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Writing About Dance

Writing About Dance

$36.00 USD

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    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.

    Chapter 4 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.


    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.

    Table of Contents


    How to Use This Book


    Chapter 1: Writing, Dancing, and Critical Thinking

    Depth of Knowledge

    Writing Theory

    Writing About Dance

    Informal Writing Exercises

    Formal Papers



    Chapter 2: The Writing Process

    Stages of the Writing Process

    General Writing Suggestions



    Chapter 3: Informal Writing Exercises

    Reflection 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



    Chapter 4: Dance Critiques

    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

    Sample Critique



    Chapter 5: Dance Essays

    Persuasive Essay: What Do You Believe?

    Reading Analysis Paper and Book Review



    Chapter 6: Dance Research Papers

    Selecting a Topic and Creating a Guiding Question

    Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources

    Appropriate Sources

    Note Taking

    Thesis Development


    Writing Process


    Writing Style

    Editorial Style

    Rubric for Dance Research Papers



    Appendix: Observation and Discussion Exercise for Critiquing Dance



    About the Author

    About the Author

    Wendy Oliver, EdD, is a professor of dance in the department of theater, dance, and film at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island. She has degrees in English, dance, and dance education and has taught dance at the college level for over 20 years. She believes that writing has a place in every dance course and she incorporates dance criticism, dance research, and informal dance writing into her classes on a regular basis.


    Oliver worked briefly as a dance critic, and later wrote her dissertation on the teaching of dance criticism at the college level. She has edited three books, and has published dance articles in a variety of books and journals, including the Journal of Dance in Education; Dance Research Journal; and the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. She is an editorial board member for the Journal of Dance in Education and has served on the board for the Congress on Research for Dance. She also served as director of publications for the National Dance Association and is co-coordinator of the Rhode Island Arts Proficiencies in Dance.


    Oliver was honored in Who’s Who of American Women in 2008 to 2009 and received the National Dance Association Scholar/Artist Award in 2008. She was also listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers from 2003 to 2006 and received the Dance Educator of the Year Award in 1998 from the Rhode Island AAHPERD.