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Dance Composition Basics

Dance Composition Basics

$71.95 CAD

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    Text instruction can go only so far in teaching how to create dances. Dance Composition Basics picks up where other textbooks leave off, with a bound-in DVD that features professional choreographers and dancers in action.

    Designed for beginning college-level dance composition courses and dance educators at the middle and high school levels, this textbook and DVD package highlights selected portions of original dance compositions by two noted choreographers. The works of Alonzo King (Chants and Dreamer) and Dwight Rhoden (Verge) are recorded and analyzed to sequence the choreographic process. Students are able to witness a progression that takes them from conceiving and refining an idea to improvising and solving movement problems to shaping and performing dances.

    The methods featured in Dance Composition Basics can be applied to a variety of dance styles including ballet, modern, and jazz. Each of the 27 lessons serves as a starting point that encourages novice dancers to embark on their own attempts at choreography with more confidence.

    Structured to present concepts from simple to complex, the chapters cover the body, space, time, energy, and choreographic devices. Each chapter is divided into lessons based on the dance element or concept highlighted. The lessons challenge students to create solo, duet, trio, and group works. Each lesson includes the following components:

    -One choreographic concept

    -Video documentation of the choreographic concept

    -Vocabulary words

    -Introductory statement


    -Structured improvisations

    -Creative choreographic problems

    -Questions for discussion

    -Assessment rubrics

    The DVD supplements the written instruction in a progression that no textbook alone could achieve. It shows dancers as they solve movement problems, and it shows choreographers as they mold their works from conception to stage performance. DVD footage also captures the decision-making and problem-solving tactics used by each choreographer. With these concrete examples, students can form a basis of comparison when completing their own assignments.

    Dance Composition Basics is a practical introduction to the methods and tools used in composing dances that engages students in the process—the preferred method of learning and teaching dance composition today. Through real-world examples, this text and DVD package demonstrates the direct relationship of the activities learned in the dance composition class to the current practices used by professional choreographers.


    Textbook for undergraduate-level dance composition courses (levels I and II). Reference for middle and high school dance educators.

    Table of Contents

    Alonzo King: Featured Artist and Work
    Dwight Rhoden: Featured Artist and Work
    How to Use the DVD
    Dance Composition Basics DVD Menu

    Chapter 1. The Body: Exploring the Ways We Move
    Lesson 1 Impulse: Origins of Movement
    Lesson 2 Phrase: Linking Movements
    Lesson 3 Gesture: Personal Vocabulary of Movement
    Lesson 4 Shape: Body Design
    Lesson 5 Problem Solving: Creating a Solo

    Chapter 2. Space: Exploring the Expanse We Move In
    Lesson 1 Air and Floor Pathways: Mapping the Route
    Lesson 2 Diagonals: From Corner to Corner
    Lesson 3 Symmetry: Balancing Shapes
    Lesson 4 Positive and Negative Space: Sharing a Shape
    Lesson 5 Balance: Supporting Each Other
    Lesson 6 Imitation: Reflecting Each Other
    Lesson 7 Problem Solving: Creating a Duet

    Chapter 3. Time: Exploring Tempo
    Lesson 1 Slow Motion: Dancing in Reverie
    Lesson 2 Speed: Learning to Dance Quickly
    Lesson 3 Pacing: Combining Different Pulses
    Lesson 4 Accelerating: How Fast Can It Go?
    Lesson 5 Problem Solving: Creating a Trio

    Chapter 4. Energy: Force Generating Movement
    Lesson 1 Inertia: Readiness to Move
    Lesson 2 Opposites: Contrasting Energies
    Lesson 3 Dynamics: Qualities of Movement
    Lesson 4 Intensity: Increasing and Decreasing Force
    Lesson 5 Problem Solving: Creating a Small-Group Composition

    Chapter 5. Choreographic Devices: Creating Finished Compositions
    Lesson 1 Call and Response: Antiphonal Movement
    Lesson 2 Canon: Dancing in Unison a Few Counts Apart
    Lesson 3 Directional Mirroring: Parallel Reflecting and Reverse Reflecting
    Lesson 4 Variation: Interweaving and Varying Patterns
    Lesson 5 Problem Solving: Creating a Movement Suite

    About the Author
    Dance Composition Basics DVD

    About the Author

    Pamela Anderson Sofras, MEd, is a professor of dance and dance education at the University of North Carolina. She has 30 years of experience teaching dance at the university level and has taught and developed courses in modern dance technique, composition, dance education methods, and student teaching. From 1978 to 1990, she was affiliated with the American Dance Festival as a faculty member. She served as assistant, associate dean, and founding director of the Young Dancer's School of the American Dance Festival.

    Sofras was part of a team of educators who wrote dance education guidelines for training K-12 dance teachers for the public schools of North Carolina. She has also developed curriculum materials, supported by state and national grants, for professional arts organizations located in New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and New York. Sofras has been the recipient of six North Carolina Arts Council grant awards to study the choreographic processes of five separate choreographers as they created work for North Carolina Dance Theatre, a professional dance company. The processes were documented and translated into curriculum materials for teachers and for university classes.

    A charter member of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), Sofras is also a member of the education committee of the North Carolina Dance Theater and a site evaluator for the North Carolina Arts Council grant activities. She has received numerous awards for her contributions to the field of dance education, including the NDEO's Vision Award, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) College/University Educator of the Year, and the North Carolina Dance Alliance Award. In addition, she received the UNC Service Award in 2002 for her sustained service to public schools. Sofras regularly presents professional development workshops in dance pedagogy for teaching artists and teachers working in public and private school settings.