Janet Zhou and Cortina McCurry practice a dance piece during an MIT Dance Theater Ensemble rehearsal. (Image courtesy of Daniel Bersak.)
This course explores the forms, contents, and contexts of world traditions in dance that played a crucial role in shaping American concert dance. For example, we will identify dances from an African American vernacular tradition that were transferred from the social space to the concert stage. We will explore the artistic lives of such American dance artists as Katherine Dunham, and Alvin Ailey along with Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, George Balanchine, and Merce Cunningham as American dance innovators. Of particular importance to our investigation will be the construction of gender and autobiography which lie at the heart of concert dance practice, and the ways in which these qualities have been choreographed by American artists.