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Edmund T. Gordon, Chair 2109 San Jacinto Blvd , Mailcode E3400, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4362

Charles O. Anderson

Associate Professor

Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and of Theatre and Dance

Contact

AFR 372E • Kinetic Storytelling

30670 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WIN 1.172
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Course Description

 

The body carries history and is burdened and inscribed with meaning. Issues of civil and racial

inequality, gender identity and rights, war and aggression have a long and vivid history in dance.

Historically, choreographers have tackled controversial issues through dance in many ways

guided by the underlying belief in the art form’s unique ability to stimulate debate, draw people

together, and ultimately initiate changes in outlook and perspective. With this in mind,

Kinetic Storytelling is defined in this course as a mode of devising dance-based theater that is at

once highly structured compositional improvisation (or precision choreography), lyrical wordweaving,

graceful, poetic and explicitly informed by Africanist aesthetics and concerns of

marginalization and inequity. Influenced by the compelling issues of our day, by leaders and

instigators of change and revolution, we will explore how to speak through our art approaching

dance-making as a practice of social justice and a metaphor for testimony.

 

Testimony is the declaration of truth integral to the Southern African-American oral and literary tradition, going

back to the slave narrative and folk practices. Testimonies can give praise and they can boast.

They can also attest to suffering and injustice but their goal is always to move the audience. It is

a form of story-telling based on the personal truth(s) of the teller(s). It is used to allow the

storyteller to connect with those who hear the testimony, as well as to a higher plane of

being. This course intended for students of dance as well as actors, performance artists and

performance poets.

***The creation and work-shopping of your own material will be the core activity of our work

together.***

It doesn’t matter whether you are developing a devised work, adapting a play, or a literary work.

Our pursuit, students and teacher together,will be to adapt kinetic storytelling practices of

devising dance theatre to serve your work. To that end, over the course of the semester we will

each find an issue that speaks to us and experiment with ways to craft a movement-based

performance that expresses a specific point of view and draws out questions about our chosen

issue or effort. As you develop your proposed areas of research, we will establish ways of

knowing through issue driven performance, both collectively and individually, subjectively and

objectively and from an interior and exterior point of view.

 

Required Readings:

You will not be required to purchase a text for this course, but you are required to print out

all excerpts and articles and bring them to class. If you come to class without the assigned

reading 3 points will be deducted from your participation grade.

Readings will include, but not limited to the following:

The Creative Process by James Baldwin

Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks

Choreographing the Folk: the Dance Stagings of Zora Neale Hurston by Anthea

Kraut

“Just Enough for the City”: Limitations of Space in Baldwin’s Another Country

“Reading Choreography: Composing Dances” by Susan Leigh Foster

Commonalities in African Dance: An Aesthetic Foundation by Kariamu Welsh

African American Dance: Philosophy, Aesthetics, and ‘Beauty’ by Thomas DeFrantz

African Storytelling by Cora Agatucci

Tradition and the Individual Talent by Suzan Lori Parks

The Blues of Nada by Albert Murray

Chapter Four, Tar and Feathers: Community and the Outcast in Toni Morrison’s

Trickster Novels by Jeanne Rosier Smith

The New Black Math by Suzan Lori Parks

The Black Beat Made Visible: Hip Hop Dance and Body Power by Thomas DeFrantz

In addition there are videos and live concert performances which you will be required to view.

 

Required Concert and Lecture/Demonstration Attendance:

 

 

AFR 317F • Race, Rhythm, And History

30300 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm WAG 112
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This course is a survey of cultural production by choreographers of African descent in the U.S. and the African Diaspora from the 20th century to the present, as well as and examination the ways “black aesthetics” have been embodied and challenged in the cultural products themselves.  We will examine texts and performance footage from different periods of the long Civil Rights Movement and take stock of the way historical contexts, along with factors concerning subject position, shape (but does not determine) artists’ and intellectuals’ responses to the idea of a “black dance”  In other words, we will explore the ways that the notion of ‘blackness’ has been and continues to be constructed, commodified, challenged, and reconceptualized in performance and other contemporary artistic forms. The course will consider the mutual impact that arts and social movements have on each other. The historical and theoretical materials will be contextualized by guest lectures, discussions, and performances involving visiting scholars, artists and activists.   Please bear in mind that like the course, this is a document in process.  It will evolve as we begin exploring the what’s, why’s, how’s and when’s of Black Dance.

 

Texts:

*African Dance by Kariamu Welsh-Asante *African American Concert Dance: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond by John O. Perpener *Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance by Thomas DeFrantz

Grading breakdown:

Participation - 10%

Analysis Questionnaires - 25%

Quizzes 5%

Midterm - 20% 

Final - 20%

Final Project - 20% 

 

 

AFR 372E • Kinetic Storytelling

30377 • Fall 2013
Meets MW 330pm-500pm WIN 1.134
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Kinetic Storytelling is defined in this course as a mode of devising dance-based theater that is at once highly structured compositional improvisation (or precision choreography), lyrical word-weaving, graceful, poetic and explicitly informed by Africanist aesthetics. Influenced by the compelling issues of our day, by leaders and instigators of change and revolution, we will explore how to speak through our art approaching dance-theater-making as a practice of social justice and a metaphor for testimony.  Over the course of the semester we will each find an issue that speaks to us and experiment with ways to craft a movement-based performance that expresses a specific point of view informed by Africana and Dance Studies and that draws out questions about our chosen issue or effort. 

AFR 387D • African American Concert Dance

30602 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 100pm-230pm WIN 2.116
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Through an exploration of an array of socio-political and movement contexts that have informed and influenced African American concert dance practices, this course will be asking:  What is African American Dance aka Black Dance?  What conflicts arise when African American dance forms become public domain? Must the ‘Black’ roots of a particular dance be reaffirmed publicly, even after that dance has become popular in the ‘White’ world? Must the Black choreographer make aesthetic/artistic adjustments when choreographing works targeted for mainstream (aka White), rather than Black, audiences? This studio/lecture course will use these questions as a platform to explore the ways the social construct of race in general and the concept of “Blackness” in particular have been embodied, challenged and/or intersected with the development and evolution of American performance in general and concert dance specifically since the turn of the 20th century.  There are no movement pre-requisites for this course but it will require consistent attendance, considerable reading, and a willingness to move.

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