Introduction to dance movement analysis

Home/ Introduction to dance movement analysis
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSUS1EL9194
  1. Does the course connect to, build on or overlap with any other courses offered in AUD? This course is connected to the current ongoing course offered; Introduction to Culture and Creative Expressions. It will also help undergrad students to venture into preparing for a M.A. in Performance Studies or M.A. in Dance (Practice) offered at the School of Culture and Creative Expressions (SCCE).
  2. Specific requirements on the part of students who can be admitted to this course: No prior knowledge is required. It is open for all students with a keen interest in understanding dance and performance.
  3. No. of students to be admitted (with justification if lower than usual cohort size is proposed): Up to 20 students, given the nature of the course, considering it will include practice – oriented workshops and activities as an integral part of learning and analysis.
  4. Course scheduling: (summer/winter course; semester-long course;half-semester course; workshop mode; seminar mode; any other – please specify) Monsoon semester, lecture, workshop and discussion mode, Semester-long Course.
  5. Proposed date of launch: Monsoon semester 2019.
  6. How does the course link with the vision of AUD and the specific programme(s) where it is being offered? The process of any undergrad degree enables a student to strengthen their academic skills. AUD’s vision fully covers every aspect to accomplish and provide an enriched experience to such a process. This particular course will add more to the experience of the students. It will specially be helpful for students who have had some prior training to dance, but the scope is not just limited to them and is open for anyone who is interested in understanding dance. The students will have to think and analyze dance by being in the field. The process of collectively thinking about dance will help in contributing to the mission of the university. It will give a space for collective decision-making process; promoting equality and aiming at creating a common ground to realize the idea of excellence. It will try and reinforce AUD’s vision of a ‘non-hierarchical functioning, team work and creativity’ based training and pedagogy for creating a strong foundation for higher education. It will be driven on the basis of the student-centered approach envisaged by the university
  7. Course Details:

1. Summary:Any given work of art is an expression or an embodiment of various elements put together as a whole to be experienced. The elements used are diverse, and yet compatible. The work is created with an intention to communicate. With dance in particular, it is about a body, or multiple bodies, moving together; responding to elements in a given space and time. The meaning of dance is made by analyzing it as a result of a relationship between the public display of bodily motion vis-à-vis its perception, transformation, transmission and enactments of social categories. This course aims to bring in a wide range of dances and its understanding to develop a sensitivity towards the devices and methods used to create a dance. The foundation of this course is based on practice. The practice-based nature of the course is deliberated so that the students can think of this as a methodology to grasp theories and histories of dance making. This will enable students to think through movements and its possible analysis. Aiming at helping the students to think beyond the regular notions of dance practice, the course will open up the discourses on traditional and the contemporary forms of practice, especially within the context of Indian dances.

The course will attempt to enhance the cohort in understanding the basic aspects and principles of dance – making; history of its various forms, occasions and events of such performances as expected within a cultural milieu, using three frameworks in relation to dance. The tentative frameworks are as below:

Dance and Communication: Dance allows itself to become a medium of various kinds of communication. It has been greatly influenced by literary texts, since performance is perceived traditionally as some form of re-presentation. It is important to engage with how dance responds through text or can lead in creation of a text. Dance allows possibilities for various kinds of communications. Using just literature, as a mode of communicationwe will use excerpts from various textual source such asepics, poetry, manifestos or memoirs to foreground an understanding of the possibilities of creating movement as a form of representation.

Dance and Music: Dance has an intimate relationship with rhythm and music, historically emerging in tandem and continuing to remain like that till date. Music enables the mind to visualize a movement, even if one cannot dance. With music, one can sway their bodies, clap their hands, stamp their feet or express an emotion through gestures and these all are movements being unconsciously facilitated by music. The purpose of this framework is to enable the students to think of movements as emotions through music.

Dance and Space:Movements entail multiple meanings. These meanings are transformed as dance moves from one space to the other. It changes its meaning when existing in a social space to a ritual space. It is crucial for students to understand this multifarious aspect embedded in performance practice and its meaning. Understanding dance in relation to the space will work as a window to introduce students to new ideas of contemporary performance making. Space, in the context of the course, is just one aspect being used to navigate through a creative process so that students equip themselves with similar approaches to create work.

2. Objectives: The aim of the course is to equip the students to demonstrate a critical understanding ofthe larger meaning, potential and responsibility of dance. This course is designed to develop a critical appreciation and awareness of various forms and motions in dance to further delve in questions regarding dance and its importance.

