Theatre and Dance (T/D)

Academic Catalog: 2012–2013

  • Michele Rusinko, Chairperson
  • Micah Maatman
  • Henry MacCarthy
  • Melissa Rolnick
  • Amy Seham
  • Terena Wilkens
  • Part-time:
  • Sue Gunness (Visiting, 2012–2013)
  • Sarah Hauss (Visiting, 2012–2013)
  • Larissa McConnell
  • Jill Patterson (Visiting, 2012–2013)

The Department of Theatre and Dance involves students in creative inquiry, embodied knowledges, inventive collaboration, and skillful expression of ideas in order to prepare them for lives of leadership, service, and excellence in the arts, culture, and business of the future. Each student in Theatre and Dance explores performance, design, technology and research in a multifaceted liberal arts context. Theatre and Dance students acquire foundational skills in multiple aspects of performance and production. Majors are also expected to immerse themselves in the history, theory and literature of their art form in order to develop individual identities as artist-thinkers.

The department’s mission emphasizes the value of performance as a vital means of working for social justice and personal transformation. The department mentors majors and non-majors alike in explorations of the many ways theatre and dance artists interpret and affect society. Students and faculty collaborate on creative research projects designed to raise awareness, create community, foster self-expression, challenge stereotypes, evoke compassion, and represent diverse perspectives. Advanced seminars and capstone experiences enable students to develop and articulate their own unique senses of vocation, purpose, and creative vision for life and art beyond college.

Theatre and Dance Department performance events entertain and challenge Gustavus audiences with dynamic, innovative productions. The department also seeks to serve the greater St. Peter community with the artistic excellence and educational outreach so important to our work. The department is committed to being a resource for the expression of community concerns, histories, and story-telling.

The department’s program prepares students for graduate study and/or for professional work in the fields of theatre and dance. It also provides students with experience and confidence with collaboration, creative imagination, self-expression, problem-solving, critical analysis and empathy—abilities crucial to every walk of life.

In order to facilitate the advising process, students declaring a major in Theatre or Dance must have a departmental advisor no later than the second semester of the sophomore year.

The Theatre major consists of a sequence of 12 course credits, including introductory courses in acting, design, theatre history, and theatre for social justice. The major culminates with performance theory and the department’s 300-level Advanced Studies in Performance sequence, which serves as a two-part capstone experience.

Theatre Major: A minimum of 12 courses, including T/D-103, T/D-106, T/D-130, T/D-136, T/D-215, T/D-247, T/D-270, T/D-370, T/D-381 and T/D-390. In consultation with their major advisor, students must also select at least one of the following: T/D-221, T/D-225 or T/D-229; one Level II History/Literature course; two additional electives, one Level II or above. It is highly recommended that these electives be chosen with a focus on preparing the major for Advanced Studies in Performance. Students must prepare for this capstone course by taking a series of required classes, electives, and creative inquiry lab projects in the first three years. Students who qualify for Honors in Theatre may also apply for permission to be mentored through a significant creative work as their Honors project, T/D-398.

The Dance major consists of a sequence of 12 courses. The major is intended to produce technically fluent, integrally articulate, and expressive movers. The major culminates with performance theory and the department’s 300-level Advanced Studies in Performance sequence, which serves as a two-part capstone experience.

Dance Major: A minimum of 12 courses, including:

  1. Four full course equivalents (4.0) selected from the following dance technique courses, at least two (2.0) courses at the intermediate or advanced level. Beginning Ballet II, intermediate and advanced courses may be repeated for credit:
    1. Modern Dance—T/D-102 or T/D-105, T/D-235, T/D-375.
    2. Ballet—T/D-104, T/D-134, T/D-234.
    3. Jazz Dance—T/D-109, T/D-239.
  2. T/D-103, T/D-221, T/D-232, T/D-245, T/D-277, T/D-305, T/D-370, T/D-381, T/D-390.
  3. One elective course chosen with departmental approval.

The Theatre and Dance Department strongly encourages its majors and minors to take advantage of the College’s internship and international study programs. Gustavus Theatre and Dance students have held internships at many major theatres and dance companies in this country and have received credit for study all over the world. Internships and study abroad programs in theatre and dance are arranged individually, based on the interests of the student. Gustavus students have studied in Russia, Sweden, Turkey, Nepal, Germany, and England. To encourage and accommodate study abroad and internships, the department will consider substitutions in major and minor programs. Students should talk to their departmental advisor early in their studies about opportunities for international programs and internships to make sure that credit received for such study will count toward the major or minor.

