This page outlines requirements for the Contemporary Dance major (BA, Contemporary Dance). Students can also study this subject as a minor or as part of a self-designed major (BA or BS, Liberal Arts). Students interested in dance who major in The Arts can choose the Arts in Context concentration (BA, The Arts), in which they combine the study of dance with the study of a liberal arts discipline. Many courses in the Contemporary Dance curriculum are suitable for students with any degree of previous experience, and the participation of nonmajors is encouraged.
The curriculum of the Contemporary Dance program is structured around four focus areas:
Rather than using the familiar term "technique," the Dance program uses "movement practice" for its dance classes to signal an ongoing approach to physical exploration, as opposed to a linear path toward "mastery." With an opportunity to study movement practices ranging from ballet to contact improvisation to vogue, students consider diverse understandings of the body and virtuosity. Engaging in dynamic studio work, students and faculty ask: What can a body do?
In Lang's "choreographic research" courses, students explore varied approaches to the creative process as conceived and employed by some of the field's most adventurous contemporary practitioners. These courses frame dance making as a series of investigatory acts, an arena for research and discovery. Students work individually and collaboratively as choreographers and learn methods to describe, analyze, and critique one another's movement studies.
Lang Dance students engage in a range of academic seminars, analyzing dance through a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches and honing their skills as readers and writers. Working closely with faculty and peers (including students majoring in music, visual arts, theater, and a range of other disciplines) students think critically about the body and consider the opportunities and challenges that come with analyzing movement. In addition to considering dance in relation to other art forms, students learn to situate dance within social and cultural contexts.
Each semester, students have the opportunity to work with guest artists in an intensive rehearsal process, presenting a re-staged or new dance in a public performance. Residencies often include a study of the influences that have affected the guest artist's life and work. Guest artists have included Sarah Michelson, Eiko Otake, John Jasperse, Luciana Achugar, Reggie Wilson, Souleymane Badolo, Beth Gill, Yvonne Meier, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Juliette Mapp, Sally Silvers, and representatives from the Trisha Brown Dance Company. Each year, one performance work is created by an artist-in-residence from Movement Research, a New York-based professional organization that serves as a laboratory for experimentation in movement-based performance arts. Recent MR artists include Juliana May, David Thomson, Ivy Baldwin, Jeanine Durning, Joanna Kotze, and Nami Yamamoto.
The Contemporary Dance major requires courses in the four focus areas listed above, distributed as follows. Students must receive grades of C or better in all courses taken to fulfill concentration requirements. To see which courses fulfill these requirements, visit the Lang course finder.
Aesthetics course (3-4 credits). Choose one:
Three Lang InterArts (LINA) courses (total 12 credits): identified by subject code LINA (LAIC before fall 2010)
One Choreographic Research course (2 credits):
Three Core Dance Seminar Courses (total 12 credits):
Movement Practice Courses (total 5 credits; currently 2-credit and 1-credit courses are offered). Choose from:
1 Dance Seminar Elective Course (4 credits) Sample courses:
8 Variable Dance Credits - Studio or Liberal Arts (8 credits). These 8 variable dance credits can be
fulfilled by either studio or liberal arts credits, in any combination, from
courses within the Dance area of study. For
example, students who become interested in the field of critical dance Studies
could fulfill this requirement with two dance seminars; students more
interested in performance careers could take predominantly studio courses such
as dance practice and performance courses; and students more interested in
creative practice could fulfill these elective credits primarily with choreographic
Senior Capstone (4 credits), chosen from
Total credits: 50-51
Only specific courses satisfy the major requirements, including electives. Courses should be chosen carefully, in consultation with the chair of the program. Students should track their progress using the program requirement worksheet for the year in which they declared their major in Contemporary Dance:
2018-19 Arts Program Requirements worksheet
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Admission ContactOffice of AdmissionEugene Lang College of Liberal Arts
79 Fifth Avenue, 5th floor
New York, NY 10003
Phone: 212.229.5150 or 800.292.3040
Prospective students with questions about the Contemporary Dance program: Contact
Chair, Contemporary Dance 212.229.5100 x2286