Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Ballet History Class Syllabus


  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 Swanilda8

Swanilda8

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 135 posts

Posted 12 August 2013 - 06:40 PM

It's August, which means I'm spending the whole month writing up or editing syllabi for the classes I teach.  Every time this roles around, I dream about the day that I can teach a ballet history class.  So, I wanted to ask the forum: if you could design a ballet history class for college students, any class you wanted, what would your syllabus look like?

 

My more prosaic idea is 20th century choreographers - starting with Fokine and Gorsky, then Tudor, Ashton, Balanchine (at least a week!), Lavrovsky, Robbins, de Mille, Grigorovich, Neumeier, Cranko, Kylian, MacMillan (that was slightly out of order, but oh well).  Perhaps more interesting but harder to structure is Ballet and Power - starting with Louis XIV and tracing the relationship of ballet to political and economic power.  

 

I hope I'm not the only one nerdy enough to daydream about this.



#2 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,841 posts

Posted 12 August 2013 - 10:38 PM

I've taught dance history a couple of times, and yes, making a syllabus starts out quite exciting, but often ends up as an exercise in taking things out.  Every year there's more to discuss, but the school term is still a certain number of weeks long.  The pile of stuff I used to teach at the beginning that I had to lose by the end is pretty impressive.



#3 LiLing

LiLing

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 205 posts

Posted 14 August 2013 - 08:28 AM

I would want to teach a history that started with the origins of dance as theatre, imitating animals to tell stories around the fire, down  through the evolution of dance pre Louis XIV, especially  the highly sophisticated forms in  Asia.  I've heard so many teachers say ballet is the basis of ALL dance. It makes my hair stand on end!mad.gif


#4 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,841 posts

Posted 14 August 2013 - 09:22 AM

 

I would want to teach a history that started with the origins of dance as theatre, imitating animals to tell stories around the fire, down  through the evolution of dance pre Louis XIV, especially  the highly sophisticated forms in  Asia.  I've heard so many teachers say ballet is the basis of ALL dance. It makes my hair stand on end!mad.gif

 

I agree -- the vast majority of dance history classes I'm aware of have a distinctly Western canon-centric bias.  The topics you long to discuss are more often covered in dance ethnology courses, which is a disingenuous way to avoid dealing with the issue.



#5 Stage Right

Stage Right

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 110 posts

Posted 14 August 2013 - 02:42 PM

I taught a university dance history course for many years. In the beginning, I was in charge of teaching the history of dance (in one semester) from "the beginning" to 1900. (It did begin with animal dances and their imitations by humans). Talk about having to throw a lot of material out!! Later in my teaching career, I was able to teach a one-semester course in ballet history--still a lot to discard. I knew that with that short amount of time, there was no way I could cover "world dance" so I did stick to the Western canon-centric bias, since ballet is primarily a western-originated art form. Except, that I always started the course by showing the film on Jiri Kylian, "The Road to Stamping Ground". I did this to show how very early tribal dance could powerfully connect with a contemporary ballet choreographer. My students used to love that film, and it generated a good deal of discussion. But then it was back to the canon, and I was really lucky if I was able to get through my whole syllabus, which basically included the following: The Roots of Ballet in Renaissance and Baroque Dance, Transition to the Stage, The Romantic Era, Classical Ballet/Petipa, Ballet at the Turn of the 20th Century, Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, The Influence of Balanchine, Contemporary Ballet in the late 20th and Early 21st Centuries. Now, those were broad general titles, and there was a lot more contained in each section--i.e., "The Influence of Balanchine" contained information on several other prominent choreographers of the time, but basically, that was the skeleton. I also showed as much film as I could, since many of my students, even those majoring in dance, had not had the opportunity to see very many live ballet performances at all--in many cases, NONE (other than the Nutcracker)! So the films were crucial. Since most of my students were dancers, I also included classes where we actually sampled the styles we were talking about (at least in the cases where I had enough experience myself to teach it with credibility), so we did some Renaissance and Baroque dance, some Romantic-style ballet, looked at some of the technical differences brought into ballet training by Balanchine, etc. It was a lot of material to try to cover, and I was never fully satisfied with the course, but did the best I could in an institution that cared very little about the arts in general, and even less about dance. Swanhilda8, I think your idea about Ballet and Power would make for a very interesting course, but, depending on the program you teach in, might be more suitable at the graduate level?



#6 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,841 posts

Posted 14 August 2013 - 07:48 PM

I taught a university dance history course for many years. In the beginning, I was in charge of teaching the history of dance (in one semester) from "the beginning" to 1900. (It did begin with animal dances and their imitations by humans). Talk about having to throw a lot of material out!! ...

Your syllabus sounds very much like the one I used.  For several years I taught a year-long course (30 weeks) that was supposed to cover the development of Western theatrical dance.  At that time, there were very few films that I could assign them to watch outside of class, so a big chunk of class time was used to watch work -- over time, my lectures became more succinct, but the video took as long as it took, no matter how much material I wanted to cover!  After that gig I taught somewhere that covered the same territory in 20 weeks, so there was a big purge when I first started making that syllabus...




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):