Theater and Dance

The Department of Theater and Dance offers courses spanning the major areas of interest in both disciplines. Theater offerings include acting, voice, movement, directing, design-technical, and performance as well as courses in literature, history and criticism. In all of our courses our goal is to examine the intersection of critical thought and creative practice. Theater is an ever-changing art, and we strive to expose students to its most recent innovations and the cultural currents that influence them.

Dance gives students at all levels opportunities for active participation in three basic areas: technique, 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 a trained, articulate body, somatic research, and increased choreographic skill and performance skills.

While there is a regular major in Theater Arts, advanced students may apply to the chair of Dance for a special major in Dance.

Requirements for the Dance Minor

The Minor in Dance is for the student who is interested in continuing and deepening their focus on dance. It can provide an opportunity for cross disciplinary work and connecting dance studies with another major. Acceptance to the program is based on personal interviews with the program director.

The minor has three components and requires 36 credits for completion:

Technique and Performance: A minimum of 12 credits

  • It is recommended that at least one technique class be taken per term. Additional technique classes offered at Carleton or through OCS may qualify with permission from the program director.

         At least one credit of each of the following:

  • DANC 205- Winter Dance (1 cr)
  • DANC 206- Spring Dance (1 cr)
  • DANC 215- Winter Dance, Student Choreography (1 cr)

       With at least nine additional credits from:

  • DANC 107- Ballet I (1 cr)
  • DANC 147- Moving Anatomy (1 cr)
  • DANC 148- Modern Dance I: Technique and Theory (1 cr)
  • DANC 150- Contact Improvisation (1 cr)
  • DANC 158- Contemporary Dance Forms I (1 cr)
  • DANC 200- Modern Dance II: Technique and Theory (1 cr)
  • DANC 210- Contemporary Dance Forms II (1 cr)
  • DANC 204- Fall Dance (1 cr)
  • DANC 205- Winter Dance (1 cr)
  • DANC 206- Spring Dance (1 cr)
  • DANC 208- Ballet II (1 cr)
  • DANC 214- Fall Dance, Student Choreography (1 cr)
  • DANC 215- Winter Dance, Student Choreography (1 cr)
  • DANC 253- Movement for the Performer  (3 cr)
  • DANC 300- Modern Dance III: Technique and Theory (1 cr)
  • DANC 310- Contemporary Dance Forms III (1 cr)
  • DANC 301- Contemporary Styles and Techniques: West African Dance Forms (1 cr)
  • DANC 309- Ballet III (1 cr)
  • DANC 350- Semaphore Repertory Dance Company (1 cr, Requires audition)

Choreography: a minimum of 12 credits

  • DANC 190- Fields of Performance (6 cr)
  • DANC 268- The Body as Choreographer  (6 cr)
  • DANC 391- Advanced Choreography (Independent Study)
  • Coming soon:  Dance Lab I, II (production and group forms)  

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

  • DANC 100- Meaning In Motion (6 cr)
  • DANC 115-  Cultures of Dance (6 cr)
  • DANC 266-  Reading the Dancing Body: Topics in Dance History  (6 cr)

Required Elective: a minimum of 6 additional credits in any of the three categories:

  • Technique/Performance
  • Choreography
  • History, Theory, and Literature

Dance Courses (DANC)

Technique Courses: 107, 147, 148, 150, 158, 200, 205, 206, 208, 210, 215, 300, 301, 309, 310

Classes in Modern Dance Technique and Ballet are offered on at least two levels during all terms. Other technique classes offered on a rotating schedule are Moving Anatomy and Contact Improvisation. All courses may be taken any number of terms at the appropriate level. A maximum of 24 credits from dance technique classes may be counted toward graduation.

