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Dance gives students at all levels opportunities for active participation in three basic areas: movement practice, choreography and analysis, and performance. The broadest goal of these offerings is to increase understanding of the art of dance as a contribution to a liberal arts education and to connect theory and practice through embodied learning. Goals that are more specific are the development of body knowledge; somatic research; cultural awareness of movement and performance practices; and the awareness of Dance Studies as a way to understand current issues and art from a global and social justice perspective.

Advanced students may apply to the Chair of Dance for a special major in Dance.

The Special Major in Dance requires a special student, one who enters the study at a level of technical expertise equal to the considerable physical demands and artistic understandings of the projected program.  The potential major must also be invested in dance as a component of a liberal arts education as expressed in Carleton’s rigor and philosophy.  Acceptance to the program is based on personal interviews with faculty, readiness for Modern Dance III and the submission of a Special Major Petition, which includes a short essay and a detailed schedule of required courses and activities listed below.  In most cases, by the time a major is declared, many of these contacts will already have taken place. It is recommended that the special major petition be submitted by the beginning of the Junior Year.

The major has five components and requires 70 credits for completion:

1. Technique and Performance: A minimum of 24 credits. These credits are distributed among at least three movement techniques, with an average of one technique class and one performance activity per term.

  • DANC 107 – Ballet I
  • DANC 147 – Moving Anatomy
  • DANC 148 – Modern Dance I: Technique and Theory
  • DANC 150 – Contact Improvisation
  • DANC 158 – Contemporary Dance Forms I
  • DANC 200 – Modern Dance II: Technique and Theory
  • DANC 205 – Winter Dance (required)
  • DANC 206 – Spring Dance (required)
  • DANC 208 – Ballet II
  • DANC 210 – Contemporary Dance Forms II
  • DANC 215 – Winter Dance, Student Choreography (required)
  • DANC 253 – Movement for the Performer (3c)
  • DANC 300 – Modern Dance III: Technique and Theory
  • DANC 301 – West African Dance (2c)
  • DANC 309 – Ballet III
  • DANC 310 – Contemporary Dance Forms III
  • DANC 350 – Semaphore Repertory Dance Co (requires audition)

2. Choreography: 24 credits.

  • DANC 190 – Fields of Performance
  • DANC 268 – The Body as Choreographer
  • DANC 295 – Dance Lab
  • THEA 320 – Live Performance and Digital Media
  • DANC 391 – Advanced Choreography (Independent Study in Choreography – required)

3. History, Theory and Literature: a minimum of 6 credits.

  • DANC 100 – Meaning in Motion (first-year A&I, writing-rich)
  • DANC 115 – Cultures of Dance (instead of Meaning in Motion)
  • DANC 266 – Reading the Dancing Body: Topics in Dance History

4. Off-Campus Study in an approved intensive-study program: a minimum of 6-10 credits.

Such a program might satisfy some of the requirements in components 1 and 2 but would primarily add a “conservatory” experience to the major, much as a term abroad does for a language major. The Off-Campus Studies office has already approved various programs including The American Dance Festival (Duke University) and The Bates Dance Festival. Other programs would also qualify for this requirement subject to approval by the Dance Program Director and Off-Campus Studies. 

  • Please note: even though these programs are approved by OCS, you must still apply with the OSC office before the trip, to pre-approve credits for the classes you will take and to pay required OCS fees.  Visit the OCS office well in advance of your trip.

5. Comprehensive Exercise: DANC 400, 6 credits.

Includes the following three dimensions:

  • A. An independent project, based in original choreography and research, tailored to fit the interests and needs of the particular student. This could be interdisciplinary, involving cooperation of a research mentor and evaluator from another department.
  • B. Individual work with a professional choreographer selected to create a new dance piece on the major.
  • C. Public presentation of work, in most cases a formal concert. There is flexibility to accommodate appropriate presentation for other kinds of projects, i.e. lecture/demonstrations, video work, community dance projects, etc.

6. Related Electives: at least 6 credits. Electives in other disciplines are encouraged and need approval by the Dance Program Director/advisor. Possible electives are:

  • DANC 253 – Movement for the Performer (3c)
  • THEA 115 – Principles of Design
  • THEA 226 – Avant-garde Theater and Performance
  • THEA 229 – Makeup Design (3c)
  • THEA 233 – Lighting Design for the Performing Arts
  • THEA 237 – Scenic Design for the Performing Arts
  • THEA 238 – Costume Design for Theater (3c)
  • THEA 239 – Topics in Theater: Costumes (3c)
  • THEA 245 – Directing
  • CAMS 228 – Avant-garde Film & Video, From Dada to the Beats
  • CAMS 242 – Sound and Music in New Media
  • CAMS 243 – Film Sound History
  • CAMS 265 – Sound Design
  • CAMS 273 – Digital Editing Workshop
  • CAMS 275 – Audio Workshop
  • CAMS 282 – Graphic Design: Type + Image + Message
  • CAMS 283 – Site-Specific Media: Out and About
  • CAMS 286 – Animation
  • CAMS 287 – Stop Motion Animation
  • CAMS 320 – Sound Design Software

Cross-Disciplinary Electives: A number of electives from other disciplines may qualify with the approval of the Dance Program Director.

Important Notes:

  • No more than 18 credits, the equivalent of three standard Carleton courses, can count towards the major.
  • The potential major must take at least three 300-level courses.