Course Descriptions

Perfa 300 Design Methodologies for Dance (3 units) *

Design Methodologies for Dance explores the underlying principles of the design process, the development of traditional design styles, and the techniques employed in developing a design. These styles and methods will be demonstrated through the lens of each area of design for dance and their development explored in their social and historical context.

Perfa 301 Special Study in Design: Student Elects a Specific Area of Design (1 unit)

Special Study is an independent project in which the student selects a specific area of design or design implementation to explore in depth.  Under the guidance of the instructor students will select an area of particular interest to explore through a creative project. Examples include: specific construction techniques for costumes or scenery, projection design, stage management documentation, touring etc.  

Perfa 310 Lighting Design I:  Lighting design methodology and technology/electrics (2 units)*

Lighting Design I is an in-depth look at the lighting design process for dance.  Students explore the collaborative process of lighting design for dance, developing a vocabulary with which to communicate with choreographers, designers, stage managers, technicians and production crews.  Students will develop an understanding of how to utilize the technology, tools, and skills inherent to the lighting design process.  Students learn how to communicate with collaborators and use technology and equipment effectively to bring forth a design that emphasizes the ideas and impulses of the choreography, and illuminates the movement, thereby enhancing the full realization of the piece.

Perfa 311 Lighting II: Advanced Concepts in Lighting Design for Dance (2 units)*

Lighting II is an advanced look at the methods of choreographic expression through light. This class will explore the history of lighting design for dance, examining the development of design styles for varying genres through their historic and social contexts. We will explore attempts to capture, describe, define or interpret light in many diverse fields such as religion, philosophy, poetry, literature, science, performance, architecture, art, installation, film and photography. This course will investigate the visual disciplines and their expressions/investigations into light.  After establishing common visual references designers will develop their own concepts and styles.  Designers will hone their ability to articulate lighting ideas through visual, verbal, and written media.

Perfa 312 Lighting III: Advanced Design and Practice (2 units)*

Lighting III is an advanced course in which students analyze both traditional and emerging design techniques, as well as solidifying their own specific design techniques within the context of a work’s social, political, economic, philosophic, and cultural context. Students develop an understanding of how to systematically examine movement and make design decisions that take into account context, aesthetic, and meaning, effectively enhancing the work of the choreographer. This course is where the theoretical work and conceptual process of the designer meet the practical application of design. 

Perfa 320 Costume Design I: Costume Design and Dance Costume History (3 units)

Costume Design I is an in-depth study of the costume design process and the history of costume design for dance. This course will analyze dance attire through the ages, including an exploration of the social, geographical, economic, and political trends, which influenced how dance was costumed for different styles of movement.  This course will explore how type of fabric, fit, and style can enhance the aesthetic of the choreographer and the meaning of the piece. Students will practice drawing, reading patterns, rendering, proportion, scale, and communication of ideas as well as exploring the various materials and techniques used in the realization of costume designs.

Perfa 330 Scenery I: Scenic and Stage Design (3 units)

This course is a comprehensive look at the process and methods of scenic and stage design for dance.  Emphasis will be placed on developing design concepts, the skills needed to communicate design concepts, including the process of research, collage, and sketching.  This class will explore the history of scenic and stage design for dance, examining the development of design styles for varying genres through their historic and social contexts.  Students analyze both traditional and emerging design techniques, as well as solidifying their own specific design techniques and aesthetics in order to effectively create scenic elements and stage designs that effectively enhance the work of the choreographer.

Perfa 331 Scenery II: Construction of Dance Environments – Stagecraft & Welding (2 units)*

This course will be an in-depth, hands-on look at the techniques, materials, and tools of construction.  This course will focus on the methods of constructing and installing safe and secure scenic elements and apparatuses for dance.  Students will learn carpentry skills, scene shop safety, the basics of metalworking as well as methods of construction and appropriate use of materials and tools.

Perfa 340 Dance Stage Management (3 units) *

Dance Stage Management is a course designed to teach students the responsibilities and functions of a stage manager specifically for dance, and how these responsibilities and functions vary from genre to genre.   Students learn the choreographic and production process through the eyes of this key role from the inception of the work, to the first rehearsal, to tech and performances, to closing night and beyond.   Students develop an understanding of skills, tools and qualities necessary to run a dance concert in an efficient and positive manner.

Perfa 341 Dance Production Management (3 units) *

Dance Production Management is an in-depth exploration of production management for dance, investigating management techniques including: communication skills, team building, assertiveness, goal setting, time management, stress management and an overview of production organization. This course will investigate all aspects of the production process including: creative problem solving, scheduling, planning, negotiating techniques, contracts and hiring, budgeting, venue selection, touring, and more.  Students will consider the role of the production manager in the field of dance including an examination of how that role varies depending on company style and structure.

Perfa 342 Producing I: Arts Marketing/Grant Writing/Company Development and Structures (3 units) *

Producing I examines the philosophy, principles, and practical applications of producing dance. Students will explore all aspects of getting a project into the public eye: direct mail, advertising, press and publicity, as well as considering larger issues, such as audience development.  The practical concerns of funding dance, i.e., grant writing, development strategies, and fundraising will be explored.  Other topics include: intellectual property issues, artists relationships, contracts, and public relations. Students will hone their research, writing and presentation skills to become prepared for seeking funding for their projects. 