Theatre Minor: Five course credits, including T/D-136 or T/D-236, T/D-270, at least one Level II or above course and at least one course at Level III.

Theatre for Social Justice Minor: Five course credits, including T/D-103 or T/D-106, T/D-136, T/D-236, T/D-255 or T/D-260, T/D-270 and T/D-379.

Dance Minor: Five courses, including T/D-104, T/D-134, or T/D-234, T/D-235 or T/D-375, T/D-232, T/D-245, and one other course chosen in consultation with the advisor.

Honors in Theatre and Dance: This option is open to outstanding students who wish to further develop their artistic and scholarly insights through an in-depth creative research project in the senior year. The project serves as a culmination of the student’s coursework and creative experience in Theatre or Dance.

Students qualify for the Honors Program by achieving and maintaining a minimum overall GPA of 3.25 and a minimum GPA of 3.5 in Theatre/Dance courses. Participation in the Honors Program is by application due by April 15 in the junior year. The letter of application must outline a proposed senior honors project and list the experience and coursework that provides the student with a solid foundation for completing the project. Other requirements include formal presentation to the department of the creative research proposal early in the senior fall semester, presentation of a progress report in early December, additional courses in focus areas and pre-requisite of Creative Research projects at Level II and III. The student must successfully complete T/D-398.

102 Fundamentals of Modern Dance (1 course) This course introduces students with no prior dance background or training to the fundamental elements of modern dance technique. Emphasis is on anatomy and kinesiology as applied to dance movement, improvisational explorations, and total body awareness of the elements of space, time, design, energy, and force. The class also provides an introduction to the history and theory of modern dance as an art form. ARTS, Fall and Spring semesters.

103 Beginning Experiments in Design (1 course) The course acquaints the student with principles of theatrical design. Students will work experimentally with a range of materials to conceptualize dramatic works in visual terms. Although part of the major program in Theatre, the course also is intended as an introductory class in fine arts for non-majors. ARTS, Fall semester.

104 Beginning Ballet (1 course) Beginning Ballet is designed as a basic introduction to classical dance and a complement to Beginning Modern Dance. The key concepts of the course include: an appreciation for ballet theory and history, alignment and anatomy for the dancer (from a practical perspective), and an awareness of the performing “style” and aesthetic particular to ballet, all ingredients for critical discussion of ballet in relation to other arts. ARTS, Fall and Spring semesters.

105 Beginning Modern Dance (1 course) This course is designed for students who have studied dance (private studio or college courses) but have not studied modern dance technique. Emphasis is on body alignment and body awareness in relation to the elements of space, time, design, and energy. Introduction to the history and theory of modern dance as an art form. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. ARTS, Fall and Spring semesters.

106 Beginning Acting (1 course) A beginning class in acting technique with emphasis on improvisation, movement, voice, text analysis, and realistic scene studies. ARTS, Fall and Spring semesters.

109 Beginning Jazz Dance (.5 course) This course provides an introduction to the basic styles and dynamics of jazz dance for the student who has had no previous dance training. Students acquire a movement vocabulary within the jazz idiom while developing greater efficiency and ease of movement through proper body alignment. The course emphasizes the isolation of individual body parts and a diversity of rhythmic patterns, and also focuses on the integral role that jazz dance has played in theatre. ARTS, Fall semester.

110-313 Theatre and Dance Practica (Course value to be determined) These courses provide the student with practical experience in performance or technical production. May be repeated for credit. Permission of instructor is required. Offered annually or by arrangement.

  • 110 Performance Practicum
  • 111, 211, 311 Scenery/Props Practicum
  • 112, 212, 312 Lighting/Sound Practicum
  • 113, 213, 313 Costume Practicum
  • 115, 215 Stage Management Practicum
  • 117 Dance Repertory Practicum

130 Foundations of Western Theatre (1 course) This course is an introductory survey of the major historical, social, and aesthetic movements that have shaped the development of theatre and dramatic literature from antiquity to the present. We will discuss how relevant theoretical and historical texts have been constructed within the context of artistic production in various geographies across time. In addition to reading plays, students will analyze significant contributions of historians, theoreticians, artists, and critics, and their significance to both theatre practice and reception. HIPHI, Fall semester, even years.

