Dance, Dance, Revolution: a Political Introduction to Dance
“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution”—so, supposedly, said Emma Goldman. What is the connection between dancing and politics? Can dance, whether choreographed ballet, break dancing, or a spontaneous party, make a statement about society—or even, somehow, challenge it? In this course, we’ll explore the nature of dance and its possibilities as a mode of thinking, socially, politically, and aesthetically, about rhythm, bodies, and social organization and hierarchy. We’ll read from works of philosophy and social theory, as well as writings by contemporary dance theorists. We’ll also view and discuss choreography by George Balanchine (ballet), Merce Cunningham (modern dance), Rennie Harris (hip hop), and the dance companies Urban Bush Women and Judson dance collective. Finally, we’ll partake ourselves in simple exercises, as we consider the social and political significance of walking, movement at political demonstrations, social dancing, and theatrical choreography. What distinguishes mere movement from dance? Does dance entail a loss of self; and if so, how might that be politically meaningful? When is dance a reification of social systems, and when is it an act of repudiation?