DAN 124 – Beginning Modern Dance for Majors

Course Description:

Beginning Modern Dance for Majors is an introduction to modern dance. It places emphasis on preparing dance majors with little experience or no background in dance to be able to develop technique.

Curricula For Which This Course Is Required:

Prerequisite – dance majors or permission of the instructor. It fulfills a requirement for the dance major degree program.

Educational Objectives:

Educational Objectives
Educational Objective Brief description of course activities which help students to meet each of the educational objectives
A. Communicate effectively through viewing dance, writing, listening, and speaking. Students are required to attend a dance concert and write a two to three page paper in response to the concert.
B. Work collaboratively in diverse groups directed at accomplishing learning objectives. Students will be paired with their peers in the classroom and instructed to give each other feedback on corrections discussed in class.
C. Apply aesthetic and intellectual criteria in the evaluation or creation of works in the humanities or the arts. Students will be given various techniques in modern dance that they will perform in the class.
D. Integrate knowledge and skills in their program of study. Each class culminates in a longer phrase that allows students to integrate the techniques learned in class as well as achieve an in depth knowledge of the course material while also working on performance quality.

Course Objectives: Desired Student Learning

Students will:

  1. Gain a basic understanding of anatomical alignment and a basic awareness of how to correct their own alignment.
  2. Learn basic modern dance vocabulary and execute it.
  3. Gain an understanding of the structure and progression of a modern dance class, including floor work, center work, and across the floor.
  4. Understand how to develop the body and practice technique outside of the classroom.
  5. Gain a basic understanding of the qualities of weight and suspension and demonstrate these at the beginning level.
  6. Gain a basic understanding of specific initiation and sequencing and demonstrate this at the beginning level.
  7. Learn to change level and change direction with ease and efficiency.
  8. Dance with beginning level musicality to a 3/4 meter and a 4/4 meter.
  9. Express themselves through their dancing.

Student Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes
Course Objectives Learning Outcomes
1. Gain a basic understanding of anatomical alignment and a basic awareness of how to correct their own alignment. A. Students will be able to find their correct anatomical alignment for increased balance and coordination.
B. Students will be able to find anatomical connections within the body, such as head/tail connection.
C. Students will practice GYROKINESIS/Bartenieff Fundamentals exercises and modern dance exercises that help them develop this anatomical awareness.
2. Learn basic modern dance vocabulary and execute it. A. Students will perform modern dance vocabulary in response to verbal and physical instruction.
B. Students will discuss modern dance exercises using appropriate terminology.
3. Gain an understanding of the structure and progression of a modern dance class, including floor work, center work, and across the floor. A. Students will practice modern dance exercises in the appropriate sequence for safety and will be able to verbally explain the sequence of exercises.
4. Understand how to develop the body and practice technique outside of the classroom. A. Students will practice GYROKINESIS and dance exercises outside of the classroom.
5. Gain a basic understanding of the qualities of weight and suspension and demonstrate these at the beginning level. A. Students will perform movement sequences demonstrating the qualities of weight and suspension.
B. Students will verbally identify weight and suspension in movement sequences and explain how to create these qualities.
7. Learn to change level and change direction with ease and efficiency. A. Students will demonstrate efficient and specific level and direction changes in given movement sequences.
B. Students will verbally explain how to change level and change direction efficiently.
8. Dance with beginning level musicality to a 3/4 meter and a 4/4 meter. A. Students will be able to identify ¾ rhythm and 4/4 rhythm.
B. Students will be able to integrate their movement with the music.
9. Express themselves through their dancing. A. Students will use focus, dynamics and musicality in their dancing of given movement sequences in order to express themselves.
B. Students will discuss expressiveness and observe the dancing of their peers with expressiveness in mind.

Summary of Main Topics Covered in the Course:

Anatomical Alignment Internal Body Connections Body/mind Coordination
Developmental Patterns/GYROKINESIS Exercises Increasing Range of Motion
Modern Dance Vocabulary Modern Dance Performance Musical Sensitivity
Changing Directions/Changing Levels Initiation and Sequencing
Weight and Suspension

Course Policies:

Attendance Policy:

Attend classes. Be on time.
Attendance is extremely important to your individual growth and progress in dance skills and your understanding of the class material. Each student is allowed one absence that will not affect his/her grade. After that each absence lowers the amount of points a student receives for this evaluation category. Students with 7 or more absences will fail the course- no exception! Arriving late and/or leaving early or coming to class unprepared will result in a lower final grade. Note: Remember that lateness is a sign of disrespect of you and me. Be on time. Be prepared with your dance attire. Otherwise, two late arrivals and/or two non-participations of any kind (i.e. no dance attire) will count as one absence- no exception!

