Students in dance classes are often required to write about dance, but they’ve never had a dance-specific reference book that would guide them through the process.
Noted dance educator and writer Wendy Oliver crafted Writing About Dance
to help dance students excel in various types of writing, including informal free writing and journal writing as well as more formal types of writing, such as critiques, essays, and research papers.
Writing About Dance
is a comprehensive guide that provides an array of tools for students to use as they explore various kinds of dance writing. And it helps dance teachers incorporate more writing in their classes, enhancing their students’ learning. Student-tested in a variety of classes, including dance technique, dance history, and dance appreciation, this book includes
• 14 teacher-tested writing exercises ranging from reflection to the creative process to writing about dance;
• rubrics for evaluating critiques, essays, and research papers;
• an appendix that helps students prepare to write dance critiques; and
• easy-to-use checklists to facilitate writing assignments and help students organize their thoughts and address aspects of each type of dance writing.
In six thoughtfully constructed chapters, Oliver expertly guides readers in understanding the art and craft of writing about dance. Chapter 1
introduces students to writing about dance, delving into writing theory and how writing can improve critical thinking and communication skills. Chapter 2
focuses on the stages of the writing process and includes numerous suggestions to help students improve their writing. In chapter 3
, students will find practical and informal writing exercises from a variety of dance teachers. These exercises include personal goal statements, artistic statements, summary and position papers, and assignments such as self-reflections, observations, descriptions, and journal writing.
explores a model of dance criticism, moving students from preparation through observation, note taking, description, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation. Assisted by brief examples from professional critics, students learn to use vivid language to evoke movement in the readers’ minds. In chapter 5
, students learn how to write dance essays, working from guidelines on creating a thesis, developing an argument, and presenting a conclusion. Chapter 6
delves into dance research papers, taking students step by step through the process: selecting a topic, using appropriate sources, developing the thesis, taking notes, and selecting the writing and editorial style. It also includes a rubric for research papers.
One of the strengths of Writing About Dance
is that students can use the book on their own as a resource for writing assignments, or teachers can use its exercises in class to stimulate critical thinking, creativity, and self-awareness. Either way, students learn about dance content as they write, and they become more proficient thinkers and writers as they move through the material and exercises. As a result, students deepen their understanding of dance technique, dance creativity, and dance as an art form.
Table of Contents
How to Use This Book
Writing, Dancing, and Critical Thinking
Depth of Knowledge
Writing About Dance
Informal Writing Exercises
The Writing Process
Stages of the Writing Process
General Writing Suggestions
Informal Writing Exercises
Statements of Personal Goals by Elizabeth Cooper
Self-Reflection Letters by Cornish College of the Arts Dance Department Faculty by Kitty Daniels
Journal Prompts Reflecting on Dance, Cognition, Culture, and Identity by Mira-Lisa Katz
Artistic Statement by Jane Baas
Class Observation by Kitty Daniels
Quick Write by Wendy Oliver
Quick Write Variation for Technique Class by Wendy Oliver
Creative Process Exercises
Shower Assignment by Heidi Henderson
Using Poetry as a Structural Tool for Choreography by Christina Tsoules Soriano
Intention Framing for Choreography by Larry Lavender
Focus on Writing Exercises
Dancing to Write, Writing to Dance by Rachel Straus
Observation and Description Exercise by Stephanie L. Milling
Dance in a Ritual Context by Elizabeth Cooper
Summary Paper by Doug Risner
Feldman Model of Criticism
Observation and Note Taking
Getting Started: Free Writing
Description, Analysis, Interpretation, and Evaluation
Putting It Together
Use of Language
Rubrics for Critiques
Persuasive Essay: What Do You Believe?
Reading Analysis Paper and Book Review
Dance Research Papers
Selecting a Topic and Creating a Guiding Question
Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources
Rubric for Dance Research Papers
Appendix: Observation and Discussion Exercise for Critiquing Dance
About the Author
Reference or supplemental text for students in any dance course with
writing assignments (e.g., dance technique, dance composition,
improvisation, dance appreciation, introduction to dance, history of
dance, and dance criticism). Teacher resource at the secondary level.