Perfa 350 Sound I: Sound Design and Editing/Technology and Implementation (3 units)*

Sound I is an in-depth look at the process of sound design for dance.  Focusing on both the technology used in creating and implementing a sound design as well as the qualities of sound and music that influences an audience’s perception of the work, Students will learn the factors in determining music/sound selection as well as how to record, edit, EQ, and mix sound. Students will learn how sound design and music have changed throughout the history of dance developing an understanding of how period, genre, degree of stylization, and social context influence the design/selection of sound/music and vice versa.

Perfa 360 Computer Drafting: Vectorworks & CAD based programs  (3 units) *

This course will provide students with hands-on training in Vectorworks and an overview of other CAD programs including AutoCAD. Students will learn how to draft light plots, sound plots, scenery and scenic elements, and stage spaces for practical application as production designers for dance. Students will work with both wireframe and 3D drafting, modeling and rendering.

Perfa 361 Digital Dance: Portfolio Building, Documentation, Photoshop and the Web (3 units) *

Digital Dance is a hands-on exploration of documentation through photo and video, portfolio development, photo editing, website construction and more. Students will explore video and photography as both a means of documentation as well as a choreographic design tool. The course will focus on how digital media can enhance and promote the work of a dance artist. 

Perfa 375 Dance Technique (1 unit) 

In addition to standard technical training in modern/contemporary dance, students will be asked to embark on advanced training in another area in consultation with an advisor.  This area of practice may include, but is not limited to Ballet, Jazz, Tap, African dance forms, Ballet Folkorico. The idea is to create a versatile dancer, one that can teach and perform in a variety of styles.  Students are asked to enroll in dance technique each semester.

Perfa 377  Somatic Movement Studies (1 unit)

Formalized study of one of the following choices: Body Mind Centering, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, Laban Movement Analysis, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Dynamic Embodiment, Continuum, Authentic Movement, or another from ISMETA may be approved by advisor.  Student may do independent research and/or enroll in workshops to support the study of the chosen area.

Perfa 378, 379 Special Topics in Somatics (1 unit)

Formalized study of one of the following choices: Body Mind Centering, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, Laban Movement Analysis, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Dynamic Embodiment, Continuum, Authentic Movement, or another from ISMETA may be approved by advisor.  Student may do independent research and/or enroll in workshops to support the study of the chosen area.

Perfa 395 Graduate Teaching Practicum*

The teaching practicum is designed as a professor-student mentorship experience. Students will choose a faculty member for mentorship and attend classes taught by the professor with the goal of supporting the student's teaching skills. The Graduate Teaching Practicum course is intended to provide a record of teaching and mentoring in the student's transcripts as a non-credit course.  Students must have prior approval of one faculty member to enroll in the practicum.  The successful completion of the practicum will allow students to have the opportunity to become paid teaching fellows.  Student's can repeat the practicum as needed.  

Perfa 380 Seminar in Dance History - A phenomenological view of the body in the history of dance performance (3 units) *

This Seminar looks at the History of Dance as an art form from philosophical notions of the body and the terms “Soma” and “Subjectivity” based on the contemporary philosophical movement of Phenomenology. The creation, performance and perception of dance at a particular period of time will be studied from the perspective of the phenomenal body and the construction of subjectivity and intersubjectivity through processes of embodiment as defined by the French Existential Phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty.  We will examine how artists or artistic movements developed, absorbed or adapted the philosophy of embodiment in order to produce work and how the work was executed by the performer and perceived by the audience in a holistic manner and in integration with the phenomena that defined the social, political and economic arena of the time.

Perfa 381 Dance and Performance Studies (3 units) 

Dance and Performance Studies is a seminar course that focuses on key issues in the theory of performance. Performance Studies has a multidisciplinary approach blending the strengths of anthropology, sociology, theatre studies, literary criticism, philosophy, history, and the arts. Performance practice will be analyzed across this variety of disciplines in relationship to dance. Topics can include issues of representation and identity, presence, community, social efficacy, space, corporeality, audience, and globalization. Students will apply different approaches and contemporary methodologies for analyzing performances of various kinds within their social, cultural, and historical context.  Students will develop thinking, doing, writing and speaking about performance and how it frames the experience of corporeality and embodiment.

Perfa 382 Dance and Social Justice (3 units) *

This graduate seminar is designed to explore creatively the social, cultural, political, and philosophical constitution of the body through performance making practice. Across workshops and discussions there is a focus on repositioning the performing body in relationship to the bodies of the audience or spectator. There is also an attention to the performativity of documentation and the critical and creative potentials of writing practices to recontextualize the encounter with the live act.  Students will consider how artists or artistic movements developed, absorbed or adapted through community engagement, social action, public spaces and urban practices, coupled with artistic inventions. 