Absenses and Points
Absenses Points
0-1 100
2 90
3 80
4 70
5 60
6 50
7 Fail the course

Note: All absences will be considered in the final grade, however, for extreme emergencies (i.e. extended hospital stay) an “Incomplete” grade will be considered and discussed with the student. Save your absences for when you really need them. The development of the body instrument and the material in class accumulates. Learn to enjoy the discipline and weekly demands of attendance. Furthermore, the material learned in class cannot be replicated outside of class. It is not possible to make up any missed classes.

Tardy and Observation Policy
Tardiness will not be tolerated. Two tardies equal one absence. If you leave class early it will be counted as a tardy. The class is structured to build and prepare the body for movement. Missing the warm-up could result in injury. If you are ill or have an injury you may observe class. However, two observations equal one absence. If you develop a serious injury or illness during the semester you should withdraw completely from the class.

Required Dance Attire:

Students must wear appropriate dance attire. Leotards and tights or dance pants and a fitted top must be worn in every class. The professor must be able to see the alignment of the dancer. No loose hair! If you have long hair, it must be pulled back! No Jewelry!

1. Student Assignments/Assessments

Studio Exams
A. Midterm Exam

The midterm class will start with a warm up as usual. The center combinations will be new material. You will have to pick up movement phrases quickly and perform them in small groups. The midterm will be videotaped and you will have a chance to view yourself on Vimeo the week after the midterm. The midterm will be evaluated in terms of technical skill, growth, expressivity, musicality etc. You must schedule a meeting with the Professor to look at the video and discuss the midterm after the exam. This will be a good time to reflect on your progress and renew/revise your goals for the remaining part of the semester.

B. Final Exam

The final class will start with a warm up as usual. The center material will be a repetition of the material we will have been working on for the previous few weeks.

The movement combinations will be performed in small groups, video taped and evaluated for technical skill, expressiveness, musicality and growth.

2. Written Assignments

Guidelines for Writing the Response Paper

You are going to attend a live dance performance and write a 2 to 3 page paper about it. I will forward to you a list of performances taking place in the city this semester to give you some suggestions for shows that you might choose to see.

In the introduction to the paper, explain what performance you went to see and give me some background about the company and why you chose this concert to attend. This is a brief introduction to the performance. Please do not quote the company's mission statement word for word from the program without proper citation.

In the body of the paper you will do an in depth analysis of the one dance on the program that affected you the most. When a dance piece is successful it is a transformative experience for the viewer. That is, it changes the viewer in some way. While you are watching the performance, allow yourself to be transported emotionally, physically or intellectually. Hopefully, you will find one piece (at least) on the program you attend that does this for you. Explain what this piece did for you and why. Bear in mind that some dances are representational – the movement has dramatic or narrative points of inspiration. Other dances are abstract. That is the movement is intended to be appreciated for its own merit. See if you can get a sense of the choreographer's intention from what you saw in the piece and through reading the program and the promotional material about the show. Once you have stated what your reaction to the dance was back it up with examples of what was happening on stage. How was the dance structured? What was the movement vocabulary like? What was the use of space like? How did the dancers relate to each other and the audience? How did the music, costume design, lighting design and other elements contribute to the piece? What was unique about the way the dancers performed? How did they communicate with their bodies? Did you recognize any familiar movement from class or observe technical skill we have been working on?

It will be useful to take notes about the show while you are there. In between the pieces the lights will come up, and this will give you a chance to write down some ideas. Try to record as much as you can remember to back up your response to the piece. Later you can phrase it in a more fully fleshed out way.

Here is an example of backing up your response with description of what you saw on stage. “The piece was exciting to me because of the choreographer's use of space. The dancers repeatedly crossed the stage, just barely missing each other and moving at a break neck speed. Their precise technique and the surprising phrasing of the movement added to the effect of the spatial patterning. The high energy saxophone music also contributed to the excitement of the piece…” If you need some help with your paper you can visit the writing center or make an appointment with me.