History Courses: Dance: 115, 266

Choreography Courses: 190, 253, 268, 350

DANC 100 Meaning In Motion: Dance as Culture The study of dance is the study of culture. We will look at dance as culturally-coded, embodied knowledge and investigate dance forms, contexts and micro cultures across the globe, analyzing how social identities are "signaled, formed, and negotiated through bodily movement." We will examine, cross-culturally, the function of dance in the lives of individuals and societies through various lenses including gender, Africanist and ethnographic. We will read, write, view videos, attend live performances, discuss and move. This course in dance theory and practice will include a weekly movement lab. No previous dance experience necessary. 6 credits; AI, WR1, IS; Fall; Judith A Howard
DANC 107 Ballet I A beginning course in ballet technique, including basic positions, beginning patterns and exercises. Students develop an awareness of the many ways their body can move, an appreciation of dance as an artistic expression and a recognition of the dancer as an athlete. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Fall, Winter, Spring; Jennifer Bader
DANC 115 Cultures of Dance The study of dance is the study of culture. We will look at dance as culturally-coded, embodied knowledge and investigate dance forms and contexts across the globe. We will examine, cross-culturally, the function of dance in the lives of individuals and societies through various lenses including feminist, africanist and ethnological perspectives. We will read, write, view videos and performances, discuss and move. This course in dance theory and practice will include a weekly movement lab. No previous dance experience necessary. 6 credits; HI, IS; Not offered 2017-18
DANC 147 Moving Anatomy This course seeks to provide an underlying awareness of body structure and function. Using movement to expand knowledge of our anatomy will encourage participants to integrate information with experience. Heightened body awareness and class studies are designed to activate the general learning process. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Spring; Jane Shockley
DANC 148 Modern Dance I: Technique and Theory A physical exploration at the introductory level of the elements of dance: time, motion, space, shape and energy. Students are challenged physically as they increase their bodily awareness, balance, control, strength and flexibility and get a glimpse of the art of dance. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Winter, Spring; Daphne L McCoy
DANC 150 Contact Improvisation This is a course in techniques of spontaneous dancing shared by two or more people through a common point of physical contact. Basic skills such as support, counterbalance, rolling, falling and flying will be taught and developed in an environment of mutual creativity. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Fall, Winter; Jane Shockley
DANC 158 Contemporary Dance Forms I This course provides an introduction to a variety of movement approaches that develop an awareness of the body in space and moving through space. Students will learn approaches designed to strengthen muscles, support joint mobility, find breath support, enhance coordination, and encourage embodied learning. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Fall; Jane Shockley
DANC 190 Fields of Performance This introductory course in choreography explores games, structures, systems and sports as sources and locations of movement composition and performance. Readings, viewings and discussion of postmodernist structures and choreographers as well as attendance and analysis of dance performances and sports events will be jumping off point for creative process and will pave the way for small individual compositions and one larger project. In an atmosphere of play, spontaneity and research participants will discover new ways of defining dance, pushing limits and bending the rules. Guest choreographers and coaches will be invited as part of the class. Open to all movers. No previous experience necessary. 6 credits; ARP; Not offered 2017-18; Judith A Howard
DANC 200 Modern Dance II: Technique and Theory A continuation of Level I with more emphasis on the development of technique and expressive qualities. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Fall, Spring; Daphne L McCoy
DANC 205 Winter Dance Intensive rehearsal and performance of a work commissioned from a professional guest choreographer. Open to all levels. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Winter; Judith A Howard
DANC 206 Spring Dance Rehearsal and full concert performance of student dance works created during the year and completed in the spring term. Open to all levels. Prerequisite: Dance 205, 207, or 215. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Spring; Judith A Howard, Jane Shockley
