Mondays-Wednesdays 2-4: 00 pm, Amherst College



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Theatre & Dance 24

TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICAN DANCE:

SIXTIES VANGUARD NINETIES HIP HOP

Webster 220 Fall 2010


Mondays-Wednesdays 2-4:00 PM, Amherst College


Instructor: Constance Valis Hill, Five College Professor of Dance

Hampshire College, Dance Building (559-5673) chill@hampshire.edu


Cool, candid, athletic; playful, arrogant, and promiscuous: Sixties experimental dance works were wildly divergent but can collectively be seen as a revolt against the institution of American modern dance as they offered bold alternatives as to who was a dancer, what made a dance, what was “beautiful” and worth watching, and what was “art.” Mirroring the decade that was marked by tumultuous social and political change, and guided by the decade’s liberating ideal, sixties vanguard dancers often outrageously (and naively) invalidated modern dance’s authority by “going beyond democracy into anarchy,” Jill Johnston wrote about the rebels of the Judson Dance Theatre. “No member outstanding. No body necessarily more beautiful than any other body. No movement necessarily more important or more beautiful than any other movement.”
This survey of twentieth-century American dance moves from the sixties-- a decade of revolt and redefinition in American modern dance that provoked new ideas about dance, the dancer’s body and a radically changed dance aesthetic-- to the radical postmodernism of the nineties when the body continued to be the site for debates about the nature of gender, ethnicity and sexuality. We will investigate how the political and social environment, particularly the Civil Rights/Black Power Movement, Anti-War/Student Movement, and the Women’s Movement with its proliferation of feminist performance works, informed the work of succeeding generations of dance artists and yielded new theories about the relationship between cultural forms and the construction of identities; and how each artist pursued radically different methods, materials and strategies for provoking new ideas about dance, body, and corporeal aesthetics; but who altogether instigated new frames and viewing positions from which to understand how dance communicates (and what it may-or-may-not mean); and inspired a fresh new group of self-conscious and socially-conscious dance artists/activists who insist on speaking directly to their own generation.




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