Theater, Dance & Media

Actor on stage

Theater, Dance & Media (TDM) combines the study of theater, dance, and media practices with the histories and theories of expressive and embodied culture. It offers students the opportunity to investigate the myriad ways that live and digital arts have been used to convey the breadth of stories about the human experience. Undergraduates may pursue a Concentration or a Secondary Field.

Director of Studies: Debra Levine

Gateway Courses

Spring 2022

TDM 90BR: How to Make My Fantasies Come True or Making a Show Where No One Stoops and None are Conquered
Stevie Walker-Webb

Two Restoration Comedies (The Rover and She Stoops to Conquer) and a Jacobean Revenge Tragedy (‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore) walk into a rehearsal room.  They’ve been produced for centuries because of their riveting outsized characters, witty repartee, critique of the salacious lives of the British upper classes, extreme displays of emotions, swordfights, and appearances of hearts that bleed (quite literally). How can we use and decolonize these plays,  drawing lines of connection between the dramas of the Jacobean and Restoration period that have been so deeply tied to the values espoused by the Anglo/European dramatic cannon and current forms of popular culture? Lead Production Studio artist Stevie Walker-Web in collaboration with student participant/performers will stage a new comedic play using a pastiche of these three dramas and enliven them with current pop cultural dramas that play on many of the same dramatic tropes (Revenge! Gossip! Incest! Housewives!)

The guiding principle for director Stevie-Walker Webb, the course instructor, is  Audre Lorde’s proposition,  “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

Walker-Web uses Lorde’s critical observation to decolonize canonical white texts both on the page and in our bodies. By adapting canonical texts and borrowing from pop cultural genres, Walker-Web’s intention is to generate a performance process and production that reclaims black joy.  That reclamation attends to the  impact on people of color, those who are gender non-conforming and queer when they are asked to embody identities that erase them. The goal of this Production Studio is to revisit "taken for granted texts" and redefining them by imagining ways that so many who have been excluded for centuries can appear in  contemporary productions of these works.

TDM 148P: Embodied Intelligences: Koteba, Lindy Hop, Hip Hop, Philosophies & Culture 
Jeffrey Page

The origin of blues music—and therefore gospel, jazz, and hip-hop—has been traced directly to Mali, West Africa. Within Malian ideology, dance is a culture and there is no separation between dance and theatrical practice. Koteba is a masquerade performance tradition that utilizes the theatrical elements of satire to comment on and confront civic injustices within the Bamana ethnic society. Koteba is a word that means “big snail” in the Bamana language, and like the snail, it carries the ideologies and cosmologies of the Bamana people on its back. There are nearly 20 rhythm and movement stylings situated within Koteba. In a multiday festival, these dances are traditionally performed in succession, and often executed with the dancers forming concentric circles, which gives this theater tradition its snail-like name. Traces of this masquerade tradition can be found throughout the Caribbean and the United States in the form of Carnival and Mardi Gras.

This class will focus on unpacking four of the dance and rhythm stylings over the course of 12 weeks: (1) Forokotoba, (2) Tansole, and (3) Bara/Baradong. The traditions of Noh drama, Sanskrit theater, and Greek tragedy have informed the development of American dance and theatrical forms, and similarly, a deep investigation of Koteba masquerade performance traditions will offer students of theater and dance informative tools as theorists, practitioners and historians.

TDM 167B: Performing for the Intenet
Tania Bruguera

Description TBD

TDM 169B: Theater 000
Lex Brown

Theater 000 considers dramatic performance an essential human activity: an interpretive skill that can serve as entertainment, information sharing, or escape strategy. Under the continuously unusual circumstances of ambient disaster, we will delve into the creative process with a search for raw, poetic, and comedic experiences, to “touch reality” at a time when we need it the most. This course will help students unthink what they know about theatrical performance and strip it down to its most mobile and visceral parts.

Using a variety of techniques and prompts, we will devise theater from its most elemental parts – vocalization, light, and movement. Beginning with a piece made completely in darkness, students will progressively build toward a piece with light, sound, movement, music, set, etc. Our goal is to find the impact of the subtle gesture; develop specificity in word choice, movement, and timing; develop the storytelling voice; and build basic skills in performance documentation.

Preference will be given to students with performance/writing background who are looking for an opportunity to reconfigure their toolbag. All students must be ready to be open-minded and find the goodies that are just beyond their comfort zone.

PLEASE NOTE: Students must read Canvas site for Course Admission Instructions

TDM 187B: Protocols as Performance
Tania Bruguera

Description TBD