DANC 207 Site Specific Perfomance Prjct Intensive rehearsal and performance of a work commissioned from nationally and internationally renowned guest choreographer Stephan Koplowitz, who will create site specific dance, film, theater and installations throughout the town of Northfield, to be performed by Carleton and St Olaf students in Spring 2018. Prerequisite: Instructor Permission. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Winter; Judith A Howard
DANC 208 Ballet II For the student with previous ballet experience. This course emphasizes articulation of technique and development of ballet vocabulary. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Fall, Winter, Spring; Jennifer Bader
DANC 210 Contemporary Dance Forms II This course is intended for students seeking to refine and deepen their awareness of embodied movement approaches. Through these approaches, students will work to develop an alert and articulate body. In both standing and floor work, momentum, dynamic shifts and spatial challenges are introduced. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Winter; Jane Shockley
DANC 215 Winter Dance, Student Choreography For students enrolled in Dance 205, supervised student choreography with two public showings. Prerequisite: Dance 205. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Winter; Judith A Howard
DANC 253 Movement for the Performer This course investigates the structure and function of the body through movement. Applying a variety of somatic techniques (feldenkrais, yoga, improvisation, body-mind centering). The emphasis will be to discover effortless movement, balance in the body and an integration of self in moving. 3 credits; ARP; Winter; Jane Shockley
DANC 266 Reading The Dancing Body: Topics in Dance History Dance is an art of the body in time and space and culture. This course will look at dance as a symbolic system of meanings based on bodily display. The investigation of the body as a “text” will be anchored by, but not limited to, feminist perspectives. Topics include Native American concert dance and the Africanist base of American Modern dance. Through reading, writing, discussing, moving, viewing videos and performances the class will “read” the gender, race, and politics of the dancing body in the cultural/historical context of Modern, Post Modern and Contemporary Dance. 6 credits; HI, IDS; Winter; Judith A Howard
DANC 268 The Body as Choreographer  "The pleasure of the text is that moment when my body pursues its own ideas-for my body does not have the same ideas I do." -Roland Barthes. Through guided movement sessions we will explore the body as a source for ideas. Using "Authentic Movement," experiential anatomy practices and compositional strategies, students will generate several small compositions and one larger gallery project exploring alternative spaces and the influx of various media (movement, text, images, technology, objects, sites, fabric). This choreography "lab" will help answer the question: How do you make a dance? For both beginning and advanced dance students.  6 credits; ARP; Winter; Judith A Howard
DANC 300 Modern Dance III: Technique and Theory Intensive work on technical, theoretical, and expressive problems for the experienced dancer. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Fall, Winter; Daphne L McCoy
DANC 301 Contemporary Styles and Techniques: African Dance A physical exploration of the technical, theoretical and stylistic bases of different approaches to modern dance movement chosen yearly from such techniques as: Body Mind Centering; Limon; Cunningham; Graham; African-Caribbean. Prerequisite: Some previous dance experience. 2 credits; S/CR/NC; ARP; Fall; Whitney McClusky, Judith A Howard
DANC 309 Ballet III This is an advanced class for students who have some capabilities and proficiency in ballet technique. Content is sophisticated and demanding in its use of ballet vocabulary and musical phrasing. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Spring; Jennifer Bader
DANC 310 Contemporary Dance Forms III This advanced course will continue to focus on a variety of embodied movement approaches to refine the awareness of the moving body and prepare for the rigors of performance and physical research. The aim will be on finding a personal connection to movement through subtlety, speed and effort. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Spring; Jane Shockley
DANC 350 Semaphore Repertory Dance Company Provides advanced dance students with an intensive opportunity to develop as performers in professional level dances. Skills to be honed are: the dancer as "tool" and contributor to the process of art-making; defining individual technical and expressive gifts; working in a variety of new technical and philosophical dance frameworks. In addition to regular training during the academic terms, participation in a "preseason" rehearsal period before fall term is required. A few pieces of student choreography will be accepted for repertory. The group produces an annual concert, performs in the Twin Cities and makes dance exchanges with other college groups. Prerequisite: Audition required. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Fall, Winter, Spring; Judith A Howard, Jane Shockley