3. Reflective Journal Assignment

Each student will keep a reflective journal as part of this course. The journal is a place to formalize your thinking about the material in the course and reflect on your experience in class and in practice outside of class.

You are required to do at least two entries per week in the journal. After each class meeting I will give you a prompt to stimulate your thinking for the journal. Your response for that day could relate to my prompt but also may include other issues from that class including – corrections you received, things you are working on, notations about approaches to an exercise that helped or didn't, discussions about difficulties with an exercise, specific vocabulary, new steps or sequences that you need to remember or practice etc.

The journals will be collected at midterm and before the finals. They will be graded on the basis of their content. I am looking for discussion that is thoughtful, honest and reflects a true commitment to the process of developing dance skills. I am not concerned with the writing being formally structured. This is a place to play with ideas. I do need to be able to read it, so it should be in legible and comprehensible English. I will not however, take points off for grammar errors or spelling errors. It can be typed or written by hand but it needs to be legible. Also this is not a personal life journal. This is a journal about your ballet class. Please limit your discussion to things relevant to your building of your dance skills.

Methods By Which Student Learning Will Be Evaluated:

1. Attendance is worth 20% of your grade. Remember each late or observation is equal to half an absence.

Attendance Scale

Absenses and Points
Absenses Points
0 100 points A+
1 94 points A-
2 88 points B-
3 82 points B-
4 76 points C
5 70 points C-
6 Fail the course F

2. Growth, Progress, and Development – 20%

Be energetic and interested in your class. Take corrections and work on them inside and outside of class. Your technique should progress from class to class. Ask for help and clarification when you need it.

3. Performance Response Paper – 10% See Guidelines Above

4. Reflective Journal – 10% See Guidelines Above

Midterm Exam – 20%

Midterm Exam – 20%

Grading Standards:

A grade of A is given for superlative work that demonstrates a profound commitment to the course material, and further, that goes on to employ this material as a springboard for independent thought and work.

A grade of B is given for very good work that completely fulfills all the requirements of the course in a conscientious and dedicated manner, and that demonstrates mastery of the course content.

A grade of C is given for work that fulfills all the requirements of the course in a satisfactory manner, but that falls short of demonstrating rigor and mastery.

A grade of D is given for work that is unsatisfactory.

A grade of F is given for work that fails to fulfill the requirements of the course as listed


PLEASE NOTE: During the teaching process, in order to engender correct alignment and coordination, it may be beneficial to the student for me to touch the student at various body parts: arms, hands, chest, lower back, abdomen, neck, legs, feet, etc. If you do not wish to be touched, please inform me at the beginning of the semester and your wishes will be respected.

Academic Integrity:

Forms of Academic Integrity Violations

Violations of academic integrity can occur in a number of ways. Acts of academic dishonesty include (the complete listing with definitions and examples is included in the main body of the QCC Academic Integrity code):

  1. Plagiarism – the inclusion of someone else's words, ideas or data as one's own work without acknowledging the source.
  2. Fabrication – the use of invented information or the falsification of research or other findings.
  3. Cheating – an act or an attempted act of deception by which students seek to misrepresent that they have mastered information on an academic exercise that they have not mastered.
  4. Academic Misconduct – any act to gain an undue academic benefit for oneself or to cause academic harm to another.

Any other serious violations of academic integrity as established by the professor.

Reasonable Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable academic accommodations if determined eligible by the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSSD). Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility from the OSSD. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with the OSSD staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Campus Cultural Centers

Kupferberg Holocaust Center (KHC)Opens in a new window
Kupferberg Holocaust Center Opens in a new window

Using the lessons of the Holocaust to educate current and future generations about the ramifications of unbridled prejudice, racism and stereotyping.

Queensborough Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window
QPAC: Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window

QPAC is an invaluable entertainment company in this region with a growing national reputation. The arts at QPAC continues to play a vital role in transforming lives and building stronger communities.

Queensborough Art GalleryOpens in a new window
QCC Art GalleryOpens in a new window

The QCC Art Gallery of the City University of New York is a vital educational and cultural resource for Queensborough Community College, the Borough of Queens and the surrounding communities.