The course will introduce studentsto the existing discourse on dance. It will be achieved through a combination of lectures, discussions, student led seminars, video screenings of few practitioners and their work.It will also be working around its practice-based modules. The course will include introduction to the concept of choreography, composition, critical questions on spectatorship, and critical analysis as possible engagements vis-à-vis dance. The course will aim at an understanding of dance not just as a bodily movement rather as a form of expression that represents various cultures, regions, languages, music and anatomies from different parts of the world.The students will gain a critical understanding of how dance responds to each of these aforementioned categories and the ways in which it can affect the personal, social and the political.

Course Goals/Learning Outcomes

The students, on completion of this particular course will be able to understand the basic method/process that exists in creating/making performances. They will be enabled to investigate and create their own framework to explore the meaning of practice in the context of their own engagements. It will try to equip students to create an alternate mode of inquiry which is driven mostly by practice. Dance, in this course will be used as a medium to enter into a more nuanced understanding of performance and its effect on the self, society and other realms of being. It will be achieved through the three coordinates used in the course; text, music and space.

Through the experience of the course, the students will develop inquisitiveness or awareness to recognize movements not just as something which is a given; rather recognize the spectrum to which the meaning of the dances or the movements can be extended for it to be relevant.

Students will develop competency to critically analyze and question the forms of knowledge attached to the practice of dance and its making. They will learn how to make connections among the similarities and difference of various choreographic choices.

The goal of the course is to make students aware of the various vantage points through which one can understand the relevance of ‘practice’. It will help them to identify the mechanism and thought-process behind creating a choreographic work and its relationship with everything around.

structure: This course comprises of class room lectures, student-led seminar sessions and practice-based workshops and short performances created by the students. Since this course includes thinking of the discourse using body and practice, the requirements of this course will be different from existing theoretical courses. The extra hours students will spend will be deducted from class room lectures and it will be considered as normal teaching hours.

Contents (brief note on each module; indicative reading list with core and supplementary readings)

Schedule/ Tentative Course Outline:

Week 1 & 2


Assignment: Write a short abstract on ‘why do you dance?’ or ‘What do you understand by dance?’

  1. Readings: Graham, Martha, “I am a dancer”inThe Routledge Dance Research Journal II Edition, 2008: 66-72.
  2. Redfern, Betty, “What is art?”in The Routledge Dance Research Journal IIEdition 2008:125-35.

The reading and assignment will help the class to focus on opening up the discussions on dance with respect to their individual interests, engagements, prior practice and exposure to dance.

Week 3 & 4

On Choreography: Body(ies) in motion – moving through time and space

Workshop – Creating, Viewing and Analyzing

The students will engage with the concept of body in motion and its various interpretations. The first part of the workshop will be to create a short movement routine.The movements will be created by the students and will be organically knitted together like a dance routine. The second session of the workshop will enable the students to work in pairs, trios and or small group to see how the created routine changes (or does not) when danced; using multiple bodies. This module will introduce the concept of choreography and its relation to body and affect.

Viewing/Video screenings: The cohort will simultaneously view works of choreographers like Chandralekha and Akram Khan who have dealt multiple inquiries vis-à-vis choreography, bodies and affect.

Sharira by Chandralekha

Dust by choreographer – Akram Khan/ can also be substituted with any live performance happening at the same time.

Week 5 & 6

Understanding ‘WHY DANCE?’

Seminar – Brief introduction to Dance Studies / Dance related research.

The seminar will focus on discussions that will be brought forth by the students through their experience from the earlier week’s exercise. The introduction to dance related research and dance studies will help the students to understand the various possibilities of thinking through/of dance and movement. This will be crucial since the practical engagement within the course will be critically perceived rather than just as general compositions. The brief introductions to methods and frameworks will help in understanding the practical purpose of creating dance and the process of meaning making. It will also help them to understand the discourses around how dance is written or is analyzed as a broader field. The seminar will be anchored through some excerpts from the following readings which contextualizes dance studies and historiography.

O’ Shea, Janet, “Roots/Routes of Dance Studies”, in The Routledge Dance Research Journal II Edition 2008: 1-17

Fraleigh, H. Sondra, “Family Resemblance”, in Researching Dance: Evolving modes of inquiry, 1999: 3-22.

Assessment for learning: Will incorporate a critical dialogue between Week 1 – 6.

The process of the conducted workshop in week 3&4, will be discussed in detail with reference to the readings. The students will be divided in two groups. They will create a short choreographic piece of their choice using the methods from the movement-based workshop. Each group will create a short piece and perform. As assignments, each individual student will write a short critical analysis of the choreography viewed and a short reflection on the choreography created.