Requirements for the Theater Major

Requirements for the major:

Note: any single course may satisfy only one requirement.

Sixty-eight credits distributed as follows:

1. 6 credits in theater history and theory

  • THEA 225 Theater History and Theory (Not offered in 2017-18)

2. 6 credits of one of the following courses in design or technical theater:

  • THEA 115 Principles of Design (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • THEA 229 Make-Up Design (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • THEA 233 Sculptural Space and Performance Design (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • THEA 234 Lighting Design for the Performing Arts (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • THEA 237 Scenic Design for the Performing Arts
  • THEA 238 Costume Design for Theater
  • THEA 239 Topics in Theater: Costume Design
  • THEA 320 Live Performance and Digital Media (Not offered in 2017-18)

3. 18 credits from the following courses in practical theater:

  • DANC 150 Contact Improvisation
  • DANC 253 Movement for the Performer
  • DANC 268 The Body as a Choreographer
  • THEA 110 Beginning Acting
  • THEA 185 The Speaking Voice
  • THEA 226 Avant-Garde Theater and Performance
  • THEA 245 Directing (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • THEA 246 Playwriting
  • THEA 255 Acting Shakespeare (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • THEA 312 Topics in Theater: Acting (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • THEA 345 Devised Theater and Collective Creation

4. 18 credits at the 300 level, at least six of which should be English 310 or Theater Arts 351 if possible (additional courses may be added to this group as approved):

  • THEA 312 Topics in Theater: Acting (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • THEA 315 Creativity and Aesthetics (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • THEA 320 Live Performance and Digital Media (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • THEA 345 Devised Theater and Collective Creation
  • ENGL 310 Shakespeare II (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • GRK 351 Aristophanes
  • RUSS 351 Chekhov (Not offered in 2017-18)

5. 12 additional credits, in literature, criticism, or history courses from the following list:

  • CLAS 116 Ancient Drama: Truth in Performances (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • ENGL 129 Introduction to British Comedy (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • ENGL 144 Shakespeare I
  • ENGL 209 The Merchant of Venice: A Project Course (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • ENGL 213 Christopher Marlowe
  • ENGL 214 Revenge Tragedy
  • ENGL 244 Shakespeare I
  • ENGL 258 Contemporary American Playwrights of Color (Not offered in 2017-18)
  • ENGL 282 London Program: London Theater
  • FREN 237 Page & State: Performance of Culture
  • THEA 226 Avant-Garde Theater and Performance
  • THEA 242 Twentieth Century American Drama
  • THEA 251 Performing Women

