FYS-144 Why Do People Dance

Instructor: Associate Professor Marta Robertson
Department: Sunderman Cons. of Music

Course Description:
In this class you will discover how dance teaches us about ourselves, our beliefs, and our cultures through our bodies. So why DO people dance? How can dance help reconcile current dialogues and arguments about race/ethnicity, gender/sexuality, and social class? As a nearly universal bodily experience, dance can be a fun way to work out tensions from stress to muscle soreness. But consider how the dance battle between a D.C. cop and teenager doing the Nae Nae restored balance to a volatile situation, similarly to Tommy the Clown’s krumping in Los Angeles and capeoira “fights” first practiced in Brazil. Dance crosses perceived boundaries between social classes (think Dirty Dancing and Step Up); questions gender norms (as in Mark Morris’s androgynous Nutcracker snowflakes); and expands national identities (such as Nina Davuluri’s Bollywood dance fulfilled her “American Dream” of becoming the first South Indian Miss America). Finally, how do the swan dances of Misty Copeland, the first African American female principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre and Under Armour model, and Lil Buck, jookin’ street dancer and collaborator with ballet great Baryshnikov, resist stereotypes? No dance experience is needed, just a willingness to experiment with and observe different forms of movement.