The Oberlin College Dance Department functions within the liberal arts tradition. Though many of the students become successful dancers and choreographers, the emphasis in the department is on encouraging students to create, perform, and think about movement in a manner that is consonant with their experience in the other fine and liberal arts.
We organize our dance curriculum around four areas of study, allowing students to pursue dance from different perspectives: creation and performance, critical inquiry, physical techniques, and somatic studies. Majors take courses in each of the four categories to challenge and expand their perceptions of what it is to engage in the study of dance. Students develop a personalized course of study through the process of articulating their own goals and identifying courses that allow them to achieve the highest degree of proficiency in their chosen area.
Dance at Oberlin is characterized by its commitment to experimentation and creation of original work. Student, faculty and visiting artist choreography is shown throughout the year in events ranging from fully produced proscenium concerts, to adjudicated student concerts presented in the dance-specific Main Space theatre, to student-run concerts that embrace a wide variety of student work. Choreographers often are involved in collaborations with musicians and composers from Oberlin's Conservatory of Music, as well as with media and installation artists from the art department. This type of creative work is guided and supported by dance faculty who collaborate and teach with faculty from related disciplines.
From their first semester at Oberlin, students have many opportunities to creatework and to perform. These are not limited to dance majors or minors; all auditions - from placement classes to get into upper level technique classes, to auditions for performances - are open to all students. First year students who have had experience in dance can step into the upper level courses. Students for whom dance is a new venture can choose from a variety of introductory courses requiring no prior experience.
Courses offered in the dance department are often cross-listed with women's studies and with Africana studies, reflecting both the integration of scholarly and artistic pursuits, and the diversity of offerings in the dance curriculum.
Student-run organizations hold classes and produce concerts that focus on jazz, tap, hip hop, and a broad array of forms not included in the course offerings. Winter term, during the month of January, allows students the opportunity for intensive study with a guest artist on campus, to study dance off campus, or to work on a project devised by the individual student. Recent winter-term projects included Bellydance, Capoeira, and Contact Improvisation.
The dance department offers students an interrelated series of courses and performance activities designed to provide a sound liberal arts grounding in the theory and practice of theater and dance. Our major objectives are:
a. To provide a critical understanding and enhanced appreciation for theater and dance, and their relationships to other liberal arts.
b. To encourage interdisciplinary artistic collaboration and studies with such related disciplines as music, film, English, art, creative writing, and others.
c. To provide concentrated preparation in dance and theater for students wishing to pursue advanced studies or professional careers.
d. To provide practical experiences in all aspects of production, both on and back stage.