134 Beginning Ballet II (.5 course) This course is designed as an entry-level class for students with 1–3 years previous ballet training and for students who have completed T/D-104 and wish to continue their studies of classical ballet theory and technique. Key concepts for the course include: an introduction to ballet theory and history, alignment and anatomy for the dancer, and the development and articulation of informed criteria with which to evaluate and improve his or her performance and critically discuss ballet in relation to other arts. May be repeated for credit. ARTS, Fall and Spring semesters.

136 Creating Theatre for Social Justice (1 course) Students will engage with both the technique and theory behind theatre for social justice performance. Studio work will focus on key elements of improvisation and theatre devising—creating original scenes and monologues. The class will practice exercises from Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, and will read, research, and write about the different ways theatre has been used to give expression to disempowered voices in a society. Especially recommended, but not limited to, students interested in participating in the Gustavus social justice theatre troupe, “I Am We Are.” ARTS, Fall semester.

144, 244, 344 Special Topics in Theatre/Dance (Course value to be determined) Study of special problems or areas in theatre or dance research, individual and/or group projects, seminar reports, and discussion. Topics to be announced annually. May be repeated for credit. Permission of instructor required.

221 Light and Sound: Craft and Design (1 course) This course provides a deeper understanding of techniques and concepts employed in producing theatre and dance performances. Creative problem-solving, artistic collaboration, independent research, and development are supported in the course. The craft component of the course will provide hands-on learning, instrumentation, hanging, focusing, recording, and editing techniques. The lighting and sound design portion explores play analysis, research, rendering, and presentation techniques, as well as basic equipment use and programming, and will culminate in a comprehensive project. ARTS, Fall semester, odd years.

223 Computer-Aided Drafting and Design (.5 course) An introduction to computer-aided drafting and design using the program VectorWorks. Students will learn the basics of 2D drafting, touch on 3D drafting, lighting, and model making for the theatre. Final projects in the student’s area of interest are chosen in consultation with the instructor and may be either theatrical- or architecture-based. Spring semester.

225 Costume: Craft and Design (1 course) This course provides a deeper understanding of techniques and concepts employed in producing theatre and dance performance. Creative problem solving, artistic collaboration, independent research, and individual expression are developed through costume craft and design. The costume construction component of the course will provide hands on learning—stitching, patterning, and cutting techniques will culminate in a comprehensive project. The costume design portion explores play analysis, research, rendering, and presentation techniques. ARTS, Fall semester, even years.

229 Scenery: Craft and Design (1 course) Provides a deeper understanding of techniques and concepts employed in producing theatre and dance performance. Creative problem solving, artistic collaboration, independent research, and individual expression are developed through scenery craft and design. The scenery construction component of the course will provide hands-on learning—carpentry, technical drafting, and other building techniques will culminate in a comprehensive project. The scenery design portion explores play analysis, research, rendering, designer drafting, and presentation techniques. ARTS, Spring semester, odd years.

232 Studies in Dance History (1 course) This course presents an historical overview of dance as a performing art form. The class explores the evolution of European and American ballet as well as the integration of African American and European American dance traditions as they influence the development of modern dance in America in the 20th century. Through readings, video viewings, attending performances, individual research projects, and class discussions, students explore principles and traditions of concert dance in their historical and cultural contexts. Spring semester, even years.

234 Intermediate Ballet (.5 course) This course is for students with previous ballet training and emphasizes further development of ballet technique and increased understanding of ballet terminology. Emphasis is on developing the ability to perform longer movement phrases than in beginning ballet with proper body placement, increased rhythmical perception, and musical sensitivity. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: T/D-104 or permission of instructor. ARTS, Fall and Spring semesters.

235 Intermediate Modern Dance (.5 course) Intensive study and practice of modern dance techniques with an emphasis on the development of performance skills. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: T/D-105 or permission of instructor. ARTS, Fall and Spring semesters.

