Description of Course Goals and Curriculum
Offered every spring, this studio course is fit for experienced dancers who seek to continue their ballet training. Often, dance students may not find time to take regular co-curricular class offered by the Dance Department. In that case, DAN431 is great opportunity to schedule in a comprehensive ballet class three times a week in addition to other dance curriculum.
Every class, Professor Fehlandt—fondly known as Tina—teaches a full warm-up, including barre and center. From pliés to grand allegro, it will typically last the full hour and fifty minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Over the course of the semester, students will also have the opportunity to learn from professional guest choreographers. At least once a week, a guest teacher will join the class to either teach technique or a piece of repertory work. Dancers may also work in groups to modify or create additional movement, alongside the learned repertory.
Students will further explore ballet choreography through readings and viewings. These may include watching full-length ballet works, such as Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and the Nutcracker, via Blackboard Reserves. These readings may be discussed before class or during a guest rehearsal. The material supplement and inform the dancing in the studio.
Finally, dancers are asked to reflect on their learnings in a brief three to five-page paper. Tina trusts each dancer to earnestly reflect on any aspect of the course and one of its core questions. These questions depend on the curriculum focus that semester. They can range from topics on neoclassical ballets to gender expression in dance.
Learning From Classroom Instruction
Be prepared to start dancing around 4:35 or 4:40PM. It often takes a few minutes for all the students to gather and organize themselves at the barre. I would recommend taking this time to prepare your body for barre and center.
Even before the class-time, I would recommend arriving early to grab a foam-roller, stretch or engage in a few aerobic exercises (like abs or push-ups). This will allow you to take upmost advantage of the instruction without injury. Even if you are running to the LCA from lab on the other side of campus, take a few minutes during pliés to re-center and treat the combinations with intentionality.
Wear athletic clothes that you feel comfortable dancing in. It is not required that you wear tights and a leotard, although you can. Each person will dress differently and as they are comfortable.
It is also recommended that you wear ballet flats or the most appropriate footwear for the repertoire. Some dancers may take the class en pointe, but that is never required.
Often, DAN431 is crowded with over 30 students. For this reason, center will be split into multiple groups, and the class may be slow-paced as it cycles through each group. Again, take this time while you are on the side-lines to stay warm, stretch and condition. You may want to watch the group of dancers that go before you to practice the combination you will perform next. It is important to “mark” each combination, so that you can focus on other qualities when you dance besides remembering the movement.
Review the choreography you are taught with a peer before class. When a professional guest comes back multiple times to teach a certain piece of repertoire, it is better if he/she does not need to re-teach the same sections over and over again. This practice is standard dance etiquette and demonstrates respect to the guest. It really is an honor and privilege to work with the guests! Additional practice will also help you draw the most content out of the course and improve week after week. I may also recommend that you come prepared with questions on the movement to receive insight from the choreographer.
Finally, although dancers may know each other from outside dance commitments or classes, side conversations and other banter should be reserved for outside the classroom. Although Tina welcomes a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, these conversations can be a distraction to other dancers, and it is vital that you pay attention to each combination. When it is your turn to dance, instead of half-improvising the combination, you should be ready to execute it on your own or in a group during class based on the proper counts in which Tina has framed the movement. What you put into the class, is what you will get out of it.
If you dedicate to the above recommendations, you should seek week-to-week improvement in:
Learning For and From Assignments
DAN431 is a P/D/F only course. However, it does not mean the assignments are disposable.
I would recommend that each student explores the ballet choreography through the assigned, weekly readings and viewings. This may entail watching full-length ballet works, such as Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and the Nutcracker, via Blackboard Reserves. Outside of DAN431, these resources can be quite expensive to purchase and indulge in. So, please take advantage of them! I enjoyed having a movie night with some of my classmates each week to watch and discuss the video works together.
Reading may also be discussed before class or in a guest rehearsal. To more deeply engage with a guest and the movement he/she teaches, the readings provide artistic, historical and philosophical context to the work. You may take this into account as you explore the theme or movement quality behind each piece of repertoire. They may also guide instances where you have to create some movement yourself or with a group in class.
In addition to supplementing work in the studio, the viewing sand readings will inform your final paper. Because there are no out-right assessments, it is understandable that one may fall off track over the course of the semester. However, if you diligently read, apply and analyze the readings, the final paper will be not only quick and achievable, but genuinely fun and rewarding.
There are no recommended external resources for this class.
What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection
Before enrollment, Tina asks that each student to schedule a one-on-one meeting to share their dance background. If you do not have experience in ballet, or any other dance technique, DAN431 may not be the course for you. I would instead recommend the fall course DAN207: Introduction to Ballet. However, all dancers with intermediate-advanced backgrounds—whether in contemporary, hip-hop or another form—are welcome per Tina’s permission in DAN431.