to a level at which it is ready for the stage. The majority of class time will be devoted to reading and commenting on developing works-in-progress. In addition, we will also hone playwriting skills through class exercises, and study exemplary plays by established writers as a means of exploring a range of dramatic vocabularies.
Requisite: THDA 270, 272, or the equivalent. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Visiting Artist Carneiro.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
A course in integrating previously studied skills, while developing collaborative and leadership roles in the making of Theater and Dance works, within the Department’s producing structure. With permission, enrolled student will accept a specific assignment within a departmental production team. A half course.
Admission with consent of the Chair. Not open to first-year students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Woodson.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Independent reading course.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall and spring semesters. The Department.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
For Honors candidates in Theater and Dance.
Open only to senior Theater and Dance majors. Fall semester. The Department.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021