6. 2 credits of THEA 190, Players Production

7. 6 credits of 400, Integrative Exercise

Theater Courses

THEA 110 Beginning Acting Introduces students to fundamental acting skills, including preliminary physical and vocal training, improvisational techniques, and basic scene work. The course includes analysis of plays as bases for performance, with a strong emphasis on characterization. 6 credits; ARP; Fall, Winter; Roger K Bechtel, David E Wiles, Steve Hendrickson
THEA 115 Principles of Design Explores the process of communicating ideas and experience through visual means. Whether that process begins with a written text, choreographed movement or abstract idea, such elements as color, shape, space, value and balance inevitably come into play in its visual representation. This course teaches these fundamental principles and how to apply them in practice. Principles of Design is an essential course for students interested in any aspect of theater, dance, or performance. 6 credits; ARP; Not offered 2017-18
THEA 185 The Speaking Voice This course seeks to provide a practical understanding of the human voice, its anatomy, functioning and the underlying support mechanisms of body and breath. Using techniques rooted in the work of Berry, Linklater and Rodenburg, the course will explore the development of physical balance and ease and the awareness of the connection between thinking and breathing that will lead to the effortless, powerful and healthy use of the voice in public presentations and in dramatic performance. 6 credits; ARP; Winter; David E Wiles
THEA 190 Carleton Players Production Each term students may participate in one Players production, a hands-on, faculty-supervised process of conceptualization, construction, rehearsal, and performance. Credit is awarded for a predetermined minimum of time on the production, to be arranged with faculty. Productions explore our theatre heritage from Greek drama to new works. Students may participate through audition or through volunteering for production work. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; ARP; Fall, Winter, Spring; Roger K Bechtel, David E Wiles
THEA 195 Acting Shakespeare Though widely read, Shakespeare's plays were written to be performed. This acting class, designed for students with no prior experience with Shakespeare, will explore approaches to performance with an emphasis on the use of the First Folio. Students will create performances using Shakespeare's approaches to rhetoric, imagery and structure while examining some of the plays' principle themes. Video and audio recordings will be used to develop a critical perspective on acting Shakespeare with an emphasis on the differing demands of live and recorded performance. 6 credits; ARP; Fall; David E Wiles
THEA 225 Theater History and Theory The theater has often had a vexed and volatile relationship with its cultural moment, and its history is as much one of revolution as of evolution. This course will look across the broad contours of theater history to examine the questions and challenges that consistently recur, including the relationship between representation and the real, between politics and aesthetics, and between the text and the body. Historical eras covered will include ancient Greece, medieval Japan, early modern Europe, and twentieth and twenty-first century Europe and America. Some class time will be spent doing performative explorations of historical texts. 6 credits; LA, WR2; Not offered 2017-18
THEA 226 Avant-garde Theater and Performance "Make it new!" was the rallying cry of the modernists, and ever since, the theater has never ceased its efforts to break both aesthetic and social conventions, boundaries, and taboos. Beginning with some of the important precursors of the twentieth century--Artaud, Brecht, and Meyerhold--this course will explore the history and theory of the contemporary avant-garde, charting the rise of interdisciplinary "performance" and exploring such topics as politics and aesthetics, site-specificity, body art, solo performance, and multimedia. Students will also spend significant time creating their own performance works. 6 credits; LA; Spring; Roger K Bechtel
THEA 229 Makeup Design Theory and practice of two and three dimensional makeup design for the performer. This course explores corrective, character and specialized makeup techniques as well as rendering techniques. 3 credits; ARP; Not offered 2017-18
THEA 233 Sculptural Space and Performance Design In this course we will explore set design from the perspective of site-specific sculpture. Working in the theater at the Weitz Center for Creativity we will collaboratively design and help construct the set for the upcoming student production. The work in this class will be front-loaded (mostly weeks one to six). Several field trips and group work outside of the scheduled class time will be required. Prerequisite: Theater, construction, or sculpture experience. 3 credits; ARP; Not offered 2017-18
THEA 234 Lighting Design for the Performing Arts An introduction to and practice in stage lighting for the performing arts. Coursework will cover the function of light in design; lighting equipment and technology; communication graphics through practical laboratory explorations. Application of principles for performance events and contemporary lighting problems will be studied through hands-on application. 6 credits; ARP; Not offered 2017-18
THEA 237 Scenic Design for the Performing Arts This course will focus on the art and practice of creating scenic designs for the performing arts. It will introduce basic design techniques while exploring the collaborative process involved in bringing scenery from concept to the stage. The course will include individual and group projects utilizing collage, sketching, and model-making. 3 credits; ARP; Winter
THEA 238 Costume Design for Theater An introductory course in costume design. This course will examine the basic concepts of design and how they apply to costumes. In depth analysis of the script and characters will lead to an exploration of how costume design can be used to enhance the production. Basic rendering techniques and clothing history will also be studied. 3 credits; ARP; Spring; Mary Ann Kelling