Week 7

‘Performing Dance’ – Possibilities

Workshop: Identifying choreographic approaches – working along with three frameworks – Dance and Communication; Dance and Music; Dance and Space.

The students will be given a particular text and music and will be asked to either in groups or as individuals to create a movement based short piece in a given space. The exercise will become the source of analyzing the initial questions related to the frameworks. It will work around identifying the important approaches towards dance – making, through the referred readings and discussions. The recognized analysis will facilitate and open various ways of engaging with the three pre-determined frameworks of the course.

Viewing/Video Screening:

FOLI (there is no movement without rhythm) by Thomas Roebers and Floris Leeuwenberg.

Choices for students to view videos as home assignments: -

Kalpana – A film directed by Dancer Uday Shankar, the pioneer modern dancer of India.

Drava Kavya – by Navtej Johar – A performance exploring dance and yoga.

Caught– a choreography by David Parson of New York from 1982.

Week 8&9

Making Dance I

Dance and Communication: explorations in movement and choreography through the idea of representation

Students will be divided in 2 groups and given two separate pieces of text to explore and create a choreographic narrative. They will have to involve the text in a way that they maximize usingapproaches from the earlier two workshops and showcase the choreographed piece as an assignment.

Week 10& 11

Making Dance II

Dance and Music: understanding the relationship between music and dance.

The choreographed piece from week 9 & 10 will respond various pieces of music. This workshop will help the students to negotiate between the two coordinates; of text and of music. It will enable them to think through how dance accommodates two varied kinds of field within itself to create a larger meaning. The choreography might change according to the requirements or the limitation of the music. The challenge for the student will be to make sure that the context of the choreography from the past week remains similar and it only responds to the nuances of the given or the selected piece of music.

Week 12& 13

Making Dance III

Dance and Space: Contextualizing dance vis-à-vis spaces and places.

The choreographic piece from week 11 & 12 will be brought to public spaces for it to respond to a specific site which for instance can be a stairway or a corridor or a found space. The workshop will enable to students to understand how bringing in a framework of the space will have an impact on the choreography both structurally and experientially further leading them to layering it on the choreography itself as a devising element.

Week 14

Performance Showcase

Week 15 & 16

Concluding remarks

Final presentations and submissions

The students will have to conclude the course by presenting a short reflection on their understanding of the process and will have to submit an end term paper. It will be a response to any of one the three frameworks used to create the performance in relation to the earlier modules on choreography and dance analysis.


Essential Readings:

  • Graham, Martha. “I am a dancer”in The Routledge Dance Research Journal II Edition, 2008: 66-72.
  • O’ Shea, Janet. “Roots/Routes of Dance Studies”, in The Routledge Dance Research Journal II Edition 200
  • Redfern, Betty, “What is art?” in The Routledge Dance Research Journal II Edition 2008: 125-35.
  • Royce, P Anya, “The Dance” in The Anthropology of Dance, Indiana University Press, 1977, 3-17
  • Sarkar, M Urmimala, “Another time, Another space – Does the dance remain the same?” in Dance Matter Performing India, Routledge, 2010: 26-40
  • Srinivasan, “Priya, Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labor”, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, Project MUSE, 2011.

Additional Reference Readings: (only for reference if required)

  • Bringinshaw, A Valerie. Dance, Space and Subjectivity, Palgrave Macmilan, 2001.
  • Foster, Leigh Susan, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Choreographing Writing,” in Choreographing History, Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1995, 200–10
  • Katrak, Ketu H. Contemporary Indian Dance – New Creative choreography in India and the Diaspora, Studies in International Performance, Palgrave Macmilan, 2011.
  • Sarkar, Urmimala. Dance: Transcending Borders, Tulika Books, World Dance Alliance, 2008


Instructional design

The course will be a mix of class room seminars and practical workshops.

Special needs (facilities, requirements in terms of software, studio, lab, clinic, library, classroom/others instructional space; any other – please specify)

Audio-visual classroom and a studio space

Expertise in AUD faculty or outside: Deepan Sivaraman, Prof. Anuradha Kapur& Dr. Urmimala Sarkar Munsi, Benil Biswas

Linkages with external agencies (e.g., with field-based organizations, hospital; any others):None

Assessment structure (modes and frequency of assessments)

Students will be assessed for their overall understanding of the course and their contribution in the workshop and discussions. It will also include their participation in creating performances, group discussions and knowledge sharing. Attending weekly lectures and presentations are vital and any absence may affect the grades.

  1. Attendance& Class room presentations (20%)
  2. Home assignments (20%)
  3. Participation and Contribution in workshops and performance (30%)
  4. End Term paper (30%)