236 Theatre and Society (1 course) An overview of the ways that the art of theatre is a reflection of society’s values, as well as the ways that theatre artists have challenged and resisted conventional beliefs. In particular, the course will focus on an analysis of the ideological, artistic, and cultural meanings in Western theatre from the perspectives of gender, race, class, ethnicity, and sexual identity. We will examine theatre’s use of stereotypes, the issue of ethnicity in representation, and the role of performance in creating social identities. The course includes readings of key dramatic texts, theoretical works, and performance art. ARTS, HIPHI, WRITI, Spring semester, even years.

239 Intermediate Jazz Dance (.5 course) The course is for students with previous training in jazz dance. Students continue to develop their movement vocabularies within the jazz idiom while developing greater efficiency and ease of movement through proper body alignment. Emphasis is placed on performing longer, more sophisticated jazz dance combinations while understanding the role jazz dance has played in the development of social/vernacular dance, concert dance, and musical theatre. Prerequisite: T/D-109 or permission of instructor. ARTS, Spring semester.

241 Theatrical Media and Design Technology (.5 course) New media and technology are increasingly crucial elements of any performance or presentation process. This course will provide students the opportunity to explore and experiment with these new ideas and technologies. Students will investigate the theories behind the design and effect of media in live performance and presentation, in addition to working in a hands-on environment with these technologies. The class will discover the processes and programs used in creation of performance media, as well as how to implement these technologies using current and existing technologies. Spring semester, odd years.

245 Dance Composition (1 course) This course provides an introduction to the process, art, and craft of choreography (making dances), using improvisation to experientially explore the elements of dance. Prerequisites: T/D-105 and T/D-235, or permission of instructor. Fall semester.

247 Beginning Directing (1 course) Study and practice of basic principles, skills, and methods of the theatre director, culminating in the in-class production of scenes from dramatic literature. Prerequisite: T/D-106, or permission of instructor. Spring semester, even years.

248 Musical Theatre Workshop (1 course) This is a studio course, designed to provide intensive training in musical theatre performance, including vocal and dramatic coaching, scene analysis, song and role preparation, movement for the musical theatre stage, and ensemble work. Students will participate in a variety of scene projects drawn from the contemporary and experimental musical theatre repertoire. ARTS, Spring semester, odd years.

255 Playmaking/Playwriting (1 course) This process-based course provides students with the experience of creating original theatre through a variety of methods. The class may focus on skills for writing a formal playscript, or on improvisational techniques for creating, developing, and performing a play. While the specific approach will vary with the interest and expertise of each instructor, every class will be able to participate in the progress of a piece of theatre from the early idea phase through a collaborative development process and culminating in a public performance (staged reading, full production, or other presentation). ARTS, Spring semester, even years.

260 Arts Management (1 course) Study and practice of the basic skills and methods of arts management. Goal setting, public relations, money management, and marketing will be among topics discussed. This course is designed for the person interested in the arts from an organizational or management point of view. It will be helpful for all those considering careers in music, theatre, and art. Spring semester, even years.

265 Performance in the Americas (1 course) This course analyzes the various roles played by performance in the negotiation of power and identity construction in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the emerging Latina/o diasporas in the United States, from a hemispheric standpoint. We will study how the mechanisms of spectacle have been used, and continue to be employed to represent, implement, and subvert colonial and neocolonial orders. We will look at performance, as a vehicle for knowledge creation and transfer across temporal and spatial environments, in the context of border narratives, new technologies, tourism, migration, globalization, and cultural memory. NWEST, WRITD, Fall semester, odd years.

268, 368 Career Exploration, Internship (Course value to be determined) Off-campus employment experience related to the student’s major. See description of the Internship Program. Prerequisite: junior or senior status. Fall, Spring semesters and summer.

270 Intermediate Studies in Performance: Creative Research (.5 course) This course provides a mentored opportunity for the serious theatre student to gain hand-on experience in a particular focus area of theatre arts. It is the prerequisite for T/D-370, Advanced Studies in Performance: Creative Research. Working with a faculty advisor, students will propose a specific project integral to the production of a performance. For an actor, this may be a significant role in a show; a director may assistant-direct for a faculty director, or may direct ten-minute plays independently. For tech and design students, Assistant Designer for a faculty show or design for a student show are options, as are dramaturgy projects. This course culminates in a reflection paper discussing how this experience helps prepare the student for advanced work. May be repeated for credit. Fall and Spring semesters.