THEA 239 Topics in Theater: Costume Design A series of specialized courses in costume design and technical theater. The topic of this course is determined according to the opportunities offered by the departmental production of the term and the needs of the students, with consideration to the rotation of the topics. Topics offered may include: Costume Construction, Costume Patterning, Millinery, Mask Making, Textile Manipulation, Fabric Art and Clothing History. Topic for Fall 2017: Costume Pattern Development: The first half of this course focuses on developing and creating the pattern for a garment in a Carleton Department of Theater and Dance Production. There will be a brief study of a play or dance piece, its time and style, and an in-depth exploration of flat patterning techniques. These techniques will then be used to transform the costume design drawings into the actual costumes. Students of the course will create the patterns and student Costume Assistants will help to construct the garment. All students in this course will have an active role in helping create the costumes for a production. The second half of the course will further explore patterning techniques and each student will pattern and create a garment of their own design. Knowledge of sewing is beneficial but not required. 3 credits; ARP; Fall; Mary Ann Kelling
THEA 242 Modern American Drama A study of a selection of significant American plays from Eugene O'Neill's Hairy Ape (1920) to August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean (2003) in the context of larger American themes and cultural preoccupations. The premise of this course is that these plays define the modern American theatre. By studying them we will gain a deeper understanding of American theater and the links that connect it to the larger culture and to some of the transformative events of American history. 6 credits; LA, WR2; Fall; David E Wiles
THEA 245 Directing Although many directors begin their artistic careers in some other discipline (usually acting), there is a set of skills particular to the director's art that is essential to creating life on stage. Central is the ability to translate dramatic action and narrative into the dimensions of theatrical time and space: the always-present challenge of "page to stage." In this course, students will learn methods of text analysis strategic to this process as well as the rudiments of using that analysis to generate effective staging and powerful acting. Having mastered the fundamentals, students will then explore and enhance their theatrical imagination, that creative mode unique to the medium of live performance. Class time will be devoted to work on three major projects and almost daily exercises. 6 credits; ARP; Not offered 2017-18
THEA 246 Playwriting A laboratory to explore the craft of playwriting, concentrating on structure, action and character. The class uses games, exercises, scenes, with the goal of producing a short play by the end of the term. 6 credits; S/CR/NC; ARP; Spring
THEA 251 Performing Women A study of women playwrights, performance-makers, and performers and the representations of women they create on stage. Playwrights addressed will range from historical figures like Lillian Hellman to their more recent descendants, such as Caryl Churchill, Suzan Lori-Parks, and Young Jean Lee. More broadly, the course will look at women who have figured prominently as directors or creators of non-traditional performance, such as Hallie Flanagan, founder of the Federal Theater Project, or more recently, Elizabeth LeCompte, artistic director of the experimental Wooster Group. 6 credits; LA; Winter; Kate Powers
THEA 312 Problems in Acting Topics in Theater Acting will encompass a series of specialized courses in acting at the advanced level. Topics offered may include non-Western performance forms, Restoration comedy, Theater of the Absurd, Chekhov, and other period- or genre-based modes. Prerequisite: Theater 110. 6 credits; ARP; Not offered 2017-18
THEA 315 Creativity and Aesthetics With the rise of the "creative economy" and the "creative class," "creativity" itself has become a buzzword. But what do we talk about when we talk about creativity? This course will begin with the premise that creativity is not necessarily an innate attribute, but one that can be cultivated, and students will explore and expand their own creative resources. Importantly, we will explore the intersection of personal creativity and cultural aesthetics. How is creativity released, restrained, or channeled through aesthetics? In addition to theoretical readings, student artists of all kinds will have the opportunity to create a variety of projects. 6 credits; ARP; Not offered 2017-18
THEA 320 Live Performance and Digital Media Digital media has so infiltrated live performance that it has become almost as common as sets, lights, and costumes. With video technology becoming increasingly powerful and affordable, the screen has become ubiquitous on stage, sometimes eclipsing the performers. Media culture has also become a recurrent subject for critical exploration both on and off stage. In this class, students will learn the software and hardware skills necessary to incorporate digital media into performance projects, as well as the historical and theoretical context necessary to bring a critical approach to their work. Prerequisite: Any course in Theater Arts, Dance, Cinema and Media Studies, Studio Art, creative writing or musical composition. 6 credits; ARP; Not offered 2017-18
THEA 345 Devised Theater and Collective Creation A usual evening in the theater consists of seeing a text--the play--staged by a director and performed by actors. While this is certainly a collaborative endeavor, recent decades have seen a marked increase in "devised theater," a mode intended to upset the traditional hierarchies of theatrical production. In practical terms, this means the abandonment of the extant text in favor of a performance "score"--sometimes textual, often physical--developed improvisationally in rehearsal by the performers. This course will explore the methods and approaches used to work in this collective and highly creative manner, and will culminate in a public performance. We will also discuss the history and cultural politics that inform devised practice. Prerequisite: Theater 110 or Dance 150 or 190 or instructor permission. 6 credits; ARP; Winter; Roger K Bechtel
THEA 400 Integrative Exercise 1-6 credit; S/NC; Fall, Winter, Spring