Rich Media in the Dance Classroom

This post is written by Denise Wade, Associate Professor of Dance.

As an Associate Professor in the Dance Program in the Department of Theatre, Speech, and Dance, the primary way that I have incorporated film or video in my dance classes is in recording choreographic projects or showing historical dance films.  In August 2011 I was invited to participate in a two-week Dance For the Camera workshop where I conceived and directed my first dance for the camera film, IRMA. The 10 minute film was premiered at the workshop and for the first time a dance for the camera was presented as part of DANCEVENT 2011, the W&M faculty dance concert.

I have been bitten by the dance for the camera bug!!  I am interested in incorporating dance on screen into my courses in a number of formats.  I initially hope to create a “making of” video to show as a companion piece with my short film IRMA in my DANCE150/FILM 150 freshman seminar: Dance on Screen.  I have quite a bit of the footage from the creative process: choreographic sessions, rough shots, rehearsals, and the actual film shoot.  I have only a beginner’s knowledge of film editing; I had assistance using Final Cut Pro editing program to complete IRMA.  I would like to learn how to do this editing myself, and in doing so simultaneously create a useful classroom tool for my freshman seminar, and perhaps my DANC 401 Group Choreography course.  My hope is that this will help students understand more fully the process of creating a dance for the camera – especially since they do not currently have the opportunity to experience the full process themselves in the freshman seminar.  While they do film a short dance improvisation during the semester, it would be wonderful to be able to walk them through a more complex film experience.  Having the tools and knowledge to edit film would also allow us to create a video montage of their short video studies.

Inspired by our first Rich Media Grant meeting, I am also creating a new assignment for my DANC 401 Group Choreography course incorporating film.  The assignment will require the choreographers to choreograph a short piece focused on selling a product or a service (i.e. dance as advertisement).  We would then film the choreographic assignment, hopefully in a site-specific location outside of the dance studio, and then I would be able to edit the footage with the choreographers’ input to create their “commercial” final product.  Kathleen DeLaurenti and I are working on a plan to purchase a MacBook Pro laptop computer, obtain access to the Final Cut Pro editing suite, and creating an editing tutorial so that I can begin to learn more about editing film, sound, etc.  I hope that this will be just the beginning of incorporating media and technology into my dance courses, as well as perhaps a springboard for interdepartmental collaborations.