277 Dance Composition II (1 course) This course focuses on the craft of choreography as it relates to group forms. In addition, emphasis will be placed on the supporting element of accompaniment choices. Prerequisites: T/D-245 or permission of instructor. Spring semester, odd years.

305 Scientific and Somatic Foundations for Movement (1 course) This course is an in-depth experiential study of skeletal structure, joint, and muscle function and the mechanics of movement. Incorporated into the course will be embodied awareness practices such as Body-Mind Centering, Bartenief Fundamentals, and Ideokinesis. The structural and energetic connections of the body will be explored within a context of both ease and efficiency of movement as well as creative expression. Fall semester, even years.

323 Advanced Computer-Aided Drafting and Design (.5 course) Advanced computer aided drafting and design will allow students to expand on and practice the knowledge in the first CADD class. Projects will be chosen in consultation with the instructor to help build a portfolio that may be used for graduate school interviews as well as job interviews. Projects will include house drafting, model making, 3D drafting and theatrical projects. Prerequisite: T/D-223. Spring semester.

370 Advanced Studies in Performance: Creative Research (.5-1 course) Group tutorials and individual coaching/mentoring in theatrical design and technology, acting, or directing. While structured according to the skill levels of individual students, the course is intended to provide advanced students with a master class for preparation of materials for application to graduate school or professional work. Working with a faculty advisor, each student will propose a specific project requiring advanced-level creativity and responsibility. Possibilities are varied, but must be fully realized in production. For actors, it may be preparation of advanced audition-ready material, or a director may direct a one-act play. For tech and design students, a design assignment on a faculty-directed project is appropriate. Scholarly or dramaturgical projects are also options. This course, taken in tandem with T/D-390, forms the capstone experience for Theatre majors. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Fall and Spring semesters.

375 Advanced Modern Dance (.5 course) This course is for students with previous training in modern dance technique and emphasizes technically challenging elements of modern dance technique and development of performance skills. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: One full course of T/D-235 or permission of instructor. Fall and Spring semesters.

379 Advanced Performance Studies: Social Justice Theatre (.5 course) Group tutorials and individual coaching sessions in advanced techniques of Theatre of the Oppressed and other modes of creating theatre for social justice, which address specific issues in community-based theatre and performance art. The focus of the student’s work is the preparation of a short performance for public witness. Prerequisites: T/D-136, T/D-236, or permission of the instructor. Fall and Spring semesters.

381 Performance Theory (1 course) This intensive writing course for both Theatre and Dance majors explores the theory, analysis, and interpretation of dramatic texts and dance performances. Study of major theoretical writings on theatre, dance and performance from classical roots to contemporary praxis—with an emphasis on 20th and 21st century developments in performance theory. Examination of contemporary performance criticism, analysis of selected performances from the standpoint of artist and audiences. Recommended for Theatre/Dance majors and minors with some background in Theatre/Dance analysis. Not open to first-year students. WRITD, Spring semester, odd years.

390 Advanced Studies in Performance: Reflection, Documentation, and Presentation (.5 course) This course will provide students pursuing a career in performance the opportunity to reflect on their studies and experiences. Students will examine their college experiences as foundations for future professional work and will assess their deeper understanding of the path they intend to follow to pursue their goals for both artistic and social justice work. The class will learn where and how to look for professional, service, and educational opportunities for a fulfilling career in the performing arts. Resumes, portfolios, audition DVDs, and headshots will be prepared in coordination with students’ specific disciplines, as well as the presentation techniques that must accompany these materials. This course, taken in tandem with T/D-370, forms the capstone experience for Theatre majors. Prerequisites: permission of instructor. Fall and Spring semesters.

291, 391 Independent Study (Course value to be determined) Fall and Spring semesters.

398 Honors in Theatre and Dance: Creative Research Intensive (1 course) The Honors Project is a substantial work of dance or theatre art or scholarship undertaken by a senior major in consultation with a departmental advisor. Projects may be designed in the areas of acting, directing, design, dance, theatre history, playwriting, or social justice theatre. Prerequisites: T/D-370 and permission of instructor. Fall and Spring semesters.