Perfa 383 Critical Dance Pedagogy (3units)*

This area is based on the study of various applications of somatic movement principles to the pedagogy of dance following the perspective of Paulo Freire’s “critical pedagogy”.  The principles that underlie the so-called somatic disciplines will be studied in relation to the socio-political aspect that characterizes Freire’s educational approach so that dance education can be thought as an important tool to awaken “critical consciousness” and build social justice.  The student will be challenged as to how s/he can build the relationships between the two fields of study: “Somatics” and “critical pedagogy” and therefore create new ideas that will place his/her approach as a unique one in the world of dance education today. Traditional dance pedagogy will be challenged based on Freire’s concept of the “banking model”. The relationship between teacher and student in the classroom or the dance studio will be seen as an endless process of learning where the two are the co-creators of a common yet diverse understanding of the body, based on personal life processes and the experience each person has of the whole being. Body and movement experiences that come from different somatic modalities will be offered so that the student can work towards a socio-political construction of the self and have a clear identity as to who s/he is historically, culturally and holistically. Teaching is a community act and we will build our political voice together as dance educators based on the 21st century needs of our society.

Perfa 384 Somatic Movement Seminar (3 units) *

This course is based on the principles that define Somatic theory and that underline different modalities that have received the name of somatic movement practices after Thomas Hanna accredited the field of Somatics in 1970.  We will study how dance educators and dance artists have applied somatic methods that were originally called body therapies in the 1960’s, and how somatic practices from the beginning of the 20th century and those created by dancers as well as physical and occupational therapists towards the end of the 20th century have influenced dance pedagogy, choreographic processes and recent research areas such as Social Somatics and Critical Dance Pedagogy.

Perfa 386 Laban and Bartenieff Movement Studies (3 units) *

This course is an introduction to the theoretical and experiential movement systems of Laban Movement Analysis and Barenieff Fundatmentals. These systems provide a framework for observing, describing and analyzing human movement patterns and for understanding non-verbal actions and communication, as developed by movement pioneers Rudolph Laban and Irmgard Bartenieff. 

Perfa 387 Concentrated Studies in Body, Effort, Shape and Space (3 units)

The study of theoretical and experiential movement systems of Laban Movement Analysis and Barenieff Fundatmentals. These systems provide a framework for observing, describing and analyzing human movement patterns and for understanding non-verbal actions and communication, as developed by movement pioneers Rudolph Laban and Irmgard Bartenieff.

Perfa 390 Choreography III, IV, V (3 units each for a total of 9 units)*

Each choreography course is designed to enhance the skills and experiences of the individual student while also building new skills and insights.  Choreography projects are designed to develop a reflective practitioner who is critically aware of the reciprocity of theory and practice, i.e., the social, cultural, aesthetic and political contexts in which performance practice is located.  The course encourages the student to connect various approaches and perspectives on dance and to develop an ability to address complex issues creatively and systematically, as well as the ability to problem-solve in a variety of artistic contexts through the engagement in practice based research, including, but not limited to, collaborative projects, dance and film, and dance theatre.

Perfa 394 Production Practicum I, II, III (3 units each for a total of 9 units). Two sections DP & CP*

Production Practicum: Design and Production is an in depth, hands-on exploration of the production process.  In this class you will be taught the application of the production process from the point of view of the production and design team.   Students investigate the collaborative process of production while working independently on specific production roles. Students enrolled in this course are responsible for executing all design and production aspects of the concert that term. Students apply what has been learned in their other design and production courses and select production roles appropriate to their course of study.

Production Practicum: Creative Practice course is devoted to independent learning as the student embarks in the creation of new work. Tutorials with concert artistic director, outside rehearsals and weekly meetings or group showings are required elements of the course.  The students are expected to demonstrate a substantial amount of creative research that should begin the previous term and continue through the academic term when the course takes place. The process culminates with the final presentation of a full choreographic work, following any format (conventional stage, film, site-specific, installation) in a performance or a showing that is put together in collaboration with the students in the Production Practicum Design and Production course.

Perfa 398 Thesis (6 units)

This course is the culmination of the MFA in dance.  This course engages the student in a major piece of research developed over a period of time and encourages the student to use the knowledge and understanding gained in all the other parts of the program.  It will provide opportunities for the student to experiment with ideas and forms that promote autonomy over the research and creative process and the presentation of the thesis project. The student will explore and pursue a creative project in depth, under the guidance of a project advisor.  The final product will be presented on the LeFevre Theatre stage.  Students in this course are responsible for all aspects of the production.

Candidates are expected to create a full evening work that embodies the artistic voice of the individual and a written thesis/project. Scope of the project is to be determined by individual concert involvement, e.g., choreographers are expected to create 30 minutes of movement material; designers create work for one choreographer; producers and production managers will manage a full concert, and up to two stage managers will manage one concert. A Thesis project paper is to be completed by each student following the culmination of the performance.  The paper will include research, project description, analysis of the process, and summation.  The project and paper are intended to be a substantial and thoroughly researched piece of work. At the completion of the paper, the student will meet with the project advisor, faculty panel, and Director of Dance to discuss the work and receive a final grade.


* High residency courses